SCRUM Down

With my PRINCE2 Practitioner status about to expire I wanted to replace it with something a bit more relevant in the current market. While PRINCE2 is still a recognised qualification I just have not found any need for it since leaving Local Government. Very few jobs that I was interested in required it and when I mentioned it in interviews etc I found that it was not really working greatly in my favor.
With the cost of a two day recertification course around £399+VAT and following my attendance at a #digpen event back in March where Derek Davidson of WebGate International bestowed the virtues of SCRUM and Agile I decided to look into it a little deeper.

Now, I had previously worked for a client claiming to implement SCRUM and was not too impressed with the resulting management – if this was SCRUM then it’s overrated I thought! After reading through the SCRUM Guide it was clear that they were not implementing SCRUM but it’s dysfunctional cousin ‘SCRUM-But’, that’s when someone says “We use SCRUM ….. but we do it a bit differently here”.

The concept of SCRUM is pretty simple, after all the Guide is only 16 pages long, but the ramifications of implementing it are quite wide reaching. The fact is that most people fundamentally don’t like change. It makes them nervous! When change happens there is always a bit of the “old ways” brought along for the ride and this is how ‘SCRUM-But’ implementations are born. Simply having a daily standup meeting does not mean you are doing SCRUM – not by a long way.

After reading through the SCRUM Guide a few times I booked a place on WebGate International’s One Day Crammer course. This was ideal for me as, being a contractor, I charge a daily rate to my clients. If I’m not on-site then I can’t charge them! While the Guide is only 16 pages long there are a lot of dark corners that need a light shone on them and this is where Derek came in. With his knowledge and experience he was able to provide real life examples of managing projects using SCRUM and highlight the pitfalls that trip up the unwary. I was able to recount my SCRUM-But experience and use it to cement my understanding of what was going wrong and how SCRUM would have avoided the problems that plagued this particular project.

With the course behind me I set about taking the practice assessments on the SCRUM.org website and quickly hit 100% scores on a regular basis – although with many of the questions in the practice assessment coming up each time this was by no means an indication that I knew it all.

The actual assessment consisted of 80 questions and was limited to one hour. That’s only 45 seconds per question but of course some of them were pretty simple meaning that there was time to spare for the more involved ones.
One piece of advise I always try to follow when doing exams like this – Read the Flaming Question [RTFQ]. There is nothing worse than essentially giving the right answer to the wrong question. Some of the questions are worded a little oddly, for example:

SCRUM does not have a role called Project Manager – True or False

instead of the more conventional

SCRUM contains a role called Project Manager – True or False

(this one is in the practice assessment so I’m not giving anything away here)
It would be quite easy to read this incorrectly and give the wrong answer – take your time!

At the end of the assessment it is possible to go back over your answers if you have time but I was quite happy with what I’d done and submitted the assessment for marking.

I’d passed, with a mark of 93% and I have to say that I’m not unhappy with that.

So, now I’m a Certified Professional SCRUM Master but that does not mean that I know everything about SCRUM, oh no! There is much more to it and all I’ve done so far is prove that I know the fundamental principals of the framework. I still have a lot to learn but hope to put my current skills into practice in the near future and hone them over the coming years.