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Certified Scrum Coach Program Formation

An article regarding the formation of the Certified Scrum Coaching Program

06/11/2007 by CSC Program Team,Pete Behrens

The Scrum Alliance created a new certification program in 2007 for mentors who are guiding organizations in adopting, transitioning, implementing or scaling Scrum. The Certified Scrum Coach Program, or CSC for short, is an experience and skills-based program designed to distinguish individuals who have aided organizations in successfully applying Scrum to improve their effectiveness.

Throughout 2007, a dedicated and cross-discipline CSC program team used Scrum in developing the program. An initial draft was reviewed at the Spring 2007 Scrum Gathering in Portland, Oregon followed by a broader review and feedback from the Scrum Community.

The CSC program team consisted of over a dozen members of the Scrum community. These members represent most of the various roles involved in a Scrum coaching client relationship: consultants, trainers, internal employees, and organizational leaders who have experience with implementing Scrum and working with Scrum consultants. I facilitated the program creation as the team’s ScrumMaster. The Scrum Alliance provided the product ownership direction, oversight, and review.

While the initial program creation is well behind us, the CSC program is always growing and changing through feedback both internally and externally. We would encourage you to explore the other documents and web pages which describe the program and are used for applying to it. The rest of this document provides some information background on the CSC Program and why it was created.

Why is the Scrum Alliance creating a Certified Scrum Coach (CSC) Program?

The Scrum Alliance recognizes the difficulties many organizations face in attempting to implement Scrum; Scrum is not a silver bullet with a step-by-step instruction manual, but rather a simple framework that uncovers very difficult challenges within the organization. Scrum also challenges traditional leadership models, roles, and behaviors and requires a culture of discipline which many organizations may have difficulty addressing independently.

The Scrum Alliance recognizes the benefits that organizations have received from dedicated, professional, experienced Scrum practitioners who have aided them in their adoption and transition to Scrum. Having a designation representing proven experience and skills would aid companies that are seeking professional guidance for their Scrum implementations.

The Scrum Alliance recognizes that the Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Scrum Product Owner programs are a critical and necessary first step in educating people in Scrum; however, they are often not sufficient in improving the likelihood of project success due to the very difficult challenges and entrenched traditional corporate cultures faced in most organizations. Experienced practitioners who have guided others through these transitions and implementations often make the difference for organizations through relevant application of practices, enhanced learning, and more rapid and channeled feedback.

What is a Scrum coach?

A Scrum Coach has been trained as a Certified ScrumMaster, is an experienced Scrum practitioner, and has the skills required to transform a client (either as an external consultant or internal employee), helping them to reach their full potential through the use of Scrum. They must have experience and skills in the following areas:

  • Knowledge and experience with Scrum
  • Advisory and consultancy skills
  • Facilitation
  • Agile leadership
  • Organizational development
  • Professional development
  • Scrum community involvement
What does it take to become a Certified Scrum Coach?

A Certified Scrum Coach must be trained as a Certified ScrumMaster or Certified Scrum Product Owner; have experience with Scrum as a Certified Scrum Practitioner in good standing; demonstrate competence in guiding multiple Scrum teams through over 1,500 hours of client engagement; prove coaching experience through client letters of recommendation, evaluation through an application; and contribute to the Scrum community. Please refer to the web pages for a full application and reference letter templates.

How do I become a Certified Scrum Coach?

You must apply to become a Certified Scrum Coach by submitting your reference materials to the Scrum Alliance. Your application will be reviewed against the criteria administratively by the Scrum Alliance to assure the basic requirements are met. Your application then will be peer reviewed in a team-based format by 4-5 reviewers. You may be contacted directly for additional information regarding your experience. You will be notified of your results within three months of your application.

Is the certification good indefinitely?

No. A Certified Scrum Coach must renew their certification every three years. Since experience and skills are required to achieve certification, they must be maintained to retain certification. A Certified Scrum Coach is required to practice Scrum coaching of at least 1,000 hours over three years; continue professional development through education, writing, teaching, or speaking on Scrum related topics; and contribute to the Scrum community.

Does this program affect the other Scrum certification programs?

No. The CSC program is designed to complement the current certification programs. The Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) education programs will continue to be the first step to understanding Scrum. The Certified Scrum Practitioner (CSP) program will continue to develop people’s understanding of Scrum through direct involvement in or with a Scrum team. The Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) program will continue to educate the next generation of Scrum practitioners, ScrumMasters, and product owners.

How does this program relate to other certification initiatives being considered by the APLN, Agile Alliance or others?

The Scrum Alliance recognizes that there are other organizations considering experience and skills-based certification programs designed to better qualify individuals who can make a difference for organizations attempting to increase their effectiveness through agility. The members of this program team have been involved to varying degrees with some of these other programs and recognize their value. However, the Scrum Alliance also recognizes that about two-thirds of all agile implementations are based on the Scrum framework (see recent surveys by VersionOne and Trail Ridge Consulting) and that only the Scrum Alliance is in position to certify professionals who deeply understand and have proven experience in guiding organizational effectiveness through the adoption of Scrum.

How much does it cost?

There will be a fee to become and maintain a Certified Scrum Coach designation; however, the amount has not been determined. Cost considerations include the value of the program to prospective and established coaches and the Scrum Alliance administrative and infrastructure support for the program.

Pete Behrens
CSC Program Team