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5 Reasons To Have Fixed-Length Sprints

Should the sprint length in Scrum be fixed or variable? It has been a hot topic of discussion for years but most of the experiences shared by Scrum Masters go in favour of fixed length sprints; and, I too follow the rule of fixed length sprints. According to Agile Cadences and Technical Debt Survey report, 68% Scrum Masters favoured fixed length sprints while 29% accepted to make infrequent changes in the sprint length. Only 7% Scrum Masters accepted to change sprint length frequently as and when required. No doubt, flexible sprint length releases work pressure on the members but this practice develops a number of undesired apparent or hidden snags pertaining to quality, cost, time and scope.  Here in this article, I will explore 5 more commonly accepted reasons to adopt fixed-length sprints framework.  1. Teams Benefits from a Regular Rhythm Regular time-boxed delivery is the core Scrum discipline; therefore, we can’t take the liberty to have flexible sprint lengths. In case of flexible sprint lengths, team members are unsure of schedule. The fixed duration sprint benefits the Scrum teams because each member has to be settled with a rhythm.   2. Sprint Planning Becomes Easier The fixed sprint length makes the sprint planning easier because the team members know how much work they are supposed to deliver in the forthcoming sprint. 3. Tracking Velocity Is Easier Tracking Scrum velocity is easier with same length sprints. You can’t be sure of completing twice the amount of work if the one-week sprint period is extended up to two weeks. The alternative practice may be to normalize the velocity on per-week basis, but it seems a needless and complex exercise if the Scrum sprints are kept at the same length.   4. On the Time Course Corrections It is very common to find a gap between the demand of the product manager and the amount of work delivered. Fixed-length sprints minimize that gap by bringing the product manager and engineers together at a fixed interval. The findings at each sprint guide the Scrum team to incorporate the required changes before the particular task is done, tested & documented.  5. Maximizes Responsiveness to Customer Fixed-length sprints improve the responsiveness to customer requests. True, instant turnaround to customer requests is not possible; yet, it can be addressed quickly at priority. The only way to satisfying the customer at the best is to deliver the new feature or to fix the bug quickly in short fixed-length sprint cycles.  How to Fix the Ideal Sprint Length – 5 Tips:   Ideally, sprint is a fixed time period of 1-4 weeks; it depends upon the team to schedule the sprint. The shorter Sprints spanned for one - two weeks help the Scrum teams identify the problems faster; but sometimes it seems uncomfortable. Many times, Scrum teams decide for the 3 - 4 weeks longer sprints to avoid indulgence towards these problems/ impediments; however, it is not a Scrum-like approach because Scrum principles guide to identify and deal with the problems at the earliest. So, the question is how to fix the ideal sprint length holding the balance between focus and opportunistic adaptiveness. The following 5 tips will help you optimize the sprints schedule:    1. Uncertainty may come in a variety of forms like not properly defined requirements, new technology, high-risk potential, difficult-to-implement interface etc. In case of significant uncertainty, you should go for shorter sprints - the most effective way to refine the project requirements or to try the new technology before getting set for solution development.  2. The volume of tasks and the expected time required affect the selection of sprint length. The team members should be comfortable to accomplish the task to complete a user story during the gap between the two sprints; and, as a Scrum Master, you should have a fair idea of the time required.     3. If you are facing a lot of disruptions, shorten the Sprint length to match the occurrence of disruptions.   4. The project duration is the key deciding factor for Scrum sprint duration. A short-period project such as one of three-month benefits from shorter sprints because of more reviews at shorter periods. If the project is long in duration, continue to look at the other factors. 5. Each Scrum sprint provides an opportunity to the Scrum Master to document the progress to stakeholders. Each sprint provides an opportunity to stakeholders to request for revisions. If you expect the stakeholders to provide input, prefer to set shorter periods for the sprints.   Setting your iterations too short in #scrum can have a damaging effect. "Failed" sprints and poor morale. #agile #teams — John Cutler (@johncutlefish) June 10, 2017 Concluding Thoughts:  Shorter Sprints are preferred because of many reasons as discussed above but these need to be scheduled perfectly at comfortable intervals so that the sprint planning, sprint reviewing, sprint retrospective can be meaningful. Instead of fixing the sprint length to fit the ‘Product Backlog Items’ size, it is better to make the items smaller. The Certifications like CSM and other project management training and courses provide the deep insights into the perfect sprint planning.  

5 Reasons To Have Fixed-Length Sprints

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5 Reasons To Have Fixed-Length Sprints

Should the sprint length in Scrum be fixed or variable? It has been a hot topic of discussion for years but most of the experiences shared by Scrum Masters go in favour of fixed length sprints; and, I too follow the rule of fixed length sprints. According to Agile Cadences and Technical Debt Survey report, 68% Scrum Masters favoured fixed length sprints while 29% accepted to make infrequent changes in the sprint length. Only 7% Scrum Masters accepted to change sprint length frequently as and when required. No doubt, flexible sprint length releases work pressure on the members but this practice develops a number of undesired apparent or hidden snags pertaining to quality, cost, time and scope. 

Cost, Scope, Quality & Time in Scrum

Here in this article, I will explore 5 more commonly accepted reasons to adopt fixed-length sprints framework. 

1. Teams Benefits from a Regular Rhythm

Regular time-boxed delivery is the core Scrum discipline; therefore, we can’t take the liberty to have flexible sprint lengths. In case of flexible sprint lengths, team members are unsure of schedule. The fixed duration sprint benefits the Scrum teams because each member has to be settled with a rhythm.  

2. Sprint Planning Becomes Easier

The fixed sprint length makes the sprint planning easier because the team members know how much work they are supposed to deliver in the forthcoming sprint.

3. Tracking Velocity Is Easier

Tracking Scrum velocity is easier with same length sprints. You can’t be sure of completing twice the amount of work if the one-week sprint period is extended up to two weeks. The alternative practice may be to normalize the velocity on per-week basis, but it seems a needless and complex exercise if the Scrum sprints are kept at the same length.  

4. On the Time Course Corrections

It is very common to find a gap between the demand of the product manager and the amount of work delivered. Fixed-length sprints minimize that gap by bringing the product manager and engineers together at a fixed interval. The findings at each sprint guide the Scrum team to incorporate the required changes before the particular task is done, tested & documented. 

5. Maximizes Responsiveness to Customer

Fixed-length sprints improve the responsiveness to customer requests. True, instant turnaround to customer requests is not possible; yet, it can be addressed quickly at priority. The only way to satisfying the customer at the best is to deliver the new feature or to fix the bug quickly in short fixed-length sprint cycles. 

Reasons to have fixed length sprints

How to Fix the Ideal Sprint Length – 5 Tips:  

Ideally, sprint is a fixed time period of 1-4 weeks; it depends upon the team to schedule the sprint. The shorter Sprints spanned for one - two weeks help the Scrum teams identify the problems faster; but sometimes it seems uncomfortable. Many times, Scrum teams decide for the 3 - 4 weeks longer sprints to avoid indulgence towards these problems/ impediments; however, it is not a Scrum-like approach because Scrum principles guide to identify and deal with the problems at the earliest. So, the question is how to fix the ideal sprint length holding the balance between focus and opportunistic adaptiveness. The following 5 tips will help you optimize the sprints schedule:   

1. Uncertainty may come in a variety of forms like not properly defined requirements, new technology, high-risk potential, difficult-to-implement interface etc. In case of significant uncertainty, you should go for shorter sprints - the most effective way to refine the project requirements or to try the new technology before getting set for solution development. 

2. The volume of tasks and the expected time required affect the selection of sprint length. The team members should be comfortable to accomplish the task to complete a user story during the gap between the two sprints; and, as a Scrum Master, you should have a fair idea of the time required.    

3. If you are facing a lot of disruptions, shorten the Sprint length to match the occurrence of disruptions.  

4. The project duration is the key deciding factor for Scrum sprint duration. A short-period project such as one of three-month benefits from shorter sprints because of more reviews at shorter periods. If the project is long in duration, continue to look at the other factors.

5. Each Scrum sprint provides an opportunity to the Scrum Master to document the progress to stakeholders. Each sprint provides an opportunity to stakeholders to request for revisions. If you expect the stakeholders to provide input, prefer to set shorter periods for the sprints.

 


Concluding Thoughts: 

Shorter Sprints are preferred because of many reasons as discussed above but these need to be scheduled perfectly at comfortable intervals so that the sprint planning, sprint reviewing, sprint retrospective can be meaningful. Instead of fixing the sprint length to fit the ‘Product Backlog Items’ size, it is better to make the items smaller. The Certifications like CSM and other project management training and courses provide the deep insights into the perfect sprint planning.  

Shubhranshu

Shubhranshu Agarwal

Freelance content writer

Shubhranshu Agarwal is a technical writer with special interest in business management and project management subjects. Over the 15 years of freelance content writing, he has written a lot to help the industries, businesses and project managers to achieve the sustainable growth by implementing strategic critical management methodologies.
 

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Best Product Owner Certifications in 2021

The one person responsible for maximising the product value, representing the stakeholders, prioritizing the backlog, empowering the team, maintaining Agile and Scrum processes and defining the product vision—who is that one superstar on an Agile team who does all this? The Product Owner!Product Owner roles have seen a sharp rise in recent years. If you see yourself as a Product Owner, managing business and stakeholders, then it is prudent that you validate your skills with a Product Owner certification and set yourself up for career success.Product Owners with industry recognised credentials earn upwards of $105,845, significantly more than their peers who are not certified.Irrespective of whether you are a seasoned Product Owner or are just sinking your teeth into the world of Agile and Scrum, a credential in your toolkit will greatly enhance your career prospects. So, here’s a roundup of the most valued Product Owner certifications you can choose from and get ready for 2021.CSPO®A-CSPO®PSPO™PMI-ACP®SAFe® Product Owner Product ManagerCSPO®The Certified Scrum Product Owner certification is an offering from Scrum Alliance. Among the most popular Product Owner certifications, this credential is a validation of your knowledge of Scrum, the scope of the Product Owner’s role and skill in maximizing value and the Scrum team’s work.CSPOs are in great demand across industries as they have the credibility to lead product development initiatives.Other benefits of the CSPO certification include:Training led by Scrum Alliance approved Certified Scrum Trainers® (CSTs)Get a 2-year membership with Scrum AllianceGain access to a number of local groups of Scrum users and social networksQualify for higher certifications such as the A-CSPO®Widen the scope of your career with the knowledge of popular Agile practices.Enhance your repertoire with in-demand Scrum skills and demonstrate your Scrum knowledge.Actively engage with the community of Agile practitioners dedicated to continuous Scrum practice and improvement.Create a better product by leading and implementing Scrum in the team.Define the product vision and direct team members to yield high value at the end.Ensure smooth communication between the stakeholders and team members.Earn higher salaries than your non-certified counterparts (USA: $105,845)Top industries hiring CSPO professionalsFidelity InvestmentsCapital One Financial CorpAmazon.comT-Mobile, IncAmerican ExpressSource: PayScaleWhere to take training for certificationThe training must be taken from a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) or Registered Education Provider (REP) or a Certified Agile Coach of Scrum Alliance.Who should take the training for CSPO certification?This course can be taken by:Project Managers Developers Product Owners Managers-Software development Architects-Software development Product Managers Software developers Software testers Team leads/Team members interested in learning ScrumWho is eligible for the CSPO certification?There are no eligibility requirements for the CSPO certification.Duration to get CSPO certifiedAll participants need to attend the 2-day in-person or 14 hours live online CSPO training from a CST, at the end of which they will receive their credential. Course/Training fee for CSPO certificationThe course fee depends on the training provider and differs from region to region.In India: INR 24999  U.S: USD 1295Canada: CAD 1495Exam fee for CSPO certification: No exam needs to be taken in order to earn the CSPO credential. Attending a 2-day/14-hour course is mandated to earn the credential.Renewal fee for CSPO certification: $100, every 2 yearsA-CSPO℠The Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner℠ (A-CSPO℠) credential is also offered by the Scrum Alliance, and as the name suggests is an advanced course to be pursued after gaining the CSPO. The A-CSPO validates your ability to manage multiple projects and stakeholders and deliver business value. A-CSPO being an advanced level certification is much sought after by organizations who want to hire professionals with advanced Product Owner abilities.Other benefits of the A-CSPO certification include:Training by Scrum Alliance approved Certified Scrum Trainers® (CSTs)2-year membership with Scrum AllianceAccess to a number of local groups of Scrum users and social networksGain enhanced Agile Scrum implementation skillsSet yourself apart from others in the marketplaceAs a highly trained Agile professional, show advanced value to your employerEarn high salaries - 111033 USD (average)Top industries hiring A-CSPO professionalsSAP LabsSalesforceAdobeWikispeedOracleVisteonGEBBCMicrosoftBarclaysRobert BoschWhere to take training for A-CSPO certification?The training must be led by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) and delivered by a Registered Education Provider (REP) or a Certified Agile Coach of Scrum Alliance.Who should take the training for A-CSPO certification?Professionals in the following job roles can take this course:Project ManagersDevelopersProduct OwnersManagers-Software developmentArchitects-Software developmentProduct ManagersSoftware developersSoftware testersTeam leads/Team members interested in learning ScrumWho is eligible for the A-CSPO certification?The A-CSPO requires the following eligibility:At least 12 months of work experience specific to the role of Product Owner (within the past five years) and an active CSPO credentialDuration to get A-CSPO certified: All participants need to attend the 2-day in-person or 14 hours live online A-CSPO training from a CST, at the end of which they will receive their credential.Course fee for A-CSPO certificationThe course fee depends on the training provider and differs from region to region.In India: INR 41999U.S.: Will be updated shortlyCanada: Will be updated shortlyExam fee for A-CSPO certification: No exam needs to be taken in order to earn the A-CSPO credential. Attending a 2-day/14-hour course along with the required experience is mandated to earn the credential.Renewal fee for A-CSPO certification: $175, every 2 yearsPSPO™Professional Scrum Product Owner™ Level I (PSPO™) is a credential offered by the Scrum.org. While the certification does not require you to take a training, an assessment needs to be cleared in order to get certified. The PSPO is a reflection of your ability to maximise skills, enhance product value and use Agile perspectives to deliver successful products.The PSPO is highly regarded in the industry as it is a rigorous exam and is based on the objectives outlined in the Scrum Guide.   Other benefits of the PSPO certification include:Own the product visionMaximize your team’s ROIImprove business value and ROIMotivate and lead Agile teams and team membersValidate your commitment to continued excellence and qualityDemonstrate your proficiency in ScrumGrow your career in Scrum with confidence Ace your interviews and get noticed for promotions at your current jobCommand higher salaries than your non-certified peersBe part of a network of industry leaders and Agile professionalsGain a stepping stone for the advanced level Professional Scrum Product Owner™ II Certification (PSPO™ II)Get the PSPO I logo that you can use to identify your achievementGet your name listed on Scrum.orgEarn salaries in the range of $98,612Top industries hiring PSPO professionalsJ.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPMCC)Cisco Systems IncImproving EnterprisesUnitedHealth GroupBank of America Corp. (BOFA)Source: PayScaleWhere to take training for the PSPO certification: Take the training from Scrum.org’s Professional Training Network under the guidance of certified Professional Scrum Trainers (PSTs).Who should take the training for PSPO certification?This course can be taken by:Project ManagersDevelopersProduct OwnersManagers-Software developmentArchitects-Software developmentProduct ManagersSoftware developersSoftware testersTeam leads/Team members interested in learning ScrumLeadership Team Who is eligible for the PSPO certification?There are no eligibility requirements for the PSPO certification.Duration to get certified: If you opt for training, you will have to attend two days or 16 hours of PSPO™ I training under a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST). You will then receive a key to the PSPO™ I Assessment. Once you pass the Assessment, you are declared PSPO™ I certified and can download your certificate.Course fee for PSPO certificationThe course fee depends on the training provider and differs from region to region.In India: INR 25999  U.S.: USD 1299Canada: CAD 1499Exam fee for PSPO: $200 USD per attemptPSPO Exam DetailsExam Type: Closed book,Format: Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer and True/FalseDifficulty: IntermediateLanguage: English onlyTime limit: 60 minutesNumber of Questions: 80Passing score: 85%Retake fee for PSPO Exam: $200 USD for each re-take attempt. 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Its mandatory requirement of real-world Agile expertise and a thorough knowledge of Agile practices, tools and techniques means that holders of the PMI-ACP are Agile experts in every sense of the word.The PMI-ACP has huge demand in Agile organizations as it gives holders a 360-degree view of Agile and adds huge value to the skill set of a product owner.Other benefits of the PMI-ACP certification include:Helps you qualify for Agile jobs with expertise in Agile methods like Scrum, FDD, Kanban, etc. which are in demand in the industryEquips you with knowledge of various Agile methodsMakes you marketable as it opens doors to many project development methodologiesGain soft skills to manage your role eloquently  Earn more than your non-certified peers ($109,556)Top industries hiring PMI-ACP professionalsBooz, Allen, and HamiltonAccentureInternational Business Machines (IBM) Corp.Usaa InsuranceAmazon.com IncSource: PayScaleWhere to take training for the PMI-ACP certification: The training must be taken from an Authorized Training Partner (ATP) of PMIWho should take the training for PMI-ACP certification?This course can be taken by:Project ManagersProject PlannersQuality Assurance StaffDevelopers/ProgrammersDesigners, TestersProject ControllersProduct OwnersScrum MastersScrum Team MembersWho is eligible for the PMI-ACP certification?The PMI-ACP requires the following eligibility:Secondary degree21 contact hours of training in agile practices12 months of general project experience within the last 5 years. 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Best Product Owner Certifications in 2021

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Agile and DevOps are two notions that originate from the same schools of thought, but whose paths now have digressed. However, a major amount of confusion still remains within the IT services industry with regards to the relationship between the two and has emerging agile & devops trends in 2017. Hence, it is of value to look at the origins of each and to clarify the disparities between them. ‘Tell me what you want, what you really really want!!’ Does the tune ring a bell? Back in the 1990s, the Spice Girls were expressing to the world what they really really wanted, and similarly business owners and corporate leaders were doing pretty much the same, indicating what they wanted to software developers who were working on enabling these organizations through technology. Unfortunately, these business owners were not as lucky as the Spice Girls. More often than not they really didn’t get what they wanted. By the time business requirements were properly understood, validated and finally realized through software products the business requirements more or less had changed.  This was mainly due to the ‘application delivery lag time period’ that sometimes went up to three years. The result of the aforementioned delay from concept to realization meant that a large proportion of projects were stopped before completion. Even then, those that eventually reached the finish line more often than not did not meet the end users’ expectations.  The introduction of Agile – The change-driven management approach The search was on for a more lightweight approach to solution delivery and the result was ‘agile’ – a project management approach with a series of new concepts with regards to collaboration between business owners and the implementation team including UI / UX engineers, developers and even QA engineers. Instead of eliciting, documenting and signing off all the requirements up front and getting it signed off before work began, the focus shifted to delivering value through increments of functional software that would evolve over time. The results indicated that the software implementation team had become more productive, businesses could be more responsive in responding to queries of the implementation team, and user demands could be met more efficiently. However, problems remained. The agile approach didn’t always deliver on the promise of continuous, seamless software development. Blockers continued to exist. So, what is DevOps? The first thing to note is the fact that DevOps is not an individual tool or a suite of solutions but more of a philosophy whose primary purpose is to reduce the distance between the worlds of software development and IT operations. It defines how the original concepts of agile have moved downstream to the level of infrastructure and operations. The DevOps concept sounds relatively straightforward, but in reality it is a little bit more complicated. Software development and IT operations have historically had very different approaches. Software developers appreciate the ability to change things quickly and often they do end up changing things rapidly. In the meantime IT operators focus on stability and on minimizing alteration. This philosophical disparity has often resulted in conflicts. Thus, one of the main challenges of DevOps is to ensure that this conflict decreases before it affects the businesses. Importance of DevOps Principles For this very reason indicated above, it is very important to consider and act up on the core principles of DevOps. They are, Close collaboration and communication between developers, system operators and software testers Continuous integration that requires developers and operators to commit to changes more frequently Continuous delivery to increase the team’s speed and efficiency while enabling early detection of bugs Continuous deployment to ensure new developments can be released without system downtime The DevOps philosophy goes hand-in-hand with the delivery processes described in ITIL Framework in terms of support and IT services management. DevOps can therefore be seen as a way to implement ITIL processes in such a manner that meets the demands placed on systems today.  
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Combination Of Agile & DevOps – The Roots

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Metrics that matters for DevOps Success

DevOps is generally introduced for the development teams to speed up the software delivery. DevOps is considered as a step beyond Agile. Many enterprises accepted DevOps as a part of software delivery process from planning, developing, deploying and updating an application, according to reviews. In this competitive world, DevOps allows businesses to speed up with the rapid pace of demands by the customers.Here are the top Ways to Obtaining Business Benefits of DevOps. Customers of today demand quality as well as security based products. DevOps, making the best use of its principles, provides superior quality and lowers the risk. On the contrary, in traditional software development approach, increased speed often results in poor quality and increased vulnerabilities. Why are metrics essential? Most organizations implement DevOps because of the demand for quality, time improvement and the need for defect-free products. Since DevOps has no specified framework, there exist a few standard ways to measure DevOps success. How do you find out how well it can work? How will you come to know whether it is working or not? The answer to this question, and the solution to all the existing problems, is the use of Metrics. Metrics are essential to stay in sync with DevOps. DevOps will be used extensively which therefore requires continuous treatment. But if you are not measuring its outcomes, you cannot understand how to incorporate DevOps in your organization. The focus of DevOps metrics is on deployment, operations, and support (feedback). Let us have a look at the Devops metrics which will lead to improved delivery performances. People: People are the major elements of the DevOps process. People-oriented metrics measure the things like yielding, capacity and response time. People are the hardest element of DevOps. So always start with the phase ‘People’. Process: In some ways, DevOps is considered as a process of  continuous deployment. There are many process-oriented metrics. Development to deployment is a large process-oriented metrics. Process metrics can be the measurement of speed, appropriateness and effectiveness. Technology: Technology metrics also plays a major role in DevOps. It measures the things like uptime (time during which the computer performs operations), network and support, and failure rate. Deployment (or Change) Frequency: DevOps metrics includes continuous deployment. Updated software deployment in every few days can be possible with fast feedback and piecemeal development. In a DevOps environment, deployment frequency can be measured in terms of the response time, the teamwork, the developer capacities, development tools and the overall efficiency. Change Lead Time: Change lead time is the time period between the initialization phase to the deployment phase. In DevOps, it is a measure of development process efficiency, code and the development systems’ complexity, and also of team capabilities. A protracted ‘change lead time’ is an indicator of an inefficient deployment system. Change Failure Rate: One of the main goals of DevOps is to do frequent deployment with less failure rates. Failure rates metrics should be decreased over time, as the experience and the capabilities of the team and developers get increased. If the frequency of failure is very high, it is definitely a red flag, as it gives rise to problems in the overall DevOps process. Mean Time to Recover: Time taken between ‘recovering the failure’ from the ‘failure’ is known as Mean Time to Recover (MTTR). It can be fragmented into three phases- detection, diagnosis and recovery phases. MTTR metrics is the sign of a good teamwork which identifies how effectively the teams handle the changes, and also, how collaboratively they do so. By all means, this metric is becoming a trend for DevOps to remodel organizational processes in a better way.
Metrics that matters for DevOps Success

DevOps is generally introduced for the development... Read More

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