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Agile Adoption: Should It Be Data-Centric At All Levels Of The Organization?

Introduction to Data-centric Agile TransformationsTeams and Organizations adopt Agile to bring in the changes- faster turnaround, better results, quick reviews, dynamic teams.The mindset change that is constantly talked about in Agile is still challenging to fathom because no one really knows how much of a change it is. Yet, the philosophy seems nice to look at- people over tools, working software over documentation- yes everyone needs it.While teams get structured, work is re-evaluated, Scrum masters trained and Agile coaches hired, everyone knows change is coming. 66 days is what it takes for any change to happen… and no matter what your role is, this is tough on everybody.Data, as it happens, is so underused in Agile transformations that it needs a book by itself. Data-centric approach to Agile methodology can be used to inspire, create gamification models to encourage team dynamics as well as create a monitoring mechanism to help convince stakeholders that things are moving.So, let’s look at these categories and see how data can be mapped.IntrospectData is neutral and yet has the ability to create an environment of positivity. Used correctly (both qualitative and quantitative) in the early stages, it can help us understand and build the environment. The following points can help you introspect as a team as well as individually.The Happiness Index- On a scale of 1-5, rate your team on how happy you are working with them and give a reason for it. Done anonymously in team retros or just randomly is stand-ups, this brings out anger, conflicts, and reasoning in a completely different way. However, beware this works only when this is conducted by a third party (like an Agile coach/facilitator). The score, of course, stays for further comparisons in the future (you can do it release wise, yearly etc). It makes everyone open up; however at the same time realize their opinions matter or someone is listening. You can find the points that get repeated and connect with the right person who can get it resolved.Find Your Team Mate- In this scenario, ask your team to anonymously write one quality about themselves that no one’s know about (not related to work). Now take those sticky notes and put it up on a wall. On the other column write the name of the team members- now ask the team to match the quality with the name. This is an amazing exercise for any team whether the dynamics are good or bad, new team or seasoned team, co-located or distributed.The reason it works so well is, in our everyday mad rush at work, we often forget to appreciate each other as humans and focus on the skills and getting the work done. We don’t even know who we work with anymore. This exercise is always eagerly participated and the results astonish team members themselves. It gives introverts and extroverts the same playing field and helps teammates understand how to motivate each other.MotivateMotivation is essential in any Agile team and yet this is an overlooked category in transformations. We know from Harvard Business Review that happy teams take up more complex challenges (https://hbr.org/2013/04/to-find-happiness-at-work-tap). So, what data can be looked at to ensure teams are intrinsically challenged?1) Publish Case Studies- Publishing case studies of successful teams with adequate data might be a wonderful information radiator of teams that truly motivate others.2) Team Reports- For retrospections, using the available team data can bring insights which are otherwise difficult to trace. Team reports can start at a basic level and track:1. User Story Committed vs Delivered2. Team velocity3. Sprint Burn DownUnderstanding what they have done and where things could have been improved under the guidance of an able manager, should inspire teams to perform better in the next sprint.3) Value Stream Mapping- Look at the entire cycle flow for a sprint with your team, take the waste out, make changes to your practice, keep tracking, talking and changing till you think the process is completely yours.4) Defect Reports- While looking at what went wrong or missed isn’t always motivating in the short run, seeing and ensuring a root-cause analysis is done and changing the strategy accordingly and reducing the account definitely is a mood booster for teams.5) Velocity Charts- Another way of looking at what has been delivered in terms of complexities over a period of time and if the chart differs way too much, the reasoning behind when and in what condition more complexity was delivered. The dips could be because of holidays or new joiners or attrition rates.CamaraderieA happy team is a productive team. Conflicts and egos are added complexities that are best resolved immediately.Retrospective- Seeing what the trend has been as a team and if the action items are being resolved should improve the team dynamics to continuously strive to improve. Track the action items to the positive changes made in the team and publish the data. Or alternatively, find the trend and see where usually the blockers are, this set of data while can be used fantastically by the team it can also be used by the manager or the coach, who when implementing for another team will use strategies to ensure the same trend doesn’t surface.Kudo Cards- Recognitions from team members would be a wonderful feeling for anyone, tracking them over releases or yearly on what someone is doing to help can create team appraisals and not individual ones.To summarize, data is always your ally, nudging and pushing you towards the right direction. Data isn’t just for management/stakeholder reports which it’s usually thought out to be, it should be embraced with equal inquisitiveness by teams and coaches and anyone who is remotely really trying to understand how transformation happens and how teams and individuals react to it.Data-centric Agile transformations shouldn’t just be e-mails sent out by management, it should be about thinking deeply about what it entails, what might change, the reality, and the expectations.

Agile Adoption: Should It Be Data-Centric At All Levels Of The Organization?

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Agile Adoption: Should It Be Data-Centric At All Levels Of The Organization?

Introduction to Data-centric Agile Transformations

Teams and Organizations adopt Agile to bring in the changes- faster turnaround, better results, quick reviews, dynamic teams.

The mindset change that is constantly talked about in Agile is still challenging to fathom because no one really knows how much of a change it is. Yet, the philosophy seems nice to look at- people over tools, working software over documentation- yes everyone needs it.

While teams get structured, work is re-evaluated, Scrum masters trained and Agile coaches hired, everyone knows change is coming. 66 days is what it takes for any change to happen… and no matter what your role is, this is tough on everybody.

Data, as it happens, is so underused in Agile transformations that it needs a book by itself. Data-centric approach to Agile methodology can be used to inspire, create gamification models to encourage team dynamics as well as create a monitoring mechanism to help convince stakeholders that things are moving.
















So, let’s look at these categories and see how data can be mapped.

Introspect

Data is neutral and yet has the ability to create an environment of positivity. Used correctly (both qualitative and quantitative) in the early stages, it can help us understand and build the environment. The following points can help you introspect as a team as well as individually.

The Happiness Index- On a scale of 1-5, rate your team on how happy you are working with them and give a reason for it. Done anonymously in team retros or just randomly is stand-ups, this brings out anger, conflicts, and reasoning in a completely different way. However, beware this works only when this is conducted by a third party (like an Agile coach/facilitator). The score, of course, stays for further comparisons in the future (you can do it release wise, yearly etc). It makes everyone open up; however at the same time realize their opinions matter or someone is listening. You can find the points that get repeated and connect with the right person who can get it resolved.

Find Your Team Mate- In this scenario, ask your team to anonymously write one quality about themselves that no one’s know about (not related to work). Now take those sticky notes and put it up on a wall. On the other column write the name of the team members- now ask the team to match the quality with the name. This is an amazing exercise for any team whether the dynamics are good or bad, new team or seasoned team, co-located or distributed.

The reason it works so well is, in our everyday mad rush at work, we often forget to appreciate each other as humans and focus on the skills and getting the work done. We don’t even know who we work with anymore. This exercise is always eagerly participated and the results astonish team members themselves. It gives introverts and extroverts the same playing field and helps teammates understand how to motivate each other.

Motivate

Motivation is essential in any Agile team and yet this is an overlooked category in transformations. We know from Harvard Business Review that happy teams take up more complex challenges (https://hbr.org/2013/04/to-find-happiness-at-work-tap). So, what data can be looked at to ensure teams are intrinsically challenged?
1) Publish Case Studies- Publishing case studies of successful teams with adequate data might be a wonderful information radiator of teams that truly motivate others.

2) Team Reports- For retrospections, using the available team data can bring insights which are otherwise difficult to trace. Team reports can start at a basic level and track:

1. User Story Committed vs Delivered
2. Team velocity
3. Sprint Burn Down

Understanding what they have done and where things could have been improved under the guidance of an able manager, should inspire teams to perform better in the next sprint.

3) Value Stream Mapping- Look at the entire cycle flow for a sprint with your team, take the waste out, make changes to your practice, keep tracking, talking and changing till you think the process is completely yours.

4) Defect Reports- While looking at what went wrong or missed isn’t always motivating in the short run, seeing and ensuring a root-cause analysis is done and changing the strategy accordingly and reducing the account definitely is a mood booster for teams.

5) Velocity Charts- Another way of looking at what has been delivered in terms of complexities over a period of time and if the chart differs way too much, the reasoning behind when and in what condition more complexity was delivered. The dips could be because of holidays or new joiners or attrition rates.

Camaraderie

A happy team is a productive team. Conflicts and egos are added complexities that are best resolved immediately.

Retrospective- Seeing what the trend has been as a team and if the action items are being resolved should improve the team dynamics to continuously strive to improve. Track the action items to the positive changes made in the team and publish the data. Or alternatively, find the trend and see where usually the blockers are, this set of data while can be used fantastically by the team it can also be used by the manager or the coach, who when implementing for another team will use strategies to ensure the same trend doesn’t surface.

Kudo Cards- Recognitions from team members would be a wonderful feeling for anyone, tracking them over releases or yearly on what someone is doing to help can create team appraisals and not individual ones.

To summarize, data is always your ally, nudging and pushing you towards the right direction. Data isn’t just for management/stakeholder reports which it’s usually thought out to be, it should be embraced with equal inquisitiveness by teams and coaches and anyone who is remotely really trying to understand how transformation happens and how teams and individuals react to it.

Data-centric Agile transformations shouldn’t just be e-mails sent out by management, it should be about thinking deeply about what it entails, what might change, the reality, and the expectations.

Soma

Soma Bhattacharya

Blog Author

Soma Bhattacharya is an Agile Coach working out of Hyderabad (India). When not at work, she can be found reading (non fiction), running her blog www.steppingintopm.com, planning her next big project and exploring life

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User Stories and User Stories Examples

In this article, you will learn about User Stories, 3 C’s of a user story, who writes it, how to write it, how to INVEST in user stories and different types of user stories with examples  What is a User Story? User Story is a tool in which requirements are captured in an easy to understand plain language, and is written from the perspective of an end user. “In software development and product management, a user story is an informal, natural language description of one or more features of a software system. User stories are often written from the perspective of an end user or user of a system” In Agile software development, user stories are used to express the requirements from an end user perspective.  The format of the user story is: As a   I want to   So that   - is the end user or the role of the user in the application software – “As a net banking customer”  - the action the user is performing on the application software – “I want to add beneficiary in my account”  - outcome, desired value, the user expects out of the action performed – “so that I can transfer money to the added beneficiary”The larger sized stories are called as “Epics” which are then decomposed to “Features” and then further decomposed to a “User Story”.  Epic example: As a Bank, I want to provide net banking to customers, so that they can perform various transactions. The above Epic can then be decomposed into multiple features: few examples: As a Bank, I want to provide funds transfer feature to customer, so that they can transfer funds from one account to another account As a Bank, I want to provide account summary for all the customer’s type of accounts. As a Bank, I want to provide credit card details to customers. Now each feature can be decomposed further into multiple user stories. User stories, based on the estimate size, are taken for implementation in an iteration. User stories should be granular enough that they can be completed within an iteration and cannot be continued in the following iteration. If a story cannot be completed within an iteration, the same should be split logically. User stories are prioritized by the product owner based on business priority and are available at the top of the product backlog. The dev team pulls the stories into an iteration backlog and implements them. The Definition of Done(DOD) for user stories are decided by the team which includes acceptance criteria, processes that need to be followed like unit testing, regression testing, code review etc. The story is said to be “done” only when it meets the preset Definition of Done. Who writes user stories? So, whose responsibility is to write user stories in an agile team?  Generally, the notion is that only the Product Owners should write user stories as they are the ones who elicit requirements from the stakeholders. However, in practice, any member of an Agile team may write user stories, though the overall responsibility is that of a Product Owner. The product owner should go through the stories and prioritize them in the product backlog. Over the course of an agile project, every team member is encouraged and expected to write user stories. When are user stories written? Are user stories written at the beginning of the project in a traditional way?  User stories are written throughout the lifecycle of the project. At the start of the project, user stories are written in Sprint '0', also called as pre-sprint. Initially the product owner elicits the requirements from the stakeholder and they are stored as EPICS, Features and User Stories in the product backlog. The requirements in agile software development are progressively elaborated and hence the need for writing user stories will arise throughout the project. These are written mainly during the backlog grooming session where the product owner decomposes epics/features into granular stories. Dev team writes stories along with the product owner during this session and also gets  involved in the 3 C’s (the next section describes this). confirmation in the 3C’s of user stories “Card”, “Conversation” and “Confirmation” is a model that captures the components of a user story.  This is popularly known as the 3Cs model that helps in planning and estimating the user stories by the Agile team. Card – denotes a Post It note or physical card, typically 3”x5” size, where the important information of a user story is captured. The card should contain enough information (not too less or too much) that the team is able to understand in order to plan & estimate on the story. “Conversation” – this is the conversation that happens between the product owner and the dev team to discuss on the story and get into the details. This may also be a conversation with the users of the system. This conversation also brings out the creativity of the dev team and uncovers any unstated needs of the users. “Confirmation” – this brings out the acceptance criteria for a story based on the above conversation.  This criterion will be used to evaluate the story by the stakeholders when the user story is implemented by the dev team.  The 3 C’s of the user story generally unfold during the backlog grooming session when the dev team and the product owner discuss the stories that needs to be groomed. The user stories are written during this time as well on the card by the dev team and product owner. Just enough information is captured in the story that enables the team to discuss and get into the details, uncovering any hidden or explicit information in the process. The team then negotiates with the product owner and arrives at the acceptance criteria for the user story.  Next, the dev team estimates the user story with the available information. The conversation continues between the dev team and product owner until a consensus is reached with respect to the details and acceptance criteria and until the team can size the same. This round of conversation may happen again during the iteration/sprint planning session. The dev team then implements the story in an iteration which is reviewed by the product owner or stakeholders at the end of the iteration. They will then accept the story based on the acceptance criteria defined for the story. Why create user stories? What are the benefits that a team will get by documenting the need of the stakeholders in the form of user stories? It enables the team to understand the requirements from a user perspective. The focus is on the user to provide value to them; the user story clearly describes the expected outcome of every action performed. This manner of capturing requirements provides opportunities for the team to collaborate more with the product owner and business users. By having conversations (in 3 Cs), the team is able to uncover the hidden requirements and also come up with creative solutions. Provides a shared understanding of the requirements to the team so that everyone is aware of the outcome/goal of the story and is on the same page. User stories help the team to achieve smaller product increments. User stories are more understandable by all stakeholders (technical/non-technical/business/operations). User stories help the team to implement features in smaller iterations ranging from one week to one-month durations. User stories enable the team for progressive elaboration, where they can defer the story until more clarity is obtained. User stories help create transparency of the priorities defined by the product owner and the customer. User stories help the developers, product owner and business owners to reach a mutual consensus as they discuss the details and agree on the acceptance criteria. This helps prioritize the product features by the stakeholders and also helps to take the right decisions at the right time. INVEST in User StoriesThis is an acronym for a set of attributes or criteria that helps us to assess the quality of the user story. If any of the attributes falls short in a story, it means that the team may want to consider rewriting the user story. Independent – User stories should be independent of other stories. There should be no overlap between them. They can however follow one after the other in a sequence, in a way that makes it easy to schedule and implement them.  This is one of the challenges that the team faces especially when they have just started adapting agile ways of working. They may have a story which is dependent on something else which may be done by another team. The teams may hope that they can run the two stories in parallel and by the time the first team is done, the dependent team will also complete their part of the story.  This is not the right way of running user stories, as it can result in a lot of confusion and blame. The advantage of having independent stories is that there is no blame game across teams. It also allows to consider the dependencies and come up with innovative ways of removing them to become independent. Negotiable – The story should not be written in so much detail that it becomes a requirement document. If it is in too much detail, it does not give an opportunity for the dev team to have any conversation with the product owner or the business. The story should be written with just enough detail so that it paves the way to open discussions with the product owner or business, and helps to elicit details or come up with creative solutions. By negotiating on the story with the relevant stakeholders, teams can come to a common understanding. Valuable – The story should be valuable to the customer. It should clearly state why we are doing this? How is it going to produce value to the customer? What value will the customer realize by implementing this story?  The only reason why user stories should be part of the product backlog is that they add value to the customer, right? Estimable – The user stories should have sufficient detail for the dev team to understand and estimate them. The conversation in 3 C’s helps the team to uncover the details with the product owner and stakeholders, so that they can size the story. If the story is too big and not sizeable, then the story should be refined or decomposed further. Whatever information the team may require should be available in the story for them to estimate it. In case there is a part of the story where the team has to do research, then a “spike” story may be created while the rest of the story can be estimated and taken for implementation. Small – Good user stories should be small. This does not refer to the size or number of words written in a story. A small story is of the right length so that the implementation team can complete the story within an iteration. It should be small enough that the story is “fully delivered” during an iteration.  A small user story helps the team to develop and test quickly and easily.  Testable – A good user story should be testable in order to be “Done”. This is supported by the “Confirmation” in 3 C’s where the team comes up with acceptance criteria for every story after the detailed conversation with the stakeholders.  The customer should be clear about what he should test during the review. If he is not clear, then the story is not good enough to be implemented. The team works together in a collaborative way to INVEST in good stories. The team learns to write good user stories as they work together and also proactively think about the values and criteria that are laid out in INVEST. Types of User Stories We can classify user stories into functional and technical types: Functional – Normally, a user story is written based on the functional aspects of the application software, while focusing on the user and the value of the functionality provided to the user.  Functional stories concentrate on the product features which the customer will be testing at the end of an iteration based on the acceptance criteria defined for the story. Technical – Technical stories are written to be able to support the functional stories. Technical stories can be classified as Infrastructure stories – any infrastructure addition/modification that may be required to support the functional story Refactoring – this type of story is written to maintain the code and address technical debts. This can be used for designing and automation needs as well Spikes – stories that require research on architecture and design which may in turn help achieve the functional need of the customer. Examples of user stories Let us see some examples of user stories (Epics, Features and User Story) in this section. IDEPICSE1As a Sales Professional, I want to generate reports so that I can take a decision on the marketing strategy for the upcoming quarterE2As a Banking Customer, I want to access net banking, so that I can access my account and make transactionsE3As an Administrator of the software, I want to access master records so that I can make changes to customer dataIDFeaturesE2F1As a Banking Customer, I want to access Savings account so that I can view/make transactionsE2F2As a Banking Customer, I want to access Credit Card page, so that I can view and make transactionsE2F3As a Banking Customer, I want to access Loans page so that I can view my loansE2F4As a Banking Customer, I want to transfer funds, so that I can move my funds to different accounts within my bank and other banksIDUser StoriesE2F1U1As a Banking Customer, I want to access/view summary of my savings account, so that I know my balance and other detailsE2F2U1As a Banking Customer, I want to Login to Net banking so that I can view credit card detailsE2F4U1As a Banking Customer, I want to transfer funds within my own accounts so that I can move some balance across my accountsE2F4U2As a Banking Customer, I want to transfer funds from my account to another account in another bank, so that  I can send money to my family and friends who have accounts in other banksE2F4U3As a Banking Customer, I want to add beneficiary to my account, so that I can transfer funds to the beneficiaryTechnical StoriesE2TU1As a Net Banking Administrator, I want to have the customer’s data backed up so that I can restore it any time in case of issues  E2TU2  As a Net Banking application, I want to shake hands with another bank using a specific formatted XML so that funds can be transferred based on the customers’ needs  Conclusion Transformation of documentation on user requirements in a Functional Requirements Document (FRD) or Software Requirement Specification (SRS) in a traditional project management, towards User Stories in Agile project management, is a massive step. It helps  shift the mindset of how teams can understand and collaborate with the customer in a better way, by shifting their focus of implementation towards value that the customer may realize from the story. This shift has worked very well in terms of meeting the requirements and expectations of the customer. 
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User Stories and User Stories Examples

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Waterfall Vs Agile – Must Know Differences

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Team members may be allocated from different functional units and may not be seated together. In Agile methodology, team size is limited to achieve high collaboration through co-location (team sitting together in the same workspace). Each agile team comprises of a cross-functional team who can produce a working software increment in every iteration. Development Life Cycle: In Waterfall methodology, the software development life cycle goes through a series of phases like requirements, design, coding, testing and UAT, sequentially. The entire product or working software is available at the end of the project phase. In Agile methodology, the development happens in iterations/sprints, and the duration of the iterations ranges from two weeks to a month. The phases of analysis, design and development happens within an iteration and the team is able to produce a working software increment in every iteration. Feedback cycle: In Waterfall methodology, the feedback of the project is received at the end of the project when the customer conducts the validate scope process (UAT). In Agile methodology, feedback of the increment is received by the team at the end of every iteration. Multiple feedback loops provide opportunities for the team to learn quickly. Testing: In waterfall methodology, testing cycle or phase starts after the development phase is completed. Test plans are finalized at the beginning of the project and test cases are written for the product of the project while the development is in progress. Development and test teams are looked at separately within a project team. In Agile methodology, every iteration planning includes planning for test and test cases are written for those prioritized features or stories for every iteration. Testers and coders work in an integrated manner to deliver the product increment. Focus: In waterfall methodology, the focus is more on producing the project deliverable as defined and baselined. In Agile methodology, the focus is more on collaborating with the customer and welcoming changes that provide value to the customer. Documentation: In waterfall methodology, due importance is given to formalized documentation which helps in monitoring and controlling of the project for the project manager. In Agile methodology, minimal documentation is prescribed as working software is preferred over comprehensive documentation (as per Agile Manifesto). Roles: In waterfall methodology, there can be many roles defined like Project Manager, team lead, developer, tester, business analyst, design architect, quality analyst etc., In Agile methodology, roles are very limited. Especially in Scrum framework, there are only 3 roles. Scrum Master, Product Owner and Development Team (cross functional team). Project Management: In Waterfall methodology, project manager is responsible for managing the project and is accountable for the entire project. Project manager manages the project team by assigning work to the team members and getting the task done. In other words, project manager “pushes” the work to the team. In Agile methodology, the team manages the project themselves as they are a self-organizing team. The team “pulls” the work from the product backlog into the iteration backlog. Team Empowerment: In waterfall methodology, the project manager is directly answerable for the outcome of the project and team members are not empowered to take decisions. In Agile methodology, the agile team is empowered to take decisions and hence they are collectively accountable for the outcome of the project. Project Metrics: In waterfall methodology, the project team measures the project progress using techniques like Earned Value Management and Schedule compression to compress the schedule in case of any deviations. In Agile methodology, the metrics are derived in terms of velocity (how many story points the team produced during an increment cycle) and other metrics like sprint burndown/burnup charts to monitor daily progress within an iteration. Advantages and Limitations of Waterfall MethodologyAdvantages:Ability to apply due diligence in planning for well-defined requirements and scope Dependencies are managed effectively as the entire requirements are known well in advance Well defined processes pave the way for quality deliverables Phase-gate reviews allow stakeholders to eliminate any ad-hoc changes and unplanned additions to the project Works well for small projects for a well-defined requirement that is very well understood, and is not likely to change over the duration of the project Avoids scope creep with systematic implementation of change management process Simple and easy to understand Scope, time and cost baseline helps the management to monitor and control the project accordingly Limitations:Requirements are expected to be defined well prior to development which delays the project Less flexibility in changes makes it difficult to manage Feedback is received from the customer at the end of the project and hence any negative feedback or defects proves costly for the team to fix  Does not accommodate any changes due to market dynamics and its rigid approach to changes Cost of change is more as the defect is identified by the customer at the end of the project Ineffective team collaboration as the team works in silos (dev, testing etc) Integration is considered at the end and that prevents identification of any technical or business bottleneck Advantages and limitations of Agile MethodologyAdvantagesFocusses on business value as developers and business work together Stakeholders are engaged effectively in every iteration Motivated and self-organizing teams that manage themselves Predictable and ensures less variations in the project Harnesses change and is more customer centric Working software is the measure of progress. Feedback is received from the key stakeholder during every iteration and the cost of change is very less Teams retrospect every iteration to look at improvement areas and finetune themselves Provides transparency through the process Focuses on Minimum Viable Product to release to the customer Due attention is paid to specific customer needs and changes are accommodated even late in development Limitations Not suitable for all types of projects May not work well in a large traditional organization due to its flexible and less formal processes Minimal depth in requirement analysis and frequent planning may derail the end project goals Self-organizing and empowering teams solely depends on team’s maturity level at handling decisions and may backfire Working software over comprehensive documentation is misunderstood and hence teams may not focus even on necessary documentation that is required Waterfall vs Agile Methodology – Which is right for your project? A typical question that is raised before the software development starts is “which approach should we follow, Waterfall or Agile?”   The following table can be used to determine the approach (please note all the factors do not carry equal weightage)     Waterfall (works)Agile (works)Well defined scope and changes are very limitedScope/FeaturesWhen scope is not known in advance or changes are expected as the project moves onWhen uncertainty is low and low-level riskRiskWhen uncertainty is high and high-level riskWhen market is stableMarket dependencyWhen market dynamics change/evolve frequentlyWhen customer involvement is required only at certain milestonesCustomer FeedbackWhen customer is available and requires involvement throughout the projectWhen the focus is on planning, monitoring and control and predictabilityFocusWhen the focus is on innovationWhen conforming to requirements as agreed upon in the contractProduct FeaturesWhen minimum viable product (which gives more value to the customer) is implemented first and we can implement the low valued features laterWhen a large sized team with minimal collaboration or handoff is requiredTeamWhen small team with high collaboration is requiredWhen the budget is fixedFundingWhen the budget is not a constraintWhen it is less important and not urgentTime to MarketWhen it is critical, important, and urgent to meet the desired outcomeExamples of Agile vs Waterfall: How is the software developed?  Waterfall Methodology: (example) Scope: To provide an employee timesheet software having the following features: Ability to login Ability for the employees to describe the task and enter the number of hours spent Ability to submit for approval to the manager Manager Ability to login Ability to add a resource to a project Ability to link project to a resource Ability to assign task to a resource Ability to approve/reject the timesheet Administrator Ability to login Ability to add/modify/delete users  Ability to add/modify/delete projects Reports Report on individual user timesheet data for a specified period Report on project timesheet data for a specified period Report on approved/rejected timesheets for a project for a specified period Let us assume the above is the scope and timeline for completion is given as 6 months. Requirements Phase: Detailed requirements on individual features are discussed and elicited from the stakeholders until they are well understood and documented. The requirements document is then signed off by the customer. Scope is identified and baselined during this phase. Project manager comes out with the detailed plan for the entire project and assigns team members accordingly to perform the task. The scope, schedule and cost are baselined considering all the other project constraints like resources, quality, risks, stakeholders, communication etc. Design and Development Phase: Development team works on design and coding all the requirements stated above and delivers to the testing team. Testing phase: Testing team validates the deliverables to see whether they conform to the requirements. They raise defects and the development team works on them. Testing team signs off on the deliverables once they work as per the requirements. UAT Phase: Customer validates the deliverables and signs off. Raises defects in case there are issues or requirements are not meeting the expectations Agile Methodology: (example) Scope: To provide the following features for an ATM Cash withdrawal Check balance Change ATM Pin Print statements Deposit Cash Deposit Cheque Product owner elicits high level requirements from the stakeholders and documents them in the form of features/user stories in the product backlog. Product Owner then prioritizes the features based on value that can be realized by the customer. Minimum viable product is finalized. 80/20 rule may be applied to find which 20% of the features give 80% value to the customer. In this case, Cash withdrawal and Check balance features are selected as the first increment to be implemented. Agile dev team along with the Product Owner sizes the features and stories and comes up with the release planning for the MVP identified. Product owner grooms and prioritizes the user stories in the product backlog. Agile team pulls the work in the iteration backlog and starts defining goals for every iteration until the features are completed. Meanwhile Product Owner continues to progressively elaborate the requirements for other features. Key business stakeholders, along with the Product Owner review the product increment created by the agile team and provide feedback. The team retrospect after each iteration with respect to people, process and product and finetunes accordingly. This iteration cycle goes on until the first implementation is complete and then the agile team takes up the next available set of features. Summary: As we have seen, Waterfall and Agile methodologies have their own set of advantages and limitations. While waterfall approach is more methodical and predictive, agile approach is more adaptive and dynamic in nature. Depending on the project circumstances and using the table provided under Waterfall vs Agile Methodology, the project team can decide which works better for them. 
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Waterfall Vs Agile – Must Know Differences

In this article, my focus is to the bring out the ... Read More

Top-paying Scrum Master Certifications to Consider in 2020

Scrum Certification is a course and a series of exams that professionals undertake to validate their knowledge, skills and aptitude in Scrum, as well as Agile methodology and framework for managing complex projects.There are numerous accreditation bodies around the globe which provide Scrum training and certification programs, most of which are widely accepted and recognized.This article discusses a few top Scrum Training and Certification options which are available, starting right from the basics. Read along to know more!Benefits of Scrum CertificationHere is a quick list of what benefits can be attained by a Scrum Certification.Get in-depth knowledge about Scrum: Having a Scrum certification will help you attain a solid base of Scrum knowledge as well as train you with the required skills to utilize it in an effective manner.Change your mindset to think the Scrum way: It is necessary to develop an Agile mindset to work with Scrum effectively. This will help you to have a better team collaboration, make your projects more successful, and will lead to a decrease in disagreements.Scrum Artifacts: Scrum concepts like product backlog, sprint backlog, burndown, etc. act as a pillar in a Scrum project, which help organisations to deliver the project in iterations.Become more relevant and marketable: Scrum certification will provide you with an in-depth practical knowledge, which will help you become more marketable and relevant in your field or in an industry which engages with Agile values. This certification will act as a validation that you have the knowledge of Agile concepts and that you have an Agile mindset.Scrum Certification benefits your organisation: Scrum Certification trains you to use the latest tools, technologies as well as resources, which leads to business processes and a better-organised team which costs less time and money.Influence your organisation to adopt Agile methodology: Adopting Agile methodologies will help your organisation as it will ensure better yields, lesser time to the market, timely insights, improved productivity, better ROI, sellable products after each sprint and much more.Better interaction with your peers: Having a Scrum certification will help you to build a better understanding of Scrum while working with your colleagues. It helps to promote productivity while at the same time it helps you communicate and collaborate with your peers in a better manner.Prove and put Scrum knowledge into practice: The process to earn Scrum Certification requires you to go through a rigorous agile scrum master training, which helps you get a better job and career opportunities.Join the community of Scrum experts: With a Scrum Certification, you can connect with various professionals. This ensures continuous improvements that you will learn and achieve with an Agile approach.Enhance sale: Make your Scrum teamwork in a more flexible manner, ensure fast delivery and quick releases. Being Scrum Certified enables you to make this difference for your organisation.How does Scrum work?The Scrum Framework comprises of three categories, which are Scrum Roles, Scrum Events and Scrum Artifacts. The following discusses, in brief, the mentioned three categories.Scrum RolesThe Scrum framework is defined by three core roles: Development team, Scrum Master and Product Owner.Development Team: The Development team is a group of self-organised, cross-functional people, who work together to create products as well as test the incremental releases of the products at the end of each sprint.Scrum Master: The Scrum Master serves as a facilitator for his team members. It is his responsibility to ensure that the Team adheres to the Scrum practices and rules. He acts as a coach to the development team, product owner and stakeholders, and works towards removing the impediments that the team faces.Product Owner: A Product Owner is responsible for conveying the vision of the project to his team members who are building it. He is accountable for managing the product backlog and testing the increment work that is completed.Scrum EventsThe Scrum Events consists of five components, namely Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review, Retrospective.Sprint: A Sprint is a fixed time period, that is, it is a time-boxed period within which a Scrum Team completes a specific work so that it can be ready for a review. A Sprint can be as short as one week.Sprint Planning: During a Sprint Planning meeting, the tasks which have to be accomplished during a Sprint is decided upon. It discusses the product backlogs which are needed to be delivered and how it can be achieved.Daily Stand-up: It is a short meeting of 15-minutes duration which is conducted on an everyday basis. The main objective behind this short meeting is to make sure that the whole team is on the same page and is aligned to the sprint goal. The tasks covered in the previous 24 hours is discussed and the tasks to be carried out during the next 24 hours is planned out.Sprint Review: A Sprint Review is conducted after Sprint ends. The increment completed and the tasks that have not been completed are discussed during the Sprint Review.Sprint Retrospective: During a Sprint Retrospective, the whole team comes together and reflects on the Sprint process, that is, discuss what tasks were completed and what problems they faced. The main motive behind this is continuous improvement.According to The 13th Annual State of Agile Report, the top 5 Agile Techniques are:Daily standupSprint/Iteration PlanningRetrospectivesSprint/Iteration ReviewShort IterationsScrum ArtifactsScrum Artifacts include product backlog, sprint backlog and product increment.Product Backlog: It is a document which consists of an ordered list of all the product requirements. The Product Owner looks after the Product Backlog, who prioritises them as per the requirement.Sprint Backlog:The Sprint Backlog is a specific list of all the items from the Product Backlog which are to be worked on in a sprint.Product Increment:A product increment is the sum of all the completed product backlogs since the software release.Top Scrum Certifications1. Certified Scrum Master (CSM):CSM is modestly the most used Scrum Master Certification. With the help of this certification process, you can learn about the Scrum framework and get a better understanding of team events, roles and artifacts.Accreditation body: Scrum AlliancePrerequisites: The CSM® course can be taken by any professional who wants to deepen their Scrum understanding. CSM® course is usually taken up by the professionals working in IT and Non-IT industries. Therefore, it is recommended to become familiar with the basics of Scrum to understand the overall framework perfectly in less time.Who can take up this certification?The following individuals can take this course:Anyone who would like to build a career as a Scrum MasterTeams transitioning to ScrumManagers of Scrum teamsScrum team members such as product owners and developersIf you are already working as a Scrum Master, then taking this course will help you to strengthen your Scrum knowledge and skills.Certification Procedure: You will have to attend a training of two days duration, after which you will be required to take an online test. The two-day training is conducted by a Certified Scrum Trainer who has been authorised by the Scrum Alliance.The CSM certification has to be renewed every two years by paying a fee of $100 without any additional examination or training.Job opportunities after Scrum Master Certification: After attaining your Scrum Master Certification, you can act as a Scrum Master. Scrum Masters can opt to become mentors, coaches, managers, product owners or continue being a Scrum Master in more challenging situations.  Cost: Depending on factors like location and trainer, the cost of Scrum Master Certification comes approximately between $700 to $1500. The price bracket of the CSM certification varies across the globe, click here to know more.Average Salary: The average salary of a Certified Scrum Master ranges between $100,00 to $130,000 across the United States.CertificationScrum Master CertificationAccreditation BodyScrum AlliancePrerequisitesBasics of Scrum to understand the overall framework perfectly in less time.Exam InformationAnswer a set of 50   within an hour; out of which 37 should be answered correctly.Career PathScrum Master, Mentor, Coach, Manager, Product Owner.Average Salary$100,00 to $130,000Training Cost$1000Cost of Certification$700 to $1500.Average Salary$100,00 to $130,000Renewal Cost$1002. Advanced CSM:If you are a Certified Scrum Master and have a working experience of minimum one year as a Scrum Master, then you can apply for this course. This course will help you get a deeper insight of Scrum along with its practical usage and learns multiple ways to coach the Product owner and the team members.Accreditation Body: Scrum AlliancePrerequisites: As a certified Scrum Master, you should have a minimum of twelve months of working experience to become an Advanced CSM. You should also have a basic understanding of Scrum along with its usage and implementation.Who can take up this certification?The following individuals can take this course:Anyone who would like to build a career as a Scrum Master after completing the CSM courseScrum Team managersTeams which are transitioning to ScrumScrum team members such as product owners and developersAnyone who wishes to distinguish himself in the global market.Certification Procedure: You will have to attend an education offering of certified ACSM to learn techniques and skills which go beyond the basics of Scrum, like interaction, coaching, facilitation and team dynamics. Also, you will be required to have an experience of 12 months as a working Scrum Master in the last five years.The certification has to be renewed every two years by paying a fee of $175 without any additional examination or training.Job opportunities after Advanced Scrum Master Certification: Work towards becoming a more professional practitioner of Scrum Master, learn how to untap the underlying potential of your team. Work as a Scrum Master, coach, mentor or a Product Owner.Cost: Depending on different factors like location and trainer, the cost of Scrum Master Certification ranges approximately between $1295 to $1495.Average Salary: The average salary of an Advance Certified Scrum Master ranges between $100,00 to $130,000 across the United States.CertificationAdvanced Scrum Master CertificationAccreditation BodyScrum AlliancePrerequisitesBasics of Scrum to understand the overall framework perfectly in less time.Twelve months of working experience as a Scrum Master in the last five years.Career PathScrum Master, Mentor, Coach, Manager, Product Owner.Average Salary$100,00 to $130,000Cost of Certification$1295 to $1495Renewal Cost$1753. Certified Scrum Professional (CSP-SM)This course focuses on topics like lean concepts, system thinking, coaching, emotional intelligence, facilitation, deeper understanding of the Scrum Framework and scaling Scrum to big organizations.Accreditation Body: Scrum AlliancePrerequisites:An active A-CSM certification24 months of experience as a Scrum Master in the last five yearsAttend a CSP-SM workshop which is conducted by the Scrum Alliance approved ‘Path to CSP Educator’.Who can take up this certification?The following individuals can take this course:Scrum team members such as developersTeams transitioning to ScrumManagers of Scrum teamsJob opportunities after Certified Scrum Professional (CSP-SM) Certification: Work towards becoming a more professional practitioner of Scrum Master for big organisations, learn how to un-tap the underlying potential of different teams. Work as a Scrum Master, coach, mentor or a Product Owner. Get various opportunities to attend exclusive CSP events along with many other leaders in Scrum and AgileCost: Depending on various factors, the cost of the certification costs around $1295.Average Salary: The average salary of a Certified Scrum Professional (CSP-SM)is calculated to be approximately $115,000 across the United States.CertificationCertified Scrum Professional (CSP-SM)Accreditation BodyScrum AlliancePrerequisitesBasics of Scrum to understand the overall framework perfectly in less time.An active ACSM certification24 months of working experience as a Scrum Master in the last five years.Career PathScrum Master, Mentor, Coach, Manager, Product Owner for big organisations.Average Salary$115,000Cost of Certification$1295Renewal Cost$2504. Professional Scrum Master (PSM)Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM), is a two-day course which covers the theory and principles of the Scrum Framework and the roles of a Scrum Master. This course combines team-based exercises with instructions in order to teach the heart of the Scrum and Agile movement.Accreditation Body: Scrum.orgPrerequisites: The PSM course can be taken by any professional who wants to deepen their Scrum understanding. It is recommended to familiarize with the basics of Scrum to understand the overall framework perfectly in a shorter course of time.Who can take up this certification?This course is apt for professionals who are involved in product delivery using the Scrum Framework. It is particularly most beneficial for Scrum Master, Team members and managers, that is, those people who are accountable for getting the most out of Scrum.Job opportunities after Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM): After being a certified Professional Scrum Master, the candidate can apply for various fields, to name a few:Scrum MasterAssociate Scrum MasterProduct OwnerCoachMentorCost: Starts from  $150.Average Salary: $100,500CertificationProfessional Scrum Master Training (PSM)Accreditation BodyScrum.orgPrerequisitesBasics of Scrum to understand the overall framework perfectly in less time.Exam InformationAnswer a set of 80 questions within an hour.Passing score: 80 per cent.Career PathScrum Master, Mentor, Coach, Manager, Product Owner for big organisations.Average Salary$100,500Cost of Certification$1505. SAFe 4.0 Scrum Master (SSM)It is a two-day course, during which the attendees gain a proper understanding of the roles of a Scrum Master in the context of SAFe enterprise while at the same time, prepare them to plan and execute the Program Increment(PI) successfully. PI is an enabler of alignment for all the levels of a SAFe organisation, which includes the facilitation of Scrum in the enterprise and executing the Iteration Planning.This course will validate that you can now perform the role of a Scrum Master in a SAFe environment, which will help you increase your value to organisations and teams which are implementing SAFe.Accreditation Body: Scaled Agile.Prerequisites:Regardless of experience, this course can be attended by anyone. But it is recommended to have the following prerequisites for the ones who intend to take the SAFe® Scrum Master (SSM) certification exam:They should be familiar with Agile concepts and practices.Basic knowledge and awareness of Scrum, eXtreme Programming (XP) and Kanban.Proper working knowledge of hardware as well as software development processes.Who can take up this certification?This course can be taken up by Scrum Master who are new to this and need to perform the role. While this course can also be taken up by the existing Scrum Masters who wish to know about their role as a Scrum Master in a SAFe environment.Other than them, Team leads who wish to understand the roles of Scrum Master can also take up this course.Job opportunities after SAFe 4.0 Scrum Master (SSM): Based on the candidates' experience, the candidate can apply for various roles. To name a few:Scrum MasterSenior Scrum MasterAgile Scrum MasterAgile Project ManagerAgile Project DirectorAgile CoachProduct OwnerCost: The first attempt of the exam is included in the course registration fee, provided the exam is taken within 30 days after completing the course. After that, each retake costs $50.Average Salary: $114,546CertificationSAFe 4.0 Scrum Master (SSM)Accreditation BodyScaled AgilePrerequisitesFamiliarity with Agile concepts and practices.Basic knowledge and awareness of Scrum, eXtreme Programming (XP) and Kanban.Proper working knowledge of hardware as well as software development processes.Exam InformationAnswer a set of 45 questions within a duration of 90 minutes; out of which 33 should be answered correctly.Career PathScrum MasterSenior Scrum MasterAgile Scrum MasterAgile Project ManagerAgile Project DirectorAgile CoachProduct OwnerAverage Salary$114,546Cost of CertificationThe first attempt of the exam is included in the course registration fee, provided the exam is taken within 30 days after completing the course. After that, each retake costs $50.Renewal Cost$100; Every one year from the date of certification earned.6. Scrum Master Certified (SMC)The professionals who are certified as Scrum Master Certified (SMC) ensure that the Scrum team is working in an environment which helps them in completing their project successfully. The Scrum Master has the responsibility to ensure that the Scrum process is being followed. He guides the Scrum practices to everyone who is involved in the project.Accreditation Body: SCRUMstudyPrerequisites:There are no particular prerequisites for this certification, but a SDC™certified professional is more preferred.Who can take up this certification?This course is apt for professionals who are involved in product delivery using the Scrum Framework. It is particularly most beneficial for Scrum Master, Team members and managers, that is, those people who are accountable for getting the most out of Scrum.Job opportunities after Scrum Master Certified (SMC): After completion of the course, you can opt for the following job opportunities:Scrum MasterAssociate Scrum MasterSenior Scrum MasterCoach Scrum MasterProduct Owner/ManagerCost: $450 USDAverage Salary: The average salary for a Scrum Master Certified professional ranges between $100,00 to $130,00 USD.CertificationScrum Master Certified (SMC)Accreditation BodySCRUMstudyPrerequisitesThere are no particular prerequisites for this certification, but a SDC™certified professional is more preferred.Exam InformationAnswer a set of 100 questions within a duration of two hours.Career PathScrum MasterAssociate Scrum MasterSenior Scrum MasterCoach Scrum MasterProduct Owner/ManagerAverage Salary$100,00 to $130,00 USDCost of Certification$450 USDRenewal CostEarn 40 recertification credits every three years.7. Agile Scrum Master (ASM)The Agile Scrum Master certification combines scrum practices and agile methodologies with practical assignments. It tests the ability of the professional that is required to facilitate, enable and coach a cross-functional Scrum Team as a Scrum Master.Accreditation Body: Exin.Prerequisites: You are required to have successfully completed an EXIN Accredited Agile Scrum Master Training, which is mandatory.Who can take up this certification?This certification aims the managerial professionals who are in the fields of IT project management, business management, software development, and IT service management.Job opportunities after Agile Scrum Master (ASM): The professional can look forward to the following job opportunities after completing the Agile Scrum Master course:Scrum MasterAgile CoachAssociate Scrum MasterProgram ManagerCost: $260 USDAverage Salary: The average salary of an Agile Scrum Master ranges between $100,00 to $130,000 across the United States.CertificationAgile Scrum Master (ASM)Accreditation BodyEXINPrerequisitesThe candidate is required to have successfully completed an EXIN Accredited Agile Scrum Master Training, which is mandatory.Exam InformationAnswer a set of 40 questions within a duration of 90 minutes; Pass mark being 65%.Career PathScrum MasterAgile CoachAssociate Scrum MasterProgram ManagerAverage Salary$100,00 to $130,00 USDCost of Certification$260 USDWhat is Scrum?Scrum is a lightweight framework with the help of which people can address complex problems to deliver projects of the highest possible value. It is primarily used for software development processes by using iterative and incremental practices to work towards a well-defined goal.It is a subset of Agile as it follows the Agile Manifesto, which expresses a set of values and principles to help make decisions on how to develop higher-quality software in a quicker and better manner. Organisations have benefitted by Agile Scrum process as:It increases the productivity of the team.It increases the quality of deliverable products.Helps in getting a better grip of the project schedule.It provides a better estimate while less time is spent on creating themIt keeps the stakeholders and customers satisfied.How are Scrum and Agile related Scrum and Agile are related, but distinctly. Agile is a methodology that describes a set of guiding principles to build software through iterative development, which is described in the Agile Manifesto.Scrum follows a set of rules while practising agile software development. Even though these two models look similar and function in a similar manner, there are differences as well. Scrum aims for a product team with firm rules and guidelines. It is an incremental and iterative development methodology of Agile, that is, it can be said that it is an agile framework for developing software. Scrum does not state any detailed description or template of the process of software development, unlike many other software development methodologies. It states the desired outcome that is required, leaving it on the agile scrum team to determine the solutions to the problems that they are facing or will come across. It may be used for software maintenance projects or software development. Scrum increases the flexibility and speed of the process of product development. Organisations which have switched to agile processes like Scrum have experienced many benefits like higher stakeholder satisfaction, higher productivity, etc. The benefits experienced are further discussed in detail.Scrum Certifying Accreditation BodiesThe following is a list of a few Scrum Certifying Bodies.Scrum AllianceScrum.orgScaled AgileAPM Group InternationalSCRUMstudy1. Scrum Alliance: Scrum Alliance was founded in the year 2011. Being a globally renowned organisation, it supports Scrum adoption, research and networking, focusing on organisational transformations. It is the largest, most established organisation for Agile membership and certification that has trained more than 750,000 professionals worldwide.2. Scrum.org:Scrum.org provides training, assessments and certifications based on the principles of Scrum and Agile manifesto in order to improve software delivery. They empower people and organisations all around the world to achieve agility through Scrum. The global organisation was found in the year 2009 by Ken Schwaber.3. Scaled Agile, Inc. (SAI): Scaled Agile, Inc. (SAI) is the leading provider of SAFe® courses. Being a knowledge base for enterprises to adopt Agile, it uplifts the career growth of an individual as it offers various role-based courses and certifications.4. SCRUMstudy: SCRUMstudy is a globally acknowledged accreditation body for Agile and Scrum certifications. It has a large global partner network of ATPs, Authorized Training Providers, delivering training and certifications. The SBOK™ Guide has been authored by the SCRUMstudy, which is a comprehensive guide to deliver projects successfully using Scrum.5. EXIN: EXIN offers professionals certifications in a wide range of exams in the field of IT qualifications. It innovates in a continuous manner by developing exams in-house. They developed exams are both independent and with partners, which is done in order to enhance its portfolio as well as broaden the scope of the exams that are offered.Summary:Various accreditation bodies provide various Scrum Certifications around the globe. The main objective behind all the Scrum Certifications being making of a Scrum Master which will help his/her organisation achieve the goals following the Scrum framework. Choose the best certification course according to your requirements and make the best out of it!
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Top-paying Scrum Master Certifications to Consider...

Scrum Certification is a course and a series of ex... Read More

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