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The Anti-patterns To Look Out For In The Daily Routine Of A Scrum Master

Scrum Master (SM) plays a very critical role in the success of Agile/Scrum implementations in an organization. The entire effort of transforming teams with Agile ways of working is bound to fail if the role of a Scrum Master is not understood clearly. Listed below are some of the anti-patterns seen in a Scrum Masters-  Unable to coach the Product Owner Scrum Master with Command and Control Leadership Style  Scrum Master taking updates from the development team during Daily-Standup as opposed to the actual purpose of Daily-Standup Allowing the spillover of work to subsequent sprints Taking partial credit for the unfinished work in the current sprint by splitting story points Allowing for burn out of Development Team Playing the role of Scrum Master without believing in Agile/Scrum values and principles Always conducting Sprint retrospective in the same fashion  Playing the role of SM without understanding the behavioural aspects needed to play the role Solving all impediments for the team Demonstrating the working software during Sprint Review to the stakeholders. Not creating awareness in the team with Agile Engineering Practices Not following Timebox Allowing Managers to attend Sprint Retrospectives Assigning tasks to Dev team members Trying to  influence the team estimates Forcing team to commit for Sprint deliverables SM doing planning for the team instead of facilitating Playing favourites, showing differences and bias among dev team members. Being authoritative Lack of knowledge on implementation of Agile/Scrum Providing solutions for the team Allowing dev team members to work on items other than what has been committed during the Sprint Planning. Hiding information from the dev team members Scrum Master playing the role of a Manager Not listening to the team issues during Sprint Retro and being biased and pushing his/her viewpoints Providing explanations for each point during Sprint Retro Micro-managing the team Creating poorly organized Minutes of Meeting for daily standup Ill-management of the Triple Constraints (Scope, Cost, and Schedule) Playing the role of Scrum Master for multiple teams despite not having the bandwidth Playing the role of Scrum Master in spite of not understanding the role of a Coach in the team   Anti-patterns in the Role of Scrum Master https://t.co/eerwT6ve9S — Sandeep (@sandeeps064) 20 February 2018 Exactly, what does a good Scrum Master do?  As indicated by the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master is in charge of guaranteeing that the Scrum principles are comprehended and followed correctly. Scrum Masters do this by guaranteeing that the Scrum Team sticks to the Scrum ideas, practices, and guidelines. Basically, the Scrum Master is a Servant-leader for the Scrum team. Also, the Scrum Master helps the team to grasp an outside conversation and assist them in picking up the useful things.  The role of a Scrum Master is one of the numerous positions and assorted variety, and a great Scrum Master is the person who comprehends them and knows when and how to apply them as per the circumstances. Everything with the motive to help individuals understand and apply the Scrum framework better.  In his/her daily life, the Scrum Master acts as a:  Servant-Leader- Keeps focus on the necessities of the team members and on the client’s requirements, with the aim of achieving business objectives. Facilitator- Facilitates by providing clear confinements so that the team can work collaboratively. Coach- Trains the individual in the Scrum team to follow the Scrum principles appropriately.  Conflict navigator- Resolves conflicts to manage the unproductive mindsets and non-operating behaviors;   Manager- Manages the impediments, Scrum process, remove waste, confining limits of self-organization, and following the Scrum culture.   Mentor- Transfers the Agile knowledge and experiences to the team;  Teacher- Allows teams to understand and follow the Scrum related methods. A GREAT SCRUM MASTER…  Let us first take a quick tour of the daily life of an ideal Scrum Master.  The above infographic pretty much sums up the daily activities of a great Scrum Master. A successful SM essentially is one with the following traits-  Includes the team with setting up the Scrum processes: A good Scrum Master ensures the entire team adheres to the chosen Scrum process and understands the value of every Scrum event. Therefore, the Scrum meeting is always planned according to a suitability of all the team members. A common concern behind engaging all the team members in the meeting is to plan the process in the project for the future steps and discussion on the desired output.  Comprehending the team development:  As per the renowned psychologist Bruce Tuckman, there exist diverse stages of a team development- forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. A Scrum Master is great when he/she comprehends under which phase the team is suffering and when he/she knows the importance of a stable team composition clearly. Understands principles are more crucial than practices: Basically, without the concrete understanding of the principles, every executed Agile practice is worthless. So a great Scrum Master understands the Agile principles first to increase the usage of practices successfully.  Finds out and tries to sort out team conflicts: A great Scrum Master finds out the team friction at an early phase and tries to sort out the issues by applying numerous resolution strategies like healthy conflict and constructive disagreement.  Is aware of the organizational activities:  A great Scrum Master can have a profound impact on the culture of the organization so that the Scrum teams can flourish and sustain. He understands that changing people's behavior isn't all about changing people. He/she must be aware of the activities happening in the organization i.e. should aware of the climate of the place.   Is the Scrum Master needed or not? A great Scrum Master has upheld the development of teams in such a way they needn't bother if he/she will not be with them any longer on a daily basis. But due to his/her demonstrated commitment, the SM will get asked frequently. In fact, you can say that the SM’s role has changed as a periodical mentor and advisor to a daily coach and teacher.   Not preventing the team occasionally: A great Scrum Master has an idea of when to save a team from falling and failing. But sometimes, the SM lets the team fail, as the lessons can be learned better after a mistake. Encourages ownership: A great Scrum Master motivates his team to assume complete ownership of the tasks they are mapped to.  Should be self-organizing: The great Scrum Master comprehends the importance of a self-organizing team. They should be able to make their own decisions, manage own work, cooperate team members to achieve project target. Knows the power of silence: A great Scrum Master is always aware of the three levels of listening-  Level 1- internal listening Level 2- focussed listening Level 3- global listening   A great Scrum Master does not simply hear, he listens   A great Scrum Master is also a great listener. Less talking and more listening is something he follows on a regular basis. He is aware of all the three levels of listening and knows how to to make the best use of them. He listens carefully to what is said, and also to what isn't said.    Notices: The daily Scrum is arranged by the team for the team. The Scrum Master just observes that session and keeps a water clear view of what is being discussed, how and what the team members played the role in the session. Shares experiences: One of the unique traits of successful Scrum Masters is that they always share experiences and relevant information with their peers. This might either be intra-organizational or through seminars and conferences, which are great platforms to share experiences and garner knowledge. Undoubtedly, noting down and sharing the lessons learned is also highly commendable on the part of an SM.  Has a knapsack loaded with numerous retrospective designs: A great Scrum Master can apply numerous retrospective designs. This makes sure that the retrospective will be a leisure and functional for the team. A Scrum Master has an idea of which retrospective to refer to according to the team’s situation. Also, the SM allows the team to host their own retrospective.    Can guide professionally: An efficient Scrum Master comprehends the energy of expert training and has aced at this area of study. Books like Coaching Agile Teams and Co-Active Coaching don't have any privileged insights for Scrum Masters. He/she knows how to direct without recommending. He/she can close the vacant space between considering doing and really doing. Also, he/she enables the team members to comprehend themselves better so they can find out new approaches to benefit as much as possible from their potential. Has influence at an organizational level: A successful Scrum Master always motivates and influences team members at tactic and strategic level. Mostly, team members face difficulties at these levels. It is important that a Scrum Master knows how to act at the different levels within an organization.  Prevent impediments: A great Scrum Master resolves and also prevents the impediments for future. Based on his/her past experiences, the SM reads the situations and acts on them proactively.  Always available: An extraordinary Scrum Master isn't generally effectively present. He doesn't irritate the team unnecessarily and helps the team to get into the 'flow'. However, when the team needs him, he's constantly accessible. Forms an incredible pair with the Product Owner: An incredible Scrum Master has a remarkable pairing with the Product Owner. In spite of the fact that their advantages are to some degree extraordinary, the Product Owner 'pushes' the team while the Scrum Master secures them. This strong partnership is to a great degree significant for the Development Team. Together they can fabricate the establishment for outstanding outcomes. Allows leadership to grow: A great Scrum Master allows leadership within the team to develop and views this as a successful outcome of their teaching. They believe in the mantra "leadership isn't just a title, it's an attitude". This is something every single member of a Scrum team should maintain.  Knows about gamification: An incredible Scrum Master can utilize the ideas of game and consider game mechanics to connect with clients in taking care of issues and stick to the commitments made to the clients.  Comprehends more knowledge on Scrum related things: An incredible Scrum Master is likewise skillful with XP, Kanban, and Lean. He knows the qualities, shortcomings, openings, and risks of each technique/framework and how and when to utilize them. He tries to comprehend what a team needs to accomplish and causes them to turn out to be more viable from an Agile viewpoint. Leads by example: A great Scrum Master is somebody that team members need to take after. He/she does this by motivating them to release their inner potential and demonstrating to them the desired behavior. At troublesome circumstances, he/she demonstrates industry standards to the team members to follow up on it; he/she doesn't freeze, remains quiet and enables the group to discover the arrangement.    A good leader tells, a great leader leads, a Scrum Master sets examples Is a conceived facilitator: An incredible Scrum Master is a facilitator by nature. All the Scrum events are a delight to attend, and every other meeting is very much arranged, valuable and fun, and has a reasonable result and purpose.   Concluding Thoughts: There are a lot of conceivable outcomes to failing as a Scrum Master. Sometimes, the absence of an organizational support, unfair people for unsuitable job, people conflicting with their team members over trivial issues are some of the common instances. Some Scrum Masters basically need criticism from their Scrum teams and stakeholders. Whatever be the case, try and give credit to your Scrum Master for the times he has stood by his team. After all, Scrum, in the end, is a group activity.  

The Anti-patterns To Look Out For In The Daily Routine Of A Scrum Master

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The Anti-patterns To Look Out For In The Daily Routine Of A Scrum Master

Scrum Master (SM) plays a very critical role in the success of Agile/Scrum implementations in an organization. The entire effort of transforming teams with Agile ways of working is bound to fail if the role of a Scrum Master is not understood clearly.

Listed below are some of the anti-patterns seen in a Scrum Masters- 

  • Unable to coach the Product Owner
  • Scrum Master with Command and Control Leadership Style 
  • Scrum Master taking updates from the development team during Daily-Standup as opposed to the actual purpose of Daily-Standup
  • Allowing the spillover of work to subsequent sprints
  • Taking partial credit for the unfinished work in the current sprint by splitting story points
  • Allowing for burn out of Development Team
  • Playing the role of Scrum Master without believing in Agile/Scrum values and principles
  • Always conducting Sprint retrospective in the same fashion 
  • Playing the role of SM without understanding the behavioural aspects needed to play the role
  • Solving all impediments for the team
  • Demonstrating the working software during Sprint Review to the stakeholders.
  • Not creating awareness in the team with Agile Engineering Practices
  • Not following Timebox
  • Allowing Managers to attend Sprint Retrospectives
  • Assigning tasks to Dev team members
  • Trying to  influence the team estimates
  • Forcing team to commit for Sprint deliverables
  • SM doing planning for the team instead of facilitating
  • Playing favourites, showing differences and bias among dev team members.
  • Being authoritative
  • Lack of knowledge on implementation of Agile/Scrum
  • Providing solutions for the team
  • Allowing dev team members to work on items other than what has been committed during the Sprint Planning.
  • Hiding information from the dev team members
  • Scrum Master playing the role of a Manager
  • Not listening to the team issues during Sprint Retro and being biased and pushing his/her viewpoints
  • Providing explanations for each point during Sprint Retro
  • Micro-managing the team
  • Creating poorly organized Minutes of Meeting for daily standup
  • Ill-management of the Triple Constraints (Scope, Cost, and Schedule)
  • Playing the role of Scrum Master for multiple teams despite not having the bandwidth
  • Playing the role of Scrum Master in spite of not understanding the role of a Coach in the team
     


Exactly, what does a good Scrum Master do? 

As indicated by the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master is in charge of guaranteeing that the Scrum principles are comprehended and followed correctly. Scrum Masters do this by guaranteeing that the Scrum Team sticks to the Scrum ideas, practices, and guidelines. Basically, the Scrum Master is a Servant-leader for the Scrum team. Also, the Scrum Master helps the team to grasp an outside conversation and assist them in picking up the useful things. 

The role of a Scrum Master is one of the numerous positions and assorted variety, and a great Scrum Master is the person who comprehends them and knows when and how to apply them as per the circumstances. Everything with the motive to help individuals understand and apply the Scrum framework better. 


In his/her daily life, the Scrum Master acts as a: 

  • Servant-Leader- Keeps focus on the necessities of the team members and on the client’s requirements, with the aim of achieving business objectives.
  • Facilitator- Facilitates by providing clear confinements so that the team can work collaboratively.
  • Coach- Trains the individual in the Scrum team to follow the Scrum principles appropriately. 
  • Conflict navigator- Resolves conflicts to manage the unproductive mindsets and non-operating behaviors;  
  • Manager- Manages the impediments, Scrum process, remove waste, confining limits of self-organization, and following the Scrum culture.  
  • Mentor- Transfers the Agile knowledge and experiences to the team; 
  • Teacher- Allows teams to understand and follow the Scrum related methods.


A GREAT SCRUM MASTER… 

Let us first take a quick tour of the daily life of an ideal Scrum Master. 



The above infographic pretty much sums up the daily activities of a great Scrum Master. A successful SM essentially is one with the following traits- 



Includes the team with setting up the Scrum processes:

A good Scrum Master ensures the entire team adheres to the chosen Scrum process and understands the value of every Scrum event. Therefore, the Scrum meeting is always planned according to a suitability of all the team members. A common concern behind engaging all the team members in the meeting is to plan the process in the project for the future steps and discussion on the desired output. 



Comprehending the team development: 

As per the renowned psychologist Bruce Tuckman, there exist diverse stages of a team development- forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. A Scrum Master is great when he/she comprehends under which phase the team is suffering and when he/she knows the importance of a stable team composition clearly.



Understands principles are more crucial than practices:

Basically, without the concrete understanding of the principles, every executed Agile practice is worthless. So a great Scrum Master understands the Agile principles first to increase the usage of practices successfully. 



Finds out and tries to sort out team conflicts:

A great Scrum Master finds out the team friction at an early phase and tries to sort out the issues by applying numerous resolution strategies like healthy conflict and constructive disagreement. 


Is aware of the organizational activities: 

A great Scrum Master can have a profound impact on the culture of the organization so that the Scrum teams can flourish and sustain. He understands that changing people's behavior isn't all about changing people. He/she must be aware of the activities happening in the organization i.e. should aware of the climate of the place.  


Is the Scrum Master needed or not?

A great Scrum Master has upheld the development of teams in such a way they needn't bother if he/she will not be with them any longer on a daily basis. But due to his/her demonstrated commitment, the SM will get asked frequently. In fact, you can say that the SM’s role has changed as a periodical mentor and advisor to a daily coach and teacher.  


Not preventing the team occasionally:

A great Scrum Master has an idea of when to save a team from falling and failing. But sometimes, the SM lets the team fail, as the lessons can be learned better after a mistake.


Encourages ownership:

A great Scrum Master motivates his team to assume complete ownership of the tasks they are mapped to. 



Should be self-organizing:

The great Scrum Master comprehends the importance of a self-organizing team. They should be able to make their own decisions, manage own work, cooperate team members to achieve project target.



Knows the power of silence:

A great Scrum Master is always aware of the three levels of listening- 

Level 1- internal listening
Level 2- focussed listening
Level 3- global listening

 


A great Scrum Master does not simply hear, he listens

 


A great Scrum Master is also a great listener. Less talking and more listening is something he follows on a regular basis. He is aware of all the three levels of listening and knows how to to make the best use of them. He listens carefully to what is said, and also to what isn't said. 

 

Notices:


The daily Scrum is arranged by the team for the team. The Scrum Master just observes that session and keeps a water clear view of what is being discussed, how and what the team members played the role in the session.



Shares experiences:


One of the unique traits of successful Scrum Masters is that they always share experiences and relevant information with their peers. This might either be intra-organizational or through seminars and conferences, which are great platforms to share experiences and garner knowledge. Undoubtedly, noting down and sharing the lessons learned is also highly commendable on the part of an SM. 



Has a knapsack loaded with numerous retrospective designs:

A great Scrum Master can apply numerous retrospective designs. This makes sure that the retrospective will be a leisure and functional for the team. A Scrum Master has an idea of which retrospective to refer to according to the team’s situation. Also, the SM allows the team to host their own retrospective. 

 

Can guide professionally:

An efficient Scrum Master comprehends the energy of expert training and has aced at this area of study. Books like Coaching Agile Teams and Co-Active Coaching don't have any privileged insights for Scrum Masters. He/she knows how to direct without recommending. He/she can close the vacant space between considering doing and really doing. Also, he/she enables the team members to comprehend themselves better so they can find out new approaches to benefit as much as possible from their potential.


Has influence at an organizational level:

A successful Scrum Master always motivates and influences team members at tactic and strategic level. Mostly, team members face difficulties at these levels. It is important that a Scrum Master knows how to act at the different levels within an organization. 



Prevent impediments:

A great Scrum Master resolves and also prevents the impediments for future. Based on his/her past experiences, the SM reads the situations and acts on them proactively. 


Always available:

An extraordinary Scrum Master isn't generally effectively present. He doesn't irritate the team unnecessarily and helps the team to get into the 'flow'. However, when the team needs him, he's constantly accessible.



Forms an incredible pair with the Product Owner:

An incredible Scrum Master has a remarkable pairing with the Product Owner. In spite of the fact that their advantages are to some degree extraordinary, the Product Owner 'pushes' the team while the Scrum Master secures them. This strong partnership is to a great degree significant for the Development Team. Together they can fabricate the establishment for outstanding outcomes.



Allows leadership to grow:

A great Scrum Master allows leadership within the team to develop and views this as a successful outcome of their teaching. They believe in the mantra "leadership isn't just a title, it's an attitude". This is something every single member of a Scrum team should maintain. 



Knows about gamification:

An incredible Scrum Master can utilize the ideas of game and consider game mechanics to connect with clients in taking care of issues and stick to the commitments made to the clients. 


Comprehends more knowledge on Scrum related things:

An incredible Scrum Master is likewise skillful with XP, Kanban, and Lean. He knows the qualities, shortcomings, openings, and risks of each technique/framework and how and when to utilize them. He tries to comprehend what a team needs to accomplish and causes them to turn out to be more viable from an Agile viewpoint.



Leads by example:

A great Scrum Master is somebody that team members need to take after. He/she does this by motivating them to release their inner potential and demonstrating to them the desired behavior. At troublesome circumstances, he/she demonstrates industry standards to the team members to follow up on it; he/she doesn't freeze, remains quiet and enables the group to discover the arrangement. 
 

A good leader tells, a great leader leads, a Scrum Master sets examples


Is a conceived facilitator:


An incredible Scrum Master is a facilitator by nature. All the Scrum events are a delight to attend, and every other meeting is very much arranged, valuable and fun, and has a reasonable result and purpose.

 


Concluding Thoughts:

There are a lot of conceivable outcomes to failing as a Scrum Master. Sometimes, the absence of an organizational support, unfair people for unsuitable job, people conflicting with their team members over trivial issues are some of the common instances. Some Scrum Masters basically need criticism from their Scrum teams and stakeholders. Whatever be the case, try and give credit to your Scrum Master for the times he has stood by his team. After all, Scrum, in the end, is a group activity.

 

Sandeep

Sandeep Kshirsagar

trainer

Sandeep is an Agile mentor with more than 12 years of experience as a Developer, Test Engineer, Automation Engineer, Scrum Master and an Agile Coach. He is presently working as an Agile Coach at Knowledgehut Solutions Pvt Ltd. Up until this point, he has prepared 800+ programming experts and trained more than 450+ programming experts in Agile journey at different organizations.
 

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It also means verifying the product in the opinions of the customers and markets and testing the viability of the financial model of the product. Step 6: Product launch During the product development process, the team realizes everything required to bring the product to market, including marketing and sales plans.   Gate Reviews Each of these six phases finishes within a gate review where the team gives the management specific, pre-defined deliverables, and displays the outcomes required to move on to the next phase of the product development process.The world is moving away from this waterfall product development approach.  It is extremely process heavy and encourages additional interference from Senior Management.Image sourceMinimum Viable Process: A Modern Approach What value does the planning of a new product development bring to customers? Irrespective of its form-i.e. physical or digital, it should be able to solve the customer’s problem. It doesn't matter how complex the problem would be, but it should deliver a high-quality product that brings value to your customers.  In a nutshell, Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a variant of a software product that has enough functionalities to satisfy the primary needs of the first users and persuade investors to invest money into it. It is not a fully-grown product, but it can nonetheless bring business privileges and has the potential for additional development.  In other words, an MVP is a working prototype that should: Be fast to build Contemplate all resources (money, developers, etc.) on providing customers with real value Create those features that are important for a product to generate value The theory of an MVP was developed by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup. The author believes that the most important factor is to focus on business goals and not on the technology which has only secondary importance. Focus on investigating the market and understand the obstacles your potential customers want to solve.  Any product before it is released to the public is a mere theory. Testing in a real-life scenario is important to collect market feedback and then iterate. Each idea, even the most profound one, brings no business value until it is put into practice. An MVP allows you to verify, without making an ample investment of time and money, if the product attracts new customers when launched.  If your product is successful, continue to develop it so it becomes a foundation for a fully-grown product. When MVP needs improvements to be transformed into a product it should be completely reworked. MVP strategy allows you to considerably shorten your time-to-market.  A Modern, Lean Product Development Process Toyota began its journey with lean product development at Toyota Loom Works. Toyota started manufacturing cars. There were differences in manufacturing conditions between Japan and the USA. Toyota had few skilled engineers and had limited prior experience. Car companies in US employed a well-educated work team and benefited from the research and skill-sets of their engineering teams. To tackle this shortfall in knowledge and experience, Toyota escorted an incremental approach to development that built on their current knowledge and this became the basis of the lean systems. Lean Product Development (LPD) is based on lean thinking and lean principles that originally were developed in lean manufacturing. Lean thinking relates to way of thinking and specific practices that maintain less of everything – less resources, less work-in-process, less time, and less cost – to manufacture a physical product, knowledge product or service product.  The five Lean Thinking Principles are: Define and maximize customer value Identify the value stream and reduce waste Make the value-creating steps flow Empower the team Learn and improve Approach: Creating products that delight customers and meet business objectives. Agile methodology versus Waterfall methodology The waterfall project methodology is a traditional pattern for developing engineering systems that were used in manufacturing and construction projects. When executed in software development, specific tasks completed in one phase need to be assessed and validated before moving to the next phase. It is called a linear and sequential approach, where phases flow downward to the next.  The agile project methodology is an example of an incremental model for software development based on principles that focus more on people, decisions, and manageable responses to change. Planning of the whole project is broken down in small increments or short time spans. Each iteration involves the whole SDLC cycle so that a working product is delivered at the end. Some of the distinct differences are: Agile is an incremental and iterative approach; Waterfall is a linear and sequential approach. Agile distributes a project into sprints; Waterfall distributes project into phases. Agile helps to finish many small projects; Waterfall helps to complete one single project. Agile incorporates a product mindset with a focus on customer satisfaction; Waterfall introduces a project mindset with a focus on successful project delivery. Requirements are planned everyday in Agile, while in Waterfall, requirements are adjusted once at the start. Agile enables requirement changes at any time; Waterfall shuns scope changes once the project starts. Testing is done concurrently with development in Agile; testing stage comes only after the build phase in Waterfall. Testing teams in Agile can take part in specifications change; testing teams in Waterfall do not get involved in specification changes. Agile empowers the entire team to manage the project without a project manager; Waterfall requires a project manager who performs an essential role in every phase. Cross-functional teams Cross-functional collaboration involves people from diverse spheres, bringing together their knowledge, expertise, and experience. The major point is “work-interdependency”. Teams have to work together to accomplish results. Cross-team collaboration has become the demand of continually emerging new technologies, with new competitors scrumming, and companies aspiring to stay on top of the game. The success of a cross-functional team depends on several factors, without which a team would be struggling. Highly motivated team members Teams hold responsibility to achieve the mission Open-minded team members Management to support the team No opposing personal goals Clear priorities or direction Adequate communication Cross-functional collaboration can be a great team building measure and can build a more creative atmosphere. The 8 Benefits of Cross-Functional Team Collaboration are: To bring a gulp of creative ideas Engaged employees Spurring innovative ideas Exercising communication skills Developing management skills Chance to get in leadership roles Break stereotype and benefit from diversity Build better team spiritExample: Product development—Agile methodology (Case Study) Below is the case study of a team that faced issues but managed to implement solutions to resolve the issues and delivered output with high standards Issues Products or Services were not delivered on-time. Rework and burden caused employee stress and customer disappointment Lack of clear and well-defined product development methods Excessive projects in the pipeline; team was small, and resources were spread too thin Projects were continuously reprioritized leading to incompetent resource utilization Lack of clarity to project status The absence and missing of key resources led to inefficient product development Lack of strategic management Poor communication and hand-offs between departments Solution implemented Designed a portfolio management system that managed an appropriate and optimal number of projects based on available resources Acquired a scalable and robust lean product development process with integrated lean/agile techniques Implemented cross-functional teams with designated roles and responsibilities Standardized project management processes and enhanced project clarity across the organization Coached the product management team on maturing product strategies and roadmaps Trained and mentored senior management and project team members What made the solution successful? Active and strong senior management buy-in and support played an important role in implementing the solutions at high standards Built organizational knowledge that can be used in other active projects Projects were kept on hold until resources were available Efficient project planning facilitated proper collaboration within cross-functional teams Product development strategies and roadmaps helped the development team Daily stand-up meetings organized helped cross-functional teams to monitor project work, front and center Accommodated implementation timing based on the organization’s capability Effect or Consequence Within a couple of months, important and high priority projects were completed on-time (some early); the client was hence satisfied The client acquired a major contract from the customer due to improved on-time delivery and this, in turn, ensured more business Enhanced communication and coordination across all departments Senior management was competent to evaluate and prioritize the most important projects  Weekly Reports granted visibility to project status Product development and lean/agile processes are now efficiently embedded into the organization The internal conflicts between team members and departments have declined ConclusionNew product development is about transforming new and uninitiated ideas into workable products. This product will be your brainchild, which will provide a contentious advantage and help monopolize the market.The eight stages of product development may seem like a lengthy process, but they are outlined to save time and resources. New product improvement plans and prototypes are experimented with to assure that the new product will meet target market demands and desires. Implement a test launch during the test or marketing stage as a full market launch would be expensive. Finally, the commercialization stage is meticulously planned to maximize product success. A poor launch will affect product sales and could even affect the reputation and vision of the new product. 
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The Best Product Development Process

What Is Product Development? Product development... Read More

Becoming a SAFe® 5 Program Consultant

“Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” – Socrates Over thousands of years, scientists & architects around the world, have been bewildered trying to understand how the great pyramids of Egypt were erected. The key lay in some extraordinary planning, known only to a few chief architects, who at that time, were one of the most important members of the king’s inner circle and responsible for all the royal work carried out. Although everyone knew ‘who’ built the pyramid, the million-dollar question was, ‘how’ did the chief architect of the pyramid communicate his precision planning techniques to a workforce of around 10,000 men?I know what you are thinking next, but yes, I am going to use this analogy to relate the chief architect of a Pyramid to an SPC (SAFe Program consultant). This analogy for me is relevant, since much like the architects who built the pyramids, the SPCs have an important task, of not only designing & charting out plans to take an enterprise on its path of efficiently scaling Agile but also to ensure, that they clearly communicate the plan to the very last scrum team involved in day-to-day product delivery. So, if you want to be an architect who wants to build a pyramid in your kingdom, oops, sorry got a bit carried away; I meant, if you are willing to become an SPC, who wants to implement SAFe in your Enterprise, then this blog is definitely for you, so please do read on.The role of an SPC:‘With the demand for Certified SAFe® professionals continuing to grow at an accelerated rate—especially among Global 2000 enterprises—the value of an SPC certification is greater now than ever before.’ – Scaledagile.com SAFe Program consultants are lean agile change agents who provide knowledge, share experience and pump in that extra horsepower needed to implement change. They are very much the first point of contact for the executives, when the organization reaches the so-called tipping point, running too many programs, hundreds of delivery teams and pretty much a chaotic situation. SPCs work on this rationale for a significant change.  Most importantly, SPCs are empowered to officially train people on the SAFe Framework which has an obvious multiplier effect on organizational competitiveness by increasing productivity, quality, and time-to-market.  There is also a strong return on investment for these trainings, especially if you are an internal change agent. At the end of the day, a SAFe Program Consultant helps increase employee engagement and fosters continuous learning while helping enterprises achieve better outcomes. Yep, that’s what they do. Amazing, isn’t it?  SPCs in their role should also be looking to address some of the gaps in other frameworks, like the below: Constantly ideate a tangible outcome by design in order to bring up the team's right brain activity. Formulate the possibility of teams & portfolios, ending up creating incremental productivity boosters by effective utilization of the IP sprint, as it’s the official approach to have better chance of disruptive innovation.Key areas of competency:By now I am sure, we all would agree that an SPC is a true servant leader who plays a crucial role in SAFe implementation, by applying the latest expert knowledge. They can correlate to existing enterprise (lean agile) ways of working and help the transformation team to identify the sweet spots to start the SAFe transformation. In order to achieve this, SPCs generally would have a very lean focus area, as shown below. As an SPC, you would be expected to be committed to helping people understand and implement SAFe properly and that too in a servant leadership manner. Many enterprise coaches have mentioned that SAFe isn't the only scaling approach that they work with, but a lot of people say (more often than others) that they do want to implement SAFe but want to keep to the true spirit of Agile and that probably is a key thing to keep in mind for any aspiring SPC candidate. Why should I be an SPC?Well, if I have to be brutally honest, you actually don’t need any specific certification in order to become an agile coach at an enterprise level. However, this only works out if you are well recognised within your organization, as a person who values agile practices and SAFe principles and has the key ability, to contribute to the enterprise level scaling initiatives. For everyone else (at least 90% of us) there is an SPC (SAFe Program Consultant) certification. This course is intended for all those who will be materially and directly involved in a SAFe adoption. This includes practitioners, change agents, and consultants responsible for implementing Agile programs and portfolios as part of an enterprise Lean-Agile change initiative. SPC certification definitely gives you an edge over the competition, as SAFe is pretty popular and in some cases, leads the way to adopt and professionalize aspects of scaling agile. SPC certification holds a lot of market value. It will also give you a deep dive into the SAFe implementation roadmap and its nitty gritty concepts. You will learn all about implementing SAFe in organizations at an enterprise level and how you can support this process in the capacity of consultant or internal change agent.  For e.g. a major concern that is raised against SAFe is the incorrect usage of the IP iteration. Rather than taking a break and finding ways to improve productivity, these iterations are more or less used as a Hardening sprint. Where an effective SPC will come into the picture, is when he/she coaches the team to take this time to do some design thinking, create prototypes to communicate about their business ideas (in most cases, the teams are the ones who know the problems much better as they are closer to it), present them to product VP and get them funded for next planning cycle.  You see the difference straight away, don’t you? These are some important things that an SPC needs to be empowered to take up. So if you are a senior agilist in your organization, instead of cribbing about some of the anti-patterns, why don’t you empower yourself by taking an SPC certification? Food for thought, eh?How to get certified? Given that SPC is an advanced level certification, its mandatory to go through the Implementing SAFe course, details of which can be read through in the following link. This is a 4-day training program, typically a classroom training but given the pandemic situation, a remote training mode (an online course with many practical tools) has been adopted and that too quite successfully. The hours are approximately 6 hours per day and may be extended to an extra course day. Please do expect some detailed case studies (success stories), some pre-reading/ video viewing material sent in advance so that you are better prepared (along with mock tests where applicable). Most of the trainers have quickly transitioned to online courses and they do a great job. Things have managed to move on faster than I thought and its only for the larger good.  However, there are some pre-requisites for taking up the certification, as below: 5+ years of experience in software development, testing, business analysis, product, or project management 3+ years of experience in Agile One or more relevant Agile certificationsThere is also the money factor, yes training & exam costs. For SPC, you may need to spend a min of $3000 (some training academies may offer a discounted price, so please do watch out for that) and then you have to pay $800+ per annum (yes, that is correct!) towards renewal costs. This can take a toll on quite a few but believe me there are many organizations willing to bear these costs for their employees as they understand its importance.Image SourceExam Tips: Here are some tips which you might be interested in, on how to prepare yourself for the SPC exam. Most of the SPC aspirants have applied these tips/tricks and have provided positive feedback that this actually works.  Please ensure that you go through and completely understand the big picture of SAFe.Make sure that you take an effort to sincerely relate it to the enterprise where you are working. Jot down a name in front of each role listed in the big picture and then map it to the relevant functions. Exam study materials – SAFe recommends that you go through multiple resources from the SAFe community platforms. Your trainer will be providing the details.  Attempt the sample tests provided by Scaled Agile, along with the mock tests that your trainer will provide. The practice test is available at no additional charge, and you can take it as many times as you like no matter the outcome (pass or fail). However, it provides the same bank of questions randomized in a different order. Once you have taken the sample tests / practice tests, I would highly recommend that you organize yourself and make some stats to data drive your decision of area of improvement and track progress. Questions are more or less, equally distributed from each level like foundations, portfolio & enterprise. Review the whole workbook and do not skip any slide. Every bullet point has a meaning and complete flow. Don’t even leave the glossaryKnowing your trainer:Whilst you are getting prepared to immerse yourself into the workshop or the exam, also please spend some time on understanding who is going to give you the training. It’s a sound advice, especially to those planning to register to an Implementing SAFe class to become SPCs – please do ask around and make sure you verify your SPCT knows his/her Scrum and Kanban properly. This can be done by checking if they have also obtained related scrum/Kanban specific certifications etc.  The Benefits: ‘Once trained, SPCs have the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to educate and train managers, teams, and the other stakeholders necessary to effectively drive the change. They become a critical part of the sufficiently powerful coalition for the changes needed to drive the next critical move’  - © Scaled Agile, Inc. I think this in itself is a very powerful motivation which can be used to reap further benefits.  As you can see, you clearly can’t ignore the enormous benefits of becoming a SAFe Program Consultant. Given that this certification is a formal recognition world over, it helps in supporting you advance in your professional development and for a few of you an SPC certification may as well be an important prerequisite to even apply for certain assignments. Taking up international assignments will only become that much easier. Since SAFe is so prevalent, an SPC certification will open up huge opportunities. A great SPC would be the one who can guide an organization to balance business agility with predictability; both of which are extremely important to the typical enterprise-scale technology organization. Thanks for your patience and wish you all the very best in your Agile journey. In case you want me to write about any specific topic, please feel free to comment below and I’ll be more than happy to add them to my ‘Blog Backlog’. If you liked the article, please do share it in your agile community to help spread the word.  Hope to see you soon, with more such interesting topics. 
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Becoming a SAFe® 5 Program Consultant

“Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of t... Read More

Why and How to Pass the PSPO Exam?

The role of the Product Owner is in high demand in the current market. It has consistently appeared among LinkedIn's most promising jobs. Agile and Scrum methodologies have overtaken the traditional methods of building software and managing projects, as they have been consistently proven to give better results than traditional project management methods.In this article, you will learn about PSPO, among the most sought-after Product Owner certifications around the world. PSPO stands for Professional Scrum Product Owner and this certification is offered by Scrum.org.  Before jumping into the details, let’s get to know about the accreditation body, that is Scrum.org, that offers the PSPO certification. Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum, who founded Scrum.org in 2009 as a global organization, has been dedicating himself to improving best practices in the world of Scrum. Unlike other training and certification organizations, Scrum.org is focused on improving professionalism in complex product delivery and that drives everything they do. For getting the Professional Scrum Product Owner certification, you would be required to demonstrate your familiarity, understanding and capability to apply Scrum fundamentals in the real world. All training materials are collaboratively maintained and improved by the community of Scrum experts and the founder Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum.Prove your Product Owner KnowledgePSPO is offered in 3 levels—I, II, and III. Before signing up for the training and certification for any of the three levels, Scrum.org gives you a chance to assess your readiness, and prove your knowledge, understanding and ability to apply Scrum in the real-world. This can be done with the free assessment offered by Scrum.org.  The assessments are available to anyone who wishes to validate their knowledge of the Scrum framework and ability to support value creation and delivery. Scrum.org has decoupled the certification assessments from the training. Although each Scrum.org training class includes a free attempt at a Scrum.org assessment, you would still need to prove your knowledge by passing the assessment test with a score of 85% or better to receive the associated Professional certification. Those who pass the assessment receive the industry recognized PSPO I, II and III Certification to demonstrate their mastery of the content. However, Scrum.org highly recommends that you should take a Professional Scrum Product Owner course. This is not mandatory, and participants can attempt any of the three certifications after self-study also.Prepare for the assessmentTo prepare for the certification assessment, you should be thorough with the multiple focus areas as defined by the Professional Scrum Competencies.Here are the Professional Scrum competencies and the key terms that you should learn:Understanding and Applying the Scrum FrameworkDeveloping People and TeamsManaging Products with AgilityDeveloping & Delivering Products ProfessionallyEvolving the Agile OrganizationEmpiricismScrum ValuesScrum TeamEventsArtifacts\DoneScalingSelf-Managing TeamsFacilitationLeadership StylesCoaching & MentoringTeachingForecasting & Release PlanningProduct VisionProduct ValueProduct Backlog ManagementBusiness StrategyStakeholders & CustomersEmergent Software DevelopmentManaging Technical RiskContinuous QualityContinuous IntegrationContinuous DeliveryOptimizing FlowOrganizational Design & CulturePortfolio PlanningEvidence Based ManagementDetails To navigate through the preparation, you should: Be very familiar with the Scrum Guide. Read it at least 4-5 times Understand the Product owner Learning path As the Product Owners work closely with Scrum masters, hence it is required for Product owners to understand the Scrum Master Learning Path Go through various blogs available here Read and understand at least 4-5 times:  Scrum Glossary Evidence Based Management Guide Evidence Based Management Nexus Guide is also a valuable resource You can take Open assessments as many times you wish. Find out why you got an answer wrong and read up on the answers in the Scrum Guide. My advice would be that you should not attempt the real assessment unless you have scored 100% at least three times in a row in the open assessments.CertificationLet’s understand the various levels of the PSPO certification. There are 3 levels:Details are available at.For this certification, there are steps and preparation that you should follow and this article will take you through all you need to be a PSPO.Exam Fee, Passing Score, Time limit, Number of Questions, Exam Format, Difficulty and LanguageExam FeePassing ScoreTime limit# of QuestionsExam formatDifficultyLanguagePSPO I Assessment$20085%1 hour80Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer and True/FalseIntermediateEnglishPSPO II Assessment$25085%1 hour40Multiple Choice, Multiple AnswerAdvancedEnglishPSPO III Assessment$50085%2 hours35Multiple Choice and essayExpertEnglishOnce you pay the exam fee for the respective assessment, you would receive the password for attempting the assessment in 1 business day. Assessment passwords do not expire and remain valid until used.  PSPO Subject Areas To clear PSPO certification, you should have thorough understanding of the Subject areas. The Subject areas for PSPO are: Agile Product Management: The role of a Product Owner in Agile Product Management is to maximize the value of the product developed by the implementation team. From the certification point of view, you should understand the importance of the role of Product owner, which is an internal facing role and requires gathering technical requirements, grooming the product backlog, and detailing user stories. Additionally, while reading you should keep focussing on how a product owner envisions a product’s life in an agile environment. You should also learn the techniques of building a Business Model Canvas, writing a business case and creating the value proposition. Eventually, that will help you in defining the customer segments, value proposition, and major activities that you should perform during the agile product lifecycle. You should also understand the core responsibilities carried out by the Product Owner in the Agile product management as part of Product Strategy-understanding the customer needs, creating the product roadmap, prioritizing the features, understanding customer experiences and measuring the product success.Value Driven Development The primary motto of Agile is to satisfy the customer needs through early and continuous delivery of software. The Product Owner should focus on delivering the maximum value at the earliest in Value driven development. You should have sound understanding about user stories and should follow the INVEST rule, that is user stories should be: I - Independent N - Negotiable V - Valuable E -Estimable S - Small T - Testable Each of the user stories should have a clear story point. You should also have an understanding of the business value so that Return of Investment can be calculated. The KPI i.e., Return of Investment helps the Product Owner to perform prioritization in the Value Driven Development.Scrum Theory and Empiricism The Scrum Values are the foundation for behaviour and practices in Scrum. They are closely related to the theory and first principles of Scrum and support teams in their work.  The Scrum Team can always fall back on these essentials.  The Product Owner should demonstrate following 5 attributes: Courage: Product Owner should help in encouraging the scrum team members to do the right thing and work on tough problems. Focus: Product Owner should ensure that scrum members focus on the work of the Sprint and goals of the Scrum team. Commitment: Product Owner should create the environment where Scrum team members should personally commit to achieve the goals of the Scrum team. Respect: Team members in the Scrum team should respect each other. Openness: Team members in the Scrum team and the stakeholders should be open about the work and associated challenges.Scrum Framework As a Product Owner, you should have a great understanding of the Scrum framework and the constituting team members--Developers and Scrum Master.  You should also understand about the artifacts used in the Scrum framework such as Product Backlog, Sprint backlog and Increments. Various events take place in Scrum like Sprint, Sprint planning, Daily scrum, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective meetings. An understanding of the entire framework is highly recommended for the prospective Product Owners and for this certification.Product Backlog Management You should have a decent understanding about product backlog management. While you prepare the backlog, you should keep the following in mind: Your backlog should be the single source for delivery of valuable items It should possess transparency to the scrum team and stakeholders It should follow the prioritization and should be ordered based on the value, dependencies, and risk You should always keep an eye on the estimates for the product backlog items Your product backlog should be a point for starting conversations with the team members Ensure that the items in your product backlog contain specifications, mock-ups, architecture models, user acceptance criteria etc Release Management Product Owners can follow different release strategies. The releases can be Major, Minor or functional releases.  A major release can contain many large changes. They should be infrequent as they are often aligned with the organization timelines. While a major release is in progress, other works should be frozen, as a major release incurs high customer absorption costs and high business risks. A minor release can contain broad changes. They should be pre-scheduled as they often align with the sprint boundaries. Minor release should contain bug fixes and patches. A functional release can contain individual functionalities. Functional releases offer immediate value to the stakeholders. They incur low customer absorption costs and have minimal or no business risks.Required Course There are various courses available online for undertaking product owner certifications. You should pick the course based on your needs and the level of expertise you expect to achieve.  Recommended Course: PSPO PSPO (Professional Scrum Product Owner) from Scrum.org is one of the recommended certification courses for Product Owners because it gives following benefits: PSPO assessment from Scrum.org requires you to have a good knowledge of Scrum and the passing score is high i.e., 85%, ensuring that your level of understanding is sound  It is not required to renew the certification once you have passed it, as it has a lifetime validity Once you have cleared the certification, your name would be added to the Scrum.org website and anyone can verify your credentialsWays to learn more to help you prepare Here are the tips that you can follow to clear the PSPO certification: 1. Ensure that you give equal importance to all the subject areas as questions would arise from all of them. However, the weightage varies roughly as below. Please note these are based on the inputs taken from various PSPO takers: Agile Product Management: 20% Value Driven Development: 20% Scrum Theory and Empiricism: 15% Scrum Framework: 15% Product Backlog Management: 15% Release Management: 10% Miscellaneous from Open Assessment in Scrum.org: 5% 2. Make sure you are alert and focused when you are taking the exam. Take the exam according to your convenience, at a time that suits you.  When you are taking the exam, move to a silent place so that you are uninterrupted. 3. Read the questions carefully and then answer. They may trick you by asking questions which contain ‘never’, ‘always’, ‘not’ or ‘which of the following cannot be available’ option. So, pay extra attention to the keywords in the questions. 4. There are multiple choice questions as well in the exam, make sure you have read all of the options and then answer. 5. Be very attentive about the questions related to specific subject areas. Conclusion   PSPO is among the more difficult certification exams for Product Owners. Ensure that you have given yourself sufficient time to prepare, around 4-6 weeks.  Remember, that PSPO is a very valuable certification in the Product Owner profession and as of January 2021, there are only 97,208 PSPO 1, 1906 PSPO II and 347 PSPO III certified holders around the globe. This certification can be a great way for you to be noticed by potential recruiters. Also, this is a great way to validate your skills and knowledge of Product Owner responsibilities and demonstrate your expertise to your employer.
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Why and How to Pass the PSPO Exam?

The role of the Product Owner is in high demand in... Read More

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