As I mentioned in the previous two posts, I attended a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) class in Singapore, last week. The course was conducted by GoodAgile, and offered by ISS, NUS. One of my colleagues had taken that class back in February and had recommended it to me. It's a 3-day course and is approved for 70% subsidy under the CITREP program of WDA, Singapore. In this post, I'm sharing my experience and feedback on the course for people who might be interested to take similar courses in Singapore and abroad.
First of all, do you really need to attend a class to learn Scrum?
Yes, and no. If you have experience working on Scrum projects, you can probably get by with reading books, following blogs and using other online resources to fill the gaps. But if you are completely new to Scrum, I highly recommend that you attend a classroom training from a Certified Scrum Trainer.
Feedback on the instructors
The most important aspect of any training is the instructor. If the instructor is good, other things don't matter much. If the instructor is not good, then everything else doesn't feel good.
We were fortunate to have two highly knowledgeable and qualified instructors in Mr. Pete Deemer from GoodAgile, and Mr. Ilan Goldstein from ScrumShortcuts. Pete is a Scrum Certified Trainer and was the main instructor. Ilan was playing the supporting role.
Feedback on Mr. Pete Deemer
- Pete has a vast experience leading Scrum implementation in enterprises of various sizes across the world and his knowledge and experience speak for themselves.
- For every question and every situation, he had a story to tell (I love stories). He seemed to have done his drill a thousand times, and can run the show almost effortlessly. Being a trainer myself, I can appreciate his mastery in the field even more.
- Apart from the ocean of experience, Pete possesses all the qualities of a great speaker. His motivational talk on understanding the "purpose" of our work was truly inspirational. It literally gave me goose-bumps. The entire class gave him a big round of applause.
- He can even make a good actor or comedian if he decides to switch careers tomorrow. The last bit on the "secret code" of trained ScrumMasters was a masterclass! He had the whole class ROFL.
- With all his energy, enthusiasm, passion, and humor, there was hardly a dull moment during the class.
- He's one of the best in business, and I give him 10 out of 10 for this wonderful effort.
- Ilan is from Australia and has a excellent blog called ScrumShortcuts. He's also writing a book by the same name.
- He has good experience using Scrum, and that reflected in his training.
- He had lots and lots of practical and valuable tips to share throughout the course.
- He presented two modules - Artful Retrospectives and Masterful ScrumMaster - during the course. Both the presentations were very good, professionally done, and skillfully presented. In fact, I must say that both Pete and Ilan are refined presenters. I was extremely impressed by their skills in running Powerpoint presentations.
- Ilan added a different perspective to the course and complemented Pete very well. I'm sure he'll improve further as a trainer as he gains experience and spends more time with Pete.
- It's a 3-day course in Singapore (in India, it's covered in 2 days).
- The program was well structured. The concepts were reinforced using lots and lots of workshops, games, exercises, and other activities throughout the course.
- The quality of the presentation slides and the handout material was top notch.
- Lot of material used during the course was made available for download from the GoodAgile website. Ilan was also very kind and generous in sharing his presentations through email.
- Some portions of the course content could have been organized better. We were using certain terms in the class even before they were introduced, and to a newbie like me, it was somewhat confusing. I've put this comment on the feedback form too.
- When I reflect back on the course, the course was fast-paced. At some places, I thought we could have paused a bit more to absorb what we had learned, before jumping on to the next topic.
- More time should have been allowed for discussions.
- Some sections (like the Artful Retrospectives) seemed longer compared to the other topics.
- There was no mention about any other flavor of Agile. Some sort of overview of other Agile frameworks would have helped.
- The ISS training facility was very good. But the food, especially on the first two days, wasn't as good as I had expected.
- The class size of 32 was good and bad. It was good because we got a chance to network with more people, and hear different perspectives. It was bad because sometimes I didn't get a chance to ask questions, and the faculty had less time per student. Probably 25 would have been the ideal strength for this course.
- Scrum Alliance is the certifying authority.
- The exam can be taken online from any computer connected to the internet. You do not need to go to a test center (like you do for the PMP exam).
- The cost of the exam is USD 50, but it was included in my classroom training package.
- The registration was done for me in advance, and I simply had to follow a link to take the exam.
- The exam had 35 questions. I got 29 correct. After the exam, you get to see the list of questions that you got wrong (without the correct answer though). I was kind of surprised because I strongly felt about my answers on 4 of those 6 questions. But anyway.
- The exam questions were very short but some of them really make you think. I was told that we had to read the Scrum Guide (21 pages) twice in order to pass. I read it only once. But many of the questions on the exam were not from the Guide.
- The exam software was clunky, to say the least. It seems to be the work of a high school student who's learning to develop web applications.
- I was told that the duration was 1 hour, but I didn't see a clock during the exam. Instead of rating the exam, I would simply say - I passed the exam, but the exam failed me :) Scrum Alliance needs to improve it.
- The CSM certification needs to be renewed every 2 years.
- The renewal costs $100 (I hate that). Personally, I don't like the idea of paying a hefty fee to renew your certification. It's a money-making scheme, IMPO. The same applies to PMI as well. I'll probably do a separate post on this.
- I'm not aware of any continuous education requirement, such as those in the case of PMI certifications.
The short answer is Yes. The actual training cost was SGD 3,210, which is somewhat prohibitive for individuals. But, if you are a Singapore citizen or PR, you can get 70% subsidy on the course from the Government. That brings the actual cost down to about SGD 1,000, which is much more in the reach of individuals.
Overall this is one of the best trainings I've attended in my career. I'll give it 9 out of 10. If you are in Singapore or India, I would highly recommend GoodAgile for Scrum training.
I'm not affiliated with any organization mentioned in this post. This is an independent review and nobody paid me a cent or bought me a coffee for doing it.
Related articles: Image credit: Scrum Shortcuts