Does PMP use Agile?


In the dynamic world of project and product management, two approaches often stand out: Project Management Professional (PMP) and Agile. Both have their strengths and are widely used across various industries. This article aims to look at the intersection of these two philosophies and answer the question: “Does PMP use Agile?”.

A quick summary of the question “does PMP use agile” is:

  • PMP is based on traditional project management, which is quite different to agile
  • PMP has changed over the years and now includes options for adding agile aspects to project management (based on the Disciplined Agile framework)
  • many people in the agile community believe that PMP Agile is not very authentic to the ideals of agile software development
  • you should pick a path that is right for you, your career and your organizational context.

Understanding PMP

PMP, or Project Management Professional, is a globally recognized professional certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It validates a professional’s ability to manage and lead projects effectively. PMP certification is based on the PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), which traditionally followed a Waterfall or predictive project management approach.

project management institute pmp agile
PMP is part of the Project Management Institute or PMI

Traditional PMP methodologies are linear and sequential, with each phase of the project following the other in a strict order. This approach works well for projects with clearly defined requirements and minimal changes expected during the project lifecycle. However, it may not be as effective in a rapidly changing environment where flexibility and adaptability are key.

Understanding Agile

Agile, on the other hand, is a project management and product development approach that emphasizes flexibility, customer collaboration, and high responsiveness to change. Agile methodologies / agile frameworks, such as Scrum and Kanban, are iterative and incremental, allowing for frequent adjustments throughout the project.

splitting people across agile scrum teams
Agile approaches can help when dealing with uncertainty

Agile certifications, like the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP), validate a professional’s knowledge and skills in Agile practices. These certifications are valued in industries where projects are complex and requirements may change frequently. Agile methodologies are designed to handle such complexities and changes, making them a popular choice in today’s fast-paced business environment.

The Intersection of PMP and Agile

In recent years, the PMI has recognized the value of Agile methodologies and has begun incorporating Agile into the PMP framework. This incorporation is evident in the addition of the Agile Practice Guide to PMBOK, which demonstrates that traditional and Agile project management styles can complement each other.

The concept of Agile PMP has emerged, reflecting the blend of predictive and Agile methodologies. Agile PMP recognizes that while some projects may benefit from a traditional approach, others may require the flexibility and adaptability of Agile. This blend allows project managers to tailor their approach based on the project’s specific needs and context, thereby increasing the chances of project success.

Agile has become an integral part of current project management practices. Today’s project managers often use a hybrid approach, combining elements of both Agile and traditional project management to effectively manage projects in a rapidly changing environment. This hybrid approach allows them to leverage the strengths of both methodologies, providing a balanced and comprehensive approach to project management.

PMP vs Agile: A Comparison

While PMP and Agile have distinct approaches, they are not mutually exclusive. The main difference lies in their approach to project management: PMP is more plan-driven, while Agile is more adaptive.

Both PMP and Agile certifications hold significant professional value. A PMP certification demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of project management principles, while an Agile certification indicates proficiency in Agile methodologies. The best approach often depends on the project’s nature and context, and many professionals choose to pursue both certifications to broaden their skills and increase their marketability.

In terms of project management styles, PMP and Agile offer different perspectives. PMP, with its traditional methodologies, provides a structured and predictable approach, making it suitable for projects with well-defined requirements and minimal changes. On the other hand, Agile, with its flexibility and adaptability, is ideal for projects where requirements are expected to change and evolve.

Agile on the PMP Exam

The PMP exam has evolved to reflect the changing landscape of project management. Agile and hybrid tools and techniques now form a significant part of the exam. According to the Project Management Academy, the new exam reflects the skills and knowledge current project managers use in their work, including Agile and hybrid methodologies.

This inclusion of Agile in the PMP exam signifies the growing importance of Agile in project management. It also highlights the need for project managers to be well-versed in both traditional and Agile methodologies, as they are likely to encounter both in their professional careers.

What do Agile people think about this?

A lot of people in the agile community are understandably skeptical about this incorporation of agile terminology into the PMI / PMP world. They see PMP people as Waterfall foot-soldiers, coming from a different world that is opposed to agile and its philosophies.

I personally can see where they are coming from. A lot of the Agile PMP material seems like paying lip service. The Disciplined Agile framework (which the PMI blatantly stole and repurposed) is a relic and offshoot of the infamous Rational Unified Process or RUP, and nobody genuinely believed that was really agile.

On the other hand, what’s important is achieving business outcomes, not ticking a box on whether you are “truly agile” or not. If you find a way to deliver value in a safe and sustainable way, while using some ideas from PMP and some from agile, then more power to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of the PMP exam is Agile?

While the PMI does not specify an exact percentage, Agile and hybrid methodologies form a significant part of the new PMP exam. This reflects the growing use of Agile and hybrid methodologies in project management.

Why is Agile on the PMP?

Agile is included in PMP to reflect the current project management practices. Many project managers now use a hybrid approach, combining Agile and traditional methodologies. The inclusion of Agile in PMP signifies the recognition of Agile’s value in managing complex and changing projects.

Is project manager part of Agile?

In Agile, the role of a project manager is often distributed among the team. However, the project manager’s responsibilities are still crucial in Agile environments, often fulfilled by roles like the Scrum Master or Product Owner. These roles carry out the project management functions in an Agile team, ensuring that the project stays on track and the team collaborates effectively.


In conclusion, while PMP traditionally followed a predictive project management approach, it has evolved to incorporate Agile methodologies. This evolution reflects the changing landscape of project management, where flexibility and adaptability are highly valued. The inclusion of Agile in PMP demonstrates that these seemingly different methodologies can complement each other and provide a comprehensive approach to managing projects.

The decision to use PMP, Agile, or a combination of both depends on the project’s nature and the environment. As project management continues to evolve, professionals who can effectively use both methodologies will be in high demand. As such, the question is no longer “Does PMP use Agile?” but rather “How can we best use PMP and Agile to deliver successful projects?”

Remember, the choice between PMP and Agile certification should be based on your career goals, the industry you’re in, and the nature of the projects you’ll be handling. Both have their unique strengths and can equip you with the skills needed to manage projects effectively in today’s dynamic and fast-paced environment.

In case you are still unsure about the relationship between agile and PMP, this video might help clear things up.

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