Are you overwhelmed with the number of agile certifications from different educational bodies? Yes, your dilemma of choosing the right certificate is obvious because organizations are applying many agile practices topped by respected certification programs. These certifications are also ranging from entry to the advanced enterprise levels. It is important to know the differences among these certificates, in this blog I will address different Agile certifications along with their pre-requisites, eligibility, and at what level of your profession it is suitable?
Before starting a discussion about different certifications programs, let’s also pay attention to why organizations are moving to Agile? And why these certification programs are important to make you stand out of the crowd –
According to the 14th Annual State of Agile Report released in May 2020 – On average 64% of professionals believe that adopting Agile increases team morale and 63% professional says that the use of Agile increases delivery speed and time to market.
This report also includes reasons for adopting agile –
So knowing and applying Agile make you more marketable.
Let’s start with a quick comparison of the most popular and growing agile certificates –
|Certificate||Certification Body||Pre-Requisites||Best Suited for?||Recommended Professional Experience|
|Certified Scrum Master (CSM)||Scrum AllianceⓇ||There is no Pre-Requisites||Any professional who wishes to explore the agile ways of working||As soon as you start your professional journey, you can plan this certificate|
|SAFe Agilist (SA)||Scaled Agile®||There is no pre-requisite||Any professional who is part of or moving to scale agile for 100+ team members projects in SAFe environment||At least 5+ years of experience in any of the following areas like software development, business analysis, testing, product, or project management. A good understanding of Agile and Scrum is also important.|
|Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master (DALSM)||Project Management Institute||2 years of agile team experience in a lead role||Any professional who is planning for a scaling framework & targeting the business agility where you need to select the way of working based on different project context||2+ Years in a lead role. A good understanding for the fundamentals of Agile and Lean including practical experience of applying them in the organization would be beneficial|
|Certified Agile Team Facilitator (ICP-ATF)||ICAgile||There is no Pre-Requisites||Anyone who needs to master the art of facilitation and learn the tools and techniques to create fruitful meetings||2+ years. A good understanding of Agile and Scrum|
|Certified Agile Coach (ICP-ACC)||ICAgile||There is no Pre-Requisites||Anyone who wants to explore professional coaching skills||3+ Years. A good understanding of Agile, Lean, Kanban. The experience of leading Agile teams would be beneficial.|
|ICAgile Certified Professional – Business Agility Foundations (ICP-BAF)||ICAgile||There is no Pre-Requisites||Exiting Agile coaches who want to grow their skills in coaching organizations to bring business agility||3+ years of experience in applying agile will be beneficial:|
|The Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®||Project Management Institute||Work experience of 1500 hours on Agile projects and 2000 hours’ experience of general project management. You may have all 3500 hours of experience in Agile Projects.||Anyone who wants to explore many approaches to agile such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP, and TDD. It will also help you to understand coaching teams to make them productive.||As per minimum eligibility criteria mentioned by PMI® . For more details, please visit – https://www.izenbridge.com/blog/pmi-acp-eligibility-experience-criteria-demystified/|
|SAFe Product Owner / Product Manager ( POPM)||Scaled Agile®||There is no Pre-Requisites||Anyone who wants to grow skills in applying the Lean-Agile mindset and SAFe principles in product development.||It is good that you do it after attending and applying Leading SAFe in your work.|
|SAFe Scrum Master Certification(SSM)||Scaled Agile®||There is no Pre-Requisites||Anyone who has familiarity with Agile concepts and principles and is new to the role of Scrum Master or wants to understand the role and apply it in the SAFe organization.||It is good that you do it after attending and applying Leading SAFe in your work.|
|LKU Kanban Certifications||Kanban University||There is no Pre-Requisites||Anyone who is planning using agile approach which can start from next Monday without changing the basic structure in terms of roles and artifacts, you can consider LKU (TKP, KMP-1, and KAMP-2 certifications)||You can do at any level of your professional experience|
Now, let’s explore the details of the above-mentioned certifications to make it easy for you to decide – which agile certification is best for me?
1. Certified Scrum Master (CSM):
CSM (Certified Scrum Master) from Scrum Alliance is the most demanded and established certificate in Agile and Scrum. It is also a good starting point for any professional who wishes to explore the agile ways of working. There is no pre-requisite for doing CSM; roles like a Developer, Scrum Master, Product Owner, Business Analysts can start their certification journey from the CSM.
We are providing CSM training from 2015, and from our records, we clearly see that approx. 70 project managers out of 100 do CSM as the first certificate in agile because in today’s fast-changing world, applying agile and scrum have become the project management standard.
CSM gives you a good practical understanding of agile values and principles, Scrum Roles, events, artifacts, and different practices of Scrum.
For CSM you must need to attend two days class, and iZenBridge CSM training focuses more on real experiences because our class structure allows you to share and discuss challenges and experiences of using Scrum with the trainer and other global participants – sharing is a powerful tool to enhance your skills.
2. SAFe Agilist (SA):
Leading SAFe® certification from Scaled Agile is the most growing certificate for adopting Agile at an enterprise-level, as SAFe framework tackles the tough scaling issues – architecture, integration, funding, governance, and roles at scale. So, organizations need skilled agile professionals who can facilitate and assist Agile Teams and Programs. Leading SAFe 5.0 training from Scaled Agile Framework is for those who lead the agile initiatives in a large organization/ large teams or multiple teams
In summary, SAFe provides a recipe for adopting Agile at the enterprise scale. So, if you want to be part of enterprise-level agile and willing to be part of multiple teams in the adoption of Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe Agilist could be an ideal choice for you.
There is no pre-requisite for doing SAFe agilest, however, if you have at least 5+ years’ of experience in any of the following area like software development, business analysis, testing, product, or project management including some experience and understanding of Agile and Scrum, it would be more beneficial and recommended.
iZenBridge two days online live SAFe® program ensures an enriching experience to explore knowledge and understanding of how to implement SAFe® in your organization.
You can explore an overview of essential SAFe by referring following video
3. Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master (DALSM):
Disciplined Agile is a hybrid framework and suitable for both beginners in Agile and who are existing agile practitioners.
The Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master (DALSM) from PMI® gives a basic structure for tools and strategies to help you lead an agile team, influence people, remove impediments and to tailor your team’s way of working (WoW) so it matches and reflects the unique situation of your unique team. You will understand the value of individuals and interactions over processes and tools, consumable solutions over comprehensive documentation, stakeholder collaboration over contract negotiation, and responding to change over following a plan.
So, when you are part of an Agile Teams where you need to adopt Agile based on different contexts like team size, geographical distribution, domain complexity, technical complexity, and rigor of compliances, DALSM is the solution to grow your skills for delivering solutions by being aware of the enterprise.
This course is ideal for a person who understands the fundamentals of Agile and Lean and has practical experience of applying them in the organization. You need to have at least two years of experience to lead agile solution delivery as product owner/Scrum Master/ team leader or AO –? What is AO?
iZenBridge online live DALSM session would be an enriching experience to ensure that you have a knowledge and understanding of the Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master to create the environment within which value flow can be achieved.
For more details on how DALSM is good for you, watch the following video
4. Certified Agile Team Facilitator (ICP-ATF):
What is the most important skill for a Team Coach or a Scrum Master? Of course, the art of effective facilitation which needs to make a group of people bring their thoughts forward by conducting effective and collaborative meetings. ICP-ATF from ICAgile is an ideal certificate to grow your facilitation skills by applying the art of facilitation to foster collaboration and enable the self-organizing teams.
After obtaining this certification, you will be able to facilitate the agile practices in teams and helping them in delivering business values. You will also be able to help the team in being Agile by enabling the team’s journey towards the high-performance team.
ICP-ATF course extends your skills from Scrum Master Certification – Scrum Master Certification focuses on Scrum framework and ICP-ATF deep dive into facilitation skill which is a must-have skill for anyone leading a collaborative team. There is no pre-requisite for ICP-ATF, anyone who needs to master the art of facilitation and learn the tools and techniques to create fruitful meetings can do ICP-ATF. ICP-ATF does not require any exam after attending training, it focuses more on enhancing your skills by sharing and discussing various case studies related to different facilitation techniques.
iZenBridge online live ICP-ATF program would be an enriching experience to ensure that you have a knowledge and understanding of the Agile Team Facilitator – Who plans, prepares and designs a facilitated session, applies the appropriate methods and processes and develops the session materials which helps the team to achieve their desired goal.
The following video will help you to understand a facilitator role well
5. Certified Agile Coach (ICP-ACC):
If you want to become a successful Agile Coach in an enterprise environment, ICP-ACC from ICAgile certificate could be a game-changer for you. It supports you to develop professional coaching skills by having the ability to differentiate among training, mentoring, and coaching. Also, active listening, and, powerful questioning are the key abilities for a coach. Coaching skills give you access to building a team that can find answers to the problem themselves.
ICP-ACC needs three days from an accredited institute and does not require any examination as the focus is more on ample use of discussions, case studies & hand-on exercises in a classroom/live session. Coaching can’t be learning by passing an exam, it is a developed ability and needs an environment which is created by your Coach in the classroom / Live sessions.
There is no pre-requisite for ICP-ACC, however, if you a good understanding of Agile and Scrum, involved in leading teams and want to grow professional coaching skills, it would be more beneficial and recommended.
iZenBridge ICP-ACC program ensures that you grow in professional coaching skills and apply them depending on situations to bring the best team performance.
Let’s explore ICP-ACC with ICAgile’s Shane Hastie and Saket Bansal
6. ICAgile Certified Professional – Business Agility Foundations (ICP-BAF):
This is an advanced certificate to grow your skills in coaching organizations to bring Business Agility and to assist them in the transformation from traditional models of management and corporate governance to modern models that are built for Agility. The ICP-BAF from ICAgile includes the basic building blocks for Business Agility that are customer-centric, focusing on end to end value stream, brings growth mind-set at the organization level, and use collective intelligence for a big picture. Also, using this program you will explore strategic business agility like how to listen to the organization’s external and internal environment, expand the customer segment, and finding a new market. ICP-BAF also does not require any exam after attending training, and the emphasis is to grow your skills using sharing and participation with the trainer and participants.
As a pre-requisite, a deep understanding of Agile Values and Principles is needed for ICP-BAF, and having 3 years of experience in applying agile will be beneficial.
iZenBridge online live ICP-BAF program would be an enriching experience to ensure that you have a rich understanding of Business Agility for your context including underlying values, principles, and dimensions of Business Agility. The program is developed by blending theory with case studies to facilitate your study journey towards mastery.
You can explore more on Business Agility by watching the following video
7. The Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® :
PMI-ACP® certification from PMI® is designed for those who are in or want to move into a leadership role and for those who have been implementing Agile Values and Principles in the day to day project work. For PMI-ACP® certification you need to have a minimum work experience of 1500 hours on Agile projects and 2000 hours’ experience of general project management. For more details on eligibility details of PMI-ACP® certification, you may refer – PMI-ACP® Certification Eligibility Experience Criteria Demystified.
If your company is looking forward to introducing the Agile framework for achieving high-end project goals, then PMI-ACP® certification could be your first choice. PMI-ACP® Exam is not just limited to the Scrum Framework; it also has included other frameworks like Lean, Kanban, and XP. PMI-ACP® certification is a conceptually strong examination compared to the basic Scrum Master certifications. You also need to take a classroom or online training before appearing in the exam.
iZenBridge PMI-ACP is a self-paced program that is the best working model to pass the exam in the first attempt. It helps in understanding and mastering the content including practicing Practice 3 hour’s long exam to create endurance for it.
8. SAFe Product Owner / Product Manager
SAFe Product Owner and Product manager are specialty roles at the Agile team and program management level respectively. SAFe PO/PM from Scaled Agile is an ideal certificate for you to grow your skills in applying the Lean-Agile mindset and SAFe principles in product development. SAFe PO/PM roles are customer-focused and help to explore how you can build the right thing in the right way in the SAFe ® environment. This program includes mainly how team backlog and program backlogs are managed for the product roadmap and how multiple Agile teams work collaboratively for a program increment and delivers value in the mentoring of product owner and product management.
iZenBridge online live SAFe® Product Owner/Product Manager program would be an enriching experience to ensure that you have knowledge and understanding to determine and connect SAFe Lean-Agile principles and values to the PO/PM roles.
There is no prerequisite for SAFe PO/PM, however, it is good that you do it after attending and applying Leading SAFe in your work.
9. SAFe Scrum Master Certification
SAFe Scrum Master facilitates and fosters lean and agile practices and evangelist for good technical practices within the agile team. So if you want to become a team coach in the SAFe environment, SAFe Scrum Master from Scaled Agile certificate is for you. This program includes methods of problem-solving and continuous improvement, attributes and characteristics of being a successful Scrum Master, and driving iterations with a high performing team.
There is no prerequisite for SAFe Scrum Master, however, it is good if you have familiarity with Agile concepts and principles including awareness of Scrum, Kanban, and XP. In case, you have a working knowledge of software and hardware development processes, it would be beneficial.
iZenBridge online live SAFe® Scrum Master program would be an enriching experience to ensure that you have knowledge and understanding about the role of Scrum Master in a SAFe environment so that you can apply Lean-Agile leadership to help the team embrace SAFe core values.
For more details for this course, please visit – https://www.izenbridge.com/safe-scrum-master-ssm/virtual/
10. Kanban University Certifications:
Kanban is a management method and gives access to the evolutionary change approach rather than a big-bang, disruptive change. Following are the renowned Kanban Certifications
- Team Kanban Practitioner certification(TKP): It is an introductory course aimed to improve the flow of work for your team. It includes Kanban principles, practices, and gives the idea of the Kanban system. It is ideal for beginners and for those who are willing to improve the work environment by knowing the initial steps of the Kanban method.
- Kanban System Design (KMP-1): It is the beginner to the intermediate certificate and designed to enable long-term sustainable change. If you are in any leadership role and looking for effective changes in the team environment, it is an ideal certificate for you.
- Kanban Management Professional (KMP-2): It is an intermediate to an advanced certificate in Kanban and enables you for various continuous improvement models. If you are experienced in leadership roles and practicing Kanban to some level, it is good for you. Before KMP-2, you need to acquire KMP-1.
Kanban University certifications do not require any examination; you just need to attend accredited courses. iZenBridge gives you the same. Kanban University certifications are gained for a lifetime; there is no renew fee is required.
So, are you ready to take the next step in Agile certification? Examine your work environment, experience, and future commitments and take the decision to make your future you would like to have.
Drop-in your doubts and questions on the subject matter in the comment box below; I will get back to you soon with answers.
Materials in this class are based on the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute Inc., 2017