Certified Scrum Developer

John Sonmez made some comments that scrum had become all about money in his post:
I highly disagree.

Before I go any further, continuing the thought of honesty, here’s my disclaimer:
I have participated in Certified Scrum Developer (.NET) series, and I’m extremely proud of the quality of the course, so take my views with a grain of salt. 
I am also, first and foremost, a .NET zealot – that means I value highly the technology stack from Microsoft as well as maximizing the ROI on the tools available to me. 
Though I will gladly confess that scrum is awesome at helping me get things done (ship products).


Confusion over costs

I honestly thinks that John Sonmez is mostly upset over the costs, which probably surprised him as greedy and blood thirsty.  But in the article he’s mixing up a great number of different costs involved – for very different things.

  • Training to be CSM (~3 days)
    • $1195
    • Intended for: Individuals who will work on a Scrum team. The course has a strong emphasis on the role of the ScrumMaster.
  • Training to be CSD (~5 days)
    • Start from CSM with additional electives, costs will vary, but I’m going to guess at least $2,500+
    • Existing trainers can offer electives to allow a CSM to extend to CSD
    • Existing CSM wanting to work with a particular toolset can add appropriate electives
  • Training to be PSD (5 days / .NET)
    • $3995 – for 5 days hands on training
    • Entire training is packed and planned as a single continuous course.
    • There is high emphasis on the 3 pillars and how these form a synergy: Scrum, software development, and the tools (VS.NET 2010, TFS 2010)
    • Intended for: Individuals who will work on a Scrum team.  The course has a strong emphasis on the software developer team member, using Microsoft’s .NET tools
  • Training to be PSD (Java)
    • N/A
  • Training to be PSM
    • N/A


Confusion over Assessment

Most “training” includes one attempt at the certification.  If the trainee fails the assessment, then they can retake a second certification at following cost.

I think both SA and Scrum.org do not allow you to retake a third time if you failed the second retake.  You’ll need to repeat the training again.  So it’s not like Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) where you can just brute force exams until you pass.

  • Certification CSM
    • $150
  • Certification CSD
    • $150
  • Certification PSD
    • $100
  • Certification PSM
    • $500
  • Certified Scrum in depth
    • $2000
    • Required to be a CSM trainer or PSD trainer


Learning should be free?

I think there’s a big difference over what one considers to be fair price.  At the minimum we’re looking at $1195 for the 3 day CSM training.

Honestly speaking - one does not need to be certified to practice scrum. 

Most of the materials are freely available online.  But please consider that these materials are developed and paid for by other people who are certified and delivering training, and by organizations such as SA and Scrum.org that’s promoting Scrum.

Troubles without formal training? 

  1. There are an incredible amount of Scrum Practitioners that aren’t practicing scrum at all.
  2. You may end up with Scrum-but. 
  3. You may encounter issues in your project or organization, and you don’t have the knowledge or the backup support to keep going with scrum. 
  4. You most likely will end up making your own ‘agile’ thing.

So here we are again, back at square one.  Do you need the training or don’t you need training?  Are you happy with how scrum works in your organization.  Or do you think you are only saying that you practice scrum, when in reality you are doing nothing that even remotely looks like scrum?

For the individual – there is intrinsic value by being trained.  Becoming a member of the SA / Scrum.Org groups also give you additional backup and support discussion.

For the company – the value is having you certified.  They can justify your training costs for tax write-off.  They can increase your rates if they get you to work for their client.  They can tell their stakeholders – hey we got a super professional now that’s taking care of our projects and look at our awesome burn down charts – our velocity is flying through the roof!


Certification should be cheap?

This one I really don’t know.  I know you can’t have it for free – since then everyone will be a certified scrum master and that will definitely degrade the quality of the entire certification programme.

Then at the minimum, there is an ongoing charge for membership fee to SA / Scrum.org – think of this as tithe for being a valued member of the community.  You can also see it as a support contract.  Either way, you are supporting them to keep on preaching Scrum, so you don’t have to.

Finally, to become certified requires both training, then assessment.  This isn’t about walking into some test centre and brute-forcing your way to certified.  No, you need to be trained by an authorized trainer, and then your training is assessed via a centralized exam issued by SA / Scrum.org

So you are juggling between people who see the value of being trained, assessed and certified, or people who cough at seeing any price tag.  I think the line lies somewhere in between, and given the success of the CSM programme I’d say it is just about right.


The case for Professional Scrum Developer

In the case of PSD – the course is still at its first steps with a lot of materials being crammed into a very short space of time.  I think the $4000 price tag is fully justified at the amount of training, knowledge and hands-on that you will receive at the 5 day training – believe me… we all thought the course at 5 days was too short for the number of topics available that we wanted to get through.  (At the minimum we wanted 2 more sprints)

  • Scrum fundamentals
    • Scrum teams
    • Define your done criteria
    • Scrum hands-on practice (5-6 short sprints)
  • TFS 2010 templates for Scrum
    • User Stories, work items in TFS
    • Burn down charts in TFS
    • Build Server
  • Using VS.NET 2010 to work in a scrum team
    • Refactoring
    • ASP.NET MVC project
  • Using VS.NET 2010 Test Manager to conduct tests
    • Creating unit tests
    • Fixing bugs in iterations
  • Thorough Scrum reviews and retrospectives

Yes – all the materials is probably somewhere on the Internet and hidden in people’s blogs.  But to produce this 5 day course work requires months of preparation.

No doubt as the months move forward and the course material settles down the costs may fluctuate to better reflect market prices.  But I think trainers are currently already absorbing a lot of the costs to keep the initial offering at least affordable.

Microsoft wants, I guess, five thousand PSD (.NET) in the market before VS.NET 2010 is launched (and by the way it’s already launched).  If they are lucky, they probably may get to 500.  A very respectable number, but far short of the number they wanted.


Sum it all up by more links