Even if they deal with the same thing, the various Scrum certifications differ substantially in detail. To give some help with orientation, I would like to compare three certifications that I have undertaken.
In preparation for the first two certifications I attended seminars with Ken Schwaber (scrum.org) and Jeff Sutherland (Scrum Alliance). As I expected, both trainers were able to convey the content excellently. However, I preferred the design and materials of Jeff Sutherland’s training for their structure and organization.
For the examination at TÜV I prepared myself by means of self-study of the curriculum. Thanks to my previous knowledge this was perfectly adequate.
In this respect the three providers differ very clearly. While an online test can be filed at any time at the Scrum Alliance and at scrum.org, certification is carried out at TÜV Süd under the supervision of an auditor. Aids (the internet, colleagues, etc.) cannot be used here, as with the other two providers, because it is a closed-book test.
All three certification bodies use a multiple-choice test for their examinations. The main difference, however, is that TÜV Süd does not take into account the number of correct answers in a selection, only their total number over all questions. So if you select a wrong answer it will be counted against correct answers for the same question. This method does not allow the conventional exclusion method to be used, and significantly increases the degree of difficulty.
For the Scrum Master exam at Scrum Alliance, 65% of correct answers are required to qualify. A higher requirement, 85%, must be met at scrum.org. Most difficult, however, I felt was the TÜV test, since here, although the required mark is 65%, the exclusion principle, which is very helpful for multiple choice tests, cannot be used, so the challenge with this test is higher in comparison.
While the certification costs at scrum.org and TÜV Süd are comparable, the Scrum Alliance certificate must be expected to be costlier. This is because attendance at a fee-paying seminar is required for certification approval. In addition, regular renewal fees are charged.
Conclusion – the certifications in comparison
From my point of view the certification body plays no special role in selecting a preparation seminar. Here, the coach is the most important thing. How long have they had experience with Scrum? How varied were their deployment scenarios? In what roles have they worked? Do they publish and/or give lectures, and therefore know how knowledge is conveyed well and successfully?
When it comes to pure certification, the Scrum Foundation from TÜV Süd is my personal favourite. In my opinion, the conduct of the examination and the design of the questions require a deeper understanding of the subject matter and are more in line with my expectations for certification. There are also no further costs due to certificate renewal.
I hope that this has provided a little help with provider selection for anyone who is interested in certification. Have you had a different experience? Do you like one of the other certification providers? I look forward to feedback in the comments.
You can also get more information about certification options on our website.