Making time and resources available for learning, development, and certifications are some of the most important ways to help improve employee engagement within IT organizations. In addition to helping you attract and retain talent, team members with specific certifications bring technical knowledge and skills to your operation that can vastly improve efficiency and aid in your overall operations.
When it comes to available processes and methodologies, few are more useful for IT projects than Agile. This project management framework is widely used by software and development operations of all sizes. There are a few Agile certifications available to choose from, and in this article, we’ll discuss the best agile certifications currently available for IT professionals.
- What Is Agile?
- PMI Agile-Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
- ICAgile Certified Professional
- Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
- Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I)
- SAFe Product Owner and Product Manager (SAFe POPM)
- Certified FDD Aware Status
- AgilePM Foundation Certifications
- Other Ways to Improve Operational Efficiency
What Is Agile?
Agile is a project and process management methodology centered on the ideas of responding to and managing change. While more traditional project management methodologies focus entirely on milestones and deadlines, Agile is a practice-driven philosophy designed with IT, software, and programming operations in mind.
Agile is rooted in core principles based on The Agile Manifesto:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
Because of these core principles of flexibility, product operability, and customer satisfaction, Agile is regarded as a highly practical umbrella under which a number of development practices fall. Most Agile frameworks are designed by software developers, for software developers. However, the flexibility and nimble nature of Agile has led to its adoption in a number of sectors, including manufacturing, product development, information technology, web development, and even marketing and advertising agencies.
Agile frameworks and methods include the following, which are typically covered in certification coursework:
- Scrum: a cross-functional product and knowledge development framework. Centered on project “sprints” and daily team meetings, Scrum is intended to break down projects into short, digestible pieces and tasks that give the clearest picture of project status between start and delivery.
- Kanban: a task-management focused methodology, allowing for nimble and non-iterative tasks to be prioritized and addressed through the various stages of software development. Kanban is as much a visualization tool as it is a methodology, with tasks laid out on “cards” that move from backlog to completion and several stages in between during a given project sprint.
- Extreme Programming (XP): the most specific of the agile frameworks, focused on appropriate engineering practices for software development.
- Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM): a framework focused on project lifecycles, centered on the idea that “any project must be aligned to clearly defined strategic goals and focus upon early delivery of real benefits to the business”
- The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe): an Agile framework designed for enterprise applications, including specific guidance on roles and responsibilities
- Feature Driven Development (FDD): focused on the goal of delivering tangible software results often and efficiently, FDD encourages status reporting at all levels.
PMI Agile-Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
The Project Management Institute (PMI) is one of the foremost certifying bodies for project management methodologies. Their Agile certification is held to the same high standard as all other PMI certifications. The PMI-ACP certification is a more general certification, requiring demonstrated knowledge in both Agile theory and practice. Like most other PMI certifications, the exam is rigorous and all-encompassing.
This certification is useful for IT professionals who have demonstrated their value and knowledge as Agile practitioners and is more of a badge of honor than a true learning opportunity. Like most other PMI certifications, there are many prerequisites to earn this particular certification and ensure
To become a PMI Agile-Certified Practitioner, you must pass the three-hour, 120-question multiple-choice exam. Additionally, you must hold a secondary degree, undergo 21 hours of training in agile practices, have eight months of Agile-specific project management experience in the last three years, and 12 months of general project management experience in the last five years.
Administered by: The Project Management Institute (PMI)
Cost: $435 for PMI Members, $495 for PMI Non-Members.
ICAgile Certified Professional
ICAgile is dedicated exclusively to promoting the implementation of Agile through learning, development, and education. The ICP certification program is centered primarily on the fundamentals of Agile, including values, principles, and key concepts. In true Agile fashion, this certification’s coursework doesn’t focus on prescriptive methodologies but rather emphasizes having an Agile mindset and using a combination of core methods to improve operations.
Certification criteria is slightly less specific when compared to other certifications on this list. To earn the ICAgile Certified Professional designation, you must complete a course authorized by ICAgile to offer this certification, typically about 14 hours long, and each with its own examination and completion criteria.
Administered by: International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile)
Cost: Varies, but starts at around $600 in the United States.
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
Rather than a generalized certification, the Certified ScrumMaster coursework focuses entirely on maximizing the Scrum framework. Scrum is built on the concept of ceremonies, which includes sprint planning, daily stand up, sprint review with customers/stakeholders, and retrospectives. A sprint can be anywhere between one and four weeks. This ensures that tasks are completed in a timely, methodological manner, allowing room for flexibility as new tasks and problems arise.
The CSM certification is one of the gold standard Agile certifications and the one that typically comes to mind first when discussing Agile certifications with those in the know. This certification is awarded after completing a 14-hour training course and successfully passing a 50-question, 60-minute test.
Administered by: ScrumAlliance
Cost: Starts at $495 for coursework, including exam fees.
Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I)
The Professional Scrum Master certification track was developed by one of the co-developers of Scrum. It’s designed to ensure mastery of the fundamentals of this framework. Additionally, the certification is entirely rooted in the Scrum Guide and its application within teams rather than anything specific to a particular project type. By ensuring that you have the knowledge to apply Scrum within any team, you can diversify the projects you work on.
To receive this certification, all that’s required is passing an exam based on the Scrum Guide, which can be downloaded for free. While no specific coursework is required to obtain this certification, there are several courses offered by Scrum.org that can assist in preparation for the exam.
Once you carry the Level I certification, you can continue to advance your knowledge (and value to your organization and prospective future employers) with the Level II and Level III certifications.
Administered by: Scrum.org
SAFe Product Owner and Product Manager (SAFe POPM)
SAFe refers to the Scaled Agile Framework, a specific framework designed for enterprise software operations. This certification centers on the tactical responsibilities of product owners and product managers and carrying this certification positions the bearer for a strong future in either of these roles. Most advantageous in 2022 is the SAFe methodology’s emphasis on working with multi-location and remote teams, which, as we all know, is becoming the new normal within organizations of all sizes.
At its core, the SAFe POPM certification is centered on delivering outcomes rather than following rigid, specific processes that many enterprise operations fall victim to. The SAFe POPM certification is awarded after completing a course provided by a licensed trainer and successfully passing an exam at course completion.
Administered by: Scaled Agile
Cost: Typically starts at $599 and includes the first exam attempt.
Certified FDD Aware Status
Feature driven development (FDD) is focused on being customer-centric, iterative, and incremental in the software development process. This particular methodology is extremely useful for IT professionals and teams involved in DevOps, applications, and other large-scale software projects that benefit more from documentation than daily collaboration meetings to ensure work gets done.
FDD also differs from other Agile methodologies such as Scrum in that it’s focused more on features (as the name implies) and less on delivery. This ensures the product is functioning seamlessly with all the desired elements, on a feature-by-feature basis, rather than on a holistic product level. This allows the minimum viable product (MVP) to be a single feature working to exact specifications, rather than multiple features working to base-level requirements.
The FDD Aware Status is the base-level FDD certification, which puts you on a path toward higher levels of certification currently in development. The FDD certifications are intentionally designed as a hierarchy, with each level indicating a deeper level of understanding.
To earn FDD Aware Status, a certified course in feature-driven development must be completed.
Administered by: Feature Driven Development
AgilePM Foundation Certifications
The AgilePM Foundation offers highly specific certifications that enable project managers, product owners, and IT professionals in many industries to learn how to apply agile methodologies in specific circumstances, including particular project types, industries, and job functions. Any of these certifications can help an IT professional become better versed in applications most useful for their specific career path.
Administered by: AgilePM Foundation
Cost: Varies based on course and certification.
Other Ways to Improve Operational Efficiency
Employing Agile methodologies is just one way to improve operational efficiency for IT professionals. Obtaining one or more of the above certifications will position you to become an organizational leader and an attractive talent asset as your career grows. These Agile certifications can help demonstrate not only your knowledge of Agile frameworks, methodologies, and techniques, but also a commitment to customer satisfaction, product quality, and operational efficiency.
To further demonstrate this commitment, you should remain immersed in the latest knowledge about your industry, seek out ways to further improve operational efficiency, and identify opportunities for automation and monitoring solutions that support your efforts.
Interested in how LogicMonitor can help increase your IT operational efficiency? Start a free trial and immediately see how simple setup and single-screen monitoring across your IT operations can help reduce downtime, improve efficiency, and lead your entire operation toward a more Agile workflow.