Last week, an article appeared at CIO which asked a very basic question, and one that certainly should be of interest to a major portion of the visitors to this blog: Is agile training or the coursework for a similar certification worth the price tag and the opportunity cost that goes into acquiring them?
Sharon Florentine’s answer, which certainly comes as no surprise to us, is a resounding yes, albeit not an unqualified one. Her article arguably attaches more important to agile training, certified scrum master training, and other “best practice” certification programs than to information technology training, software training courses, and anything else that is comprised of hard facts and core competencies.
The implication is that those more concrete skillsets can be acquired without certification, and that they can be demonstrated in a rather straightforward manner during the hiring process. Agile training, DevOps, and scrum product owner certification, on the other hand, ostensibly tell prospective employers something about how you can think on your feet and how you can apply your concrete skills in a dynamic setting.
Florentine describes this as “though leadership” and emphasizes that it brings to a prospective place of employment something that is not offered by the average professional employee with a bevy of information technology training under his belt, and little else. As online information technology training becomes more and more prevalent, affordable, and reliable, it becomes more and more essential that you supplement those skills with agile training or other processes that allow you to quickly and effectively apply what you have learned in standard online IT training courses.
But the other takeaway from the CIO article is also the thing that attaches important qualifiers to Florentine’s answer. The article simply acknowledges a natural fact: that not all agile training is made equal. But there’s a further implication, and it is something that is borne out in our experience with online information technology training. And that is that agile training and other certification programs for comparatively abstract skills, are much more inconsistent in terms of quality and value to prospective employers.
Whereas standard information technology training courses convey information that can to a great extent be tested on paper or through a set of isolated example tasks, agile training and its brethren provide people with information that almost always needs to be integrated into actual, real world activities. This describes not only the different ways in which the two categories are tested, but also the different ways in which they are most effectively taught.
Whether in-classroom or online, agile training and scrum certification should always encourage you to acquire and demonstrate applied knowledge. And if the programs themselves don’t manage this, you should find ways to truly use what you have learned. If you do, and if you can convince your prospective employer that you’ve fully developed these abstract and invaluable skills, you will have a serious leg up on people whose supplemental education doesn’t go beyond the usual online information technology training.