How to Choose a Scrum Training Program

With so many agile certifications, trainers and training companies around, are you confused with where to go and what to do? This article could be a help in deciding your path to learning, instead of wasting money, time and energy in wrong places. Why is this important in the first place? Lot of people I talked to seem to struggle in deciding and often make wrong choices. Here are some of the comments/questions I hear:

  • “I don’t know how this certification is useful for me”
  • “I have no idea who the trainer is”
  • “What all other certifications I should do?”
  • “I came here since my manager sent me, I just need the certification”

I recently talked to an Agile coach who was looking to hire a ScrumMaster. He told me that he rejected 130 candidates who don’t understand the basics of Scrum. They are all certified! Imagine you have a certification but no knowledge. First of all you will flunk the interview. Even you got the job somehow, you won’t be able to perform to the expectation of the organisation. So, it is important to give a careful thought to how to get value for you investment!

Start with “Why?”

When people come to me and ask what all certifications they should do, I ask them “what do you want to be?” Most of the time I get a blank face. Knowing what you want to be is the first step. Do you want to be a great technologist? or a great Leader? or you want to be a visionary for building great products? Without understanding what you want to be, you might be putting your investment in the wrong places. If you can’t reflect by yourself, ask a coach who can help you reflect.

Where to get the knowledge?

You can always learn by yourself by reading books, watching videos or online courses. However, attending an authentic training program definitely will jump start your journey. Getting a certification is more to show case that you have the knowledge when you are finding a job or going up in the ladder in your organisation.

If you decided to get a certification in the field of choice, research the certification bodies which are authentic. As far as Scrum is concerned, ScrumAlliance.org and Scrum.org are definitely authentic. How do you chose the certification body? The value of the certification depends on awareness of the certification in that region. You can check what most people are doing or ask a mentor.

How to find Workshops?

After deciding the certification go to the website of the certification body where usually all the courses are listed. Find the the courses in your city using the search function. For example all the Scrum Alliance courses could be found at https://www.scrumalliance.org/courses-events/search?rad=30&pg=1. When you search for the course in your city, probably you will see many sessions listed for various dates by various trainers or training companies. You may find these courses on other websites of training companies. Be cognizant that some of them may not be authentic. So, sticking with certification body is always safe.

How to find right trainer?

This is where I suggest the you need to be careful. You should always look for who is the trainer, not just the training company. The reason is that the training companies could be marketing companies who are just aggregators. They won’t have any subject matter expertise on Scrum or Agile. These training companies work with multiple  trainers and can change the trainer on the fly. So you don’t know until last minute who is your trainer.

What is more important is the trainer profile. Research who is the trainer? What is their experience? Are they thought leaders? Who do you feel you can connect better with? But, how do you know all this information? Read their profiles on certification body website, look at their LinkedIn profile, check if they write blogs or articles. Read couple of articles to see how you feel. Check what others are saying about this trainer. Even better, contact the trainer and ask questions. If you are planning on taking a long journey in the career you have chosen, look for the trainer’s ability to take you all the way. Some trainers help their students through user groups, mentoring programs and coaching. These are all important information to consider.

Once, you chose the trainer, it is straight forward to register for your convenient date and city. Though we are all sensitive to price, that should not only be the decision maker. Don’t lose the value for your money just for a small discount upfront. The process may seem lengthy, but it is important to go through to get the most value for your investment.”

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