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How to Learn Scrum and Become Certified (Foundation Level)

Scrum is a lightweight yet incredibly powerful set of values, principles and practices, which assures the business a maximum return on investment. Through the approach presented in this syllabus, you will learn the Scrum framework and gain an understanding of core Scrum knowledge, a first step to become an Agile practitioner.

  1. Understand what Agile is
  2. Learn the Scrum methodology
  3. Go for a certification

1. Understand what Agile is

If you are already familiarized with other Agile techniques and their underlying values and principles, you can jump directly to the next section Learn the Scrum methodology

Understand the Agile Manifesto

Agile covers a family of iterative project management methodologies, developed and popularized in the early 2000’s mainly as a software development technique. It is usually opposed to a more traditional, sequential project management approach, often called “waterfall”.

Agile methodologies have a common base: the Agile Manifesto

You can watch the 2 short videos (approx. 6 min each) below to understand the 4 Values and 12 Principles embedded in the Agile Manifesto:

Values (starting 1:44)

Principles (starting 0:33)

Learn about Agile

Stephen Denning has written a book in 2018 called “The Age of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done” (338 pages). It gives a very good introduction to agile and presents many case studies from companies having implemented agile.

His book is based on a shorter article published in 2016 at Forbes, worth the 10-min read time.

Agile is about working smarter, rather than harder. It’s not about doing more work in less time: it’s about generating more value with less work.

Attend a course on Agile (optional)

There are many online and classroom introductory courses on Agile.

I recommend the online course by LinkedIN (Lynda) “Agile Foundations” (duration 1h35) because it is methodology-neutral and it provides the knowledge basis of Agile.

2. Learn the Scrum methodology

Read the Scrum Guide

Scrum is an Agile framework following strict definitions, that everyone aiming at using Scrum has to comply with.

The definitions are provided in the Scrum Guide, a 19-page document written by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in 2001 and revised since then regularly.

It is more than a simple document, it is the Body of Knowledge for Scrum, its bible, and certification exams are based on the knowledge and understanding of the Scrum guide.

View the Scrum Framework in action

Based on the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Framework provides a graphical view of how Scrum is implemented at a team level within an organization.

Scrum.org has a poster version of it, that you should print out and have beside you as a reference and to add notes:

The same website is providing a short video describing the typical activities, roles and artifacts of the Scrum Framework relating to a Sprint:

Attend a Scrum course (with certification preparation)

Even though Scrum can be learned by reading books and watching support videos, attending a course has 2 additional reasons beside the advantages of being taught by a professional trainer:

  • Some certifications require attending an official course
  • Certified professionals must prove continuous education to renew their certifications

Most of the courses include practice tests and/or free trial participation(s) in the certification exam.

If you require some time flexibility and are short in money, edX provides a free introduction program to Scrum over 4 sessions of 2-3 hours each:

For a classroom (virtual or not) experience with interactions, I recommend a 2-day course with a certified trainer, such as UK-based Agil8’s or Swiss-based SGO’s Scrum course offers:

3. Go for a certification

Choose your path

Whenever possible, a formal certification should be targeted. But two questions must be answered first.

1/ Which Scrum role is relevant for me? There are 2 main different roles in Scrum: Scrum Master and Product Owner. Team Developer is an entry grade role and does not provide much more than what can be learned from the Scrum Guide. I do not recommend getting a certification for this role.

This article Scrum Master or Product Owner: What Suits You Better? provides a couple of questions to ask oneself in order to choose between Scrum Master and Product Owner roles.

2/ Which Scrum certification body should I choose? There are two main bodies providing and certifying people on Scrum, with different titles and unrelated progression paths: the Scrum Alliance and scrum.org.

The article Scrum.org & Scrum Alliance Compared provides a table comparing both certification bodies and their requirements for the Scrum Master role (it is very similar for Product Owner). The main criteria to consider are costs, duration of certification, and exam type.

Prepare and exercise for the Scrum exam

Free practice tests (also called Open Assessments for scrum.org) and mock exams are broadly available. They should be taken regularly while learning in order to measure progress and to get used to the questions & answers.


Attend a Scrum course (with certification preparation)

Taking a course can be required in order to obtain a certification. Therefore, it makes sense to both learn about Scrum and prepare for the certification exam at the same time.

Most of the Scrum courses usually provide it in the same package. Check the chapter Attend a Scrum course out for offers (no need to take two different courses).

Pass the exam (if required)

The exam is performed online. The duration, format, and success criteria depend on the certification body and targeted Scrum role.

Sources / inspirations:

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