Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute Launches New PSP-Developer Certification


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SEI Certification

This article was originally published in News at SEI on: March 1, 2006

“PSP certification will assure potential employers that you are a professional who is capable of producing high-quality software for predictable costs and on committed schedules.”
—Watts Humphrey, SEI Fellow & National Medal of Technology Recipient

The SEI officially launched its SEI-Certified PSP Developer Certification program in March at the 18th Annual Software Engineering Process Group (SEPG) conference in Nashville, Tenn. But, put away your pens, pencils, and papers because the exam, which will measure knowledge of the Personal Software Process (PSP) methodology, will soon be going online and going global.

The SEI has partnered with Kryterion, a secure online examination delivery and program management company, to enable interested candidates to take SEI certification exams at any of 250 locations worldwide. Kryterion will use the global network of Drake Authorized Testing Centers to enable candidates to take their exams at places and times that are convenient to them. Candidates will be able to register through the PSP-Developer Web site in early May.

“We’re very excited to be offering this new service to professionals interested in affirming their commitment to disciplined process improvement,” says Jeff Welch, SEI Certification Program manager. “As an organization with global partnerships, we saw the benefit of bringing the certification exams closer to the individual.”

In today's workplace, managers need assurance that employees can meet the demand for timeliness, efficiency, and quality. Certification by the SEI—where the PSP was developed—provides an objective confirmation of PSP knowledge. The PSP Developer certification was developed in response to the growing number of software development professionals who found that incorporating the PSP methodology into their software development efforts consistently improved their ability to produce quality products on predictable schedules.

“The PSP Developer certification recognizes that accomplishment by software developers with a distinction that allows them to stand out among their peers,” says James Over, senior member of the technical staff and TSP technical lead. “It also serves the software development community by providing a means to differentiate between individuals with the requisite knowledge of the PSP and those without this unique qualification.”

The certification is based on the guiding principles of the PSP itself and developed in accordance with the testing guidelines set forth by the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education. In addition, the SEI conducted alpha and beta testing to ensure that the high standards of the question writers and reviewers had been met. The pilot testing enabled the SEI to receive feedback, suggestions, and recommendations.

“Subject matter experts with diverse backgrounds were involved in each phase of the SEI-Certified PSP Developer exam,” says Welch. “The experts were asked to review the questions for clarity, correctness, fairness, and appropriateness. All questions in the question bank underwent this same rigorous review process.”

Taking the Exam

Candidates sitting for the PSP Developer certification must successfully demonstrate understanding and comprehension of the competencies detailed in the Personal Software Process (PSP) Body of Knowledge (BOK). The two-hour exam consists of 80 multiple-choice questions and covers the following competency areas described in the PSP BOK:

  • foundational knowledge
  • basic PSP concepts
  • size measuring and estimating
  • making and tracking project plans
  • planning and tracking software quality
  • software design
  • process extensions

The PSP BOK provides a high-level comprehensive overview of the knowledge areas and competencies of PSP. It helps individual practitioners assess and improve their own skills, provides employers with an objective baseline for assessing the personal process skills and capabilities of their engineers and teams, and guides academic institutions that want to incorporate PSP into their software and other engineering courses or curricula.

Although not required for the PSP Developer certification, candidates are encouraged to take PSP public courses offered by the SEI or the SEI Partner Network.

Improving Software Quality through PSP

Through the pioneering efforts of Watts S. Humphrey, National Medal of Technology laureate, the SEI has pioneered practices including PSP, the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), and Team Software Process (TSP) methodologies that are revolutionizing the way that organizations and people work and helping organizations efficiently create products that meet the needs of their customers.

Together, the PSP and TSP show individuals how to achieve goals and plan projects in detail with enough time to do the job right. SEI research confirms that with PSP and TSP, developers can produce superior products within budget and on schedule. Average product cost and schedule performance is typically within plus or minus 10 percent of planned commitments, and software quality is improved by 10 times.

SEI Certifications and Certificates

In addition to the PSP Developer certification, the SEI offers CERT-Certified Computer Security Incident Handler certification and 12 certificate programs in the areas of software architecture, product lines, process management, and computer security. The SEI is also working on future certifications in measurement and analysis and for PSP instructors and TSP coaches.

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