How to become a certified Product Owner

… is not a good question to begin with when entering the world of (agile) Product-management. First of all, one should determine whether agile methods are a prudent choice for your project.

“To agile or not to agile?” can be discussed in-depth but at this point we want to give some short situations when agile might not be the best fit:

1. The project doesn’t ask for it

  • You have a stable environment with stable requirements and a stable and established (development) process
  • You have clear predetermined goals and a fixed timeline

2. The team / organization is not ready for it

  • Your team is not trained in agile methods and the agile mindset is not firmly established
  • Your management is not ready to shift responsibilities, provide flexibility; embrace agile (simply calling your Project manager Product Owner won’t make you agile)
  • Your team is dispersed, frequently changing, seldom interacting

3. The business area doesn’t allow it

  • You are operating in a highly regulated market and changes must be approved in potentially tedious processes
  • You must provide detailed documentation to conform with regulations and/or satisfy your customer

(4. Your customer just doesn’t want it)


You are still here? Good, let’s become certified.

First, you should decide which kind of certificate you want, or even better, where you starting from and which type of learning best servers your needs.
While there are some more possibilities, the two main options are the PSPO (https://www.scrum.org/professional-scrum-product-owner-certifications) from scrum.org and CSPO (https://www.scrumalliance.org/get-certified/product-owner-track/certified-scrum-product-owner) from scrumalliance.org.

For PSPO, you can just purchase a validation code and take the test. Of course you can take one of the available courses beforehand but you don’t have to. Consequently, this approach is well suited for self-education. I would recommend it, if you already have some experience and knowledge developing software in teams. Furthermore, it is the cheaper option, since you only have to pay the test fee. But remember, you only have one shot. If you fail, you must purchase another code for your next attempt.

CSPO requires you to attend a course, which offers valuable insights and ensures that you at least discussed practical cases. I recommend this option, if you are relatively new to actual software development and can not draw from much experience. The test is supposed to be not as hard as CSPO and can be taken multiple times.

the perfect place to learn for a product owner certification

As we have done a fair share of software development and the certification is actually mostly to quickly show this skill set to customers, i opted for the PSPO certification. In addition, i had no free time slots, since i were aiming to get the certification while i am finishing my PhD thesis (and i had skiing trips planned).

Consequently, i looked for literature and training questions. Now, i want to give you a list of resources I recommend, and one book that you SHOULD NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY on.

Must read:

  • The Professional Product Owner (http://www.informit.com/store/professional-product-owner-leveraging-scrum-as-a-competitive-9780134686479) – If you can only manage to read 1 book, read this!
  • Scrum Guide (https://www.scrum.org/resources/scrum-guide) – If there are questions asking for specific timeframes or amount of team members or anything precise, it is somewhere in this guide.

Should / Can read:

  • Nexus Guide (https://www.scrum.org/resources/nexus-guide) – At least in the PSPO test, there are some questions about multiple teams ans scaling scrum which are aligned with the Nexus Framework.
  • Scrum Revealed (https://www.scrum-institute.org/Scrum_Books_International_Scrum_Institute.php) – a bit more exhaustive than the scrum guide and with some more examples
  • The Professional Scrum Product Owner: Guide to Pass PSPO 1 Certification (https://smile.amazon.de/gp/product/1521476047/) – a good test oriented collection of questions. Well suited for a couple of hours of test runs before the actual exam. Careful: some sentences are hard to understand!

Example / Training questions:

DO NOT BUY

“The sprint cause a sharp or stinging pain down display of information is a publicly displayed display of information showing remaining work in the sprint backlog” unless you want to have such gems of sentences multiple times on each page, do NOT BUY “Certified Scrum Product Owner – Secrets to acing the exam and successful finding and landing your next certified scrum product owner” (no link, you are on your own to find it).

Credit to katemangostar (www.freepik.com) for the title image!