Agile Certification Arrives

The Agile community has an all-new set of certification credentials.

The new International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile) is led by three well known agile community members. The first is Alistair Cockburn is a signatory of the Agile Manifest. The second is David Hussman is a well-known agile coach and the recipient of the Agile2009 Gordon Pask Award. the third, Ahmed Sidky, is a book author and also a past organizer of the Agile Alliance 2009 conference.

These three have created an all-new credentialing body, the International Consortium for Agile, found at

The stated mission and vision of ICAgile is:


…to educate and equip the global academic and industrial IT community with the mindset, practices and tools for creating high performance, lean and agile individuals, teams and organizations.

….ICAgile’s vision is to become the highest recognizable name worldwide for all those seeking to learn about Agile. We will keep working till ICAgile certificates are viewed as the most credible and reliable source of Agile education in the world.


ICAgile has wide-scale ambitions, including the issuance of several certifications and at least one conference per year. According to the ICAgile web site, ICAgile plans to run conferences. Those seeking higher-end ICAgile credentials such as Instructor or Expert must attend a conference to comply with the “live testing” requirements of these ICAgile certifications.

Credentials that ICAgile intends to issue (with the help of certified trainers) includes:

1. ICAgile Professional

2. ICAgile Expert

3. ICAgile Fellow

4. ICAgile Instructor

The ICAgile program appears to generate considerable demand for the contemplated annual conference by requiring those seeking credentials to attend to get certified. For example, to gain the ICAgile Expert credential, its is manditory to develop products in teams, at an ICAgile conference, while being rated and graded by ICAgile Experts and Fellows. Those seeking certification as trainers must deliver sessions at the conference; delivery of these sessions is a requirement of trainer certification.

The IC Agile Instructor program states:


To ensure that applicants can teach fundamentals of Agile there is no better test than to actually observe them teaching. During the ICAgile Conference all the applicants that passed their phone interview will undergo a face-to-face interview with a group of ICAgile Fellows and Experts. Also they will be given a slot at the conference to teach a short topic of their choice to a group of attendees. The feedback of both the attendees and the ICAgile Fellows and Experts will determine whether the candidate will become an Authorized Instructor or not.


ICAgile’s Certification Roadmap

The basic credential is the ICAgile Professional certification. According the the ICAgile web site, for applicants the first step is a ‘fundamentals’ phase; attending a course of about 5 days to get the level-setting basics. The next step is a ‘Focus’ track and attendance in a Focus class. Upon completion of these 2 steps including an assessment, the student may be certified as a ICAgile Professional.

The next step is to reach the level of ICAgile Expert. This requires conference attendance. The web site states the following for reaching Expert status:


The … final phase is the Certification Phase. This phase is completed through 2 steps. The first is a phone interview with ICAgile Experts or Fellows that are specialized in the track you just finished. If the student passes the phone interview then they are ready for the final step to become an ICAgile Expert – the Hands-on Immersion. The hands-on immersion involves students from each track getting together and creating a cross functional team. At the ICAgile conference, this cross-functional team will have access to a real client and then in 4 hours the team is expected to produce a working slice of the system. The team will be observed by a set of ICAgile fellows who will later discuss with each team member their points of strength and weakness.


To reach the level of ICAgile Fellow, one must first become an ICAgile Expert to be considered. The entire ICAgile Roadmap is clearly described.

The entry point for all applicants is to attend certified training: to gain the basic ICAgile Professional credential, applicants must attend certified ICAgile classes. The ICAgile program includes a fair amount of latitude in how certified instructors create course material; however any custom course material developed by the instructor must deliver on the stated ICAgile learning objectives, and be approved by ICAgile itself.

What is interesting is the position on the Agile Alliance on this matter. According to the Agile Alliance, for certification to be effective it must be certifying actual experience:


A skill is not as simple to acquire as knowledge: the learner has to perform the skill badly, recover from mistakes, do it a bit better, and keep repeating the whole process. Especially for the interrelated and interpersonal skills required of Agile software development, much of the learning has to take place on real projects. It is that learning that a certification should vouch for.

Vouching for someone else’s skill requires close observation or questioning by someone already possessing it. For anything other than uninterestingly simple skills, that’s a lot of work–which means it’s expensive. Therefore, the only skills worth formally vouching for are those that require substantial effort to learn.


The ICAgile certification details found at make for a very interesting read, and the program, while complex, is well thought-out. What happens next remains to be seen. Certification is now front-and-center and the Agile community as a whole can now choose to aquire certifications from many credentialing bodies, including (but not limited to) Scrum Alliance, and now, IC Agile. InfoQ is monitoring the certification scene closely and is planning more articles on the subject. A recent InfoQ story Reactions to the First Certified Scrum Developer Course has generated a high volume of blog posts, comments and controversy. There is clearly a strong interest in where certification is going in the Agile marketplace.

Stay tuned for more certification articles and subsquent news stories from InfoQ!

About the Author

Dan Mezick is an Agile coach and trainer focused on Scrum. He’s a 3-time presenter at Agile2007, 2008 and 2009 and an invited speaker to the Scrum Gathering (Orlando) in 2010. Dan’s company provides Scrum training and Agile coaching, counsel and guidance to executives, managers and teams. Learn more about Dan here.