In the ever-evolving world of agile project management, certifications play a vital role in showcasing a professional’s expertise and commitment to mastering the art of agile methodologies. Among the most sought-after certifications in the industry are the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) designations. These two certifications represent the pinnacle of Scrum knowledge and serve as a testament to a candidate’s proficiency in leading and facilitating agile teams.
While both CSM and PSM certifications revolve around Scrum principles, they differ significantly in their approach, assessment, and requirements. Understanding these differences is crucial for aspiring agile practitioners and project management professionals seeking to make informed decisions about which certification aligns best with their career goals and aspirations. In this blog, we embark on a comprehensive journey to unveil the distinctions between CSM and PSM certifications, delving into their respective focuses, examination formats, and industry recognition. So, let’s dive in and unravel the nuanced contrasts between these two prominent Scrum Master certifications!
What is Scrum?
Before we delve into the intricacies of CSM and PSM certifications, let us first understand what Scrum is. Agile software development has revolutionised the way businesses approach problem-solving and project management. One of the most popular methodologies in this approach is Scrum, which prioritises efficiency, flexibility, and transparency. With its iterative and incremental structure, Scrum enables self-organising teams to continuously improve and adapt to changing requirements and market conditions. This allows businesses to deliver high-value solutions quickly and effectively, ensuring that their strategies and goals remain on track. Ultimately, the flexibility and responsiveness offered by Scrum make it an essential tool for businesses operating in a rapidly changing environment.
From the Scrum Guide:
“Scrum is a framework for developing, delivering, and sustaining complex products. Scrum is not a process, technique, or definitive method. Rather, it is a framework within which you can employ various processes and techniques. Scrum makes clear the relative efficacy of your product management and work techniques so that you can continuously improve the product, the team, and the working environment.
The latest update to the Scrum Guide also lists possible uses for Scrum:
- Research and identify viable markets, technologies, and product capabilities;
- Develop products and enhancements;
- Release products and enhancements, as frequently as many times per day;
- Develop and sustain Cloud (online, secure, on-demand) and other operational environments for product use; and,
- Sustain and renew products.
Origin of Scrum
Scrum is a process framework that has been used to manage work on complex products since the early 1990s. Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland worked on Scrum until 1995, when they co-presented Scrum at the OOPSLA Conference 1995. In 2001, the Scrum Alliance was founded and the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification program was launched. This presentation marked the first formal definition of Scrum and documented the learnings gained by Ken and Jeff over the previous few years.
Scrum has been sustained and evolved for over 20 years by both Schwaber and Sutherland. In fact, both were present at the writing of the Agile Manifesto in 2001, where Scrum was one of several lightweight processes presented. Today, the Scrum Alliance promotes the use of Scrum and provides training and resources to help teams adopt this valuable framework.
Scrum Alliance vs Scrum.org
In 2001, Ken Schwaber made a bold move: he left behind the Scrum Alliance, an organisation he co-founded, and instead founded Scrum.org. His reasons for doing so stemmed from a deep concern about the state of Scrum methodology implementation in organisations. Specifically, there was a problematic perception that pervaded the industry–that the two-day Scrum Alliance CSM® certification course was enough to properly certify someone as a Scrum Master.
While the CSM®️ certification is one of the most popular choices, Scrum.org’s PSM™ certification stands apart with its unique approach. Unlike the CSM®️ certification, attending a workshop is not mandatory for PSM™ certification. However, that doesn’t mean the certification is any easier. The PSM™ assessments are designed to test a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of Scrum, making it a more rigorous process. But with that comes the assurance of attaining a precise and well-rounded understanding of one of the most influential project management methodologies in the industry.
Choosing Between the Best Scrum Master Certifications: CSM and PSM
When it comes to pursuing a Scrum Master certification, two names stand out prominently in the industry: Certified ScrumMaster (CSM®️) and Professional Scrum Master (PSM™). These certifications are highly regarded by organisations worldwide and hold the potential to significantly elevate a professional’s career in agile project management.
CSM®️, offered by Scrum Alliance, is one of the most widely recognized Scrum Master certifications. The CSM®️ certification focuses on the fundamental principles of Scrum, emphasizing the role of the Scrum Master in facilitating team collaboration and removing impediments. To attain the CSM®️ certification, candidates are required to complete a two-day training course conducted by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) and pass a simple online exam.
PSM (Professional Scrum Master):>
On the other hand, PSM™, offered by Scrum.org, emphases a deep understanding of Scrum principles and the ability to apply them effectively in real-world scenarios. PSM™ certifications are available at three different levels: PSM™ I, PSM™ II, and PSM™ III, each assessing a candidate’s knowledge and practical skills at varying levels of complexity. PSM™ certifications require candidates to pass a rigorous online assessment, demonstrating their comprehensive grasp of Scrum concepts and its applications.
Choosing the Right Certification for You:
The decision between CSM®️ and PSM™ largely depends on your career objectives, prior experience with Scrum, and the level of expertise you wish to attain. CSM®️ is an excellent starting point for those new to Scrum and seeking a foundational understanding of its principles. On the other hand, PSM™ offers a more comprehensive and rigorous assessment, making it an ideal choice for experienced Scrum practitioners aspiring to showcase their advanced knowledge and capabilities.
The CSM®️ and PSM™ certifications are two of the most prominent Scrum Master certifications in the industry. Although both certify a basic understanding of Agile and Scrum, our journey to uncover the distinctions between CSM and PSM certifications has come to an end. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which certification is right for you, based on your goals and experience level. With the correct preparation and an understanding of their respective focuses, formats, and industry recognition, you can make a more informed decision that will help you reach your professional ambitions principles, they differ in terms of focus and depth of knowledge.
The CSM®️ certification is best suited for those who are relatively new to Agile and Scrum, while the PSM™ certification requires a more advanced understanding of the frameworks. Both certifications offer industry recognition and validation of your skills, but it is up to you to decide which one aligns most closely with your goals. With the correct preparation and an understanding of their respective focuses, formats, and industry recognition, you can make a more informed decision that will help you reach your professional ambitions!
Also check out Skillier’s Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course. If you’re interested in learning more about agile or becoming a scrum master, then check out our courses on Agile. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it with your friends and colleagues! Also, be sure to check out our other blogs for more scrum tips and tricks. And be sure to follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for the latest news and updates!