ScrumMaster exam will be pass/fail starting September 1st

By | Blog, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

certified scrummaster exam will be pass-fail

Today, the Scrum Alliance has announced  its “intent to transition the Certified ScrumMaster post-course test from pass-only to pass/fail on September 1, 2012.”

The rest of the announcement follows below:

After monitoring the results of the current pass-only test over the past several weeks, we are confident in our decision to transition to the pass/fail test. Students who pass the test will receive a list of all missed questions and a list of possible answers with the correct answer highlighted.

Students who do not pass the test on the first attempt will also receive a list of missed questions and possible answers but the correct answer will not be highlighted. These students may re-take the test once more at no additional charge. Students who do not pass the exam a second time will be required to pay $25 USD for each additional attempt until they achieve a passing score of 24 out of 35 questions.

For those interested in the certification, you will now likely see a spike in interest in completing the training and exam in the next month or so. After that point, there will be the added new stress of having to pass an exam to earn the certification.

However, there will be an equal stress for scrum trainers. In the past, a Scrum trainer’s primary concern was to educate students how to use the Scrum framework effectively. Now, there will be added expectation that the class will also equip students to pass the exam, in order to earn the certification.

What are your thoughts? Does this training-based certification mean more if both the Trainer AND the Student have been evaluated? 



AgileExams.com Controversy Resolved…Sort Of

By | Blog, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Well it turns out the “controversy” about AgileExams turned out to be the biggest of misunderstandings.

The Testimonials Were Authentic: Several of AgileExams customers contacted me and revealed the root cause of this confusion is the fussiness of PMI.org’s online certification registry:

  • The name on the testimonial may not be the same format as the name in the registry (e.g. Joel Bancroft-Conners explains you can find his name by searching ‘Bancroft’, but not ‘Conners’)
  • There are occasional delays from passing when a candidate passes the exam, until they are listed in the system.
  • Most of all, candidates may choose not to be listed in the registry (which beguiles me, since the whole point of a certification is to assert to people that you’ve accomplished a structured learning program)

However, there are some bitter hard feelings left over. Joel posts an excellent analysis of the situation: The issue is not the issue. Apparently Yes, the testimonials may be authentic, but that didn’t stop the controversy from happening. In any crisis management situation,  (e.g. Joel cites The Toyota Prius), the response to the crisis often matters more than the core problem.

Privacy is not an effective crisis management response for public issues: In response to the issue, the owner of AgileExams has asserted his privacy by removing his LinkedIn profile from the internet, and personally asking me to refrain from using his name, which I have done. Yes, he has the right to his privacy, but only if he choses to remain in the private. Once you go out into the public with a product, you offer some of your privacy in exchange. Some examples from last night’s Republican debate show the point. Newt Gingrich blasted the press for highlighting the personal nature of his marriage. He made the point that some things are personal, and not related to public life. But then Newt promptly forgot his got high-and-mighty position when he questioned Mitt Romney about not releasing his tax returns. It turns out if you run for public office, you lose some of that right to privacy. Likewise, if you release a product online, then you have to expect the public scrutiny of 2 billion internet users.

Personally, I’m glad the service was exonerated. It further validates the efforts of the 515 project managers who earned the certification. Also, I believe the service made a substantive contribution to the community. So, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry that AgileExams had the misfortune to endure this controversy, but alas sometimes it is the price one has to pay to be successful.


AgileExams.com Embroiled In Controversy

By | Blog, Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Today, the Agile journalistic blog AgileScout.com posted a discovery that testimonials for the PMI-ACP exam prep service, AgileExams.com, may be engaging in some false advertising.

Controversy 1: Several of the testimonials come from people NOT listed as PMI-ACP certificants. PMI offers a public registry on its website, which allows employers to verify whether someone has the PMI certification they claim to have. Curiously, several of the customers quoted on AgileExams.com are NOT listed as certification holders. For example, the site quotes Jonathan Daly saying “…your site made the real exam a breeze”, but Daly is not listed in the PMI-ACP registry. Granted, PMI offers certificants the option of NOT being listed in the registry, for privacy reasons. But granting permission to be quoted, and then not granting PMI to list you in the registry seems odd.

Controversy 2: The advertised customer success rate is a bit naive. The post also reveals that AgileExams.com asserts that of their customers who actually took the the PMI-ACP exam, a full 97% passed. Unfortunately, PMI provides no way to tabulate failing candidates. Instead, AgileExams.com offered an open call for its customer to self-report whether they passed or failed. Not surprisingly, only 3% of his survey respondents admitted to failing the exam. As a trainer myself, I have received 0% of my own customers saying they failed the exam. Yet, I’m not naive enough to assume that nobody failed. I can only know for sure that nobody is willing to admit to their trainer that they failed.

Controversy 3: The site offers little in the way of Agile reputation . The site owner, [name omitted], is a relative unknown in the agile space, and some skeptics want some information as to who is involved in the product’s creation, and how it was put together. However, other people have commented directly on the blog post that they care less about this, and more data about the product’s effectiveness.

Summary: In the end, what looks like a juicy controversy may just be some circumstantial misunderstandings. Here’s how AgileExams.com can clear all this up:

  • Update the website with testimonials from candidates who are listed in the PMI-ACP registry.
  • Update the website to focus on the LinkedIn testimonials: http://www.agileexams.com/linkedin-group-testimonials/
  • The site owner can post an open letter on his website explaining who worked on the product (including the associated AgileBOK.org), whether they bring any agile expertise to bear, and the methodology they use for building the site.

In my opinion, some simple website edits can quell this controversy, and also build the product’s reputation at the same time.

What about you? What do you think of the website’s product, and the claims it makes about the product?

Latest News About the PMI Agile (PMI-ACP) Certification

By | Blog, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

PMI Agile Certification

Since PMI announced its Agile certification program a couple months back, there has been a ton of activity. Here are some specifics:

  • Chatter – The PMI Agile Community about the certification has featured some good dialog (PMI Members only link) about what it means. The most interesting is a webinar debate between Alistair Cockburn and James Shore on the pros/cons of certification. PMI members can download that webinar for free.
  • Momentum – PMI’s CIO gave at talk at last month’s Scrum Gathering conference in Seattle, where he revealed that more than 6,000 professionals have already registered for the pilot program. That’s more than triple the number of certification holders for PMI’s last 3 certifications COMBINED (PgMP, PMI-RP, PMI-SP). In case it wasn’t obvious already, people want this.
  • Training – Yes, I have built a PMI-Agile curriculum, which is being field-tested right now in India. But there are some other trainers that I am very excited to see also building a curriculum, including Ahmed Sidkey in Egypt, Mike Griffiths in Canada.
  • Resources – With a new landscape, comes experimentation. Some early offerings are starting to show up, from flash cards, to practice exams, and even some pre-published books. AgileScout has been reporting on some of these, so keep a look there as well.

As one of the people who helped shape this program, I’m pretty excited about the buzz. Given that the mission for this program is to increase the awareness and adoption of Agile PM, I’m already seeing an ROI on our efforts.

Scrum Certification for Omaha Project Managers

By | Blog, Uncategorized | No Comments


After such a great experience at the Infotec conference last week in Omaha, I’ve committed to go back next month to teach a special edition of “Certified ScrumMaster for Project Managers”.

Granted, this will be similar to my other 2-day certification classes in Agile Project Management, where we discuss making the leap from traditional plan-driven PM to using the Scrum method in real-world situations. However, this will be a special session, in that I am co-teaching with Sally Elatta of AgileTransformations.com . Sally has established herself as *the* Agile coach in the midwest by serving big name clients over last 6 years.

If you are a midwest Project Manager, and you’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to get exposed to Agile Project Management, this is that opportunity. You get strong foundational training, the certification, and networking with one of the most important experts in the region.

Here are the details:

  • Class: Certified ScrumMaster for Project Managers
  • Date: May 18-19, 2010
  • Location: Omaha, NE (Venue information provided upon registration)
  • Price: $1,190 for General Admission
                   $1,090 for members of the Heartland or IA PMI Chapters
  • PDUs: 16

Scrum Certification for DC Project Managers

By | Blog, Uncategorized | No Comments

CSM in Rockville

I’m thrilled to announce that Excella will be hosting its very first public Certified ScrumMaster course in the Washington DC area.

We’ll be hosting the class in Rockville, right on the red line. I’m still negotiating with a couple candiate venues to ensure the best possible experience. Once I’ve picked a winning facility, I’ll post an update here.

Here are the details:

Scrum Certification for South Florida PMs

By | Blog, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

To those of you in the sunshine state, I will be teaching a Certified ScrumMaster class next month on behalf of the PMI South Florida Chapter.

I’m particularly excited about this session, because we’ll be tailoring the material specifically for every day project managers who have been trained in PMI circles. So, we’ll be covering Scrum for sure, but we’ll also talk about converting burndowns to EVM, how to work with CMMI, and most especially where the PM fits in an Agile environment. And we’ll be doing it hands-on exercises of real-world business scenarios.

Here are the details:

  • Class: Certified ScrumMaster for Project Managers
  • Date: March 18-19, 2010
  • Location: Westin at Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Price: $1,400 for general admission ($1,200 for members of PMI South Florida)
  • PDUs: 16