In my previous post, I outlined the differences between Scrum.org and the Scrum Alliance.
In this post, I will outline the differences between the Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master (PSM) vs Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certifications.
One of the reasons Ken Schwaber left the Scrum Alliance and started Scrum.org was that he saw a lot of bad Scrum being done by Certified Scrum Masters. It used to be the case that if you attended a 2 day Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Master course, you automatically gained the CSM certification.
Lots of organisations then misinterpreted this to mean that these people were experts with Scrum, when in fact all it meant was they had attended a 2-day course. The naming of the “Scrum Master” role and the associated connotations of “Master” also contributed to much misunderstanding around what it all meant.
The Scrum Alliance has since introduced an assessment, but this hasn’t made much difference as it is so easy, that almost no one ever fails it.
The Scrum.org PSM certification is different. Attendance at a course is not mandatory. It is much tougher to achieve the PSM certification, so it guarantees a certain level of understanding of Scrum.
Scrum.org assessments are based on the Scrum Guide created by Ken Schwaber & Jeff Sutherland.
Scrum.org’s course material is standardised, created and maintained by Ken Schwaber and 200+ Scrum.org Professional Scrum Trainers. Each individual Scrum Alliance trainer creates their own material, so the quality is subject to significant variation.
Here is a summary of the differences between the 2 major certifications:
|Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Master (CSM)||Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master (PSM)|
|Training Requirement||Attendance at a course is mandatory||Attendance at a course is optional|
|Learning Materials Availability||Supplied at the course||Free Scrum Guide created by Ken Schwaber & Jeff Sutherland + additional materials at the course|
|Quality of Course Material||Varies in content and quality dependant on instructor||Standardised course material created by Ken Schwaber and 200+ Scrum.org Professional Scrum Trainers|
|Assessment Difficulty Level||Superficial. The test is almost impossible to fail||Intermediate / Advanced. Tests your true understanding of Scrum|
|Assessment Details||35 questions, 68% pass mark, no time limit. Multiple resits possible||80 questions, 85% pass mark, 60 minute time limit|
|Certification Renewal Policy||Every 2 years at a cost of $150||Lifetime Certification. No renewal needed|
The Scrum Master is Simon Kneafsey. Simon is a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org, the home of Scrum run by Scrum co-creator, Ken Schwaber. Simon offers Professional Scrum Certification training courses globally and works with clients to introduce Scrum to their organisations.
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