Last post 01:46 pm July 27, 2018
by Huynh Thien Khiem
19 replies
07:13 pm July 23, 2018

Dear All, 

I have PSM I and PSPO I certifications from and PMI-ACP from (PMI), and I'm looking to earn another certification (PSM II / SPS / PSD / PAL). I had read in forums that it's recommended to have SPS and PSD before PAL or PSM II, do you agree?
I'm also interested in having PAL, but i had read that it's recommended to have before PSM II, is it true?

I work as a Scrum Master in my company, so I think that will be more usefull to have PSM II than PSD for instance, what do you suggest?

Sorry for my lack of english, I hope you understood what i'm asking..

Thanks in advance..

07:55 pm July 23, 2018

Hi Pablo - Great questions, and you were very clear.  Everyone's journey is different, but here is my advice:

>  I had read in forums that it's recommended to have SPS and PSD before PAL or PSM II, do you agree?

If I was to pick one to prepare for, I would go for the SPS next over the PSD and PAL, especially since you are a Scrum Master and scaling knowledge will help you.  I would recommend that you take the free PSD open assessment a few time, though.

> I'm also interested in having PAL, but i had read that it's recommended to have before PSM II, is it true?

I took PSM II and III before the PAL.  I don't see PAL as a prerequisite for PSM II, and I don't think it is crucial.

All the best!




08:40 pm July 23, 2018

I agree mostly with Chris. I differ a bit on the SPS because depending your organization, you may not need or benefit from the scaled certification. If you don't use scaled scrum, the odds of you retaining that information after you earn the certificate is likely to be low because of the old mantra of "use it or lose it".

I feel the best path is to look at the options and see which path will serve you and your team better. You already have the PSPO and PSM certs, so now you need to ask yourself what value can be obtained by getting the PSD, SPS, PAL, and PSM II and determine which is best. As a SM, I don't know what kind of value you would get by getting the PSD. I almost feel like the PSD was created strictly because of the 3 roles in a Scrum Team; the Dev Team was the only one without a cert available. The content is geared towards developers but the core bits of Scrum and Agile are given in the PSM and PSPO certs. What new and valuable information would be gained by having the PSD?

As for the PAL, it's geared towards organizational leaders that want to prove their belief and support in Agile. Not to deter you from getting this but how closely do you work with the organizational leadership? If you work closely and you're frequently coaching them on Agile and Scrum, this would likely be a great cert to add to your arsenal. On the flip side, if you rarely coach leadership or never at all; what value would you get by having the cert?

Personally, I'm planning to take the PSPO next month, then I'm studying hard for the PSK, followed by the PAL. Once I have those, I'll get the PSM II. The reason is because of my current role as an Agile Coach. I have the PSM I, but having the PSPO will help me coach my PO's. My organization gives our teams the choice to go Scrum, Kanban, or Scrumban so having the PSK will definitely help in coaching my teams. Next, the PAL will help when I'm coaching the leadership within our organization as we continue to go through our Agile Adoption. The PSM II is lower on my list only because I want to get the other certificates before going for the advanced SM cert strictly because of my job responsibilities.


08:56 pm July 23, 2018

having the PSPO will help me coach my PO's.

Having the PSD will help you coach your DT.  :)

There are many PRACTICES in PSD that the Scrum Master can coach to the PO and DT.

PSD is not just for developer, it is also valuable for Scrum Master, especially for those whose don’t have development   background.

Just for your reference.


11:22 pm July 23, 2018

Hi Chris, 

Your statement: "PSD is not just for developer, it is also valuable for Scrum Master, especially for those whose don’t have development   background." - This is very true in real life but besdies scrum the exam itself heavily relies on your technical knowledge in software deveopment so if you do not have technIcal IT Background, you might have hard time passing. I might be wrong but those are my 2 cents that were concluded from ging through the Open Assessement for PSD. 

Let me know what you think.




01:30 am July 24, 2018

Hi  Rami,

My English is not good, I try to explain.


If you have initially excluded software development from your Scrum career, then PSD may not be much use to you. If we go back to Scrum's original intention, to improve the profession of software delivery, we can't negate the value of the PSD.


The content of the PSD test, for a mature Scrum developer, is just some basic terminology. To be honest, your so-called technical problems, the current PSD test scope, is limited to the understanding of nouns and related purposes only. That is, focus on the "what", rather than in the "how".


In the process of promoting scrum, especially the team that is just embracing scrum, it's easy to make Scrum a ceremony if you can't provide some practical advice.


For example, what the code coverage show? (one question of the open assessment)

You can find answer HERE , Professional Scrum Developer Glossary


There is no absolute relationship between code coverage and software quality. But it's absolutely necessary for agile development. Of all the teams I've led or coached, the unit test coverage must be over 95%. Three years ago, I worked with Microsoft as a consultant to the "Bank of Taiwan" to lead the team to complete a critical system because it was a critical system, so coverage requirements were 100% and written to DoD.


Why does agile development have to have high coverage? If you understand what coverage is, you can understand the meaning of 80% coverage.


This represents 20% of the waste, that is, 20% of the program code is very likely to not be used at all.


If the deliberately designed test cases are not able to get these program code to execute, the general user's operation how to use these program code.


Eliminating waste is the common principle of all agile development.


As a Scrum Master, you don't need to know how to perform unit tests or how to calculate coverage. But you'd better know what unit tests are, what TDD is, what coverage is, and what coverage means.

This can be described as Scrum Guide: Helping the Development team to create high-value products.

Moreover, the content of the assessment is not so difficult.

It just asks you what is the code coverage.

01:40 am July 24, 2018

Ching, I really appreciate your input. In terms of coaching developers on Agile processes and frameworks, I still don’t get what you would gain from the PSD. I don’t coach my developers on how to do their job through different tools (like you would learn about in the PSD), I coach developers on staying within the framework of Scrum and Agile. It’s good information for me to know about CI, TDD, ATDD, and various development tools and practices but it’s for my own personal info; not to train my developers on them. 

I’m not against having the PSD as a SM, I’m just not convinced you learn anything of value for coaching developers from this certificate. 

02:23 am July 24, 2018

I’m not against having the PSD as a SM, I’m just not convinced you learn anything of value for coaching developers from this certificate. 

I got the PSD certification in 2015. I don't know if there are any changes later. So I also do not remember the actual problem, but also some situation problems.

For a scrum development team, this assessment can provide some thought and diligence advice.

But to tell the truth, I am not very satisfied with the subject of this test. Except for the content of PSM I, almost all of the relevant terms of ALM.

Although many people do not think PSD is valuable, I would rather have PSD II.

For example, the example I mentioned earlier, the meaning that coverage represents, probably a lot of Scrum teams don't think this is important. Maybe you can try to go back and ask your team, how much coverage they have?
What are their thoughts on coverage?

Many other people know how to use TDD, but what does TDD mean for Scrum? What is the agile meaning of pair programming representatives?

In my experience of helping companies embrace Scrum, a PSD-like course takes at least one day and is attended by all Scrum team members. Recently many people are discussing PSK, if the PSK related flow Metrics is very important, PSD should also strengthen a number of related Metrics cognition, the development team can through these Metrics to inspect and adapt.

02:45 pm July 24, 2018

But to tell the truth, I am not very satisfied with the subject of this test. Except for the content of PSM I, almost all of the relevant terms of ALM.

That is my point. As an Agile Coach and SM, I don't need to know how to train my developers on using TDD, I just need to know how it coordinates within Scrum; I don't see how the PSD would be of any value for that.

Back to the OP, if you want to go with PSD, by all means go for it; I was really just curious what value you'd get from spending the time studying and money for the test.

01:17 am July 25, 2018

I work as a Scrum Master in my company, so I think that will be more usefull to have PSM II than PSD for instance, what do you suggest?

 Hi Pablo,

Consider your current role and the size of your current business organization. If it's just a single team, SPS and PAL is not necessary. On the cost-effectiveness, direct preparation for the PSM II is better.

If you want to do a full range of PSM, and then the other low-level certification after the test, including PSD I, SPS, PAL I, PSK I after the PSM II.

However, it is helpful to obtain SPS certification prior to the PSM II certification. There are some exam questions about Scaled Scrum. Preparing for the PSD certification will allow you to have more common language with developers. And know some of the common practices of Scrum, and the contexts and purposes in which these practices are used. 


I don't see how the PSD would be of any value for that.

Hi Curtis,

This depends on what you want to get the certification for. Based on the experience of three years ago, the test content of PSD can give developers some opportunities to learn, including some common practices, the purpose of these practices, and the timing of their use. While many developers use it, they sometimes misuse it without knowing the real purpose. Some organizations even regard test coverage as acceptance criteria.

I've also had contact with developers who have been using Scrum for years to ask if it's difficult to add functionality or maintain existing functionality, as we do without a complete design file. Or are we taking over an old system where the documents are gone, or they don't even write a document, so how do we start? 

In addition, the assessment will also ask some simple metrics, can be done to evaluate the quality of software standards. Or ask about the timing of the various tests. For example, even if you do not have continuous integration, the smoke test is always done.

So I think, based on the impression I've had on PSD I, the current content and ease of PSD I is probably to make developers and scrum Master, or include Product Owner, with a basic understanding of some of the practices associated with scrum.

When I was a consultant, I didn't force the development team to use which practices or tools. I usually introduce the use and usage situations of various practices, and the significance of related metrics. The development team can usually choose the way they think better, and they will do it willingly. For example, after I explained the coverage
of unit tests, almost all of the teams had their coverage elevated and added to DoD.

If developers go to a PSD I certification, they might be able to raise some ideas that they want to go further to understand these practices. But, yes, to achieve this goal does not necessarily have to obtain certification. Just like being a good Scrum Master does not necessarily have to be certified as PSM I.




02:00 am July 25, 2018

For those who have training in PMI-ACP, is that sufficient to attempt PSM II or PAL I?

03:02 pm July 25, 2018

Dear All, Thanks for all your comments,

Boon Sian Tay.. I have certified PMI-ACP and I could tell you that I'ts not related even for PSM I, because PMI-ACP it's not specific in scrum, but it's very usefull get a knowledge of wide range of methodologies, techniques, tools, and also for understand and apply agile values and principles

Best Regards

04:10 pm July 25, 2018

Ching, that's great info for a Developer but it doesn't answer my question. My question is what value a Scrum Master could obtain from taking the PSD? The PSD is geared towards developers to get on board with the Scrum framework but a SM is already on board with the Scrum Framework. Personally, the developer specific content of the PSD is easy to find for free and has little to no time investments so if you're a SM and not a developer; what is the point of getting the PSD?

As a SM, getting the PSPO makes sense because as a SM, I need to be able to coach my PO when needed on the specific tasks they are responsible for. The same is NOT true for developers. As a SM, I am not training my developers how to write code or how to use TDD; I just need to know about different tools and let them know about it so they can decide whether to use it or not. The PSD doesn't go into detail about the specifics of TDD and other tools that can be utilized.


Pablo, what kind of benefit do you see in getting the PSD when you're the SM and not a developer?

08:08 pm July 25, 2018

I think that could be more interesting to me taking SPS or PAL instead of PSD. But as the same as the case of taking PSPO if you are going to be o are a Scrum Master in an organization, being also a PSD could help a Scrum Master in coaching  the development team understanding their needs (also technical needs), you could be involved in helping to remove a technical impediment for instance.
Obviously as a Scrum Master you are not responsible for coding, but maybe you can suggest thinks to an unmatured development team some techniques that could help them, like Pair Programing, TDD, Continuos integration, helping also in have a good definition of done, also coaching the team in improving their estimates applying different techniques.

Thanks for all your comments, best regards

12:42 am July 26, 2018

Hi Pablo,

The following are some of the major exam syntax for your reference:


Q1. Who should ... bla bla bla ...?

Q2. How ... bla bla bla done in Scrum?

Q3. What are the benefits of  ... bla bla bla ...?

Q4. When can the   ... bla bla bla ...?



Similar to PSM, but focused on Nexus.



Question 1.

You MANAGE a product develpment organition ....bla bla bla.....?


Question 2.

You are the MANAGER  ....bla bla bla.....?



Which describes the practice....bla bla bla.....?



bla bla bla ...

bla bla bla ...

bla bla bla ...

As a Scrum Master, which approach would you recommend to ... bla bla bla ...?


Your orgination ...bla bla bla ...

bla bla bla ...

and bla bla bla ...


The Product Owner ...bla bla bla ...

bla bla bla ...

and bla bla bla ...


The Development Team ...

bla bla bla ...

bla bla bla ...

and bla bla bla ...


As a Scrum Master, what should you do?

08:14 am July 26, 2018


01:24 pm July 26, 2018

Very Clear Ching, thanks!, but in terms of difficulty, could you sort PSD, PSM I, PSM II, PAL, SPS?

Best Regards, -

02:22 pm July 26, 2018

Undoubtedly, PSM II is the most difficult.

The difficulty of other certifications depends on your qualifications and experiences.

I am not a native speaker of English. But I have 30 years of development experience. Also has years of experience with scaled scrum.  So the SPS is relatively easy for me. 

If you have not been a manager in the development department, it will be difficult to pass the PAL I.

If you don't have the experience and technical background of a developer, PSD I is not very easy for you.

Depending on the background of your PMI, I would recommend preparing the SPS first and then concentrating on the PSM II (although difficult).


For Scrum Master, PSD I is not invaluable, but nice to have.

PAL I focuses on departmental leadership and tends to be more biased in decision-making and managerial position.

These two certifications are easier than PSM II, but the priority is not that high for value and relevance.

05:40 pm July 26, 2018

I would recommend taking SPS and PAL regardless of the situation in your organization. The reason being that you will never know when you will encounter a situation where you will need to scale scrum. PAL, I believe, is also important because leadership is always welcome wherever you go.

10:03 am July 27, 2018

I just found this thread today when I see Pablo's questions are exactly the same what I am looking for.

I have even been working as Software Engineer, Team Leader, Scrum Master, Coach and now my current position is Agile Coach. I have got PSM I, PMI-ACP and now I am looking for a next certificate to support my Agile Coaching role.

I think the last responses from Ching are very clear and helpful. I will study SPS then take PSM II.

Thanks everyone for your all valuable comments.