What is that agile certification really worth?

What is that agile certification really worth?Agile has revolutionized how software development and project management get done, increasing demand for IT professionals versed in the methodology and its many flavors. To help vet candidates and give IT pros an opportunity to stand out, a number of agile certifications have arisen, each offering a unique approach to benchmarking IT professionals' knowledge and competency with the framework.

But do certifications, especially with a methodology like agile, truly prove competence and proficiency? How much should hiring managers rely on the “alphabet soup” of agile credentials to take the measure of a candidate’s expertise and experience? And, if you’re looking to pursue certification yourself, what value do companies truly place on agile certifications in the workplace?

"Certifications get a bad rap. The arguments against certification exist for almost every certification, whether that's Java, Oracle, Microsoft — and now agile. It's not something my clients are specifically asking for; they just want to know if teams can build good software," said John Doucette, vice president of consulting operations at custom software development company Magenic Technologies.

Certification doesn't guarantee success

For Doucette, an agile certification can show that a candidate has taken time to study the best practices around the methodology, but having developers on staff that possess agile certifications won't guarantee success of an agile project, he added.

"Agile project success has less to do with whether or not developers are certified and much more to do with whether or not the entire organization is making the culture shift towards an agile mindset all the way from the lowest-level developer up to the CEO," Doucette said.

Taking time as an organization to understand, adopt and apply agile principles and practices is what it's all about, he adds; agile certification, scrum masters, agile coaches and the like are not going to be effective on their own unless there is company-wide buy-in of the principles and practices behind the methodology, Doucette said.