Friday, 17 July 2015

Review of the Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) course

 
Scope:
I have noticed that there are not many reviews of the Scrum Alliance CSD [1] course on the net.

According to the Scrum Alliance Member Directory [2] not many people do the CSD. At time of writing this is less than 3 thousand out of 330 thousand members. Less than 1%. I presume most are often preferring to do the CSM and CSPO to garner the points for the CSP. Is this because most of them are not Developers and avoid it? Who knows.

Anyway this post will cover my recent experience taking the CSD course and the exam. Hopefully providing insight to others who may wish to take the CSD in the future.


Problem:
After many years doing hands-off Agile Coaching my technical nature got the better of me and I moved into a more Technical Agile Coaching Delivery role. Despite the Business often courting me to cross-over as a Lead Product Owner, I never relented. It was good to be back in the depths of the techie world.

But I had a problem, while I have always kept up to date on technology, the practical side hadn't been battle tested for a while. I needed to get back in the trenches. How to solve this?

Solution:
The CSD I believed provided my answer and so it came to be.

The first issue I hit was the CSD is not readily available like the other Scrum courses. So, finding a course was hard. Then it got harder.

Most of the CSD courses have a requirement of knowing GIT (no issue for me), bringing your own laptop and coding in C#.  Now if we are all honest most developers sit on either the C# or Java side of the fence. I am a Java developer so, this became the next problem.

In reality your looking at either CSD C# or CSD Java. Where to find the Java version in the UK? It became quite hard and I even searched abroad for a CSD course.

Luckily one company in the UK Agil8 [3] do have a CSD Java variant that they run now and again. That’s the one I went on. Later on the course all the students remarked that they had the same tough experience searching for the Java version. Which seemed to surprise the course instructor. 

As is well known it is a 3-day course and most of this was spent coding practicals on the laptop, as well as going over the XP [4] concepts.
So, where is the Scrum in that? Well some of the Scrum concepts are covered on the course, but it has been of great debate within the Scrum community that the CSD should exist at all. According to the Ron Jefferies [5] the CSD is needed because:
"It has become clear, though, that on the average, Scrum teams are not getting the benefits that they might, and that one reason is that they do not figure out what technical practices to use."
And the course solves this by providing an:
"understanding of what the basic practices are, and experience to show why they are necessary"
Thus the course it seems to me for a Developer in a Scrum team, is more about learning good development practices such as XP to support your Scrum deliveries than knowing the Scrum process. That is what the CSM is for. Here is a diagram to support that view showing how Scrum encapsulates XP with areas of direct intersection:




Amongst the practicals, Agil8 taught the theory behind many of the well known XP practices on the course such as:
Acceptance Testing, User Stories, TDD, Red-Green Bar test patterns, Test First development, pair-programming, PARTI, Test Frameworks, SOLID, Agile Architecture, Agile Modelling, Refactoring, Code Smells, Mocks, Continuous Integration and more.
Many of these including Scrum are of course represented within my Agile Poster too [6].

This was performed by referencing a hard-copy ring-bound presentation of over 100 slides. A lot gets done in those three days!

On the last day there is the exam. It was 50 multiple choice questions within 45 minutes.
An example of such a question could be:
Q: Which one of the following best describes code that smells?
     a) Code that works but is hard to understand
     b) Code that has no tests
     c) Code that has no comments in it
     d) Code that is more than a year old
I managed to pass with a 96% pass rate, only getting two questions wrong. I would say it is slightly harder than the CSM, but you can run out of time if your not careful.

Agile Link:
Well it's Scrum!

The course provided what I needed. A refresher on good developer practice within a Scrum team. For me it was money well spent and Agil8 delivered the quality training I needed. This is not a course for the non-coder though.

I recommend that only people who like developing should go on this course as it is heavy on practicals.

References:


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