Agile Certification Challenge 2020

Agile Certification Challenge 2020

Bewildered by the circus of over 250 Agile and Scrum Certifications on the market today? Wondering which certifications hold the most value? Me too!

In January 2020 I announced my own personal Agile Certification Challenge. My goal for this challenge is to get 52 new Agile and Scrum Certifications this year, or one per week. I already had 8 certifications so this would get me to 60 certifications total by year-end.

There are a lot of certifications to choose from. An overwhelming number of at least 256 related certifications that we were able to verify as you can see in this searchable table.

Looking for the last update on the challenge? You can skip the background and jump right to the latest update here:

Agile Certification Progress Update for April 1, 2020

Why Take on the Agile Certification Challenge?

Why would I take on the Agile Certification Challenge? Great question! Here are my reasons:

  1. To Learn! I am a lifetime learner. I love to learn especially when it is information that I can apply.
  2. Challenges Motivate Me. Challenges inspire me to push through and achieve things I would otherwise not accomplish. Publishing my own book, running the Boston Marathon, and growing my Agile Coaching business are examples of past challenges.
  3. To provide value to others. I put this last but it is certainly not the least important. Right now there is a dizzying number of Agile and Scrum Certifications. The certifying bodies behind those certifications are self-promoting and not objective about the value of their offerings. Most aren’t even very transparent about who they are. My intent is to learn as much as possible, write about and share my experience, and create a directory to guide others.

Background on the Agile Certification Challenge

We’ve posted the chart below on our Circus of Agile Certifications blog. We are trying to keep it up to date but that is difficult because new certifications seem to be created all the time.

summary of agile certifications

My Approach to this Certification Challenge

I would love your feedback and tips related to how to accomplish this challenge. It won’t be trivial to get a certification per week. Certainly, there are some that don’t require much more than paying your money and taking a test, but I don’t want 52 of those.

My considerations for planning this include:

  • I want to maximize my learning. This may mean that I may need to forego some of the easy and entry-level certs to obtain some of the more advanced ones, like PSM II or III. Hat tip to Chris Belknap for that shift in thinking.
  • Experience all the certifying bodies. I would like to gain firsthand experience with each of the 34 certifying bodies if that is possible. I already have 8 certifications from 4 certifying bodies.
  • Timing – I am going to see what can be done in one calendar year. Can I accomplish them in a 52-week period?
  • I will choose certifications that are a fit for my role. I am a trainer and coach and some of these are just not necessary or achievable. I don’t want to rule them out but certainly, there are certifications are targeted to Agile Testers and Developers or DevOps that would be either difficult or nonsensical for me. There are also advanced certifications for training like Certified Scrum Trainer, Professional Scrum Trainer and Certified Disciplined Agile Instructor that are likely not achievable in the coming year.
  • Optimizing my spending. I don’t have unlimited funds, and many of these certifications are costly to obtain in time and money. Where possible, I want to take training in my home town, or if I have to travel, to use the travel to get multiple training courses. I will also leverage online training (thought that can conflict with my next consideration). Finally, I will ask for discounts from the providers to be able to reduce spending.
  • Learn from the Best! Where possible I will take training courses from the “top tier” industry experts. For example, Craig Larman and Bas Vodde are the creators of LeSS and I want to take my LeSS training from one of them.
  • Prioritize the Top Tier Certifications. Achievement of certifications from what I consider to be “top tier” certifying authorities, especially those where I don’t hold any current certifications:
    • Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD)
    • Large Scale Scrum (LeSS)
    • Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
    • Kanban University
    • ICAgile
    • Scrum Inc.
    • Scrum @ Scale

My current plan is to use each month as a sprint. Each sprint will have a theme and the deliverables will be not only learning but the achievement of 4-5 certifications. I will also write a review for each of the certifying bodies.

Here is the high-level plan for the first 6-months of 2020.

January 2020 – ScrumStudy

There are a series of certifications from ScrumStudy and the International Scrum Institute that are achievable without traveling to attend external training classes. I intend to complete 4 of those just to get the ball rolling.

February – Disciplined Agile Delivery

I registered for a Disciplined Agile Training Class in Chicago, the Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master Class. I think it may be possible to achieve 3 or 4 DAD certifications with that one class. I am also exploring a one-day Team Kanban Practitioner course in Costa Mesa CA.

Update January 27 – My DAD class in Chicago was canceled so I registered for a course next week in Florida. It will be more cost and time, unfortunately.

March – Scaled Agile Framework

I am going to be in Phoenix Arizona for most of March so I am looking for training opportunities there. There is a SAFE Advanced Scrum Master Class in Phoenix on March 16 & 17.

April – Kanban

I have my eye on a Kanban course being taught by David Anderson called the Change Leadership Masterclass (leading to the AKC credential). At $6,500, it isn’t going to be cheap so I am exploring discounts.

May – TBD

The month of May is TBD at this point. Perhaps I will fill in with some of the easy to achieve certifications from the International Scrum Institute.

June – Large Scale Scrum Training with Craig Larman

I had been waiting to hear about Craig Larman’s plans to visit the Midwest. Larman has training scheduled in Minneapolis and Detroit and he has just added a June Chicago LeSS Practitioner Course to his itinerary. So I am going to plan on attending that class.

February 1, 2020 Update – Agile Certifications Challenge

Woohoo, so far I am on track with the Agile Certifications Challenge for January with 4 completed certifications out of 52! I started with ScrumStudy after getting a free training class offer from them. I used their online training courses and studied their proprietary Scrum Body of Knowledge (SBOK Guide) and was able to pass the following 3 certifications:

  • #1 – Scrum Foundations Certified (SFC)
  • #2 – Scrum Master Certified (SMC)
  • #3 – Scrum Developer Certified (SDC)

You can read my review of ScrumStudy, the SBOK and the three certifications here: The Certifications from ScrumStudy.org

I also signed up for several agile certifications through the International Scrum Institute. The first one seems logical, the Scrum Team Member Accredited Certification. So I took it and handily passed with 49 out of 50 correct responses. Yay!

  • #4 – Scrum Team Member Accredited Certification (STMAC)

Here is a summary chart of my cumulative Certifications as of February 1.

agile certifications challenge progress Feb 1 2020

March 1, 2020 Update – Agile Certifications Challenge

February was a productive month. As planned I took the training course for Disciplined Agile and learned more about that framework. You can read all about my Disciplined Agile experience and the resulting certifications here: Checking Out the Certifications from Disciplined Agile

And as predicted, I was able to get 3 certifications from that one training class:

  • Disciplined Agilist
  • Certified Disciplined Agilist
  • Certified Disciplined Agile Practitioner

I have applied for a fourth and expect to hear within a week if my Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master application was reviewed and accepted. Learn more in my post about the DA Certifications.

Here is an updated summary chart showing the year to date progress:

2020 Agile certifications challenge progress

This month we also quietly launched a site where you can learn more about all 250+ agile and Scrum certifications AND weigh in with your own comments and ratings. We are crowd-sourcing information about all the available certifications and would love your help. Please check out the site and add your feedback: Agile Certification Reviews

April 1, 2020 Update – Agile Certifications Challenge

Wow was March a real challenge. In addition to some true personal challenges and a near meltdown, we have the COVID-19 pandemic to deal with. Luckily I was able to stay more or less on track with the agile certifications challenge. Though I am not sure how practical it is to continue through 2020.

As anticipated, I received my Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master (DALSM) certification. This was based on the February 2020 training course and a quick reference check of my performance on a couple of past agile initiatives where I was the coach/SM.

I also completed 4 certifications from the Scrum Institute. I have yet to write up my experience with the Scrum Institute but I will say this, I was underwhelmed. My disappointment started with the incorrect attribution of the Scrum Framework to Harvard Business School professors Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka and went downhill from there. (To be clear, Takeuchi and Nonaka did write the 1986 article The New New Product Development Game that mentioned Scrum (1X) and Rugby (11X) but that was only inspiration to the actual co-creators of the Scrum Framework.)

My certifications from the Scrum Institute included:

  • Scrum Master Accredited Certification
  • Scrum Product Owner Accredited Certification
  • Scaled Scrum Expert Accredited Certification
  • Agile Scrum Leadership (Executive) Accredited Certification

Here is an updated summary chart showing the year to date progress:

agile certification challenge progress april 2020

Ideally I would be at 13 at the end of March but I can live with 12 :). Coming in April I have signed up for a Certified LeSS Basics (CLB) course but after that I have a big question mark. With a slowdown in coaching and training, I really need to be opportunistic now with my limited funds. So future progress will depend on the cost and availability of something suitable. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

As noted last month, we we also launched a site where you can learn more about all known 250+ agile and Scrum certifications AND weigh in with your own comments and ratings. We’ve made some improvements based on earlier feedback so please check it out here: Agile Certification Reviews

We are crowd-sourcing information for that site so I invite you to please add your comments and ratings or let me know if you want to write a review for one of the certifications:

Stay tuned! Comments welcomed!

agile coach ebook

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Jeremy Hanson

    Hi Anthony…You have quite the ambitious 2020 carved out and appreciate your effort in the write up and plan. I would love to gain your thoughts on a couple questions when you get a spare moment. Email is great.

  2. Dan Roman

    waste of time and money but interesting as a challenge.
    My take – PMI-ACP is the best, it is framework agnostic and require practice and study.

    If you really want a challenge take the CSSBB from ASQ. Most of SAFe, kanban and other ‘scaled’ are kindergarten participation certificate comparing with CSSBB

    1. Anthony Mersino

      Hi Dan, thank you for weighing in. I will check out the CSSBB – it wasn’t one on the list. Through this process, I keep learning about more certifications and I am hoping to bring clarity for others.
      Cheers,
      Anthony

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