Why Get Agile Certification?

This blog started to answer the question: How do you get Agile certified?

But that turns out to be the easy question. A Google search turns up plenty of universities and training organizations willing to teach you so you can get certified for a price.

The Project Management Institute offers an Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) certification program.

Villanova University offers education and certification programs including Certificate in Agile Management, which it states “is the only comprehensive Agile program offered 100% online by a top-tier university.” It also offers a Professional Certification in Agile & Scrum (PCAS). So finding ways to get Agile credentials is a Google search away, but there are other questions including why go after these certificates?

Why Agile training?

Of course, most developers want to keep their skills current so they are in demand for top projects and top organizations. Perhaps the best bottom line answer comes from Mark J. Balbes, Ph.D., the Agile Architect at ADTmag.com. In Agile and CMMI: Tips from the Trenches, he explained why his company sought Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) certification: “Frankly, it's for the money.” He explains that his “project shop” works on government contracts that increasingly required that credential, so it was a practical business decision.

Developers working in organizations or freelancing in the gig economy will probably understand that level of pragmatism.

Beyond the Business 101 reason for getting Agile certifications, Balbes is an advocate of embracing Agile and getting the training you need.

Thinking differently

In The Survivor's Guide to Agile, he suggests: “Learn what it means to truly be agile and start thinking about your work in those terms.” To learn to think in Agile terms, you’ll need training. Balbes advocates being aggressive in getting the training you need.

“Agile is not immediately intuitive to most people,” The Agile Architect explains. “It takes training and experience to be able to interpret the Agile Manifesto, the 12 Principles and the various practices. Change management is an important part of every successful agile transformation. While your company should be providing the appropriate training and mentoring, take charge of your own education. Read books. Read blogs. Practice techniques like Test Driven Development on your own.”

A key point that Balbes makes is that while learning about new Agile practices is important, unlearning old practices is equally important.

“This is perhaps the hardest thing to do,” he writes. “You already know techniques to address specific needs and situations. When these situations present themselves, it’s only natural to turn to the techniques you have used successfully in the past. However, many traditional techniques aren't aligned with core agile values.”

Suggested reading

Much of what needs to be unlearned is suggested on the first page of The Manifesto for Agile Software Development:
We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:
  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more. To make sure you have the philosophy supporting these points, it is good to read the brief but deep 12 Principles behind the Agile Manifesto.

ADT’s Agile Architect also suggests that developers start their Agile journey by learning and practicing Test-Driven Development (TDD), which a detailed Wikipedia article defines as “a software development process that relies on the repetition of a very short development cycle: requirements are turned into very specific test cases, then the software is improved to pass the new tests, only. This is opposed to software development that allows software to be added that is not proven to meet requirements.”

Visual Studio resources

For Visual Studio developers, Microsoft provides Agile resources:

What is Agile? by Aaron Bjork, principal group program manager at Microsoft, who stresses that Agile is more about how you think about development than any specific set of processes:

“It’s important to understand that Agile is not a thing … you don’t do Agile. Rather, Agile is a mindset. A mindset that drives an approach to software development. There’s not one approach here that works for all situations, rather the term Agile has come to represent a variety of methods and practices that align with the value statements in the manifesto.”

Microsoft is advocating the team concept for its Agile Tools with tooling information for Visual Studio Team Services, which “provides you the tools you need to run your agile team.”

Posted by Richard Seeley on 05/11/2018

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