Agile Certification | Scrum Certification – Good or Bad

There have been murmurs in the past about certifications in the Agile community, not all of them good and almost all of them for Certified Scrum Master. Here are some blogs and articles I have read. Ian Culling has a well read ” I am a Certified ScrumMaster – BFD“, “Agile [Scrum] Certification Debate“, “Scrum Certification Test” and “Scrum Master Certification – What’s it Worth?” Some of the common criticism about CSM is:

  • Certified Scrum Master is not good enough guarantee that those who are certified are good to be a Scrum Master. Heck, its not even a guarantee that you know Scrum, forget become a Scrum Master.
  • There is no test. It only certifies that you attended a 2-day course, which is not enough.
  • There are no pre-requisites – no experience criteria, no reading criteria etc.
  • There are no follow ups suggested other than [possibly very mean] renew your membership of Scrum Alliance every year.
  • There is not enough transparency in the CSP [Certified Scrum Practitioner] and CST [Certified Scrum Trainer] certifications.
  • There can be people who don’t have a certification, that can be very good.
  • Scrum or Agile is not something you can measure. You can never check individual performance in a team based approach like Scrum or Agile.

All of these are valid arguments. It is also interesting that not many people have issue with CSP. Its CST and CSM that gets people worked up. I guess its the nomenclature. If they renamed Certified Scrum Master as Certified Scrum Beginner or Scrum Alliance Member or Certified Scrum Master – Level 1, no one would have any issue [other than probably people who take this certification only for title]. You can also counter most of arguments above by saying that all IT professional certifications are crap [someone passed MCSD, but could not answer D of Design or someone is RHCE, but knows nothing about ports].

I personally do not have anything against CSM or CSP. I was a member of Scrum Alliance for a year and then my membership lapsed in September this year. I assume I am no longer a CSM now. Its not that it affects me in any way. I think writing this blog, being active on various Agile and Scrum groups and also networking well, are more important. But that’s a personal choice. I might just renew my membership with Scrum Alliance soon. Rather than blame Scrum Alliance, I would ask people who have an issue with CSM or “some secret Agenda of SA” to let the world know what CSM really is and whether people should value CSM or CSP. I for instance, would not recruit someone or interview someone simply because he/ she is CSM. But if he/ she is CSP or CST, my view will change.

Would a stricter examination or other things help? Probably yes. I am not for experience part [you should have certain experience before you are allowed to take CSM for instance] here – there is no guarantee that 4 year experienced employee is better than 2 year one or even a 0 year one. Similarly, follow up actions after the certification can be difficult to track – will you track blog posts or something else? I think for now CSP is good. And then, may be Scrum Alliance will reword CSM to something which explains this better.

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One Response to “Agile Certification | Scrum Certification – Good or Bad”

  1. I’m right there with you… I had a rant on this on my blog awhile ago:
    http://agile-commentary.blogspot.com/2008/09/rant-about-agile-certification.html

    It got a lot of traffic. The update since then is that they are adding a test to the CSM certification.

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