Hope you liked our last Open Hour Episode#41 where our expert Saket Bansal discussed the questions asked by participants regarding the right certification/training for professional growth.
At our live open-hour session, you are invited to post your queries and get them answered by some of the top experts from the industry. Let it be Agile management, Agile Coaching, Estimation, queries related to certifications, follow-up queries, or any other aspect of project management.
Here are a few more top questions related to the right certification/training for professional growth that was discussed by our expert Saket Bansal in our following Open Hour Episode#42 session, which was streamed live on 28 Oct 2022.
Here is the summarized answer given by Saket Bansal for each question asked by participants-
Can I go directly for SAFe certification?
Saket: If you are working in SAFe environments and you are not yet educated or certified about your role as Scrum Master. I would advise you to go for the SAFe Scrum Master program because it will tell you about your context and the way your organization is operating. It will talk about all the events which are happening in your organization in the SAFe context.
If you are not yet working in SAFe environments which means you are working in a small scrum team as Scrum Master, and you are not part of the Agile Release train which has another 10 teams where they are coordinating, collaborating, and releasing products together. You are individual as a whole team or as one scrum team, you are taking care of delivery, delivering value incrementally, taking customer feedback, refining your backlog, and continue doing that work. Which means you are working in a good scrum environment. In that case, you would like to understand your role, and how the whole thing gets operated. I would suggest you go for Scrum Master Program from Scrum Alliance which is a CSM program.
If you are not working as a Scrum master anywhere that is if you are just a project manager or some other role, but you inspire for Scrum Master Role. Then if your organization is using SAFe go for the SAFe program else by default, I would recommend Scrum Master Program from Scrum Alliance.
Question: I’m Scrum Master certified, should I pursue SAFe certification? Which SAFe certification is good for me?
Saket: If you are working as a Scrum Master and you see going forward you continue working in a small team context where you are taking care of one scrum team, then you may not need a SAFe certification. You can continue doing Scrum Master, Advanced Scrum Master (A-CSM) and other coaching (ICP-ACC) and facilitation program (ICP-ATF).
But if you aspire to get into an environment where large-scale agile implementations are happening. 10+ teams are coming together, collaborating, doing joint planning meetings and delivering software
. In such a case, you probably see that the Scale Agile Framework (SAFe) is becoming a popular choice for your employer. The second reason can be that you want to remain in a delivery space, and you want to do the Scrum Master role in a more complex environment, where multiple team alignment is also needed; you probably want to learn Scale Agile Framework (SAFe).
So, if your focus is towards learning Scale Agile Framework, you can start with our set of videos, we have 50 plus videos. A good starting point would be the seven essential SAFe videos which will give you a feeling about SAFe. After that, if you want credibility in your profile, I recommend the Leading SAFe program because you still need to work in a SAFe environment. The SAFe Scrum Master program is mainly about the scrum role inside SAFe, whereas a leading SAFe program is about learning the management perspective of Scale Agile Framework (SAFe).
Incidentally, Leading SAFe is the most popular certificate; you see Leading SAFe certificate appears more frequently for a maximum number of places in the job profiles and all. You also find people who are SAFe-certified majority of them are leading SAFe-certified, and that’s why my recommendation also goes towards that.
Question: What books should I refer to for PMP certification apart from PMBOK® 6& 7? May I know about options, the importance and how much duration we need to spend for the preparation?
Saket: It depends upon where you are taking your PMP education from for example in our case we recommend zero books because you don’t have to read anything, our program content gives all the necessary material which is needed for PMP certification. I know some organization recommends some books, but it depends on where you are enrolled to. PMP exam is not from PMBOK 6, not from PMBOX 7, not from XYZ book. It is from something called the PMP exam content outline. It is a public document you can search the PMP exam content outline that exam content outline defines in a way syllabus for PMP which means they will talk about the people domain, process domain, and business domain. They talk about various things a project manager should be aware of when they are dealing with people, when they are dealing with processes, and when they are dealing with the business so that is something that gets tested.
None of the books covers the whole PMP exam content outline, not even PMBOK 6, or PMBOK 7 you may take one or two more books, but you need to master interpreting the exam content outline. To solve that problem what PMI has done, if you get educated from PMI authorized education provider you get material which is kind of a book which is 100% aligned with the PMP exam content outline but that material is not easy to understand if you just read it, you may not comprehend the whole thing because it is assuming a lot of pre-information in you. So, what we do in our classes is we use that material as a reference, we take our online classes around that and to prepare a background knowledge and preparation we recommend going through some collection of videos. We have around 100 plus hours of video content which can help them to get foundations ready and with the foundations ready they go through a PMP curriculum exam content outline which makes them get ready for their PMP exam.
Question: I have ISO quality implementation experience I want to do PMP after 28 years of experience. is it going to help me?
Saket: It depends upon what kind of target role you are aspiring to and if you put that target role in your mind or put it into a job search. If you see the target role and the companies who are publishing that kind of target role are expecting project management knowledge and PMP certification, then it’s right for you.
Question: I have more than 9 years of experience in non-IT in oil and gas. How this helps me in the Scrum Master role?
Saket: The Scrum Master is a leadership role irrespective of the domain are you leading the team, resolving conflicts, facilitating decision making, coaching team, mentoring team, helping team to improve their Technical and soft skills you are doing 50% of a Scrum Master job.
But if you are an individual contributor, you analyse the data, you feed the data into the system, doesn’t work with you or interact with many people. Then you have a lot of things to learn to get into a Scrum Master job because it’s a leadership job.
So, my recommendation is if the Scrum Master is an area of interest for you to learn the role of a leader in a scrum context which is a Scrum Master. It’s a combination of leadership and scrum role. And see what is common in your current role because that will help you in the transition with less effort.
Go for a Scrum Master class i.e., Certified Scrum Master from Scrum Alliance so you understand who you are and what is needed. Find out your roadmap, your real learning may start after the Scrum Master class, also start looking at various interview questions and learn from them and that can help you in establishing yourself as a Scrum Master.
Question: I need to get full knowledge of Jira Cloud, which is story mapping, board changes, JQL filters etc which book, or tool helps me to practice these?
Saket: There are a lot of free videos available from Atlassian, we are Atlassian partners as well. From our Channel also you can get around 10 videos which give you a basic understanding of JIRA. You can get a lifetime free account for up to 10 users which can help you in playing with JIRA and many of these things you can plan and do with that free account as well.
In case you want to have assistance in your learning process, we also run a JIRA class which can help you in figuring out all the things which you have listed and that can give you a little quick start. But at the same time, we also have a free video and Atlassian has good documentation and videos to help you out. I’m not aware if there is a book to do so because these things are very dynamic in nature even if you have a book, it might be obsolete because such kind of tools changes pretty frequently so better focus on videos and documentation and experimentation rather than a book.
Question: How to take practical experience from working if you have all theoretical experience about Scrum Master? Also, I don’t get the opportunity to practice what is the second alternative?
Saket: You probably need to work in some groups where they can help you in practising it. For that, we run a program called Industry Enabled Scrum Master program where we help you in learning how scrum probably gets used in the typical professional context. The program also helps you in becoming a part of the group where people talk about their day-to-day problems their day-to-day interview challenges which helps you in getting some practical insights about how the Scrum Master thing work.
Question: Seems like the Scrum Master role is becoming competitive, now hundreds of applications for one position how can I stand out?
Saket: That’s something one should think about, and for all the roles, this problem may exist. Now, what is your experience, what is your differentiator and how that thing helps the target organization? That is something you need to figure out. One of the things is that you show a more learning attitude, which is why many people do certification programs. I’m not recommending ten-plus certification, but at least 2-3 certification is a good way of showing and demonstrating your commitment towards learning. The second thing is you can do more overlapping things, so say, typically Scrum Master is not expected to do this, but you build skills which are more than what is needed from a typical scrum master. You can choose the overlap skills that can fit your current profile. I see many organizations where scrum masters develop overlapping product domain areas by supporting user stories exploration. Some may start focusing on technical space, where they get into the configuration’s management, automation and that part of development. Many scrum masters work in a service organization where they are working for multiple clients and may want to venture into a project management kind of role and responsibility.
So, my advice is to see your current competencies and identify competencies that are not developed. Some of these competencies may not be the core competencies of Scrum Masters, but if you see the opportunity to practice them in your current job profile, develop them as a differentiator.
We hope you could have related to some of these questions, and they might have helped you in some way.
Also, for people who are pursuing PMP certification, I recommend they check the talk that we had about PMP on Instagram. You can find it on our below Instagram page-
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