Month: March 2015

I thought I’d share my experience of the Scrum Alliance certified ScrumMaster course. I took the course in March 2015 through a company called Agil8, Dave Hicks was the instructor. I have no connections to this company and have never used them before.

I finally decided to bite the bullet and take the course, at this point in time I had already been practicing scrum for some years and had instigated much of the process and tools our team used to adopt scrum into our business. I had naturally assumed the role of ScrumMaster but lacked confidence, as I had no formal training or certification – so I signed up…

The course was a 2-day onsite interactive course, followed by an optional electronically submitted exam which you have a maximum of 60 days to take. The exam can be taken from the comfort of your own home and is not part of the 2-day course. Your must attend both days of the course and successfully complete the exam to become a certified ScrumMaster.

Work

The syllabus is, as you would expect, it covers the core concepts of Scrum and assumes no significant prior knowledge. It then moves into the specific roles in more detail, followed by a breakdown of the ceremonies and associated artifacts. I won’t go into detail on the syllabus, as I’m sure it changes and you can just look it up, however, I thought in this article I’d highlight what I took away from it.

Each topic on the course was discussed by the group and the instructor also provided insight into his extensive experience as well. On the second day, the group was being broken up into scrum teams, the teams effectively went through the motions of a sprint cycle with the creation of a backlog, all the way through to delivery of our increment, which happened to be a Lego house!

Scrum cycle

There were about 30 people on the course and by far the most valuable part of the course for me, was hearing about other people’s experiences in adopting scrum and the problems and solutions they had experienced. Some of the things that stood out for me were:

  • Gaining a balanced view of where agile methods thrive, as well as the real world challenges people face in the industry whilst trying to adopt it – there was a great mix of people ranging from the staff of multinational banks to lean startups, some already hardened ScrumMasters others just starting the journey.
  • I was the only person with a QA background on the course, I would say 70% of the people there were from project management backgrounds, and rest were mainly Dev leads. It was great to hear about their perspectives on agile. In my previous roles things like ROI didn’t really come up, but to many people on the course, this was one of their key concerns with adopting agile.
  • It was comforting for me, for everyone to acknowledge agility is a journey, and you have to start somewhere, and you will never reach an end point – and that’s OK!
  • For me having the ability to challenge theory was great too, for example: In theory, the team defines the definition of “Done”. To me with my QA background and personal experience, this didn’t make sense, as effectively the team is deciding the generic effort an increment takes to deliver e.g. As a team member I might say I want every release to have X, Y, Z testing performed – but the reality in a commercial context is, that may not be acceptable to the business. So to me, there is always going to be restrictions placed on the team probably by the product owner or the wider business.

So to summarise, I really enjoyed the course and felt I took away a lot from it. Agil8 and Dave Hicks were great, I would certainly use them again.

The exam method although very convenient, isn’t perfect, as effectively it is open book and multiple choice. So it is not very challenging and somewhat devalues the certification, as really it should be pretty hard to fail. Also, I don’t agree with some of the official answers on the exam and found myself having to answer questions in a way I disagreed with just to get the mark which was frustrating.

Having said that, I would recommend the course, and I think most people will get good value from it.