With the increased usage of agile management frameworks, there has been a rise in the need for coaches in agile practice. Many of the commonly used agile frameworks are based on Scrum methodology. In past years, the Scrum framework has been gaining popularity not only in software development, where it thrived, but also in industries such as marketing and financial services. The key selling point of this framework is its uses of short, defined periods of time, which are called Sprints, to get a project done in pieces, as well as the lack of hierarchy within the Scrum Team. However, the Scrum Master is one of the most important roles among Scrum Team members. Why is that? Keep reading and we will answer that question, along with more information on Scrum and how to get Scrum Master certification.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is an framework that sets rules on how a Scrum Team should operate. Given that Scrum principles allow room for innovation, it is perfect for aiding teams in learning self-management and enhancing their teamwork. With its help, teams can:
- Self-organize problem solving
- Learn from experience
- Use time and money effectively
- Reflect on their victories and losses
- Properly divide projects into Sprints
- Focus on the individual effort of every team member
- Provide transparency to all team members
- Incorporate regular feedback from clients and customers
Scrum methodology is based on empirical pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. All it takes is a professional Scrum Master who fosters an environment in which:
- A Product Owner can prioritize work using the Product Backlog;
- The Product Owner can turn selections of work into Increments delivered in Sprints;
- The Scrum Team and its stakeholders can inspect the results and make adjustments as needed for the next Sprint(s); and
- The steps above can be repeated until the end of the project.
What does the Scrum Master role entail?
As a certified Scrum Master, you are not the leader of the Scrum Team. The Scrum Master is the member of the team who is tasked with overseeing progress and communication – both in-team and with other stakeholders. Since you do not wield control over project team members like a traditional manager who has hiring, firing, and salary power, you must use different ways of directing the team on the right course and remove any impediments. This is one of the reasons you must receive Scrum Master training before you are able to work as a Scrum Master.
Why receive Scrum Master training?
A Scrum Master certification is a crucial factor for anyone planning to undertake that role, regardless of the industry. Advancing through training with a certified Scrum Trainer, as well as passing the certification exam, speaks volumes to team members about your dedication to the Scrum framework and its values. Additionally, it is paramount to keep in mind that certification can often become a baseline requirement for employers.
There are different types of Scrum certification.
What kinds of Scrum Master certification exist?
There are several kinds of Scrum Master certifications available. For those at entry-level, most favor the better-known Certified Scrum Master certification. Other entry-level courses include the Professional Scrum Master or the Agile Certified Practitioner.
Moreover, organizations that offer entry-level certification usually do offer more advanced certifications.
Here are a few examples of certifications offered for the Scrum Master role:
Professional Scrum Master
Ken Schwaber, co-creator of the Scrum framework, developed this certification. Schwaber helped start the Scrum Alliance, and later founded scrum.org and the PSM.
The main PSM requirement is passing the test, but that is not as easy as it sounds. It may require preparation classes taught by a certified Scrum trainer. There are three levels of PSM – I, II, and III. According to scrum.org, the PSM I certification is entry-level and signifies that you have demonstrated a fundamental level of Scrum mastery.
PSM is known to be more rigorous than the CSM, and, for that exact reason, it is slowly becoming better known in the business world.
Additionally, there are more than 340 professional Scrum trainers for PSM that all use the same courses and materials.
Other scrum.org certifications include:
- Professional Agile Leadership.
- Professional Scrum Product Owner, which also has three levels.
- Scaled Professional Scrum.
- Professional Scrum Developer.
Certified Scrum Master
The CSM certificate is the best-known entry-level certification. Before you take the CSM test, you must fulfill the following requirements:
- Attend a course that is led by a Certified Scrum Trainer or receive one-on-one coaching from a Certified Agile Coach.
- Receive training in the duration of 14 hours (online) or 16 hours (in-person) with a Certified Scrum Trainer – or 25 hours of interaction with a Certified Agile Coach.
Once you pass the final exam and earn your Scrum Alliance certification, you must renew it every two years. Advanced Scrum Alliance certifications include:
- Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster.
- Certified Scrum Professional.
- Advanced Certified ScrumMaster.
- Certified Scrum Developer.
- Certified Scrum Product Owner.
Agile Certified Practitioner
The Project Management Institute offers the Agile Certified Practitioner certification. According to them, the Agile Certified Practitioner is becoming the organization’s most sought-after certification due to the rise in the use of agile project management frameworks. This certification covers agile approaches such as Scrum, Lean, Kanban, extreme programming, and test-driven development.
This certification may be considered more important in organizations with a more traditional project management structure than fully Agile-based organizations.
Moreover, before you can take the Agile Certified Practitioner course, you need to have 21 hours of Agile training, a secondary degree, 12 months of general project experience in the past five years, as well as eight months of Agile experience in the past three years.
SAFe Scrum Master
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is the leader in enterprise and large-scale agility. It offers several different certifications, including the SAFe Scrum Master.
This course differs from other, more conventional, Scrum Master courses and certifications because it focuses on the Scrum Master role within the entire organization, instead of just their role in facilitating a team. If you decide to apply for this course, you will learn how to plan and deliver Increments. This refers to Agile teams’ objectives during the Sprint, and is a crucial part of a SAFe organization.
In order to obtain the Scaled Agile Framework certification, you must participate in a two-day course. Before you start, it is best to be familiar with Agile concepts and principles, understand software and hardware development, and be aware of Scrum, Kanban, and extreme programming.
When you earn certification, you receive a one-year membership to the SAFe Community Platform and other digitally-based benefits, such as learning resources. Additional courses include the SAFe Advanced Scrum Master, which also requires a two-day course before an exam.
How to get Scrum Master certification?
Every Scrum certification program has a different set of rules. Let’s take the Scaled Agile Framework Scrum Master course we offer as an example. This two-day SAFe Scrum Master course explores the role of the Scrum Master in the context of the entire enterprise, unlike traditional Scrum Master training that focuses on the fundamentals of team-level Scrum. Additionally, it will prepare you to successfully plan and execute the Program Increment, which is the primary way of project alignment throughout all levels of a Scaled Agile Framework organization.
It fits those who might be new to the role of Scrum Master, or people who want to understand the role better, including how it fits in a Scaled Agile Framework enterprise. Keeping that in mind, attendees would typically include new or existing Scrum Masters, team leads, and release train engineers.
To perform the role of a Scaled Agile Framework Scrum Master, attendees will learn how to describe Scrum in a SAFe enterprise, facilitate Scrum Events and effective iteration execution, support effective Program Increment execution and continuous improvement, coach Scrum teams for maximum business results, and support implementation of development operations.
The requirements for every Scrum certification program are specific. It is up to you to decide which one suits your needs. This article provides additional insights into the Scrum Master role and Scrum Master training, to help you on your way.