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 wrote some relevant insights about 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 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 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 to 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 interferences or troubles that make them losing focus on their primary workAnticipating, identifying and removing any impediments, and coaching Team Members to learn solving 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 Master Getting 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 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 of 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 has to be used in the next 90 days after attendees welcome email to pass the test. Beyond this duration, they will be prompted to pay $25 to take the exam. Certification is valid during two years, then it requires to be renewed.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 by 35 multiple-choice and true/false questions. At least 24 correct answers are required to take the exam, and there is no time limit to answer those questions. Topics covered in the CSM exam As this exam requires to demonstrate understanding of 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 yearJuniorSeniorUS$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 PSM?Do 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.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 PSMThe 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)90,000-135,00035,000-55,00060,000-110,00095,000-125,000CSM vs PSM exam:"Differences to note" 5. Is the PSM I certification worth investing?CSMPSMPassing 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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