Which Scrum Master Credential Is Best For Me?
Your leadership team is ready to support Agile in your organization. They have tasked you with getting the teams ready to Scrum. A little research takes you to the Scrum Guide. Makes sense you think. Ok, so we’ll need training. The teams will need to learn the theory but they should be ready to try experiments, they need practical applications. How do you find the best training for your organization and how do you know it will pay-off?
(A Scrum practitioner needs to know the ‘how’- how is the role administered out in the field. What is the Scrum Master actually accountable for? How to handle different scenarios that arise as a practitioner of Scrum. And mere “theory”, so to speak, does not provide that. First, determining if you should be a Scrum Master is key.)
There are so many credentialing bodies, which is the best-fit for our team? Which one will offer value to the organization? How to choose? After all, you want the team to both grasp the concepts of the Scrum framework and also be able to apply them immediately so that your organization can seize the marketplace and outpace the competition. You need to be sure to show the leadership team that you maximized the return on the investment in time and money.
Training that only teaches the Scrum principles often does not offer the hands-on concrete exercises and role-play activities that allow the student to put theory into practice, thus better equipping you to take the learnings back to your team and apply them. While certificates do indicate a level of commitment and follow-through, they do not make a fine measure of proficiency in practical application. Yes, you want to demonstrate that you understand the material (theory), but you also want confidence that you’ll be able to apply the theory that’s been taught (practical application).
Many organizations offer Scrum Master courses, both online and offline. And we agree that it can be daunting to try and determine which Scrum credential is best when you are just starting your Scrum journey. However, one thing is very clear, the market has spoken, Scrum and Agile is being adopted around the globe across disciplines. In fact, Job outlooks list Scrum Master as a rising trend. The World Economic Forum ranked Scrum Master as #6 in their list of product development jobs of tomorrow. And Burning Glass, an employment data firm, predicts there will be a 37.9-percent increase in demand for Scrum Masters over the next ten years. And Scrum is being seen more and more outside of “just software” context.
No matter which credential you choose, the investment of both time and money is a factor worthy of thorough consideration. So having confidence in the ROI of that investment is critical.
Before you decide which Scrum Master credential is right for you, we recommend assessing your considerations based on the following five factors:
- Market demand/marketability
- Outcome (what does it allow you to do/what doors does it open)
Market Demand: First let’s look at market demand. In essence, how marketable is a particular Scrum Master credential? Will leadership recognize the credential as well respected in the field? To assess that, you want to evaluate the reputation of the company that is issuing the credential. Do they have a history or experience in your field or discipline? Do they credential everything under the sun or is their portfolio of courses focused?
Authenticity: You want to look at the source of the training material. Is it one degree of separation, two, three? One of the things that Scrum Inc. is proud to offer is the fact that our curriculum is developed by Dr. Jeff Sutherland and his team of expert trainers. Jeff Sutherland is a signatory of the Agile Manifesto, co-creator of Scrum and co-author of the Scrum Guide. That means the training is from the source, from the invertor of Scrum. There are no layers of interpretation from the original intent and the instruction you receive. The concepts are always delivered fresh and without any dilution of understanding.
Quality: Next to consider is quality. Because there is such a range of price points available for Scrum courses, you might be concerned about the quality of the course you’re considering. And rightfully so, as we are all well familiar with the old adage, ‘you get what you pay for.’ But what should you actually consider with regards to course quality? And how do you effectively assess it before taking a class?
Your training should be exceptional and nothing less. You want to take a class that offers hands-on experiences and is highly interactive. Training that shares practical tactics that when your team sits down to plan, they know how to write a story at the right size.
Your training must include insights from experienced practitioners, someone who has done the work successfully onsite with clients. Look for training that shows a variety of use-cases and implementations from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, these look very different when put into practice! A high quality curriculum includes the voice of experience and the best take-aways.
While course evaluation surveys are extremely helpful for instructors to receive feedback on their course content and delivery, it’s not something that is accessible to potential students. But what is available to students that will aid in quality assessment is student feedback. Remember, you’re looking for more than basic comments like ‘loved it!’ or ‘awesome course!’ You want qualitative comments that include notes on the instructors' delivery methods, whether or not practical application is a core of the content and were the students engaged?
Try to assess the type of student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction also. Look for comments that refer to the inclusion of interactive assignments, active vs. passive engagement with the course material, and whether or not the course delivery optimizes understanding of the material.
Value: The next thing to consider is the value of the Scrum Master credential for your business. Should the team try to figure it out or, do you want them to start out ready and able to do the work. Is the instructor available outside of class time for additional support? Does the instructor care about the students, their progress, and successful course completion, and how is that demonstrated? Will the style of instructor and approach to training work for your teams? Will the team leave able to qualify in the exam?
Answers will vary from individual to individual so there is no direct comparison to be offered. But it is important to reflect on these questions so that you know going in what will meet or exceed your expectations and ensure you are getting the maximum value out of the course and provider you choose.
Delivers Desired Outcome: This last one is somewhat subjective but you want to ask will the name of the credentialing body signal your organization's and leadership’s commitment to the Agile initiative. How much weight does this credential carry? Does holding this credential signal to the marketplace that your organization is now competing at the highest level?
You want the credential to do some of the heavy lifting by garnering some excitement from your new teams. Make future Scrum Master hires see that you are serious about your Scrum initiative. So ask around and gauge. Take a moment to observe who’s recommending what and why. What is the quality of the testimonials that are related to the course and credentialing body you’re considering? There’s quite a difference between ‘wow, great class!’ and ‘ this class really helped solidify the concepts for me, plus, the exercises and/or games allowed me to practice right on the spot which helped solidify my understanding and strengthen my confidence.’ Use these feedback signals as a benchmark.
When considering a Scrum credential, one of the key factors to consider is the reputation of the credentialing body. Is the credential recognized as delivering qualified practitioners to the marketplace? Is the curriculum backed by actual successful Scrum implementations and practice? Will your knowledge be tested to qualify the credential received?
The reason to avoid disreputable credentials is clear. It is a disservice to your team and the leadership that is backing the Scrum initiative. Your teams will not have the ability to put Scrum into practice in a way that will deliver to the bottom line. They will not have practical applications, nor the latest thinking in the field of agile and without that, they can not navigate this way of working to yield success.
Use this qualifying checklist as a scorecard to evaluate the credentialing bodies you are considering. See how they stack up. By applying this assessment, you can be confident that the course provider and training you chose will yield the results you want for your organization and your teams. And you won’t waste money paying twice when you later realize that you don’t have what you need for your team to succeed.
If you’re ready to take the next step and sign your teams up for training, check out the Scrum courses that we have available here: View our upcoming Registered Scrum Master courses.
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