Scrum Master vs Product Owner: What’s the Difference?
By Susan MayAs your organization goes agile, your need to hire the best talents accelerates. The Product Owner and the Scrum Master are both critical accountabilities in Scrum teams and in organizations that are undergoing Agile transformations. In this blog we attempt to find the difference between the Product Owner and Scrum Master, and how they impact your team and productivity.What is Scrum Master?“The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. They do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory and practice, both within the Scrum Team and the organization. The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness. They do this by enabling the Scrum Team to improve its practices, within the Scrum framework.”—Scrum.org Role of Scrum MasterThe Scrum Master is a leader who serves the team, which means that they exist solely to help the team and ensure that the team can work without any disturbances. This would include removing obstacles that may hinder the team’s productivity, ensuring that they follow the Scrum framework by helping them understand Scrum principles and values and working with the Product Owner to ensure backlog prioritization. What is Product Owner? “The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the needs of many stakeholders in the Product Backlog. Those wanting to change the Product Backlog can do so by trying to convince the Product Owner”—Scrum.org Role of Product Owner A product owner works on the business side of a product and is a proxy for the customer. The product owner collaborates with key stakeholders and ensures that the product is delivered using Agile values while also managing, grooming, and prioritizing the sprint backlog. Difference between Product Owner and Scrum MasterProduct OwnerScrum MasterDefines the product visionPerforms the role of a leader who serves and guides the developersActs as a go-between the stakeholders and teamHelps team members implement the Scrum frameworkArranges meet-ups with all those involved with the productFacilitates daily Scrum stand up meetingsMaximises Product Value by ordering and prioritising the backlogHelps the team perform more effectively by removing hindrances to productivityManages Product BacklogHelps Product Owner manage the backlog and maximise valueExplains Scrum not just to the team but also to stakeholdersAids in enterprise Scrum adoptionScrum Master Vs Product Owner: Job Description:Product OwnerScrum MasterProduct Owners are highly motivated individuals who are more interested in the business side of projects. They are great communicators, thinkers and problem solvers. They are also well versed with Scrum principles and processes and can step in as a leader to guide the Scrum team.Along with the being a leader, a Scrum Master is also a facilitator and coach. Scrum Masters are great at motivating and guiding the team and should be well versed with Scrum principles and practices. They should be great at solving conflicts, tactful and skilled in leadership.Scrum Master SkillsLeadership: As a leader, the Scrum Master is involved in performance planning, removing obstacles, resolving conflicts, and helping the team self-manage. The term ‘servant leader’ which was used in context to the Scrum Master in the 2017 version of the Scrum Guide has now been removed. Agile coach: Being a coach and an Agile mentor is a Scrum Master’s primary skill. Helping team members to understand Scrum and navigating the project based on Scrum is the purview of the Scrum master. Scrum masters should work on developing their mentoring skills to be successful in their roles. Be technically savvy: If your team is working on a technical product then it is paramount that you understand some aspects of the technology being built. This will help you guide the team if it approaches you and remove any impediments the team may face. Organizational skills: Organizational skills may be the differentiator between good and average Scrum masters. To deliver a successful project, Scrum Masters must ensure that work allocation is right, and tasks and deadlines are met. Soft Skills: A Scrum Master should have great interpersonal skills like communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution skills. As a conflict manager you may be required to solve internal and external conflicts and show empathy towards teammates. Scrum Knowledge: This is a no-brainer. As a Scrum Master your skill set would be incomplete without Scrum knowledge. Your primary responsibility is to guide the developers on all things Scrum and ensure that product development takes place according to Scrum and Agile principles and values.Scrum Master Responsibilities: Helping the team: Your main responsibility is to help the team navigate its day-to-day responsibilities and deliver value in each sprint. To do this you must ensure that the team does not encounter any impediments or obstacles that is preventing it from achieving its goals. Helping the team achieve Scrum: You may be a knowledgeable Scrum Master, but you may be leading a team that is new to Scrum. In such cases you should help the team understand the Scrum processes and ensure that the project is being carried out as per Scrum values. Arranging stand up meetings: The daily stand-up meetings are an essential part of Scrum. By arranging these meetings, the Scrum Master and the team can gauge how the sprint is going and if product delivery will happen on time. The Scrum Master can also help team members with any difficulties that they may be facing. Setting up an environment where the team can perform more effectively: Happy teams make great products. And as a Scrum Master, your responsibility is to make sure that the team has a great environment to work in. That would mean removing obstacles or helping team members navigate any difficulties that may be hindering their output. Supporting the Product Owner with product backlog: While the product owner is primarily responsible for the product backlog, they would not be able to handle it without the help of the Scrum Master and the developers. You can help the product owner prioritise and manage the backlog by facilitating Scrum events, through product planning and by helping the team to identify backlog items. Scaling Scrum in the enterprise: While your primary responsibility is to help the team understand Scrum, you also need to go beyond the team level and look at promoting scrum at the enterprise level. Coaching, guiding and mentoring departments are some of the ways you can help scale agile to the enterprise level. Product Owner SkillsConflict resolver: Not all stakeholders will be compliant and reasonable, and it is in such contrarian situations that your conflict resolution skills will come in handy. This will help you diffuse ambiguous situations, misunderstandings or other untoward situations or escalations that may arise with stakeholders or developers. Technically aware: Being technologically savvy is a must-have skill for product owners these days. They are required not just to understand what the customer wants and to explain the product vision to the rest of the Scrum team, but to also suggest improvements and enhancements for the product to make it more marketable. Collaborator: As a great collaborator you can successfully bridge the gap between being part of the team and being a representative of the client. You can explain the vision of the stakeholders and present a story that is well understood by the developers. Your collaboration skills are key to your success as a product owner. Prioritization skills: The Product Owner must have inherent prioritization skills to perform efficient ordering of product backlog items and maximise value delivered. Soft Skills: Effective communication skills and being business savvy are paramount to being successful as a Product Owner. You are working with multiple parties and will have to communicate with people with different temperaments. Your communication, negotiation, and learnability skills along with your innate curiosity, intuitiveness, problem solving, and empathy will help you succeed as a product owner. Scrum knowledge: The product owner must have knowledge of Scrum values, product roadmap, release management, product backlog management, sprint planning, review, and retrospectives, to maximise product value. Product Owner ResponsibilitiesDefining the vision: The Product Owner’s main task is to define the vision of the product, in other words, how the product will shape up and what the customer expects. But the product owner also goes beyond just helping the team understand what the client wants. A truly skilled product owner should be able to go beyond the brief given by the client and spin up solutions that will enhance the product and make it more marketable. Giving the developers a right vision of the product will enhance productivity, remove ambiguity, and help the team build better products. Being the bridge between stakeholders and team: You are the primary link between the stakeholders and the rest of the Scrum team. These two may not always meet or may not always understand each other. As the go-between, you will help the stakeholders understand the developers' point of view and help the Scrum team understand the stakeholders’ requirements and needs. The product owner helps maintain transparency between the two parties ensuring that there is no ambiguity, resentment, or over-commitment on either side. Having regular meetups with all those involved in product: The Product Owner should be open to regular meetings with the stakeholders, Scrum team and others involved in the product roadmap or wishing to discuss it. These discussions typically revolve around backlog items, future sprint releases or other product information the client may ask for. Maximising Product Value: The Product Owner’s primary responsibility is to maximise the product value. This they do by creating and managing the product backlog. This helps maintain the Scrum values of fast delivery and adaptability. Helping the customer get what they want on a priority basis is a function of the product owner, who makes sure that high priority work gets into production first for early release. Ordering Product Backlog: One of the ways by which the product owner maximises the product backlog is by prioritizing and ordering the product backlog. While this is the primary responsibility of the product owner; in a good agile team, the scrum master and the developers aid the product owner in this process. Updating the product backlog is an on-going responsibility of the Product Owner and they do this by ordering, prioritising, and ensuring that the developers are focusing on developing the right items. Explaining Scrum: While leading the team on values of Scrum is primarily the responsibility of the Scrum Master, you also need to be well versed with Scrum to help team members if they are stuck or explain Scrum to uninitiated stakeholders who are not aware of Scrum. This will help users understand how their product is being developed and the importance of Scrum. Average Salary Scrum Master Average SalaryProduct Owner Average SalaryAs Scrum practitioners’ years of Scrum related experience increase, so does their average annual base salary-- Scrum Alliance Salary SurveyIn general, the average annual base salary for an individual just beginning their career in Scrum rose in 2017-- Scrum Alliance Salary SurveyDepending on experience and number of years worked, the average Scrum Master salary can range from $92,431/ year to 118,000/year on an average.Depending on number of years worked, the average Product Owner salary can range from $106,427/ year, to 118,000$129k/year on an average.Scrum Master vs Product Owner – Using Agile MethodologyFrom what we have listed so far, if you think that the Scrum Master can fill in the shoes of a product owner or vice versa, then the answer is an emphatic ‘no.’ Although it is still debatable, there is a clear distinction between the two roles.Can the Product Owner Also be Scrum Master?These are two distinct roles by virtue of their responsibilities. While the Product Owner is necessary on the team to define the product vision, a Scrum Master leads the team on Scrum fundamentals. A Scrum Master at best aids the product owner in backlog management and ensures that the overall process is being carried out without any glitches.These two roles require different approaches which is why having the same person as both the Scrum Master and the Product Owner will not work. In fact, it will no longer be a Scrum team or an Agile project if these two roles are combined.Assessing which role suits you the best?Which one of these is you? Find out if you are better suited to be a Product Owner or a Scrum Master.Are You a Strategist or a Tactician? Now most people may think that these mean the same, but they are not. A strategist will focus on the bigger picture and produce a long-term plan. So, if you like the outcome more than the path that leads to it then you are a strategist. You will make a good Product Owner as your focus is on product vision, company objectives and market response. A tactician on the other hand focuses more on the details. The goal to achieving the strategy should have many tactics. As a scrum master you will be a brilliant tactician, focusing on the day-to-day scrum activities and ensuring that the team can deliver successful sprints. How Good Are Your Communication Skills? Irrespective of whether you want to become a Scrum Master or a Product Owner, you need to have effective communication skills. A Product Owner’s communication skills come in handy while interacting with the stakeholders and the team.Are You Comfortable with the Business Side of Software Development?There are three main aspects to software development: the business side, the technical side, and the human side. The business side of the development is the most important. After all what you develop is good only if it delivers a business value. So, if you are more interested in the business aspect of a product such as ROI, stakeholder needs, productivity etc then you are well suited to becoming a Product Owner. If the technical side of the project is what floats your boat, then the Scrum Master role is the right fit for you.How Empathetic Are You? You are great at handling your stakeholders. You make sure to accommodate their needs and suggestions and even demands. But do you also know where to draw the line and say ‘no’ to unreasonable demands and ideas? If you are empathetic towards the developers and understand that the developers cannot develop every idea or feedback the stakeholders have, then you will be a great Product Owner. Do You Like Ordering People Around? If you do, then you are not a right fit in a Scrum team as either a Product Owner or a Scrum Master. A product owner oversees the product backlog and ensures that milestones are met as per customer requirements, while the Scrum Master is a leader who helps the developers reach the sprint milestones by applying Scrum principles. While both these roles are critical to the functioning of a Scrum team, neither of them can assume a manager or leader’s role. Agile and Scrum do not subscribe to the command-and-control structure but instead to the principles of self-organization where each team member is their own boss. Conclusion Scrum is the most implemented Agile framework, and with the pandemic disrupting markets, the rate of adoption of Scrum is only accelerating. If you are a professional wondering if product owner and scrum master jobs will be of value in the future, then rest assured that these are among the most recruited for job trends. These roles are distinct and are both indispensable to agile teams. With the right credential, experience, and skills you can have successful careers as both a Product Owner and Scrum Master.
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Maximizing Product Value Through Scrum
By Certified TrainerAny organization that adopts Scrum, does so with a single goal in mind; to maximize value. Scrum is the most widely used Agile framework for a reason—because it allows for quick adaptation and value creation. But the road to using Scrum in the right way is not an easy one. An organization that works on value maximization using Scrum understands and employs Scrum principles and processes fully, so as to enhance all its benefits.Let us understand how Scrum organizations can maximize value and the roles in a Scrum team that work towards it.Scrum Organizations Maximizing ValueWhat increases a product’s value? Its demand in the marketFavourable response from customers Latest featuresHigh qualityDurabilityScrum helps create a product that fulfils all these requirements. Teams create value through an empirical process that is based on the Scrum values of transparency, inspection and adaptation. At the end of each sprint, the team openly shows the product increment to stakeholders, who inspect it and give their honest feedback. They then adapt the feedback and redefine the work to ensure continuous improvement.Agile thus helps enhance flexibility and adaptability, helping organizations quickly respond to market changes. It fosters innovation allowing developers to deliver the highest quality thus making end users happy while the concept of minimum viable product helps reduce the time to market. Scrum engineering practices such as unit testing, test drive development and so on help improve product quality, while Scrum’s focus on customer needs ensure early and frequent delivery which in turn keeps customers happy.Illustrations of Scrum:With the launch of the Scrum Guide 2020, Scrum.org created a new illustration of the Scrum Framework. This new illustration reflects the new changes in the Scrum Guide including the Product Goal, putting the focus back on the Scrum team and the three commitments of Product Goal, Sprint Goal, and the Definition of Done that help the Scrum team deliver value. Who is Product Owner?“The product owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the development team. How this is done may vary widely across organizations, scrum teams, and individuals.”—Scrum GuideThe Product Owner is the third arm of a Scrum team along with the development team and the Scrum Master. The product owner is responsible for maximising the product value, representing the stakeholders and ensuring that their needs are met, prioritizing the product backlog, empowering the team, maintaining Agile and Scrum processes and defining the product vision.A Product Owner:Manages stakeholders and drive valueManages effective communication between the development team and stakeholdersProvides the product vision to the development team and resolves conflicts that may arise between stakeholders or development team membersPrioritizes item backlogThe Product Owner Role in Releasable SoftwareThough the Product Owner is a specialist role in a Scrum team they are not directly responsible for creating the shippable software. However, the Product Owner is in-charge of maximizing product value and checking if the product can be released. According to the Scrum Guide “If part of the work is potentially releasable, the Product Owner typically accepts it.” Product Owner maximizes value by prioritization and ordering Product Backlog ItemsAs mentioned above, the primary responsibility of the product owner is to maximize product value. This they do by being charge of the product backlog and prioritizing items on the backlog. The product backlog is a list of items that are listed based on their priorities, which are decided by the product owner and the development team. The product backlog keeps getting updated as and when goals are met and the development process moves ahead. Prioritization of the product backlog is an important aspect of a Scrum project. The Product Owner must have the innate skills to understand the items that would need priority and need to be delivered or worked upon first. Based on the product backlog the development team would know which item to develop and deliver first. As of 2011, the Scrum Guide has started using the word Ordering instead of Prioritizing for the product backlog. So, in essence ordering the product backlog is the same as prioritizing the backlog, which means to list or order the items based on their importance in context to each other. Following the ordered backlog ensures that there is cost optimization, value delivery and customer satisfaction. But how does the product owner and the team determine which item on the list is most important?Essentially the product backlog ordering is influenced by certain criteria:The value the product/feature brings to the business: H3 An item or feature’s immediate importance will depend on the value it brings in to the customer or overall product. Features that relate more to the overall product vision are given higher priority. Complexity: H3 More complex items would need more time and resources to get done. These are given higher priority than less complex items.Time factor: H3 The feature being delivered should have value when it is delivered. There is no use delivering a feature after it has lost its use or functionality, or is no longer relevant in the market. This will not only result in resource wastage but will also go against Agile’s ‘just in time’ planning.How Product Owners collaborate with Development Team to maximize valueThe product owner alone cannot prioritize the backlog. They need the help of the development team who will estimate various factors like complexity of the feature, and the estimated time and resources that would go into building the feature, while ordering the product backlog.An effective product backlog helps maximize value, keeps things transparent and helps enhance quality of the product being delivered.Getting the team’s views and inputs while ordering the product backlog is an important exercise that must be spearheaded by the product owner. This collaboration sets the tone for the backlog refinements and sprint planning. This collaboration brings out the best in the team and lays the foundation for a successful Scrum project.Required Skills for Product Owner To Maximize ValueThe product owner is the driving force of the Agile team. By no means understated, the product owner’s role is increasingly becoming among the most important roles in agile organizations. A successful product owner must possess many skills including technical, Scrum and soft skills.Core Knowledge:Having knowledge of the core areas of your business and product is a must if you want to be an effective product owner. These core skills include:Market researchBusiness strategyFinancial and Business modelsProduct lifecycle managementProduct visionScrum Knowledge:As a product owner you are the bridge between the stakeholders and the development team. You may think that directing the team on the adoption of Scrum is the responsibility of the product owner, but as the master of the product vision, you also need to know Scrum principles in order to guide the team on the product backlog.You should have knowledge of:Scrum conceptsScrum estimationProduct backlog prioritizationRelease ManagementTimeboxing SprintsTechnical Knowledge:Technical knowledge is a great plus for product owners. This will help you in your dialogue with the development team and will also aid you when you have to explain the team’s arguments to the stakeholders.It’s an added advantage for the product owner to have knowledge of:Design ThinkingUXLean Start-upOrganizational ProcessThe Scrum framework was developed as an alternative to traditional project methodologies to help teams and organizations to maximize value and aid in better product development. The Product Owner and the development team work together and navigate the product backlog to deliver items that ensure stakeholder satisfaction. This they accomplish through prioritization and ordering of the product backlog items.
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What Is Scrum Product Backlog?
By Certified TrainerIn its simplest form, a Scrum Product Backlog could be described as a To-Do list for the project. It sets out all the product goals and outcomes that are sought to be achieved and lists out the tasks—based on priority— that the team must perform in order to create the product. A product backlog is agile and dynamic, constantly evolving in tune with the changing requirements of the end-users and the feedback from the stakeholders.In this article we tell you how to create an effective product backlog, what goes into refining and grooming it, and the pitfalls you must avoid during the process. You will learn the characteristics of good product backlogs and how they keep the team agile.Scrum Product Backlog Overview“The Product Backlog is an emergent, ordered list of what is needed to improve the product. It is the single source of work undertaken by the Scrum Team.” - Scrum GuideThroughout the duration of the project, the Product Backlog is the one point of reference for product tasks that are listed as per current priority (we say ‘current’, as this list keeps evolving) and is changed to reflect whatever is needed to keep the product useful and competitive in the market. It is an ordered list of all the features that are needed in the product, along with the use cases, user stories, enhancements and improvements requested after feedback, and bug fixes that need to be carried out.What’s in the Product Backlog? Product Backlog ItemsThe Scrum Guide prescribes what can be listed out in the Backlog and ensures that the Product Backlog Items (PBIs) are clearly defined. This includes Features, Functions, Requirements, Enhancements and Fixes.Each item should be added only after very careful consideration. Check to see whether it adds customer value, is listed according to the priority (the more urgent tasks will come at the top of the list) and is estimated accurately. Try to avoid adding low-level tasks that are obvious, and will naturally follow from the larger task, as then the list will get very cluttered.How to Create a Product BacklogMany teams start out by creating a Product Backlog on an Excel spreadsheet. This works well in initial stages, but as the tasks keep increasing and priorities change, rows will need to be moved and the formatting goes haywire. Especially when this is a shared document, this could prove to be a nightmare. Software solutions such as Jira or Miro can help to create a living Backlog template that can be easily shared, rearranged and updated. Teams can easily keep track of tasks as they continue to build and iterate, and by putting all ideas and tasks together in one place there is transparency and collaboration across the board.Once the template that the team will use is decided, the Product Owner will follow these steps to create the Scrum product backlog:1. Add ideasThe Product Owner is the SPOC who will be approached by all stakeholders with product ideas. He or she will add these ideas to the list.2. Get clarityEach Product Backlog Item must be clearly understood. Do not add a PBI if you are unsure of the reason behind it, whether it will add value to the product, and what the specifications are.3. PrioritizeItems that are urgent can be added at the top of the list, while low priority items will be in the middle. Any items that are ambiguous now but will become clear during the progress of the work, can be added at the very bottom. PBIs that do not offer any value should not be considered at all.4. Keep updating the backlogAs Agile works on the premise of adapting to changing requirements, these changes must reflect in the Backlog as well. As an ongoing process, the backlog must be constantly updated. Keep re-prioritizing tasks, refining the list, and updating the backlog.Do keep in mind that the backlog will be referred to by all the members of the team as well. There could be a lot of ideas and suggestions for improvement that are added to the list along the way. While some of them might be let go, there could be others that add great value and will slowly make their way up to the top of the list, getting picked for development in future sprints.Product Backlog RefinementIt is the Product Owner’s responsibility to groom and refine the Backlog. During this session, backlog items are reviewed, discussed, and prioritized by the whole team including product owners, product managers, Scrum Master and developers. The idea of this exercise is to keep the backlog updated and ensure that all tasks that are not completed will be added to the upcoming sprints. During this meeting, product owners revisit the strategic vision behind the product development, and make sure that it is reflected in the Backlog. It is all too easy to lose track of the rationale behind the tasks, and when the Backlog items are refined, the PO will check to see whether the vision is being followed.Agile backlog refinement is an ongoing task that could be officially scheduled on a regular basis. Product Owners and teams must tidy up the backlog, removing items that are no longer required and moving priorities to the top of the list. While doing so, they will balance stakeholder needs, concerns of the team, and project objectives. They will also consider available resources and project schedules and will optimise the tasks ahead.During a backlog grooming session, these activities take place:1. Managing user storiesUser stories that are no longer relevant are deleted, and at the same time new ones are added.2. Splitting epic user storiesStories that are too large to be handled (called epics) are split into manageable chunks. By splitting epics, the stories that are of a lower priority can be pushed to the next iteration.3. Estimating and prioritisingAs the requirements evolve, some priorities will change and will get re-assessed. User stories that are no longer a priority can get moved down, and the estimates will correspondingly change as well.By regularly grooming the backlog, product teams will get clarity on the tasks ahead, and can review and complete existing tasks satisfactorily.What are the Expected Benefits?The Product Backlog is a systematic, organised list that provides clarity and transparency of tasks.It clearly indicates the priorities.It is very simple to change and update, as new requirements emerge.It allows you to immediately see dependencies and order them.It allows you to think about products in the long-term, not just in terms of immediate needs.In the long term, the product backlog organises the team and helps them to stay on track through the evolution of the product.What are the Common Pitfalls?The Product Backlog is a critical tool that provides clarity and direction through the development journey. However, to make effective use of it, the Product Owner and team members must have a deep understanding of how to manage it and make the right contributions.Quite often things do not go as planned, and there are many pitfalls that could happen. We’ve listed out a few of the most common mistakes that should be avoided at all costs:Working without a Product Roadmap is akin to working blindfolded. The team can lose focus and move in different directions that are not in line with customer expectations.Not doing enough Backlog Refinement results in lack of clarity.On the other hand, doing too much Backlog Refinement results in a document that is too much in detail and difficult to follow.Not taking the team’s inputs when prioritising tasks will create technical debt or tasks being left incomplete.Not getting stakeholder feedback when grooming the Backlog items will create change requests toward the end of the project.How do Product Backlogs keep the Team Agile?A Product Owner who is on top of evolving requirements will make sure that they are added to the program's product backlog, making it an outline that is always current and can be relied upon to reflect the new priorities. It is to be expected that customer needs will change, and stakeholders will challenge priorities, and it is always good to hold discussions to get the list of tasks in line with these changes. The product backlog is also the basis for iteration planning, and it’s important that all work items should be included in the backlog, without leaving anything of importance out of the equation.As the needs and customer requests change, so will the user stories. As a result, there will be changes in the design, new bugs to be fixed and more technical debt to be handled. The backlog, as a living document, will faithfully record and reflect all these changes.Good Product Backlog CharacteristicsScrum expert Roman Pichler has laid out the primary attributes of a good product backlog in his book Agile Product Management with Scrum: Creating Products That Customers Love. Described with the acronym DEEP, this list helps POs stay on track to maintain and efficient and effective backlog.DEEP stands for Detailed appropriately, Estimated, Emergent, and Prioritized, and is required to be applied throughout the process of backlog refinement.D: Detailed appropriatelyThe details will determine how efficient the progress of work is. As a user story rises up the list of priorities, it should be fleshed out in greater detail. Items that are lower down can be detailed out later, when there is more clarity on the tasks they entail.E: EstimatedAll the top priority items should be estimated as accurately as possible to keep schedules and budgets under control. Agile story points that are viewed from the customer’s narrative can be used for more realistic estimation.E: EmergentAs the product unfolds, the team will get more clarity on emergent requirements. The backlog is anything but rigid, and there will be many changes and enhancements along the way. These emergent needs will result in items being added, deleted and refined as the development progresses.P: PrioritizedThe backlog must always be prioritized. Items at the top represent tasks of a higher priority, and items toward the bottom are of a lower priority. This prioritization is done based on the value each task adds to the product at any given point of time. As the value keeps changing, the priorities will be redefined to match.How Do the Product Backlog and the Sprint Backlog Work Together?A sprint backlog can be a subset of the product backlog. It represents the product backlog items that need to be completed by the Scrum team in that sprint. When the sprint ends, there is a review that is conducted together with the stakeholders, to understand where the product has reached and what needs to be done next. Any items that have yet to be completed will get pushed to the top of the next sprint backlog, or they could also be moved back into the overall product backlog to be taken up during an upcoming sprint.The product backlog offers a 360-degree, bird’s eye perspective of the overall development project. At any given point of the journey, the current state of the document shows the action items that are currently under way, those that will be done next and those that are at the bottom of the list. Using the backlog effectively, a PO can organise, refine and clearly define the tasks and ensure that there is systematic value addition to the product.
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What are User Stories in Scrum?
By Susan MayThe beauty of Scrum and Agile projects is that they are simple—not just in terms of processes but because of their underlying philosophy which is ‘do fast, fail fast, learn fast and succeed’. Among the many facets that contribute to making Agile Scrum simple with a high success rate are User Stories. In this blog we attempt to answer a few questions including, for the un-initiated; ‘what are user stories in Scrum’, and how they drive us in understanding user needs and simplifying the process of product development. What are User Stories?User Stories are chunks of the desired behavior of a software system. They are widely used in agile software approaches to divide up a large amount of functionality into smaller pieces for planning purposes--– Martin Fowler Why is Agile popular? Agile’s popularity has a lot to do with its ability to respond quickly to customer needs and implement them in the product being developed in each sprint. This is done by breaking down a large project into chunks called sprints, the end goal of each sprint being the delivery of a piece of working software. For each sprint to be successful it is necessary also to break down user needs into manageable tasks that can be accomplished in each sprint. User needs are broken down into user stories which are small tasks that can be accomplished in a short time frame to deliver a workable product for the end user. These informal descriptions define the ‘how, what and why’ of the product to be built and form the basis for the development of the product that ultimately fits user needs.Origins of User StoriesAccording to Agile Alliance®, user stories first originated in 1989 in Extreme programming, an agile software development framework like Scrum. Although at the time of their introduction they were known to be similar to use cases, with time they became more distinct and different from use cases in their scope, documentation and detail.Why user stories?The best way to build software that meets users' needs is to begin with user stories: simple, clear, brief descriptions of functionality that will be valuable to real users--User Stories Applied, Mike Cohn Traditional software development techniques do not break down projects into smaller chunks. Each deliverable may take months to design, build, test and implement by which time it is possible that the user’s needs have changed, but at this stage going back and re-working can lead to immense loss. In the agile approach, with the help of user stories, the agile team is able to break work down and prioritise based on urgency, risk and business value. Stories that are prioritized on the product backlog by the product owner will be worked upon first by the development team to deliver value. User Stories and PlanningUser stories should be written at the start of the sprint before the development begins. If the user story is too large, it becomes an epic and should be broken down into smaller stories. User stories are crucial for managing work in progress and to better plan sprints which is why they should be planned before development begins. Every user story should be able to define how the software feature to be developed will deliver value to the end-user. A user story is not a large body of work but a short description with very few details. As the development progresses, requirements may be added to it. Who is responsible for creating a User Story? User stories can be written by anyone on the team. Although the Product Owner is responsible for making sure that the product backlog always has user stories for the team to work on, the actual writing of the user story can be taken up by anyone in the team. A good agile project starts off with a User story writing workshop in which all team members participate and decide what functionalities would be incorporated into the product being developed. Usually, during the course of the project, every team member contributes to the product backlog by adding user story examples to it.Initial User Stories (Informal)Initial User stories that are informal or of high level are also called epics and give a birds-eye view of the requirements. These high level user stories are broken down into more detailed user stories that are then picked up for sprints by the development team. Example: SourceAt a project level As a Marketing Director, I need to improve customer service So that we retain our customers. Initial User Stories (Formal)Formal user stories are more detailed user stories. They are created when informal or high level user stories are broken down to more detailed stories. Even though they are more detailed than the high level stories, they are not intended to provide complete specifications of the requirements. They are written to capture the value and features of the requirements to be built. Example: SourceAs an Investor, I need to see a summary of my investment accounts, So that I can decide where to focus my attention Detailing a User StoryWhile the user story starts as a short simple description in just a couple of sentences, more detail may be added later on. If more details make the story too long then it may have to be split into smaller agile stories. A user story can also be made more detailed by adding certain ‘acceptance criteria’. These describe the conditions that are satisfied once the user story gets completed. The User Story StructureDifferent teams may have different ways of writing user stories. Most agile user stories follow INVEST to create their user stories. A good user story should be: “I” ndependent (of all others) “N” egotiable (not a specific contract for features) “V” aluable (or vertical) “E” stimable (to a good approximation) “S” mall (so as to fit within an iteration) “T” estable (in principle, even if there isn’t a test for it yet) Source: Agile Alliance A user story, as mentioned above is a short description of user needs or the functionality that needs to be delivered. Since it is told from the perspective of the user, it has to define an end user also called a persona. It should also specify the tasks to be performed and the expected end goal. Some user stories also have the acceptance criteria mentioned, which is a good way to determine if the user story meets the definition of done. User story template and examplesDownload Free User Story Templates |Smartsheet A user story template is the format that is used while writing user stories. According to Agile Alliance the most common template uses the format, “As a… I want to… So That…” As a (who wants to accomplish something) I want to (what they want to accomplish) So that (why they want to accomplish that thing) Example As a customer of an e-commerce website I want to find and purchase what I need online So that I can shop from the convenience of my home Templates are generally a good starting point for teams new at agile. Following the format makes sure they do not miss out essential points including the end deliverable and who it is for. Working with user stories Roman Pichler gives the following tips for working with user stories: Users come first: Since the user story defines the product being built, it is important that it is written from the point of view of the user. Understanding the user is very important in order to write a good user story. Creating user personas: Creating a user persona helps you empathise with the end user, understand their needs, prioritise stories and define metrics for success. Create stories collaboratively: Creating user stories is not the responsibility of any one person. Instead, it is a collaborative effort between the product owner and the development team. A user story is more of a precursor for a detailed collaborative discussion that goes on between members of the team. Simple stories: A user story by its very definition is a simple representation of what is needed. Making it confusing and filled with jargon will defeat the purpose of writing concise user stories. Start with epics: Getting a bird’s eye view of the project and requirements is the first step towards creating user stories. Also called epics, these help in defining the overall scope and functionality of the project. Refine stories till they are ready: The epics are then broken down into smaller and smaller units. These small user stories are simple, yet provide the amount of detail and clarity needed. Add conditional statements: Adding conditional statements or acceptance criteria helps to create more detailed user stories, which in turn help developers create products that are acceptable by the users. As the project progresses and more and more user stories are added to the product backlog, organizing the backlog items can become a nightmare. User stories need to be managed efficiently so that product releases can be accomplished without compromising on quality or time frames. Managing user stories will help: To manage backlog To prioritise items effectively To divide epics into effective user stories To accomplish milestones Non-Functional Requirements in User StoriesEvery product may have certain non-functional requirements, which are defined as a system’s attributes that enhance the system’s functionality such as scalability, security, performance etc. By their very definition, non-functional requirements are not functional and are very different from functional requirements that directly affect the user. These non-functional requirements are still an indispensable part of the product and cannot be ignored. Whether they are added to the user stories or not depends on team preferences. Many product owners prefer to add them as separate backlog items, which are developed and tested before the item is considered to be ‘done’.How to get started with agile user stories When projects are large, starting out with small user stories can seem like a daunting task—but going from macro to micro is the key. It’s important to understand that user stories are what will define the day-to-day tasks and functionalities. Starting off with an epic, which is the macro and then breaking it down into smaller user stories helps teams assimilate the work that needs to get done. Stories should be put out there for everyone to see and refer to. They can be written down on cards and pinned up on boards which the whole team can see. This also fosters communication, transparency and more collaboration between team members. Conclusion User stories have for long been acknowledged as the fundamental building blocks of a successful agile project. Writing good agile user stories is an art that most Agilists acquire with practice. We hope that our article has given you an understanding of how user stories can be woven into the product development, giving clarity to user requirements and the product journey.
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What Is Sprint in Scrum?
By Susan MayThe Scrum Guide, considered by many to be the Bible of Scrum, describes Sprints as ‘the heartbeat of Scrum’. Every Agile project is divided into several consistent fixed-length events, called sprints, during which all the work that goes into creating the product happens. In this blog, you will understand what a Scrum sprint is, what are the events that it encompasses, how to plan and execute a Scrum sprint, and best practices in sprint workflows and processes. You will learn about tools that boost productivity, and understand how Scrum offers significant benefits over traditional development projects. What is a Sprint in Scrum? A sprint is a short iteration that usually lasts between one and four weeks; a duration that is discussed and fixed at the beginning of the project. It is during a sprint that ideas get transformed into value. Each sprint can be considered to be a short project in itself, as it results in the achievement of a sprint goal. The sprint goal defines a set of product features and functionalities, and the development team works together to achieve this goal during the sprint. In the case of a software project, a potentially shippable product increment is released at the end of each sprint. Learn About the Scrum Sprint Events As stated in the Agile Manifesto: “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.” In keeping with this guidance, Scrum outlines the need for holding a number of key events that are held before, during and after the sprint. These events facilitate close collaboration, and encourage transparency, inspection and adaptation—the pillars of Scrum Empiricism. 1. Before the SprintSprint Planning At the start of each sprint, the Product Owner, Scrum Master and development team get together for a sprint planning meeting where they decide upon the backlog features that will be completed in the following sprint. The Product Owner will decide the goal to be achieved during the sprint, while the team will figure out how much of work they could complete during this period. They will therefore agree upon and define the sprint goal and sprint backlog.2. During the SprintThe Daily Scrum and Daily Stand-up are often considered to be the same, as for all intents and purposes this event constitutes a catch up session that is important to nurture collaboration, cooperation and transparency among team members. Some Scrum practitioners, however, make a fine distinction between the two, as defined below. Ultimately, the practice that your team follows should be what works for you! Daily Scrum A meeting that is time-boxed for a maximum of 15 minutes, the Daily Scrum is an event where each member of the team communicates their plan for the day. It is attended by the Development team only—the Product Owner is not required to be a participant, and the Scrum Master’s responsibility is only to facilitate the event and make sure that it is not skipped. Daily Stand-up The Daily Stand-up is a status update among all members of the team, during which work completed is reviewed, upcoming tasks are discussed and issues or problems are addressed. The Scrum Master and Product Owner also participate in this event, which is not time-boxed. While standing up is not really compulsory, many teams find that this helps to keep proceedings short! 3. At the End of the SprintSprint Review The Review is usually held on the last day of the sprint, and is a meeting that everyone must attend—stakeholders included. During this event, the ‘Done’ increment and working features are shown to customers, management and anyone else who would like to give their feedback. This feedback is then incorporated in the Product Backlog, which will guide the direction to be taken for upcoming sprints. 4. After the SprintSprint Retrospective The Retrospective is the final event, which could be held immediately after the sprint review. It offers an opportunity for the team to reflect on how the sprint unfolded; what went wrong and what was good, and note down ways in which they can improve. In the Scrum book, there is always room for improvement—and the Retrospective is a collaborative effort to identify just what could be done better, the next time around. 5. The SprintThe Sprint is a time-boxed event in itself, during which all the other events take place. A new sprint starts right after the old one is concluded. Note: Some proponents of Scrum believe that Backlog Refinement is the fifth event in Scrum, while others argue that as this is required to be an ongoing process it cannot be deemed a formal event. The Product Owner and the Development team get together to groom the tasks on the Backlog, re-prioritise them according to urgency, and move the more important tasks to the top of the list for the next sprint. How to plan and execute Scrum sprints The whole exercise of sprint planning is carried out with one singular goal in mind: to define what is the sprint goal, or what can be achieved during the sprint, and to elaborate on how it will be achieved. The planning session kickstarts the sprint, and sets in motion all the rest of the events for the successful completion of the sprint. It defines the ‘what’, the ‘how’, and the ‘who’; in other words: The what: This stands for the goal, and the backlog items that make up that goal. The how: The team gets together to plan and negotiate the work that needs to be done, in order to achieve the value set by the Product Owner. The who: The PO defines the goal, and the team deliberates on whether the goal is ‘doable’ or not. During this stage, the team creates the plan for how to work on the backlog items, and ensures that they meet the criteria of ‘Done’ before the end of the sprint. The sprint backlog contains all the work items chosen and the priorities for getting them done. Once the sprint planning is done, the team is all set to start work on the backlog items. An item that is chosen will be moved to ‘In-progress’, and finally to ‘Done’. While the sprint is in progress, the team connects and collaborates during the daily scrum, or stand-up, to discuss any obstacles and challenges that would impact the smooth progress of work. At the end of the sprint comes the review, and finally the retrospective. During the review, the team demonstrates the work done, letting stakeholders view the progress and give feedback if required. The retrospective offers opportunities for reflection, and helps the team to identify areas of improvement for the next sprint. Do's and Don’tsHere’s what SHOULD be done at the planning stage: Define the sprint goal, and forecast the work that will go into achieving it. Focus on the areas for improvement that were outlined in the Retrospective of the previous sprint, and aim at improving the ways of working. Groom the Product Backlog and prioritize items of the highest value. Break large stories into smaller ones, and set priorities. Create a concise and clear Definition of Done, so that there is no room for ambiguity as to whether a task is completed or not. Do get into details of the tasks to be done, right down to minute planning of stories and bugs. Be aware of the team’s capabilities and working velocity during the planning. Chart out a clear way forward for the initial few days. As the work progresses, the rest of the plan can be fleshed out. … and here’s what SHOULD NOT be done during planning! Never have a sprint goal that is generic. Always define it clearly so that the team stays focused. Avoid including too many backlog items in a sprint. Don’t let the meeting run beyond the predetermined time (say 4 to 8 hours) Do not include work with dependencies from other teams, such as designs or legal sign-offs. This should not be a bottleneck for your team’s progress. Never ignore the team velocity, based on previous sprints. Never forget about the technical debt from the previous sprint. Don’t take on too many stories that are uncertain, as they could result in high risks. Do not allow management or the PO to drive the schedules. The team knows their capabilities best! Do not invite too many stakeholders to the planning meeting, especially if they will interfere with the working of the team. Sprint Roles, Artifacts and CeremoniesAccording to the Scrum Guide, there are three practices that define Scrum : Roles, Artifacts and Ceremonies. The three Scrum Roles are: The Scrum Master, who doubles up as coach, guide, mentor and servant leader to the team, The Product Owner, who holds the product vision and grooms the backlog, and The Development team, who execute the work. The three Scrum Artifacts are: The Product Backlog, which is a dynamic list of the product requirements, The Sprint Backlog, which is a subset of the Product Backlog and holds all the items that will be completed in the sprint, and The Product Increment, which is a piece of functioning software and comprises the total product features delivered in all completed sprints. There are two more artifacts that are not considered to be as important, and they are the Definition of Done (all the criteria that must be completed before the item can be deemed to be finished), and the Product Burndown chart (which maps out work completed against work that’s left to be done). Optimize your sprints with automationAutomation in software development takes care of routine tasks, doing them better and faster and improving accuracy and quality. To optimise your sprints using automation, use a tool like Jira that will help to boost productivity and automate at scale, as and when needed. Some examples of automation that can be tailored for your team: Every week, an automated message can go out to everyone, listing out all issues that are open. At the end of the sprint, outstanding issues automatically get assigned to the next sprint. If there is an issue still in progress and the sprint is empty, then the issue can be moved automatically to the next active sprint. Sprint workflow and processIt’s very important to keep the sprint workflow as simple as possible, as a workflow that is too complex will be hard for the team to understand and implement. As an example, the basic workflow for a software development project can include just four steps: TO DO: Work that is yet to be started IN PROGRESS: Work that is under way CODE REVIEW: Review of the code that has been developed. If the review fails, this loops back to the previous stage, for rework. DONE: Work that has met the ‘Definition of Done’ in all aspects. Scrum vs. SprintWhile the terms Scrum and Sprint are sometimes mixed up, they are very different and distinct. Scrum is the most popular Agile framework, while a Sprint is a time-boxed event during a Scrum project during which the team delivers incremental value, in the form of one or several features of the final product.Scrum Productivity ToolsWhile Scrum is a time-tested and proven Agile framework, in order to be effective the team must follow the guidelines that are laid out. All team members need to be collaborative and completely transparent, and they must also follow the prescribed events and processes. To help them to do this are Scrum productivity tools—Agile project management solutions that help them to carry out tasks in the manner required by Scrum.These tools could be in the form of planning dashboards, reporting tools, shared workspaces for collaboration, or analytics software that help to chart out project progress. Scrum productivity tools improve project planning, offer greater transparency and visibility into work progress, and increase chances of project success. Some popular Scrum tools include Jira, GitHub, Sprints by Zoho, Visual Paradigm, Monday.com and Targetprocess.Benefits of Scrum Sprints over Traditional DevelopmentTraditional development projects work in a linear fashion with a top-down hierarchical approach. Once a phase is completed, it is not possible to go back to the previous phase; which means that any changes in requirements cannot be accommodated till the end. Scrum, on the other hand, is an iterative process, and is considered the best approach for projects where the requirements keep evolving over time. There are several significant benefits that Scrum Sprints hold over traditional development: Customer delight: Scrum involves the customers and stakeholders at every stage, ensuring that feedback is incorporated and guaranteeing customer delight. In traditional development, the customer gets involved only toward the end, and might get a nasty surprise if the product does not meet the expectations. Quicker turnaround: As reviews happen at the end of each sprint in Scrum, time and money is saved. In traditional processes, reviews happen only at the end and if found inadequate then the process starts again from stage 1. Works for complex projects: Scrum works well for complex projects with changing requirements. Traditional processes work well for smaller projects where the requirements are fixed. Better quality and productivity: Scrum ensures reviews and testing at each stage, enhancing overall quality. There is increased collaboration and cooperation between teams, ensuring a boost in productivity. Lower costs: As Scrum streamlines processes and reduces time to market, it results in lowering overall costs, driving financial benefit for organisations.As an ordered and time-boxed duration of activities, a Scrum Sprint can be said to be the basic building block of a Scrum project. It is structured to allow the project to change direction in response to fluctuating external factors, and allows the team to consciously adapt and improve themselves. Scrum was originally developed for software projects, but today the concept of Scrum Sprints is being applied successfully to other industries as well. While there is a learning curve in the adoption of Scrum Sprints, the benefits are immense. By following the processes that are laid out for each Sprint, the team can maximise value and achieve project success.
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A Guide to Scrum Ceremonies
By Susan MayAmong the many elements that constitute the Agile Scrum software development process, probably the most important are the Scrum ceremonies. Scrum ceremonies are meetings that allow Scrum teams to define their work, collaborate, and ensure that the work is carried out seamlessly. Scrum ceremonies are actually more than just meetings. They are the soul of scrum that binds the team and the project. In this blog, we attempt to understand all about Scrum Ceremonies- what they are, when they are held, and how they work. What is Scrum? Scrum is one of the most popular frameworks under the Agile methodology. It has its origins in the manufacturing industry and was refined for use in the software industry by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber who developed a formal Scrum process in 1995. Since then, Scrum has come a long way and is now the most popular and used agile methodology that helps organizations respond to quick changing markets and deliver high quality value. Scrum breaks large projects into small chunks called sprints, which are fixed length iterations. The end result of each sprint is a deliverable. The cumulative deliverables of all the sprints is the finished product that is tested at every stage and improvised, thus fulfilling the continuous improvement principle of Agile. Customer feedback can be implemented at each stage before the release of the next sprint. This incremental and iterative approach endorsed by Scrum is what makes it successful. Advantages of Scrum include: Quality Transparency Cost control Risk Control Flexibility Speed to market Satisfied customers Quality end-product Scrum is better used when: requirements are not clearly defined, more changes are anticipated during development, the solution needs to be tested, the team is self-organised and the scope is open and likely to change. What are Scrum ceremonies?Ceremonies are meetings. Since we have already been introduced to Scrum sprints that are short, time boxed periods with defined end goals, we will define ceremonies in terms of sprints. Each sprint has ceremonies which outline the proper execution and planning of activities associated with scrum. These ceremonies play a larger role of empowering team members and making the team more self-organized and self-sufficient. What are the five Scrum events and Scrum meeting types? Scrum ceremonies are also called Scrum Events. Events specific to Scrum are of five types. These are: 1. Sprint planning: Every Scrum project is broken up into sprints. Each sprint is a time-boxed period within which the team is expected to deliver a working product to the customer. Sprint planning, according to Atlassian Agile Coach sets the goal for the project and the path to follow to reach that goal. If done correctly it helps teams work together as a cohesive unit, helps bring in self-organization and deliver quality product. Sprint planning is performed by all members of the team. A Sprint plan should answer the What, How and Who of the project. The Product Owner decides the ‘what’ of the project—what the end goal or objective of the sprint would be and what backlog items need to be focused upon to reach the end goal. The development team decides ‘how’ they will reach the goal. The sprint plan needs the complete collaboration of development team and product owner, who make up the ‘who’. The other important aspects of sprint planning are the inputs that will be considered for the particular sprint. The inputs are the sprint backlog items that help the team understand what needs to be delivered. Sprint planning also focuses on the output which is the end product delivered at the end of the sprint. Sprint planning is always carried out at the beginning of the sprint and helps to detail out all the nitty-gritty that the team may face in the course of the development including bugs, fixes, upgrade or changes in requirements. 2. Daily Scrum:Daily scrum is a daily meeting that happens among the scrum teams. It is necessarily time boxed and also called the daily stand-up meeting. The daily scrum helps team members talk about their progress, obstacles or impediments, if any, that are not allowing them to progress, what they have accomplished and what they are planning to do the next day. While this is not a detailed meeting it certainly keeps everyone in the loop and helps all the team members understand about the goings-on. The Scrum Master, Product Owner and the development team are part of the daily scrum. The daily scrum meeting is led by the Scrum Master and encourages team members to put forth their views and opinions if any. 3. Sprint review:The Sprint review, as the name suggests, helps team members present and review what they have accomplished and created in that sprint. Just like the other components of a sprint, a sprint review also does not exceed a time limit. This is done towards the end of the sprint. In software development projects, each team would demo the product that they built in that particular sprint at the time of review to the other members of the team. This would include the product owner, developers, scrum master and other stakeholders. Teams are careful about what they present at the review as it should be fully functional and meet the quality standard laid down by the client. Sprint reviews help teams showcase their accomplishments and milestones, and foster innovation and excellence.4. Sprint Retrospective:This is often the last step in a ceremony, when teams retrospect on what they have accomplished. This is an important step, to look back and see what improvements can be made and implement those improvements in the next sprint. This conforms to the Agile ideology of continuous improvement wherein, teams learn from the mistakes of the past and improve the future.5. Backlog refinement:Also called backlog grooming, this is a process which is ongoing. The Product Owner is in charge of the product backlog and along with the development team and the scrum master refines the backlog, which means that they review and revise the backlog items. This may include adding details to the activities, estimates and ordering them on the backlog. This activity is not time boxed unlike the other activities in a ceremony which are, and yet, according to Scrum.org, the development team spends only 10% of their time in backlog refinement. Also, this takes place just one time in a sprint. The product owner identifies the areas in the backlog that need refinement and the team discusses solutions or enhancements. Though the effectiveness of the backlog refinement is often debatable with many terming it as a useless exercise; it can be beneficial when backlog refinement is taken as an ongoing process and responsibility of the entire team. Why are Scrum ceremonies beneficial to projects?The goal of agile and scrum is to make things simple, allow teams to focus on quality through a continuous feedback loop and ensure customer satisfaction. To make all this happen, an organization requires teams that are like a well-oiled machine, working seamlessly without any cracks or stops. When integrated within the Scrum process and well executed, Scrum ceremonies can bring in a lot of benefits to the team as well as the project. Helps teams maximise productivity Aids in collaboration and self-organization between and within teams Helps maintain a high level of communication and transparency Ensures continuous improvement Helps respond to change faster Helps generate value How do you keep your team enthused for Scrum rituals? We are now living in an age where our work has become exceedingly remote. Working with teams that are distributed across geographies can be a challenge, and more challenging is to keep them involved and enthused about scrum ceremonies and rituals. A Scrum Master’s never-ending quest is to ensure that team members be more proactive and participative in team events. Retrospectives or backlog refinement, for example, are important events which are to be whole heartedly endorsed by all team members in order to ensure better outcomes in future sprints. An incorrect understanding of the significance of these ceremonies and the positive effects they have will impact not just on team productivity but on employee morale. As a Scrum Master, you can help your team become more involved by coaching them on the various Scrum events. It’s important to help the team get into the Scrum mind-set if they are new to Scrum. As a coach you can lead the teams and help them understand the ceremonies through frequent practice. Starting with the simplest, you can progressively move towards helping them understand the more complicated ceremonies. Your effectiveness as a Scrum Master is also tested by how well you are able to coach your team on using Scrum ceremonies. Use the latest tools and techniques to help them understand and adopt the Scrum ceremonies. Conclusion The pandemic has changed the way we work, making our lives more distributed and remote. But in order for our Scrum projects to be successful, we must ensure that Scrum ceremonies are properly adhered to and practiced by Scrum team members. Scrum ceremonies are very effective and can promote productivity and empower teams to perform better.
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What Is the Eligibility for Scrum Certifications?
By Susan MayThree job roles related to Scrum and Agile that is, Product Owner, Agile Coach and Scrum Master, were listed by the World Economic Forum as being among the emerging jobs of the future, in their report titled “Jobs of Tomorrow: Mapping Opportunity in the New Economy” . It is no wonder that roles related to Scrum and Agile should feature in the future job trends lists. Certified professionals who lead the Agile and Scrum transformation journeys of organizations have made giant strides in their careers. Certifications are key to a successful Scrum career and in this blog we will familiarise you with Agile certification costs, Scrum certification courses, Scrum certification costs and more. What is Scrum? Surveys indicate that the adoption of Scrum has increased across the board, and Agile projects saw a 72% success rate as compared to the 63% experienced by projects following traditional project management methods. As Jeff Sutherland, creator of Scrum puts it “These findings clearly show the incredible and tangible impact Scrum and Agile is having on the world,”Scrum has three roles: Scrum Master Product Owner Development team What are Scrum certifications all about? Scrum certifications are a validity of your knowledge and expertise on all things Scrum. Based on the three key roles in a Scrum team, there are certifications that help professionals gain expertise and proficiency on any or all of the three roles. The different Scrum certifications available for these three roles include: Product Owner, Top Certifications: Certification BodyCostDesignationScrum Alliance$1,300CSPO® (Certified Scrum Product Owner)Scrum.org$200/attemptProfessional Scrum Product OwnerTM (PSPO)Scaled Agile$799Certified SAFe® Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM)Product Owner certifications help you: Prove your ability to represent the customer and product Define the product visions to the development team and help them meet business objectives Gain expertise on Agile and Scrum principles and processes Become part of a niche community of Product Owners around the globe Prioritise and focus on value Scrum Master, Top certifications What is Scrum Master certification? There are many Scrum Master certifications available but by far the most popular one is the Certified ScrumMaster® certification, maintained by Scrum Alliance®. Scrum Master certification requirements: The CSM has no eligibility requirements. This entry level certification can be taken up by anyone wanting to start their career in Scrum or work in an Agile/Scrum project. At the outset of 2018, there are thousands of open jobs for ScrumMasters in the United States alone, and hundreds of others worldwide-- Scrum Alliance Salary Survey Certification BodyCostDesignationScrum Alliance$849Certified ScrumMaster®Scrum Alliance$200/attemptAdvanced-CSM®Scrum.Org$799Professional Scrum Master™ IScaled Agile$799SAFe Scrum Master certificationScrum Master certifications help you: Understand the responsibilities of a Servant Leader Motivate your team and ensure highest performance Become a coach and influencer Lead Agile transformation in your organization Development team, top certificationsCertification BodyCostDesignationScrum AllianceCertified Scrum Developer® (CSD)Scrum AllianceCertified Scrum Professional ® (CSP)These certifications help you to: Understand Agile Engineering practices Understand Agile and Scrum values, principles and processes Learn about iterative processes Work in tandem with stakeholders and give quality products Raise your market value While these are entry or mid-level certifications, leaders and professionals who want to become agile change agents can pursue advanced level certifications:Certification BodyCostDesignationScrum AllianceCertified Agile Leadership (CAL) Certified Team Coach® Certified Enterprise Coach Certified Scrum Trainer ® ICAgileICP-ACC (ICAgile Certified Agile Coaching) Certification Certified Agile Leadership (CAL)Scope of Scrum certification Scrum certifications can do a great deal for your resume. Typically, each Scrum certification requires some amount of training and the passing of a rigorous examination. Trainings when conducted by reputed and accredited training organizations help you understand the fundamentals of managing large teams and applying Scrum/Agile principles for project success. The subsequent examinations test your knowledge and validate your expertise to potential employers. Certified Scrum Masters are more sought after and better paid as compared to their non-certified counterparts. Scrum certifications help you: Showcase your Scrum skills to employers and validate your commitment to continued excellence and quality Advance your career in Scrum roles Earn higher than experienced non-certified peers Become part of a niche community of Scrum practitioners Gain higher certifications and lead Agile transformationsWhat is Agile certification? The most popular Agile certification is the PMI- Agile Certified Practitioner offered by the world renowned Project Management Institute. This course and subsequent certification trains you to work in an Agile environment by mastering agile practices, values and principles. This certification requires you to have agile and general project management experience and is ideal for project managers who are entrusted with leading agile projects. The PMI-ACP agile certification training cost in India for a 3-day course is around INR 8999. This does not include the exam fee.Who is the target audience for Scrum certification course? Entry level Scrum certifications can be attended by anyone, even without prior Scrum/Agile experience. Typical audience for these courses would include: Project Managers Developers Product Owners Managers-Software development Architects-Software development Product Managers Software Developers Software Coders Software Testers Team Leads/Team Members Agile Coaches Project Managers Delivery Managers Scrum Masters Development ManagersWhat is the eligibility for Scrum certifications? The eligibility for Scrum certifications depends on the course you opt for. Given below are some of the most popular Scrum certifications and their eligibility requirements. Eligibility criteria get more demanding as you go for higher certifications like those for Agile coach or Advanced Certified ScrumMaster course.CertificationEligibilityCertified ScrumMaster®No eligibilityProfessional Scrum Master™ INo eligibilityCertified SAFe® Program Consultant5+ years of experience in software development, testing, business analysis, product, or project management 3+ years of experience in Agile One or more relevant Agile certifications PSPO INo eligibilityCSPO®No eligibilityPMI-ACP2000 hours of working on project teams within the last 5 years or having an active PMP®/PgMP® credential 1500 hours of working on Agile Project Teams or with Agile Methodologies, in addition to “General Project Experience” above; 21 contact hours earned in Agile Practices ICP-ACC (ICAgile Certified Agile Coaching) Certification There are no hard prerequisites for attending this workshop but a basic understanding of Agile, and some experience on an agile team will be useful. It is advisable to go through the Scrum Guide available for free at prior to attending this training Conclusion Scrum Master is among the top 50 best jobs in America—Glassdoor Scrum certification sets even the young professional apart, and those with a few years of experience and/ or just one certification earn between $60,000 and $65,000 more on average than the typical entry level applicant in the United States—Scrum Alliance Salary Survey According to a survey conducted by Scrum.org, salaries for Scrum professionals increase by approximately $2,000 for three to five years of Scrum practice, and $12,500 for five to seven years. This along with the satisfaction of giving quality output and being part of meaningful and innovative product development is a huge incentive for most scrum professionals. A Scrum certification further enhances one’s ability to land a career defining job opportunity by elevating your Scrum expertise and showcasing your commitment to continued excellence.
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What are the Principles of Agile and Scrum?
By Susan MayAlmost three-quarters (71%) of organizations report using Agile approaches sometimes, often, or always--Project Management Institute The fact is that agility has penetrated the business landscape. Whether it’s on an enterprise-wide scale or just at the team level, the benefits of agile have been acknowledged and organizations are steering themselves towards and agile transformation. But how does one go about the agile transformation? Is there a toolkit or a set process that one applies to go agile? For a large part, Agile transformation is a mind-set change, and guiding teams and organizations in this change are the Agile principles. What is Agile? Agile is the ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of dealing with, and ultimately succeeding in, an uncertain and turbulent environment—AgileAlliance. So, agile more than a framework or process is a concept. A philosophy of culture change that when implemented the right way can lead to better adaptability, focus and improved value. The agile methodology encompasses a set of frameworks and processes that focus on iterative and incremental development. The Twelve Agile Manifesto Principles What are the 12 principles of agile? Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation. Working software is the primary measure of progress. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly. These 12 Agile principles in software engineering help establish the Agile mind-set. Get the 12 agile principles pdf here. The Agile Manifesto “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value”—Agile Manifesto Back in 2001, a group of engineers working in different organizations met on the mountains of Utah to discuss how software development could be improved. The result of this meeting? The birth of the Agile Manifesto. Thus began the Agile movement, that was based on the Agile Manifesto— its 4 values and 12 principles of software development. The values and principles of agile methods help to increase communication, collaboration, self-organization and transparency for better value creation. Best Agile Project Management Software Agile management is not the easiest. Let’s face it, even the best agile managers out there would have at some point in their careers felt frustrated. And to add to your woes…a lack of proper support tools can make agile management challenging to say the least. But thankfully, there are several agile project management tools and software that help in upholding the agile principles of team collaboration, cross-function and good communication along with it being easy to use, affordable and easily available. Source ImageAccording to SoftwareTestingHelp, here are the top agile project management tools for 2021 monday.com Nifty Freshservice SpiraTeam Wrike Hive Atlassian Jira Active Collab Agilo for Scrum SpiraTeam Pivotal Tracker VSTS Icescrum Gravity SprintGround VersionOne Taiga Quire Toggl PlanKey Points- Principles of Agile and Scrum The whole point of the Agile Scrum principles is to help organizations improve customer satisfaction, team collaboration and deliver value. We have already listed the 12 Agile principles above. We now attempt to decipher them and understand what they mean in an agile team context. At the crux of agile is customer satisfaction. So an agile team has to ensure that deliverables always satisfy the value standard set forth by the customer. A 1000-piece puzzle cannot be solved in one shot. Instead it is better to make groups of a fewer number of pieces, solve them and then move on to the next. Ultimately, when each small set of puzzles is made, the whole puzzle will come together. Similarly, an agile project should be broken down into manageable chunks, at the end of which something of value can be delivered. Immediate value can be provided to the customer through frequently delivered software. Allowing a team to think and work on its own can lead to great results. Self-organizing teams will take accountability for their work and create greater value. The key to working in the Agile way is close communication. This helps keep everyone in the loop and also checks the feasibility of accepting last minute requirements. While the Agile manifesto states face to face communication as the best way to be agile, the pandemic has shown us that long-distance communication works as well. Agile does not advocate work addiction. It strives to maintain a work life balance and promotes close collaboration to maintain a consistent pace and frequent deliveries. The pace must be consistent in order to deliver high and sustained quality. A successful agile team never loses focus on what is essential to create value. Value can be maximized when focus is on essential things like customer, project and requirements rather than non-essential things like process, components etc. Adapt, adapt, adapt! That is the key to evolving and staying on top. Requirements will change till the last minute. But a truly agile resource, team and organization will be able to cope with this change and emerge successful without compromising the integrity of the product.Conclusion At a time when markets are unpredictable and the emphasis is on ‘change or be left behind’, the Agile methodology has helped organizations adapt to the new mantra and move ahead. The principles of Agile and Scrum help an organization to bring change to its very core and adopt continuous improvement to achieve business objectives.
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What Is the Job Description of a Product Owner?
By Susan MayA Product Owner on an Agile team is probably the one who has the most diverse and critical role, with the responsibility of ensuring that the product not only delivers the maximum value to end users, but also the maximum ROI to the investors. The product owner job description encompasses a gamut of responsibilities—starting with describing the product features to setting business priorities, and just about everything in between! As the person who represents the interests of the customer, the PO acts as a bridge between the team, the management and the stakeholders.It’s a critical role indeed, and one that balances the needs of the stakeholders against the capabilities of the Scrum Team, streamlining communication and working with transparency to churn out the right product at the required pace.What is Product Owner Certification? A Product Owner certification is a credential that demonstrates your knowledge of the role and responsibilities of a PO on a Scrum team. It empowers you to represent the customer, and ensure that all their needs are met during the development of the product by the Scrum team. A PO certification shows that the holder is capable of holding the position of a PO in a Scrum team, and Has end-to-end knowledge of the product and customer needs Has a clear vision of the product and can convey the vision to the team Is comfortable with business strategy and can represent the needs of the stakeholders Has a thorough grasp on Agile principles and processes Possesses a development mindset and the ability to drive value-based prioritization of the product backlog. The Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO®) from Scrum Alliance® is one of the best known foundational PO training courses that is obtained after a hands-on two day (14-16 hour) training led by experienced CSTs. With a CSPO certificate, your employers will know of your commitment to the profession. You will be equipped with the tools and techniques needed to drive project success. Who can attend the CSPO training? There are no specific prerequisites to attend CSPO training, and anyone interested in furthering their Scrum learning can attend the training. Novices on their Scrum journey, or professionals who wish to further their understanding of Scrum can get the CSPO certification. CSM holders who wish to widen their perspective can also take it up. If you are someone who is rather more interested in the business side of a product than in the nitty gritty of development; and wish to learn how to prioritize backlog tasks, interface with Agile teams and maximize the project potential, then this course is for you. How to get through CSPO certification in India? At present, there is no CSPO exam that you have to pass to gain the certification. Just attending the training led by a CST, and achieving all the CSPO learning objectives is deemed sufficient to gain the credential. Your CSPO course is taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer® from Scrum Alliance, who is someone who has all the concepts of Scrum at his fingertips. You will be able to start from the basics and get an in-depth understanding of the Agile Manifesto, the Product Owner responsibilities and the technical Product Owner job description. After completing the course, you should: Visit the Scrum Alliance website Use your login credentials from your Welcome email to create an account Accept the License agreement Download your certificate from Scrum Alliance. You are now a CSPO! Scrum Alliance believes that Scrum is a journey of lifelong learning. As a CSPO, you are required to maintain your credential in good standing. The certification has a validity of two years only, after which you must renew the certification. What is the Job Description of a Certified Scrum Product Owner? As an integral part of the Scrum team, a Certified Scrum Product Owner is required to carry out these roles, in order to drive quality and maximise value: Leading the team A Product Owner must have the skills to lead and motivate Agile teams and smoothen channels of communication between the team and stakeholders. By maximizing ROI and staying aligned with the product vision, you will ensure that both customers and stakeholders are happy. Defining the Product backlog The PO is the person who is responsible for defining the backlog, that is the list of tasks that are laid out for the team, based on the development requirements and roadmap. These backlog items are listed as per priority, with the most urgent tasks at the top of the list for the team to work on first. As the PO represents the customers, he or she is the one who must define these all-important tasks. The CSPO credential and training will give you these capabilities. Prioritizing the product backlog items As a PO, one of the most important tasks you will handle is the grooming and refining of the product backlog. The CSPO certification will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to handle this effectively. You must know how to break down large user stories into smaller, more doable units. In conjunction with the team, you will be required to understand their capabilities and discuss any issues with the backlog. You will ensure that the right stories are prioritized over those that could wait till a later date.Developing the Project Charter As a CSPO, you must understand the importance of developing the project charter for the project. Throughout the course of the project, the PO is constantly in touch with the client and keeps on updating the backlog status with the team and stakeholders, thus driving incremental progress forward through each sprint. Developing the project charter will go a long way toward defining clear objectives, and laying out the scope of the work to be done. Using velocity ranges The velocity of a team is calculated as the average amount of product backlog that is transformed into a product increment during each sprint. While the team evaluates its own velocity, it is the PO who is in charge of determining the velocity range that a Scrum team is capable of. He or she is intimately aware of the capabilities of the team and the requirements of the customers, and fixes the release date keeping this velocity in mind. Networking with agile practitioners As a CSPO, you can network with the largest group of Scrum practitioners through the Scrum Alliance discussion groups and forums. You will be able to engage with others in the community, share a common Agile mindset and culture and can talk the same language as other Agile practitioners in the world. This will help you to implement the most advanced practices and processes that are being implemented across the world. Understanding the team The learning you get as a CSPO will help you to understand the team, figure out their strengths and weaknesses and handhold them to achieve the end goals. By staying on top of the progress made by the team during each sprint, the PO can prioritize the more important tasks, groom the backlog and meet end expectations on time and with high quality.How does a CSPO certification help to increase your employability and enhance your salary? Your certification will not only give you in-depth knowledge of popular Agile practices, but it will also help you to expand your career horizons. As a CSPO, you will be sought after by leading corporates across the globe and can help organizations to make critical product decisions that maximize value, boosting their business growth. One of the most measurable benefits that you will get with a CSPO certification is the increase in your salary. Those who have a CSPO credential on their resume are not only more likely to be shortlisted for top roles, but they are also likely to earn up to 10% more than their non-certified peers. A CSPO can help you earn a salary raise of up to $7000 according to Scrum Alliance’s SALARY SURVEY OF SCRUM PROFESSIONALS 2017-2018. A CSPO’s salary can increase by approximately $2,000 in three to five years, and $12,500 in five to seven years, according to the survey.Conclusion The product owner’s role is both challenging and fulfilling. Knowing when to say no to the stakeholder, helping the team understand the product vision, maximising ROI, focusing on value creation and quality and all the while acting as one with the team and not as someone above the team – all these are mission critical responsibilities that the PO must execute. As the demand for product owners increases, a certification such as the CSPO will go a long way in helping you enhance your toolkit and soar in your career.
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Agile Vs Scrum: Differences & Similarities
By Susan MayAgile and Scrum are buzzwords that have been tossed around a lot over the past decade, and especially if you are an aspiring Project Management professional, you would have heard these words dozens of times. Everyone loves to talk about how waterfall is now passé, and Agile is the only way forward.But what makes Agile & Scrum so important that organizations are scrambling to adopt them? And though they are always spoken of together, are Agile & Scrum the same?We attempt to answer some of these pertinent questions that will help you better understand Agile Scrum, what they encompass, and what they offer to the world of software development.What is Agile methodology?Agile is an umbrella term that encompasses a number of frameworks and practices that operate on the principles and practices described in the Agile Manifesto, for iterative and incremental development and collaboration between self-organizing teams.Agile methodologies work to deliver high quality products, with frequent delivery of small chunks of functionality. They take into consideration regular feedback from the customer and incorporate course correction as needed. In doing so, Agile deviates from the traditional top-down ‘Waterfall’ methods of project management.If there is an Agile vs Waterfall debate in your organization, then to help you make up your mind, here are some advantages of Agile!Helps adapt faster to changing requirementsA continuous improvement is built-inHigher project success rates are ensuredThere is efficient communication leading to more customer satisfactionRemoves roadblocks to scaling and agile development processAgile methodology comprises of 6 phases:Concept — the end goal is envisioned and priorities are sorted.Plan — Initial requirements and methods to approach tasks are discussed. Iteration — The coding teams starts building the product. Testing — Quality testing is conducted simultaneously to ensure that the product is bug-free and ready for deployment.Deployment — The code is deployed and working software is delivered to the customer.Maintenance — Continuous improvement is implemented by gauging customer and market reactions/feedback. Work performed in previous stages is continuously evaluated and improved upon.Agile and Scrum definitionsAgile is the ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of dealing with, and ultimately succeeding in, an uncertain and turbulent environment.—Agile AllianceScrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems—Scrum GuidesWhat is Agile and Scrum?Agile is a project management methodology that follows an incremental, iterative approach to development and testing of a product. It can trace its creation back to 2001, when a group of 17 engineers got together and came up with the Agile Manifesto, the bible for Agile methodology.The Agile Manifesto outlines the 4 core values and 12 principles on which the entire Agile methodology is based.Scrum is a framework that embodies all that is Agile. Scrum stands for “Systematic Customer Resolution Unraveling Meeting” and uses sprints to break large projects into small chunks, with each chunk delivering an end product.The cumulative output of all the sprints translates into a finished product that is tested at every stage and improvised.Differences and Similarities Between Agile and ScrumAgileScrumAgile is a mind-set, a project management philosophy.Scrum is a set of values, principles and practices.Agile is an umbrella term for all the frameworks and practices that follow the values and principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto.Scrum is a framework under the Agile umbrella.Agile does not have a prescribed approach to how to manage projects. Rather it describes values and principles in the Agile Manifesto.Scrum provides specific processes to efficiently manage projects.Similarities:Though there are differences in Agile & Scrum, there are also a number of similarities. Scrum, after all is a sub-set of Agile. Scrum embraces all the ideals of Agile such as quick response time, being adaptable and continuous feedback. Not just Scrum, but all frameworks and processes that fall under the Agile umbrella adopt these practices.Scrum vs Agile vs Kanban Scrum and Kanban are both Agile methodologies.Kanban vs ScrumScrum and Kanban differ in the way they are carried out. While either one of them is chosen, often the best practices from both are combined and used as Scrumban.How Does Scrum Fit with Agile?Scrum embodies all the values and principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto. It follows an incremental and iterative approach to software development. These iterations are of fixed length and are called sprints.Scrum brings in all the advantages of Agile, such as:QualityTransparencyCost controlRisk ControlFlexibilitySpeed to marketSatisfied customersQuality end-productWhen exactly to use Agile?Agile methodology follows a collaborative approach to software development, where the end vision is clearly laid out, but the requirements and solutions evolve over the course of the development. This is a flexible process, where each iteration results in a potentially shippable product increment.If we think about Agile vs Waterfall, then the basic difference comes down to how each method handles time, cost and requirements. In the waterfall method, requirements are fixed with a view to controlling time and cost; while Agile fixes time and cost in order to control requirements.Agile is of great value…When change is neededWhen there is less time to planWhen changing requirements are anticipated, orWhen requirements are not clearly identified.When exactly to use Scrum?Scrum too, like Agile is carried out when:Requirements are not clearly definedMore changes are anticipated during developmentThe solution needs to be testedThe team is self-organisedThe scope is open to change.When to use a Hybrid Approach?Waterfall or Agile Scrum, that’s a question that plagues most project managers. Many teams tackle this question by opting for agile-waterfall hybrid project management. This new management style takes the best of both worlds, helping to improve product delivery and hastening time to market.The hybrid approach used will depend on the project and its complexity. You can plan your project using the waterfall method and deliver using the agile method. In this case, the project is time-boxed into sprints and an iterative and incremental approach is used to deliver the product to the customer. Alternately, you can Agile for some phases and waterfall for others. It is best to apply agile for changing aspects of your project and waterfall for deliverables that are fixed. 60% of the companies surveyed use hybrid project management all or most of the time—PMI Pulse of the Profession, 11th Global Project Management Survey. The hybrid approach is used for large, complex projects that need the flexibility and adaptability of change but also require the stability to hit long term goals. ConclusionNow, that you have understood the differences between Agile and Scrum and the importance that each brings to software development, it is also important to understand the value of Agile and Scrum certifications.If your next question is about Agile vs Scrum certifications and which is better, then you can explore more about the certifications offered under these disciplines. Learn and understand which certification will suit you best and embark on a successful Scrum Agile career path.
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Why is scrum the most popular agile methodology?
By Susan MayHow did a rugby term that alludes to the formation of players huddling together closely, in an attempt to gain the ball, come to represent the most important software development methodology of our times? It’s because Scrum represents teamwork, whether on a rugby field or in project development. And this teamwork and cohesion between elements in a Scrum framework is what makes it one of the most popular Agile methodologies.Why Scrum for projects? There are plenty of statistics out there that are a testament to the popularity of Scrum.85 percent of respondents say Scrum continues to improve quality of work life—State of Scrum 2017-2018Scrum Master is one of the most promising jobs—LinkedInScrum is by far the most popular and widely used agile framework—Scrum Alliance®This article attempts to help the reader understand about Scrum project management, why it is so popular, the scrum process flow, scrum ways of working and a lot more.What is Scrum?What is Scrum in Agile? Scrum is an Agile framework that follows an incremental and iterative approach to development. While it was initially used only in software development it has also proved to be useful in diverse fields such as sales, research, marketing and more.The world was first introduced to Scrum as a concept in product development by two Japanese professors, in their article that was published in the Harvard Business Review. The idea of using Scrum as a framework for software development was put forth by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in 1995. Since then, Scrum has seen continuous improvements and enhancements and become among the most widely used software development methodologies.Scrum focuses on breaking large projects into small chunks. Goals are defined and timeboxed and teams are small, self organized and with a high degree of cross-function.A Scrum team is made of 3 major units:The Product OwnerThe Scrum MasterThe Development teamWhy is Scrum So Productive?In his book “Scrum: The art of doing twice the work in half the time”, Jeff Sutherland states that Scrum is one of the reasons why productivity gains of as much as 1200% have been recorded.Scrum has benefited not just the software development industry but also the military, government, universities and manufacturing industries and agencies.The reason for Scrum being an enabler of high productivity is because it helps teams to stay focused and transparent with each other, collaborate, communicate, take accountability and remain motivated.Advantages of ScrumAbility to manage changing prioritiesThe markets are tough and companies are jostling for customer attention which they can get by creating unique products that match target goals. This results in frequent changes in their requirements—which a Scrum team needs to implement.Scrum successfully manages changing priorities because it is based on Agile principles and values that place the customer before process and principles, and responding to change over following a plan.Better visibility into projectsScrum with its use of tools like task boards, daily stand-up meetings, sprint reviews and more helps in better resource allocation and project completion within timelines and budgets. This helps in improved planning, reduced chances of failure and faster response to risks.More alignment between business and ITThe product owner who represents the business works in tandem with the development team and the scrum master, ensuring better synergy between the business and IT.Teams do not work in silos and there is open communication between business and IT, which leads to better understanding of what the business wants, and if and whether IT can deliver it.Faster time to marketScrum is built on the foundation of time-boxed iterations called Sprints at the end of which a working part of the software is delivered. This ensures that a minimum viable product is immediately available for the customer to market.Since it is also based on continuous improvements, the product is continuously enhanced, and more features are added in each subsequent release.What are the Main Agile methodologies?There are several popular Agile methodologies includingScrumKanbanLeanCrystalExtreme Programming (XP)DSDMFDDWhat makes the Scrum the most popular Agile methodology?So, why use Scrum?Easy to implement Works for complex projects Helps implement fast response to changing requirements Fosters creativity and innovation Increases pace with which dev teams work Lowers costs Ensures customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction Promotes flexibility and adaptability Reduces time to market Works across markets and industries Gives a sense of satisfaction to team membersThe Secret of Scrum's SuccessWhat contributes to Scrum’s success? That’s a question to ponder upon. That Scrum is extremely popular is a well-known fact. It checks all the boxes that a good Agile framework should satisfy, helps companies gain their business objectives and promotes creativity and innovation.Some may argue that other Agile frameworks too offer these advantages. Yet, among all the other Agile frameworks like XP and Kanban, Scrum has managed to retain the top spot for the most popular agile framework.These are some reasons why:Scrum is simple, straightforward, and easy to implement. It has many well documented use cases that can be referred for successful implementation.Right from books to certifications to non-profit organizations, Scrum has a huge community that lends it enormous credibility and support.There are also a number of certifications like the Certified ScrumMaster®, Certified Scrum Product Owner®, Professional Scrum MasterTM certification and more that are widely recognised and accepted by the industry as a testament of the holder’s knowledge of Scrum. These certifications are a great way to land lucrative job roles and further one’s career. Certifications are available not just for those wishing to become Scrum Masters and Product Owners but also for those who wish to coach and lead organization wide transformations with frameworks like SAFe® and LeSS. Scrum is a continually evolving methodology and its global network of practitioners contribute to its growth and success.ConclusionFrom Google, Apple and Facebook to Adobe, AirBnB, Spotify, and Yahoo, the who’s who of technology is using Scrum for their day-to-day operations.These are solid companies that have seen huge growth over the past years and a large part of this can be credited to the Scrum style of working. Not just applicable to tech giants, but Scrum is perfect for small team start-ups who need to innovate quickly and bring products out at breakneck speed. The State of Scrum Report states that Scrum is the overwhelmingly preferred Agile method, used by 40% of respondents. Scrum is definitely the most popular agile methodology and when used the right way, with the right tools it becomes a no fuss, simple implementation that gives autonomy to teams, emphasises on quality and customer satisfaction and above all helps each individual team member work to their maximum potential.
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