During the past decade, India’s IT professionals have come to understand the career importance of technical certifications. We know how imperative it is to attain certifications from reputable organizations as a way to validate our knowledge and skills in a specific domain.
While we certainly appreciate our technical IT certifications, the past five or six years have seen an increase in the importance and utility of non-technical certifications like PMP, ITIL, PRINCE 2, and so forth.
These non-technical certifications are especially useful if you already are working in management, or plan on moving into management. One does not need to earn the highest level of accreditation to increase one’s value to employers and clients.
One non-technical credential in particular that is showing a terrific return on investment is SCRUM certification. The value of SCRUM is becoming widely appreciated as more Indian IT pros find themselves working on projects for multinational entities.
While SCRUM provides an especially efficient method of managing software development projects, it is also handy for business analysts, software testers and quality analysis professionals.
When we talk about project management, particularly as it pertains to software development projects, the tendency is to focus on the tremendous amount of planning required with all the budget calculations, client satisfaction metrics, time lines and such. Viewed from this perspective, any sort of project can appear daunting.
Because it is a dynamic method of software product development, SCRUM has a few significant advantages: It offers better quality with minimum risk, increased collaboration with regular product demonstrations and customer feedback sessions, and a steady and phase-wise funding of projects. All of which leads to improved productivity, greater visibility and ultimate customer satisfaction.
The reason so many organizations prefer utilizing the SCRUM framework lies in SCRUM’s approach. For one, SCRUM does not require a great deal of in-depth advance planning. It follows a simple approach where all of the customer’s requirements are jotted down as product backlog. A modular approach is then followed in which the requirements, or “wish-list”, are prioritized in order of implementation.
Each item is allotted a specified time frame (called a “sprint”) in which to be completed. Upon completion of each item the team seeks regular client feedback. The process is worked in iteration until the product is delivered as per client satisfaction.
An added advantage of SCRUM is that the approach is granular and phase wise, leaving scope for volatile requirements and budget changes. This works well with most of the customers because invariably, they have to iron out the wrinkles in coordination between business and technical units — it leaves scope for change in software requirements.
SCRUM-certified individuals are able to proficiently bridge the gap between business units and development teams as it leads to high degree of collaboration between all stake holders in the product development cycle. SCRUM also helps reform engineering practices, which leads to better return on investments. It’s easy to see why SCRUM, as a systematic and agile framework for product development, is so useful in implementing software development projects.
Here in India, SCRUM certification is growing in popularity. The credential is increasingly viewed not just as useful, but mandatory by many of our larger IT firms. SCRUM credentials are supported by the SCRUM Alliance, and like any other certification track, come in different flavors. Let’s have a look at three of the most common certifications:
Certified Scrum Master (CSM) is certainly the base certification if you are looking to learn and master the SCRUM framework. CSM covers the basic SCRUM processes and methodologies essential in software development projects. A CSM will find themselves filling the important roles of team leader, and project and program manager.
Training to become a CSM is offered through SCRUM Alliance Authorized Trainers and is an in-person, two-day course (16 hours) focusing mainly on the application of agile SCRUM framework.
The exam contains 35 multiple-choice questions (MCQs). With a score of 69 percent (24 out of 35 questions) required to clear. Candidates who complete the course are eligible to receive 16 credits known as scrum education units (SEUs). Certificate holders are required to recertify every two years.
Certified Scrum Professional (CSP). If you’ve completed your CSM and want to advance to the next level of certification, this is the destination. However, there are three prerequisites: candidates must hold an active SCRUM certification like CSM, CSD (we will discuss that one next) or CSPO, have a minimum of three years of full-time experience working with the SCRUM framework, and a minimum of 70 SEUs (inclusive of SEUs earned from an active certification).
There are a lot of ways in which one can earn the required SEU’s such as participating in SCRUM authorized activities, attending authorized events and gatherings, actively participation in a SCRUM forum, and so forth. To see additional information on earning SEUs, click here. Recertification is required every two years.
Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) is directed towards software developers working within a SCRUM environment. CSDs are individuals who have demonstrated, via formal training and assessments of their technical skills, that they fully understand the principles embodied in SCRUM and also possess specialized Agile engineering skills. The purpose of a CSD is to give students knowledge of the tools and techniques used to create software in the SCRUM framework of iteration and incrementalization.
Training comprises a five-day course for non-CSMs, and a three-day course for CSMs. The first two days focus entirely on an introduction to the CSM framework. The other three days deal with Agile engineering practices and technical courses. Candidates must also demonstrate a solid grasp of SCRUM and Agile engineering practices by clearing an instructor provided assessment. Such assessments can be in the form of a written exam or an active classroom based assessment.
On completion of the CSD, candidates receive 24 SEUS and the certification stays valid for two years. The certified individuals are also awarded a two-year membership to SCRUM Alliance gatherings, events and social forums as well as various discounts.
The SCRUM Alliance strongly recommends that when you complete any SCRUM certification, you update your profile on their website, verify your license and become actively involved in the SCRUM community website by joining and participating in various groups.
In India, of all the SCRUM certifications out there, the CSM seems to be the hottest one in the market. Every IT job portal lists requirements for CSMs across the country to work in software development firms. The increase in such listings indicates that the SCRUM standards are being widely accepted.
If you’re looking to raise your IT value by adding a non-technical certification, SCRUM is a logical choice.