I am very excited to share my first blog post with you.
For everyone who doesn’t know, I’ve graduated from the University of Sydney with Master’s in Project Management, and I’ve worked in the software development industry as Project/Product Manager for 5+ years. I hold PSM I and PSPO I (Professional Scrum Product Owner I) certificates. Currently, I work as a Scrum Master at Ericsson Supply Site Tallinn.
At some point in my career, I’ve decided to get a professional certification in the field of project management. The reason why I chose to learn more about Scrum and get an accreditation is I wanted to dig deeper into agile methodologies and frameworks as I believe that in a software environment agile tools and techniques are more suitable. I wanted to explore how to improve teamwork, which structure to choose and what is the most popular agile framework and why. I found that just like a rugby team training for the big game, Scrum being the most popular agile framework helps teams to learn through experiences, self-organize while working on a problem, and reflect on their wins and losses to improve continuously. Most software development teams usually adopt Scrum; however, its principles and lessons can be applied to all kinds of teamwork. Scrum has an established set of meetings, tools, and roles that encourage teams to structure and manage their work. Exactly something that I was looking for!
Main differences between CSM and PSM
Thus, I’ve searched for materials on the Internet and found that there are two Scrum certifications available on the market: Certified Scrum Master by Scrum Alliance and Professional Scrum Master certification by Scrum.org. Both have their pros and cons.
An interesting point to mention is that Ken Schwaber, one of the founders of the Scrum Alliance, has left the organization to create Scrum.org. There were some vision issues related to assessments, the program etc. Ken created Scrum.org to improve the quality and effectiveness of Scrum.
One of the main differences between these two programs is the fact that you will need to take a mandatory official training to pass CSM. On the contrary, to get PSM, there is no requirement for training, you are allowed to study the way you want.
Another difference is the cost. You have to pay between 1200 EUR-1600 EUR for official training and the test whereas a PSM test will cost you 126 EUR (150 USD). CSM requires re-certification that will cost you 100 USD every two years. PSM doesn’t have such a requirement.
Why did I choose to take PSM?
First of all, I didn’t quite get the point of mandatory official training at Scrum Alliance. The person who genuinely wants to learn about Scrum will do so anyway. I assumed that it’s impossible to fail the test after paying that much money for the 2-day training and learning at least the bare minimum even without paying full attention. In my view, two days is not enough to get a good understanding of Scrum. I believe it takes much more reading, learning and preparing. 74% passing score for the 1-hour test of 50 questions seemed too easy. And they give you two attempts!
Thinking of the fact that both certifications are based on Scrum Guide and teach you Scrum and the fact that I am quite capable of learning on my own, I chose PSM.
PSM makes you work hard to get it. The exam consists of 80 questions with 85% passing score in 1 hour. And you get only one attempt to pass it. You can’t find the answers online; the questions are written in such a way that if you don’t truly understand Scrum, you won’t get a correct solution. Trust me; I’ve failed once before getting the certificate the second time.
I’ve prepared better for the next time because I knew that this is not some online test that you can do just by participating in 2-days training.
Who should take it?
If you are a Project Manager thinking of switching to agile methodologies at your workplace, or maybe you’re hired to the organization that has already adopted Scrum, so you have to get a good understanding of it while also having a hands-on experience.
You’re not a project manager, but your company is on the way of agile transformation, so you got to get additional skills as well.
You’re thinking of becoming a Scrum Master.
Anyone who is interested in Scrum and wants to practice it.
Learning materials that helped me to get PSM I
Here are some useful materials that I used myself which will help you to pass PSM I exam:
Scrum Guide. You should read it 2-3 times at least to get a full understanding.
Excellent training by Paul Ashun at Udemy. It will give you an initial understanding and everything you need to know about the exam. The course is usually on sale. Currently, you can get it for 10.99 EUR.
Handy exam simulator by Mplaza. It is the largest available bank of questions (455 questions) containing helpful explanations for each question. I suggest you do the tests until you’re getting 100% each time. This would mean that you’re ready to take the exam. It’s only 27 EUR, and, trust me, and it is worth the money you’ll pay for it.
Additionally, the tests by Mikhail Lapshin are also great to take. They’re free.
Don’t forget about the official free Scrum Open tests.
And each time you have doubts, search for answers, specifically at Scrum.org forum. I am sure you can find solutions to your questions there which will help you to pass the exam.
Overall, I recommend reading Scrum Guide 2-3 times, watching the online training, do the tests that I mentioned, and when you start getting 100% score, take the official exam.
Of course, getting the certification is not an end goal. It would be best if you aimed to practice everything you learned, read some additional materials, continuously improve by engaging with other Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches. A perfect book for current and future Scrum Masters would be Scrum Mastery by Geoff Watts. I am reading it currently myself, and I can’t get enough!
Good luck, everyone, and feel free to contact me if you have any further questions!