Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Certified Scrum Practitioner

I received a nice email today from the the Scrum-Alliance, Subject: CSP Application Approved (and Next Steps). So what does it mean to be a Certified Scrum Practitioner? How do you become a CSP?

The process for applying is relatively simple. After you have been a CSM for a year, you download the form, answer the questions and send it in. They only ask for money when your application is approved. (+1 for customer friendliness -- that was the item "Next Step" in the E-Mail.).

The application "form" -- template would be a better word -- consists of 14 essay questions about a particular Scrum project, 5 questions about Scrum in general, and one question about your work with other Scrum Masters to promote Scrum and the Scrum Communitity.

So a CSP is expected to
  1. Have actually worked with Scrum in a real project
  2. Really understand Scrum ("get it")
  3. Promote Scrum
  4. Be able to write coherently about Scrum and his/her experience with Scrum.
This last two criteria makes the CSP different from any multiple choice based certification, which can be evalulated by a computer. Somebody has to actually read the application.

Value of the CSP

A certification can offer value in many ways. It can:
  • improve your market value/be prerequisite for certain jobs
  • recognition for your skill
  • be a step on a career path
How does the CSP measure up?

Market Value: There are some 25'000 CSMs out there and only about 800 CSPs. So there is some exclusivity in being a CSP. But... a search of produced exactly 59 jobs for a Scrum Master, 7 jobs postings requiring a CSM. I found one requiring "CSP equivalent", but it had expired. Conclusion: doesn't appear to be a career move. Of course, I'm not looking for a job, but rather coaching and training assignments, so the estimate of market value is even harder to judge.

Skill Recognition: Yes, somebody has read my application and said effectively, "you're doing good, keep up the nice work". Of course, I already knew that, but it's nice to get some warm fuzzies from the Scrum Alliance confirming that. That there are only 800 people worldwide who have taken this step is also nice. Of course, there are many more than that doing Scrum at high level without the stamp of approval.

By comparison, the German language Project Managment Forum in Xing has over 32'000 members. Don't have any figures on actual, PMP or ITIL certifications, but it seems it must be a much larger number.

Career Path: Since the change in the qualifications for becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), the CSP is a stepping stone to becoming as CST. This is where I see the major value. I like giving courses and look forward to becoming a CST.

So its done and is worth celebrating. I will bring a some Prosecco to the September Scrum Breakfast to toast this step forwards. Hope to see you there!