A Journey Towards Earning a Leading Safe® 4.6 Certification
By Nicolas Casel
Our blog regularly provides insights about the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®), like 4 main features that enable SAFe®. You can also go through an article stating the benefits of SAFe® Agilist certification. Also, we recently published a specific article about the benefits to get the SAFe® 4.5 Certification, and here we give some details about the Leading SAFe® 4.6.What is SAFe®? When any large organization wants to go Agile, it can hardly skip the Scaled Agile Framework ® (SAFe®). Now, this framework has become the world’s leading framework for companies that target to scale Agile. Also, SAFe® is described as the “Agile Enterprise Big Picture”, as it helps to apply Agile and Lean practices and principles to the whole organization, from the Team to the Portfolio level.Benefits of the SAFe® certification For any professional, being SAFe® certified brings recognition to be able to support all kinds of organizations in their Lean and/or Agile transformation. Indeed, SAFe® is the most used framework for scaling Agile, especially in big companies like the ones listed in the US Fortune 100. Consequently, holding a SAFe® certification makes a candidate profile very attractive compared to employers’ expectations.Accreditation body of SAFe®The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®®) has an official certifying body: Scaled Agile, Inc. This accreditation body guarantees “ a valid, reliable, and consistent method of assessing SAFe® skills, knowledge, and mindset “ (read more About SAFe® Certification ).Salary of the SAFe® certifiedSalary for SAFe® certified professionals can vary across regions and experience:EuropeIndiaUnited StatesAgile Coach€ 70,000Rs 2,220,000$135,000Product Owner€ 80,000Rs 1,900,000$115,000Scrum Master€ 55,000Rs 1,220,000$95,000Software Engineer€ 60,000Rs 1,630,000$75,000Job roles/Target audience of the SAFe® certificationThe target audience of the SAFe® certification is wide and covers all these positions: Executives and Leaders, Managers, Directors, CIOs, and VPs Development, QA, and Infrastructure Management Program and Project Managers Product and Product Line Management Portfolio Managers, PMO, and Process Leads Enterprise, System, and Solution ArchitectsStatistics related to SAFe® certification(Note: All the data mentioned here is provided by payscaleEuropeIndiaUnited StatesGenderFemale: 10%Male: 90%Female: 40%Male: 60%Years of experiencePopular companiesDeutsche BankINGBNPViseoPhilipsOmicron4Com TechnologiesMotorolaAir France KLMCA, Inc.Syntel, Inc.Tata Consultancy Services LimitedInfosys LimitedAccentureJohnson ControlsFederal Express Corporation (FedEx)Cap GeminiUsaa InsuranceVencore, Inc.TechSmith CorporationJohnson ControlsSAFe® Agilist Exam detailsWhat is the format of the exam?The SAFe® certification exam is in the Multiple Choice Questions formatHow is the exam delivered?The exam is Web-based (single-browser), closed book, no outside assistance, timed.How to get access to the exam? Once they have completed the Leading SAFe® course, candidates can access the exam. For this, they will use the SAFe® Community Platform. How long is the exam?The exam duration is 90 minutes.How many questions? The SAFe® exam consists of a total of 45 questions.What is the passing score? 34 out of 45 (75% passing score). What is the exam language?English. How much does the exam cost?The course registration fee covers the first exam attempt, provided that the candidate takes the exam within 30 days of course completion. Then, it will cost $50 for any additional attempt.What are the exam prerequisites? There are two main prerequisites to take the exam. First is to have an experience using the Scrum framework, the second is to have more than five years in one or several of these fields: project or product management, business analysis, software development.What is the exam retake policy of the exam?A first retake, meaning a second attempt on the exam, can be done at any moment after a first attempt. In case of a third attempt, candidates have to wait for 10 days and in case of a fourth attempt, they have to wait for 30 days.Leading SAFe® 4.6 Exam preparation SAFe® Agilist Certification exam questionsHere are some of the questions that might be helpful in exam preparation- How to run agile on multiple teams?How to synchronize the work of these teams?How to prioritize organizational demands?How to scale an agile architecture?How to deal with risks in an agile way?Agile and governance, is it possible?Can you highlight the addition and changes in 4-level with 3-level SAFe® 4.0?Can you define a System Team?Can you explain the difference/relationship between a Value Stream and an ART?What is the key to crossing back in forth or connecting the various levels of SAFe®?What is the difference between a Capability and an Epic or Theme?Why would you decentralize decision making? Doesn’t this disempower the product owner or cause confusion about who is the final decision-maker?Are there any reasons that Scrumban would not work with SAFe®?We have some applications that use Scrum delivery practices and some that are milestone driven (waterfall). Can SAFe® 4.0 support both epic and user story management planning, backlog prioritization for Scrum teams, as well as requirements management for our waterfall teams (until they transition to agile)?Some teams may run continuous integrations while others not. How can we balance this if we have a fixed Program Increment timeline?Is SAFe® making it more complex and less agile (e.g., more rigid, additional control)?Exam study materialsKnowledge and skill required by the job role are primarily measured by the exam. In order to prepare well for the exam, candidates can use various online resources like these ones:The course materials are one of the most important components from the course because they offer an opportunity to refer back to the content delivered during the class. All candidates can access to it within the SAFe® Community Platform.The Study guide delivers comprehensive details about the job role and the exam, like a reading list. Here again, it is accessible via the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform.Another element of the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform is the Practice test. It offers predictability of success on the exam because it works with similar time duration and level of difficulty and provides the same number of questions.You can go through the SAFe sample test that contains 8 questions that will help you in SAFe 4.6 certification exam preparation.Ways of earning Leading SAFe® 4.6 certificationAttend the courseCourse completion is the first step toward SAFe® certification.Scaled Agile training classes are designed with the learner in mind. Incorporating active learning techniques with a robust role-based curriculum is a great start to the SAFe® learning journey.Receive access to the SAFe® Community Platform after the class, which provides access to study materials & the exam.Study for the examDetailed exam study guides are available to help prepare for the exam and are part of the Learning Plan provided to candidates on the SAFe® Community Platform. Each study guide provides relevant and content-specific exam information, such as the certification role description, prerequisite skills and knowledge, exam objectives, and a comprehensive reading list.Practice tests can help prepare for the exam and are part of the Learning Plan on the SAFe® Community Platform. With a practice test, candidates can ‘test before the test.’ It simulates the actual certification exam in duration, difficulty, and topic area. Passing the practice test does not guarantee to pass the certification exam, but it provides a testing simulation, and the score report can be used to identify an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Practice tests are available at no additional charge, delivered through the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform, and can be taken as many times as needed. Note that the testers will receive the same bank of questions each time, but the questions will be randomized.Sample tests provide the examples of the type and format of the questions to expect on the certification exam. They are publicly available for all exams under Exam Details on each certification detail page.Leverage experience. It’s more than being book smart. Scaled Agile exams test specific knowledge, skill, experience, and attitudes related to each SAFe® job role. Combining a person’s learning and studying with their real-world experiences is a key to becoming SAFe®® Certified.Take the ExamA link to the exam is included in the Learning Plan on the SAFe® Community Platform.Candidates have 30 days after course completion to take the exam at no additional charge. However, once they start the exam, they’ll have a fixed time to complete it.Complete exam information, including exam time limit, number of questions, and a sample test, is available for all the exams under Exam Details on each certification official page.What will you get on passing the SAFe® 4 Agilist exam?Becoming a Certified SAFe® 4 Agilist requires an exceptional range of skills and is a career path for many servant leaders (Scrum Masters). SAFe® 4 Agilist certification includes:Getting the Certified SAFe® 4 Agilist PDF certificateGetting the Certified SAFe® 4 Agilist digital badge. Any candidate can promote their accomplishment onlineNote: Digital badge permits individuals to share authentic certifications online through email signatures, digital resumes, and social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Digital badging consists of metadata that indicates a Certified SAFe® professional’s qualifications. Scaled Agile has partnered with Acclaim to provide digital versions of SAFe® certifications.Getting one-year membership to the SAFe® Community Platform. It also includes access to the SA Community of PracticeGetting access to Meetup groups and events that connect you with other SAFe® certified professionalsNote: SAFe® Meetups provides opportunities to the SAFe® certified across the globe. SAFe® Meetups allows to connect with each other face-to-face, share best practices (sometimes SAFe® experts attend or speak in these sessions to enable learning), and gain knowledge on Scaled Agile Framework in a local setting.Getting access to a variety of learning resources to support you during your SAFe® journey.Summing It UpFor professionals who are looking for career development in the Agile field, SAFe® certification can be the most relevant option today. It gives a guarantee to the companies that they hire individuals with the skills required to scale Agile and a strong knowledge of the SAFe® environment. On top of that, it is important to know that a large majority of big enterprises have implemented SAFe® and that the hunt for SAFe® certified professionals is still very active.
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How To Become A Certified Scrum Master- Exam Preparation And Guidance
By Nicolas Casel
Introduction to Certified Scrum MasterWho is the Scrum Master?In one of our previous blog posts, Rumesh Wijetunge shared some relevant insights on the role of Scrum Master. Wearing different hats, coach, enabler, facilitator, team leader, problem-solver, s/he is in charge of giving right directions to team members so that they reach objectives. First promoter of Agile mindset, values and principles, the Scrum Master uses the Scrum framework to help a team in understanding, working on, and achieving a common goal.Responsibilities of the Certified Scrum MasterIt is expected from the Certified Scrum Master to promote an Agile way of working and to lead Scrum implementation in order to improve the team's overall performance. It implies these activities:Teaching Agile values and principles and ensuring they have been understood and adopted by the Scrum Team, and even by the whole organization if possible (and relevant)Implementing the Scrum framework so that it fits the needs expressed by the Scrum TeamListening, observing and reflecting on how the Scrum Team is reacting to first changes, then selecting and adapting Scrum elements accordingly.Protecting Team Members from any interference or troubles that make them losing focus on their primary workAnticipating, identifying and removing any impediments, and coaching Team Members to learn to solve these situations by themselvesHelping the Product Owner to manage the Product Backlog so that time-to-market is reduced and every increment brings value to end customersActing as a Servant LeaderRequirements to become a Certified Scrum MasterGetting some basic knowledge about the Scrum framework is a nice-to-have prerequisite. However, the first mandatory step is to attend a two-day CSM course conducted by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®). This course will prepare you well for the CSM exam by delivering insights about how to organize and support a Scrum Team. The final step is easy: you need to accept the License Agreement and update your Scrum Alliance membership profile. Why you should be a Certified Scrum Master? Becoming a Certified Scrum Master is one way to expand your career opportunities. Indeed, Agile is spreading everywhere in organisations, in all industries. Strongly correlated, software and digitalization are eating the world, so the need for Scrum Masters in software development is increasing. It is also the beginning of a long journey: it enables you to engage with other Scrum practitioners all over the world, to share best practices, to solve common issues and to promote Agile values and continuous improvement.Besides, this certification offers you to learn foundation of Scrum and scope of the role of Scrum Master. And because it is delivered by Scrum Alliance , this is a very valid proof of your Scrum knowledge.What do I need to do to become a CSM? A true belief and strong interest in Agile philosophy will help for sure to get knowledge, to practice efficiently and to stand out among Agile practitioners. Nonetheless, passing the Scrum Alliance certification for Scrum Master lies mainly in learning Scrum fundamentals and attending to the two-day training (see above paragraph c.)a. Why CSM over PSM: Best Scrum Master certification1. Scrum.org courses- Price, Renewal, Pros, and ConsPrice: It includes exam fees but depends on content, duration, trainer and location:US: $1500Europe: 1500 eurosIndia: INR 26,000Renewal: No expiration (lifetime certification)Pros:Course content is officially designed by Scrum.org so all teachers deliver same content. It implies that Scrum.org selects qualified instructors and ensures students learn the same core content.Exam can be taken without attending course - Exam fees are $150There is an online free assessment exam for practisingCons: Exam is much harder than CSM. It requires experience, and deep theoretical knowledge2. Difference between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org coursesThe main difference lies in the fact that Scrum.org provides standard curriculum and course content, while training conducted to become CSM depends on individual trainers experience, opinion and knowledge.CSM Certification TrainingSyllabus of Scrum Master certification Scrum Alliance provides a list of selected resources to learn the Scrum framework. People who want to become Certified Scrum Master are invited to read articles from experts like Mike Cohn or Steve Denning, or from other members. One specific advantage with Scrum Alliance lies in their elearning series: a dozen short videos introduce Scrum Theory and Values, Scrum Roles, Scrum Events and Scrum Artifacts. Besides, it is strongly recommended to read those references:the Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherlandthe Scrum Primer by Pete Deemer, Gabrielle Benefield, Craig Larman and Bas Voddethe Do Better Scrum by Peter Hundermark Not mandatory but relevant to go further, Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyenand Software in 30 days by Ken Schwaber.Exam and Certification InformationScrum Alliance courses- Price, Renewal, Pros and Cons The CSM course is a two-day (16 hours) course delivered by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®).There is no standard fee, so the price can vary depending on the context: trainer, content, location, date ; the usual range is from 1000 to 1500 euros (or from 1150 to 1750 dollars).It includes two attempts to take the CSM exam and a two-year membership to the new Scrum Alliance® community. Those two attempts have to be used in the next 90 days after attendees receive the welcome email to pass the test. Beyond this duration, they will be prompted to pay $25 to take the exam. Certification is valid for two years, then it requires to be renewed after that.Besides, attendees to the CSM course will be granted with 14 PDUs credits: 10 PDUs in Technical Project Management and 4 PDUs in Leadership. What can be considered as a drawback is that there is no standard content course. Course materials are made by individual trainers, which implies it can be limited by their experience and opinion.Cost of the Scrum Master CertificationThere is no specific cost for the Certification: fee is included into the CSM two-day course. The structure of the examThe exam is composed of 35 multiple-choice and true/false questions. At least 24 correct answers are required to pass the exam, and there is no time limit to answer those questions. Topics covered in the CSM exam As this exam requires to demonstrate an understanding of the key Scrum elements, it covers general Scrum knowledge, Scrum roles, Scrum meetings and Scrum artifacts.Here are the Sample questions of CSM exam 1) What does NOT belong to the agile manifesto's main pillars?Individuals and interactions over processes and toolsWorking software over comprehensive documentationProcesses over peopleCustomer collaboration over contract negotiationAnswer: Processes over people2) How should work be allocated to the team in an Agile project?The Team Leader (ScrumMaster) should allocate specific tasks to individualsTasks should be randomly allocated to team members, using Planning PokerTeam members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skillsThe most complex tasks should be allocated by the Team Leader (ScrumMaster)Answer: Team members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skills3) What are the disadvantages of the classical waterfall model? (Select the best alternative)A) End-Product has to be fully anticipated beforehandB) Some requirements are implemented as defined in the beginning of the project, and yet they are not really needed by the customerC) Each phase is strictly separated- A- A, B- C, B- A, B, CAnswer: A, B, C4) Who is responsible for prioritizing the product backlog?- Product Owner- Project Manager- Lead Developer- Business AnalystAnswer: Product Owner5) What kind of software development projects can be executed by Scrum Project Management Framework?- Complete software packages- Customer projects- Sub-systems, components or parts of bigger systems- All kinds of software development projects- None of the given answersAnswer: All kinds of software development projectsSalary of the Certified Scrum MasterSalary per year Junior Senior US$82,000 - 105,000$105,000 - 120,000Europe38,000 - 55,000 €55,000 - 75,000 €DubaiAED 25,000AED 35,000IndiaRs. 731,983Rs. 1,424,186
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Everything you need to know about PSM certification
By Nicolas Casel
1. Introduction to Professional Scrum MasterWho is Professional Scrum Master (PSM)?We partially give some elements in a previous article on our blog: “ How To Choose A Scrum Master? “. On top of that, it is important to highlight that the Professional Scrum Master wear different hats according to the context: s/he is a coach, facilitator, enabler, problem- solver, proxy. His/Her main characteristic is to embody Servant Leadership. And basically, as the first promoter of Agile in the organization, s/he truly has the Agile mindset and is more than willing to share it.Role and Responsibilities of PSM in the teamBecause the position of Scrum Master depends so much on the context, you will find multiple potential roles and responsibilities description by searching on the Internet. However, here are the basics:Coaching the organization, especially the Scrum Team, to get an Agile mindsetIncreasing the quality of deliverables and reducing time to deliverHelping the Dev Team to become self-organized and self-empoweredBuilding culture of trust, transparency, feedback and “fast failure to learn fast”\Advocating in favor of the more appropriated framework to make the Dev Team performant – it can be something else than Scrum!Ensuring that this framework is properly implemented to fit with the Scrum Team needsRemoving any impediment and blocker that prevent the Scrum Team to perform Requirements to become a PSMOfficially, there is no specific requirement: everyone is a potential candidate to become a Professional Scrum Master (PSM).Why become a PSM and what do I need to become a PSMDo you live and breathe Agile? Ok, that sounds too much.Nevertheless, have in mind that learning theory and training to open assessments is one sufficient thing to get certified but acting as a good Scrum Master requires a true behavior and belief in Agile philosophy coupled with large experience, ideally in organizations that have succeeded in their transformation.Like other jobs at “vocation”, you feel a true desire to become Scrum Master when working or at least meeting with one of them. When you meet a great Scrum Master, at some point you could become aware that you do want to do the same job: because you help people working better, feeling better at work, you participate to a radical transformation in the workplace for a better organization.2. What’s the importance of a PSM certificate?Getting a PSM certificate demonstrates the capacity to know, understand and apply Scrum in real-world situations.3. PSM Certification TrainingHow to become a PSM?Although it is highly recommended, taking a training is optional. However, taking the official exam is mandatory to get certified. Scrum.org is the official provider:Syllabus of Professional Scrum MasterA core of knowledge about Scrum remains the Scrum Guide from Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland.Spend time and train seriously on the Scrum Open Assessment: this is the most realistic assessment you can train on!Next very useful resources are available with the Scrum Master Learning Path: this is a set of Professional Scrum Competencies which each contain a number of focus areas.Further reading:Scrum tutorial: An in-depth learning of Scrum, about its origin, evolution, and the progressive development of the framework.Scrum.org recommends strongly these books:Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther VerheyenSoftware in 30 days by Ken SchwaberScrum.org offers also:A very complete glossaryforums populated by threads of quality, written by contributors with solid experience in ScrumA popular blog regularly updated with highly valuable posts, again made by writers shortlisted by Scrum.orgOther Open Assessments might be relevant to gain additional perspective on the other roles of a Scrum Team: check the Scrum Developer Open Assessment and the Product Owner Open Assessment.What is the eligibility to become a PSM trainer?Eligibility to become a PSM trainer requires three conditions. First, candidates must have at least four years of intense experience as Scrum Master in software development. Second, candidates must have conducted real-world training and have delivered coaching using Scrum. On top of that, candidates passed their PSM 1 assessment with at least a 95% score.After PSM training within how many days do I need to take the certification? After PSM training, there is no minimum duration to take the certification. As soon as candidates feel they are ready, they can schedule an online assessment.4. Exam and Certification Information Who provides the certification?Scrum.Org coursesA list of Scrum.org official sessions is available online. As stated on their website:Professional Scrum Master™ (PSM) is a 2-day course that covers the principles and (empirical) process theory underpinning the Scrum framework and the role of the Scrum Master in it. This course is a combination of instruction and team-based exercises and teaches what is at the heart of the Scrum and Agile movement. The course also includes a free attempt at the globally recognized Professional Scrum Master I certification exam (PSM I).It is also important to know that taking a Scrum.org official training offers candidates a free attempt at the assessment.What is the process for applying for the certification?As passing the certification does not require to attend to the official course, candidates can directly apply on the Scrum.org website. They will receive a personal password (with no expiration date) and then they can connect to a specific page and take the exam.Cost of the Professional Scrum Master certificationThe cost is $150 per attempt. If you attend a Scrum.org training class, fees include a free attempt.The structure of the examThe exam is exclusively online. It consists of 80 Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer and True/False questions. 60 minutes maximum are allowed to perform the full exam, and only English language is available.Topics covered in the PSM examScrum Framework: this is foundational knowledge for every Scrum Team member. It covers Scrum theory as described in the Scrum Guide.Scrum Theory and Principles: this topic is more about understanding Scrum theory: empirical process, principles, and values of Scrum.Cross-Functional, Self-Organizing Teams. Questions here cover how Scrum Teams are different from traditional development teams:cross-functional, self-empowered and self-organizing people promote flexibility, creativity, and productivity.Coaching and Facilitation. Questions here are about how mindset and behavior of Scrum Master are different from traditional Project Manager: by acting as a Servant Leader, the Scrum Master facilitates and coaches full organizations in understanding and using Scrum.Sample questions of PSM exam Here are three potential questions at the PSM exam:Question 1: When many Development Teams are working on a single product, what best describes the definition of “done”?Each Development Team defines and uses its own. The differences are discussed and reconciled during a hardening Sprint.Each Development Team uses its own but must make their definition clear to all other Teams so the differences are known.All development Teams must have a definition of “done” that makes their combined work potentially releasable.It dependsCorrect answer : 3Question 2:The three pillars of empirical process control are: 1. Inspection, Transparency, Adaptation 2. Transparency, Eliminating Waste, Kaizen 3. Planning, Inspection, Adaptation 4. Respect For People, Kaizen, Eliminating Waste 5. Planning, Demonstration, RetrospectiveCorrect answer: 1Question 3:The maximum length of the Sprint Review (its time-box) is:4 hours for a monthly Sprint. For shorter Sprints, it is usually shorter.As long as needed.2 hours1 day.4 hours and long as needed.Correct answer: 1Tips to pass PSM The best way to be well prepared for the PSM official exam is to work on the Scrum Open Assessment.You can consider that you are ready once you get 100% at every attempt.Salary of the Professional Scrum MasterSalaries of the PSM can vary a lot according to level of experience, industry, company size and location. Here is a table with most common figures:USFranceUnited KingdomSingaporeJunior70,000-115,00030,000-40,00040,000-70,00080,000-100,000Mid-Senior(more than 3 years with SM experience)90,000-135,00035,000-55,00060,000-110,00095,000-125,0005. Is the PSM I certification worth investing?CSM vs PSM exam:"Differences to note" CSM PSM Passing ScoreMinimum 69%(24 out of 35 questions)Minimum 85%Exam patternMultiple choiceMultiple choice,Multiple Answers and True/False questions.Exam durationNo time limit,35 questions60 minutes to complete 80 questionsCertification Validation2 yearsLife timeCertification cost 1200$2nd attempt is free in within 60 days 25$ for additional attempt. 150$(one attempt)Exam Level2 Days training + Exam Much harder than CSM Require experience,and deep Theoretical knowledge.The first goal at Scrum.org is to make candidates understanding how to get valuable software thanks to a high level of maturity in Agile using Scrum. In order to achieve that, Scrum.org deliver assessments to examine, improve and certify candidates’ knowledge of Scrum. On top of that, the Scrum Guide and the Nexus Guide serve as the main background for all Scrum.org assessments. Individuals that are successful at the PSM 1 certification demonstrate a fundamental level of Scrum mastery: they understand Scrum as described in the Scrum Guide and the concepts of applying Scrum. The PSM 1 certification is considered significantly more valuable than other options for Scrum.6. What next after PSM?People who follow Scrum.org courses can claim Project Management Institute (PMI) Professional Development Units credit: 14 PDUs after attending a two-day Professional Scrum Master (PSM). Keep in mind that PMI PDUs are earned for course attendance and not for passing a Scrum.org assessment.7. How much should I pay to renew PSM certification?There is no need to renew PSM certification: Scrum.org certificates are lifelong and do not require any additional payments or renewals.Career benefits of PSM certifiedConsequently, becoming now a certified and experienced professional in Agile expertise seems to be an interesting option to stay at least “employable” and marketable. Still being realistic, professionals in Agile will be directly requested either to perform the Agile transformation in many big (old) organizations or to build the Agile culture from scratch in new companies and startups. Attractive and valuable challenges are in perspective.
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