Certified Scrum Developer — Really?

It has been understood for years that Scrum does not define technical practices, and that technical practices are needed in order to be really successful doing Scrum. The Scrum theory — and it is not unreasonable — is that people will see their difficulties as impediments and remove them by adopting suitable technical practices.

This has worked fairly well for many Scrum teams, and quite well for a few. The few are well-known to be using XP-style practices. It has become clear, though, that on the average, Scrum teams are not getting the benefits that they might, and that one reason is that they do not figure out what technical practices to use.

The Scrum Alliance wants teams to be successful, and they recognize this issue. Their response is to create a new certification, Certified Scrum Developer, and a new program to support it.

To attain a CSD rating, an applicant must have either a CSM rating and three days of approved technical training, or a Scrum introductory course, three days of approved technical training, plus a one-day elective. There will also be an on line test to pass.

Certification of Developers is Impossible

If someone said to me that certification of developers is impossible, I would likely agree. At least it is incredibly difficult.

If someone said to me that three days of training and an on line test does not “certify” much of anything, I would certainly agree.

And that’s not the point. The point is to put people on the road.

Think of this more like a certificate you can take home from school and have your Mom hang it on the refrigerator. Or a United States state driving licence, where you show up, pass a simple test, manage to drive without hitting anything, and maybe to park.

It is definitely simpler than attaining the Boy Scout merit badge for Camping. To do that, you need to do actual camping for 20 days and 20 nights!

Isn’t This Just Useless?

We don’t think so. We think it’s a small step in the right direction. Chet and I have been involved in the Scrum Alliance program for CSD since the beginning, and we are proud to be the first-designated Certified Scrum Developers. We plan also to have the first approved course leading to the CSD. Let me tell you about that course.

The Scrum Alliance has settled on three days of technical training as one requirement to get the rating. We argued for five, but do agree that it is very difficult for most people to attend five days of training. The balance to be made is between providing enough experience to get people started, and having a program that people can actually get into.

Our course is based on the old XP Immersions that we used to do, and the XP Experience course that we still teach. The participants will be required to do actual programming, with TDD tests, refactoring, Acceptance Tests, and so on. There will be an iteration of four or five hours every day, together with demonstrations, a bit of lecturing, hand-outs, and so on.

We are confident, based on our experience doing it, that we can give participants a very real taste of what it is like to be on an Agile team, and a starting understanding of what the basic practices are, and experience to show why they are necessary. We are confident, in short, that we can set an interested developer on the road to learning and understanding what they need to know.

Our course is based, not only on our long experience, but on the work of the Agile Skills Project, which we were instrumental in founding. We intend that this course will serve as a benchmark for future courses leading to the CSD rating, and as a foundation for courses taking people further along the path.

What’s Next?

If you’re a developer trying to do Agile, this program can give you a leg up in learning. In addition, it is likely that the program will get the same level of corporate support behind it that the CSM has gained. This is a good thing, because it lets people get training that will be valuable, and it raises recognition of what is necessary for success.

If you’re an Agile or XP consultant or trainer, there are opportunities for you. It’s not all that hard or expensive to get the SA-REP (Scrum Alliance – Registered Education Provider) rating, and it isn’t hard to get courses approved, especially in the elective area. This gives you an option in marketing your services, with an implicit “blessing” from the Scrum Alliance.

Yes, sure, I know, who are they to be saying how good you are? I feel the same way. We thought we already knew how good we were. We don’t mind, however, having someone else say it, and we don’t mind having an entrée to the Scrum community.

Bottom Line

This program is far from perfect, and its far better than what we had before, which looked like Scrum didn’t care about technical practices. Scrum’s design intentionally does not speak to technical practices, and in our opinion that is a good thing. Scrum on the ground, however, needs technical practices, and we’re glad that the Scrum Alliance is getting behind that truth.

Could this be better? Sure. So could I, and so could you. Is it a step in the right direction? We sure think so, or we wouldn’t be doing it.

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Written by: Ron Jeffries

Categorization: Articles

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