CAA®

Overview

The Certified Agile Associate (CAA®) is an entry level professional who has demonstrated in a responsible manner, knowledge and expertise which make up the body of knowledge recognized by those who are experts in Agile Frameworks. This is standard which is based on standard principles of Agile, Scrum, Lean Software Development, Kanban, DSDM and other related agile methodologies. This certification by ACI® enables the associate to demonstrate his or her skills and knowledge of general principles of various agile methodologies which have come to be called in the industry as Agile. The methods which are focused on this certification are Scrum, Kanban, Lean Software Development, and Extreme Programming. Other agile methods are also covered in a relatively less detail. This is a great certification for those who have just completed his or her education and is trying to enter the professional work force, especially in the IT Industry.

The CAA® credential is a great certification to have for anyone aspiring to enter the job market. I had a very tough time getting placements on campus and had to try hard with my own sources to finding a job and was not given an opportunity to even interview. The CAA® credential has helped me stand out in the crowd and get a job of my choice. I want to sincerely thank ACI for the help with this certification. Special thanks to your local RCP®, who had done a stellar Job in providing me with information.

Benefits of CAA® Certification

  1. Demonstrate to employers a basic level of understanding in agile practices, tools and techniques. Helps you to brand your agile enterprise application competency in a credible way.
  2. Helps you to demonstrate your knowledge way of generic agile methods and reinforces your knowledge of applying the agile principles to real world applications.
  3. Hold a certification that is more credible than not having any knowledge or certification of your skills.
  4. Develop a basic, applied level of knowledge to gain an understanding of agile and the ability to apply relevant project management methods, leading to successful agile projects.
  5. Actively promote trust and close co-operation between the business and developers and gives the business ongoing visibility into what is happening.
  6. Combine knowledge of more traditional management methodologies with agile to better adapt to a changing business environment.
  7. Help you to get ahead. ACI certification offers financial benefits by making you stand out and better market yourself to current and prospective employers. Most of our candidates have reported a 3000% ROI on their certification cost with us in a span of 4 years from date of certification.
  8. ACI certifications are renowned throughout the world. Instead of relying only on a written assessment, our certifications more comprehensively assess a candidate. Also, the quality of our certification governance superior which enables affordable certifications with the highest flexibility available in the market today.

WHO SHOULD GET CERTIFIED AGILE ASSOCIATE ACCREDITATION?

This is a good certification for students in all walks of life, who have either just graduated or still pursuing the last year of undergraduate education. This is particularly valuable if you want to showcase your expertise to potential employers who may want to employ you.

This is a great way to show your potential employers of your skills and interest in being able to learn the skills required to be a good performer.

Comparison of ACI AAP® with other certification bodies

Sample Certificate

Training Information

  1. ACI, for all its certifications, mandates that all the applicants should have prior training in Agile practices to be eligible to apply for any ACI's certifications.
  2. You can take training from any organizations of your choice to satisfy the mandatory training requirements for the CAA® credential.
  3. You are also strongly encouraged to study the reference books suggested in the later sections of CAA® Handbook to feel confident about taking up the CAA® certification exam.
  4. If you are a student who has graduated in the last 2 years or is still pursuing education in any accredited college, then you are eligible for free Online training which will be provided by the ACI vendor. The details are provided once you register for the CAA® credential.

The Agile Approach and the Agile Manifesto

The Agile is defined in the dictionary as 'quick', 'brisk' and 'nimble'. True to its definition, the agile methodology aims at being nimble and quick moving in response to change in requirements and other issues that arise during the development process.

It is based on iterative and incremental development wherein the requirements are gathered through coordination and collaboration of highly motivated self organizing and cross functional teams. The Agile development methodology pursues opportunities to have a clear vision of the direction of a project throughout the development lifecycle. This is achieved through regular cadences of work, called sprints or iterations, at the end of which teams must have an output of a potentially shippable product increment.

Laying emphasis on the repetition of the work cycles as well as the functional product being developed, agile methodology is describes as "iterative" and "incremental". Agile empowers the team to continuously plan the release to optimize the value throughout development. It helps stakeholders to calibrate releases for profits in the real world and helps companies build the right product.

Towards the beginning of this century in 2001, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was published and reads as:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a plan This means that while there is value in the items on the right, the value of the items on the left are more.


The Agile Manifesto is based on twelve principles:

  1. Customer satisfaction by rapid delivery of useful software
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development
  3. Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
  4. Working software is the principal measure of progress
  5. Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
  6. Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
  7. Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
  8. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
  10. Simplicity - the art of maximizing the amount of work not done - is essential
  11. Self-organizing teams
  12. Regular adaptation to changing circumstances

There are several methods which are part of Agile methods. Some of the prominent ones which are covered in the ACI's AAP® credential are
  1. Scrum Method
  2. Extreme Programming (XP) Method
  3. Lean Software Development
  4. Kanban Method

Scrum Roles

There are three fundamental roles in the Scrum method of agile software development. These are also referred to as Core roles.

  1. Product Owner
  2. Team
  3. Scrum Master

The Product Owner is accountable for ensuring the team delivers value to the business and is the voice of the customer. The Team consists of a group ranging between 7-9 individuals with cross functional skills and is responsible for the delivery of potentially shippable product increments. The Scrum Master is the buffer between the team and any distracting influences and he is responsible for removing the impediments to the team in their task of the deliverables. He is also responsible for defining and facilitating the process and facilitates the team to improve. He is often referred to as the servant-leader.

Scrum Structure

The Scrum structures product development in cycles of work known as Sprints. A Sprint is the basic unit of development in Scrum and is of a specific fixed duration, which cannot be extended whether the work is completed or not. This is called 'Timboxed' effort.

A typical Sprint is 1-4 weeks long and takes place one after another (Sprint follows Sprint). At the beginning of each Sprint, a cross-functional team selects items from a prioritized list of requirements, and commits to complete them by the end of the Sprint; during the Sprint, the deliverable does not change.

Each work day, the team gathers briefly to report to each other on progress, and update simple charts that orient them to the work remaining. At the end of the Sprint, the team demonstrates what they have built, and gets feedback which can then be incorporated in the next Sprint. Scrum emphasizes producing working product at the end of the Sprint is really "done"; in the case of software, this means code that is fully tested and potentially shippable.

Scrum adopts the policy of "inspect and adapt" where for a unit of development the learning and experience is improved by inspecting both the resulting product and the efficacy of the existing processes and aligning them with the product goals and practices.

Scrum Events

Scrum prescribes four formal events for inspection and adaptation,

  1. Sprint Planning
  2. Daily Scrum
  3. Sprint Review
  4. Sprint Retrospective

Prescribed events are used in Scrum to create regularity and to minimize the need for meetings not defined in Scrum. All events are time-boxed events, such that every event has a maximum duration. Once a Sprint begins, its duration is fixed and cannot be shortened or lengthened. The remaining events may end whenever the purpose of the event is achieved, ensuring an appropriate amount of time is spent without allowing waste in the process.

Other than the Sprint itself, which is a container for all other events, each event in Scrum is a formal opportunity to inspect and adapt something. These events are specifically designed to enable critical transparency and inspection. Failure to include any of these events results in reduced transparency and is a lost opportunity to inspect and adapt.




Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming (XP) is another agile software development methodology which is intended to improve software quality and be more accommodative of the frequently changing customer requirements. Extreme Programming (XP) as a part of agile software development believes in frequent "releases" to be delivered in short development cycles. The belief is that such frequent releases will considerably enhance the productivity and will also provide an opportunity for the customer requirements can be modified and accommodated

The various elements of Extreme Programming include: programming in pairs in addition to doing extensive code review, unit testing of all code, postponing the actual programming of features until they are actually needed, a flat management structure, simplicity and clarity in code, expecting customer's requirements to change with time and that the problem is better understood, by frequent communication with the customer and within the team. The methodology takes its name from the idea that the beneficial elements of traditional software engineering practices are taken to "extreme" levels. Extreme programming has 12 practices, grouped into four areas, derived from the best practices of software engineering and are listed below.


Area-1: Fine scale feedback

  1. Pair programming- Two team members work on the same code at the same time on same screen and same keyboard. This practice helps in ensuring higher level of energy at the time of coding and ensures minimal mistakes. In addition, there is a lot of knowledge dissemination of the code.
  2. Planning game- Work for the iterations evolves with the help of games like planning poker etc which make the planning more fun filled and less of a tension.
  3. Test driven development- The TDD approach follows a test first approach where the test case is developed first and then a code is written to pass the test. In a traditional development method, design is done first then followed by the development of test cases.
  4. Whole team- Contrary to traditional approach, all the aspects of software development will involved all the team members and not just specialists based on tayloristic approach.

Area-2: Continuous process

  1. Continuous integration- A continuous integration involves building a clean build of the code each day instead of integrating the code every few weeks or even longer as in the case of water fall models. Continuous integration means the code is always almost release ready and if used in conjunction of version control system will allow reverting the code in case of a bug rather than debugging.
  2. Design improvement- Instead of a complete upfront design for the software development, XP believes in small upfront designs as and when required. The design is never more than the required design.
  3. Small releases- Instead of few big releases, XP prefers frequent releases. This allows the customers to see the software they are to get and also make changes at an early stage.

Area-3 Shared understanding

  1. Coding standard- Enforcing of coding standards include naming of variables, logging of errors, usage of same versions of debugging tools etc. This enables code sharing and easy addition of new team members etc.
  2. Collective code ownership- Instead of a strong code ownership which means every code will have an owner and only that person can change the code, a collective code ownership means any person can change any part of the code without any prior permission.
  3. Simple design- The design is always simple and never more than what is required. Always get the details required to get the work done now and never more than what is required.
  4. System metaphor- A metaphor is a slogan which helps the team to associate with the vision of the team. A statement which reinforces the value system of the team

Area-4: Programmer welfare

  1. Sustainable pace- Just like one cannot work for long hours indefinitely forever, the belief of XP is that the team should not be working under such conditions even for one day. This enhances the overall productivity of the team.

Lean Software Development

Lean is an Agile method, which has been mostly inspired by the fundamentals of Lean Manufacturing techniques and Toyota Production System (TPS). Lean method believes in process optimization and speeding up the process of software development. The key objective of the lean development method is to reduce the waste and increase value for the customer. Lean software development is based on the following principles

Eliminate Waste Remove all activities that add no value. These include waste in code development, project management workforce potential etc. Some example areas of waste reduction in code development are to reduce partially done work, reduce the defects and retesting. In project management the waste include reduction of useless documentation, less handoff, doing un necessary features etc. In work force potential, the effort is on decreasing the multi-tasking, allowing empowered workforce so that they can make decisions and minimize waiting times.

Amplify Learning Full knowledge of a project is impossible at the beginning; hence the team should be willing to learn all along the project along with the customer. Use scientific methods where hypotheses are made and rapid tests are done to test to enable choosing the best solution.

Delay commitment Decisions made with less or incomplete information can lead to mistakes and loss, hence a delay to the last responsible moment increase the chance of success as by that time, one would have the highest possible amount of information.

Empower the Team Empower the team implies, freedom to the team members to make decisions on their own. Developers closest to the code know the problems best and hence must take responsibility for their problems and solve them. The management must help in personal improvement and be restrained. Of course you should get skilled team members for this to work.

Deliver Fast A fast delivery enables the customer to have less time to change. It also gives them a chance to change their future requirements based on what they got and increase the value they get from the software development. However, be careful delivering fast does not mean buggy code.

Build Integrity in the system This implies the product does exactly what the customer wants even if he does not mention it. This is done with continuous interaction with the customer.

See the Whole Optimize the entire code and product and not just the parts. Short deliveries and frequent deliveries can help see the whole picture in a better way.

Kanban Method

Kanban is a method for managing software development work with an emphasis on just-in-time delivery while ensuring a steady pace. In this approach, the development process follws a pull approach instead of a push approach. Most approaches follow a push approach where the managers push the work to workers and due to inadvertent reasons create bottle necks which is akin to a traffic jam at a traffic signal. The Kanban method works on the same principles of a traffic signaling mechanism. In this process, from definition of a task to its delivery to the customer, is displayed for participants to see and developers pull work from a queue as and when they feel they have capacity to take more work.


Kanban can be divided into two parts:

Kanban - A visual process management system that tells what to develop, when to develop it, and how much to develop.

The Kanban method - An approach to incremental, evolutionary process improvement for organizations. The values of the Kanban Method are

Start with what you do now- There is no prescribed method in Kanban. It allows you to start with whatever you in your organization and helps you to make continuous and constant improvements over a period of time at a sustainable pace.

Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change - Sweeping changes may look effective but usually end up in failures due to resistance and fear among the people. The Kanban method instead believes in small changes but over a longer period of time and encourages small incremental and evolutionary changes.

Respect the current process, roles, responsibilities & titles-Every organization will have some work elements which are probably working fine. These have to be respected and should not be modified. By agreeing to respect current roles, responsibilities and job titles we eliminate initial fears. This should enable us to gain broader support for our Kanban initiative.

Leadership at all levels- Acts of leadership at all levels in the organization from individual contributors to senior management should be encouraged.


There are six core practices practiced in Kanban, These are

Visualize - The workflow of software development is inherently invisible. Visualizing the flow of work and making it visible is core to understanding how work proceeds. Without understanding the workflow, making the right changes is harder.

Limit WIP - Any work which is still being done is a waste and not productive. Limiting work-in-process implies that a pull system is implemented on parts or all of the workflow. The pull system will act as one of the main stimuli for continuous, incremental and evolutionary changes to your system.

Manage flow - The flow of work through each state in the workflow should be monitored, measured and reported. By actively managing the flow the continuous, incremental and evolutionary changes to the system can be evaluated to have positive or negative effects on the system.

Make policies explicit - Until the mechanism of a process is made explicit it is often hard or impossible to hold a discussion about improving it. Without an explicit understanding of how things work and how work is actually done, any discussion of problems tends to be emotional, anecdotal and subjective.

Implement feedback loops - Collaboration to review flow of work and demand versus capability measures, metrics and indicators coupled with anecdotal narrative explaining notable events is vital to enabling evolutionary change.

Improve collaboratively, evolve experimentally - The Kanban method encourages small continuous, incremental and evolutionary changes that stick. When teams have a shared understanding of theories about work, workflow, process, and risk, they are more likely to be able to build a shared comprehension of a problem and suggest improvement actions which can be agreed by consensus.

PRACTICE QUESTIONS

1. What is the difference in planning across Agile projects and traditional approaches?
  1. In form of stories which are decided at the beginning of the project
  2. Agile planning lays more emphasis on planning which is iterative
  3. Agile planning is done once, but done very well and in the beginning
  4. Agile planning involves no planning and letting things happen based on iterations

2. What is the horizontal axis (x-axis) in a release burn down chart?
  1. Iterations
  2. Stories / Features
  3. Story points
  4. Time

3. Risks are analyzed in many projects during a special risk management meeting. In an Agile project, when should you manage risks?
  1. Stand up meetings
  2. Iteration planning meetings
  3. Iteration retrospectives
  4. All the above

4. A burn down chart is a visual chart. What is the purpose of this chart?
  1. It provides the overall progress of a project towards finishing it
  2. It is the budget and schedule of a project by iterations
  3. It is a chart where the project schedule is mapped out in detail and used by team to manage project
  4. The task list which needs to be completed by the team by the priority number (RPN)

5. What is the suggested frequency for an Agile project integration?
  1. Once a day
  2. Once an iteration
  3. Once in a project
  4. Short, frequent cycles

6. Which of the following is not true of story points?
  1. Story points are relative in size for a project and can help with scheduling
  2. Story points help in expressing the size of overall user story
  3. There is a specific procedure to estimate user story size
  4. User story points are expressed in point values

7. Which of the following is NOT a purpose of user stories?
  1. Emphasize verbal communication
  2. Emphasize written communication
  3. Emphasize collaboration
  4. Emphasize understanding of overall setting

8. Where would you find information regarding a particular task during a sprint?
  1. Product backlog
  2. Sprint backlog
  3. Daily stand up meeting
  4. Retrospective planning

9. Which of the following is not a performance parameter for an Agile project?
  1. Scope
  2. Value
  3. Quality
  4. Constraints

10. Daily stand up is -----
  1. Brief one on one discussion among team members
  2. A detailed account of project challenges in the morning
  3. Daily high level status meeting
  4. Concise discussion of project status with entire team

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FAQ

I found your web site after checking out USD 2000 price from another Scrum certification provider for training and 500$ for certification. That is too much for me to personally pay for. I am interested in making a certification program from your Agile Certification Institute for ScrumMaster. However, I don't have much background and project experience with Agile/Scrum. What is your suggestion?

At this point in time, ACI® does not impose a policy that you have to be trained from any expensive training providers to appear for our certifications. You can get training on Agile concepts from our website links and also the Master Standards which are provided to you once you register for the exam. Almost 40% of our certificants appear for certifications without any additional training (other than our website links and the Master Standards made available once you register).


How are the success rates of Agile certification programs?

The first time Success rate of Accredited Agile Practitioner (AAP®) Certification Program is 80%, whereas the success rates of Accredited ScrumMaster (ASM®) Certification is 82%. For Accredited Product Owner (APO®) Certification and Accredited SAFe Agile Practitioner (ASAP®) Certification Programs are 65%. However, most candidates seem to clear the certification in their second attempt, thereby incurring no additional expenses (All our certification programs provide two attempts for a single registration towards any certification)


Can you please provide more insights about the structure of the questions of your certification programs?

The exam questions contains of a total of 75 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. The questions are based on the Master Standards approved by Agile Professional Certification Council (APCC) with a 50:50 focus on the theoretical aspects as well as practical challenges of working in an agile setting.


How soon after the registration, will I receive access to take the examination?

After you register for the exam, you have to choose a slot which is preferable for you. We provide 24 slots in a day and they are available all 365 days in a year. The remote proctoring is done via webcam (so your computer MUST have a working webcam to take up this certification). The exam software locks your screen and hence you cannot change your browser. Also you will not be allowed to move away from the computer screen during the exam. Any such violations will result in forfeiture of your attempt at the exam and you will have to take a second attempt.


How soon after the completion of my examination, will I receive my Certification and Test Results?

It is a matter of a few seconds. Your answers are processed and evaluated real-time and you will receive your test results as soon as you submit the answers of your Agile Certification Examination. However to receive the certification, you have to clear all the three levels- Written Assessment, Submission of a Thesis (600 - 900 words) and a peer / managed feedback.


Can you let me know the procedure for the examination and details of written assessment?

Before you take the examination, as part of registration you are required to upload one of the photo ID's recommended by APCC (Includes a passport, a valid driving license of your country or any other government issued photo ID). Your ID will be verified against you personally via webcam before the test lock is released on your appointed registration time so as to ensure the test takes is the person whose ID is presented. We provide 24 slots in a day and they are available all 365 days in a year. This means pretty much you can take the exam anytime you want in a year. Our proctoring team works from three different countries so as to enable 24x7 coverage of the test taking. The registration is valid for a period of one year. The remote proctoring is done via webcam (so your computer MUST have a working webcam to take up this certification). The exam software locks your screen and hence you cannot change your browser or search online or use your browser for any purpose other than taking test during this period. Also you will not be allowed to move away from the computer screen during the exam. Any such violations are treated with seriousness and you will become ineligible to continue the certification exam. You will have to take up the exam after re-scheduling and this shall be treated as a second attempt.


Can you let me know more details of Thesis submission?

The thesis to be submitted should be between 600 words and 900 words (Roughly about one A4 page equivalent). The topic can be chosen by the candidate. Several topics and samples of previous thesis submissions are provided to candidate after they clear the assessment test. Most candidates have no difficulty clearing the Thesis level.


Can you let me know more details of peer/manager submission?

Once you submit the thesis, you will have to get recommendations from three members (either peers or managers) recommending this credential be bestowed upon you. Each of the referee has to fill an online recommendation from which consists of five (5) questions on which he will be rating on a scale of 1-10 (1 is low and 10 is highest). All these recommenders must possess a valid corporate e-mail ID (Any exceptions need approval from APCC). You will have to get an aggregate of 50% in all the recommendations to obtain the ACI credential. In case, you do not get the required rating, you can modify the reference providers and re-submit to a new set of recommenders. Our past records indicate no one had difficulty clearing this final round of assessment.


What is the validity of the registration?

You must complete all the requirements of the assessment within one year from the date of registration. If you cannot complete all the formalities of the assessment, you will automatically lose your registration and have to register.


I have received your global credential for Agile Certification recently. Is there any validity to my certificate? Also, should I pay any annual membership fees?

Once you are certified by ACI®, the certification is valid for 4 years. Every 4 years you have receive 45 knowledge points (KPs) to renew your certification. The Master Standards on Agile undergo changes every few years and we want all our certificants to update their knowledge every 4 years. However, you do NOT need to write the exam again. One knowledge point is approximately equal to one hour of class room instruction or one hour of effort on reading a relevant text book etc. You will have to pay a fee of 20$ every four years to renew your credential and maintain your licence details in our certified agile Practioners database. However, most of this information is available in "My ACI" once you get certified. Most of the relevant books are available as e-copies to be read online in "My ACI®" and these count towards earning KPs.


Will you help me get a job?

ACI® does not act like a placement agency and we do not directly provide jobs to any certificants. However, "Planet ACI® " provides a networking platform for Job providers from various companies all around the planet to post relevant jobs.


While I am making examination if I lose my Internet connectivity due to some technical issues, do I have to pay again to access the certification examination?

No problem at all. If this happens please inform us per e-mail and we will reactive your examination access code free of charge.


I just passed one of your certification programs. What kind of certificate do I receive?

As soon as you complete all the requirements of the certification, you will receive a PDF certificate which is printable if you wish (as it is generated with high quality). In addition, you will also receive your paper based certificate by regular mail within 3 months of clearing all the certification requirements. Please keep in mind that our paper certifications are processed in our back offices located in Singapore, India and Qatar and will contain metal objects (lapel pins) hence you will have a long lead time of 3 months to clear the customs requirements of your country. However, our database will reflect your certificate authenticity from the instant you clear all the requirements and you can use that in your CV.


I am considering registration for your Certification program. However, I have never possessed such a certification and I just would like to understand how such a certification looks like?

You can see a low resolution and miniaturized copy of the certificate in the respective section of the programs by selecting the respecting program links and navigating.


What is the difference between the certifications provided by Agile Certification Institute and other organizations?

According to our market analysis our programs cost less than 1/5 of the lowest cost of other online Scrum certification programs with better brand in the market. Moreover, together with the trust of our thousands of certificants we have brought a modern and friendly approach into the field of online Agile / Scrum certification programs which doesn't mandate practitioners like you to receive expensive classroom trainings before you prove and certify your competence in Agile/Scrum.


Why is your cost lower than others?

We use the latest technology in certification test taking based on Remote Proctoring and Screen Locking facilities in addition to large scale certification operations which brings down our cost of operations. We pass on some of these advantages to you, our certifications takers.


Are Scrum certifications valid in Europe and in Asia?

Yes. Certifications we issue are worldwide valid including in Europe and in Asia. Our certifications are valid and recognized in more than 120 countries around the world.


Will I get reimbursement for this certification from my organization?

ACI provides you with a detailed invoice. This coupled with successful completion of a certification from ACI provides you with reimbursement in most organizations around the planet. In case, you are not successful in claiming the reimbursement, you could alert us post your successful certification through "My ACI". Our global support team will then work with the leaders of your organization to enable reimbursement.


Do I receive PDU credits for ACI courses?

Yes. Please follow PMI's procedure. Our KPs are similar to those of PMI's PDUs.


Will I get a promotion by taking up your certification?

In most organizations, this counts towards continuing education and should enable you to get recognition and improve the chances of your promotion but keep in mind that this cannot be guaranteed by ACI®. Based on a survey of more than 1000 certificants in the past, we have seen an average of 3000% ROI on their investment on ACI certifications.


I am going to register for an agile certification program. Can I make the payment by using my credit issued from a Scotland bank?

Yes. Our trusted payment partner accepts all major credit cards issued from all banks around the world including the banks from Scotland.