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Certified SAFe Agilist(SA) Vs Certified SAFe Scrum Master(SSM)?

As organizations strive to achieve business agility, they find they are quickly outgrowing small-team Agile and need to decide on an approach to scale to the enterprise.Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) for Lean Enterprises is a knowledge base of proven, integrated principles, practices, and competencies for achieving business agility using Lean, Agile, and DevOps.Due to its scalability and its number of roles and ceremonies, companies are increasingly expecting team members to not only be trained in SAFe® but also become certified. Since SAFe® is the most popular form of Scaled Agile, it is wise to consider becoming certified in this framework.This article will compare and contrast two certifications – Certified SAFe® Agilist and Certified SAFe® Scrum Master.SASSMLearners are in these rolesCEOProject ManagerScrum MasterTeam LeadRelease Train EngineerProduct OwnerProject Manager Scrum Master Team Lead Release Train Engineer Product Owner ConsultantTopics coveredThriving in the Digital Age with Business Agility Becoming a Lean-Agile Leader Establishing Team and Technical Agility Building Solutions with Agile Product Delivery Exploring Lean Portfolio Management Leading the Change Introducing Scrum in SAFe® Characterizing the role of the Scrum Master Experiencing Program Increment planning Facilitating Iteration execution Finishing the Program Increment Coaching the Agile team What attendees getAttendee workbook Preparation and eligibility to take the SAFe® 5 Agilist (SA (exam One-year membership to the SAFe® Community Platform Course certificate of completionAttendee workbook Preparation and eligibility to take the SAFe® 5 Scrum Master (SSM) exam One-year membership to the SAFe® Community Platform Course certificate of completion PrerequisitesHighly recommended:  5+ years’ experience in software development, testing, business analysis, product, or project management Experience in Scrum Highly recommended: Familiarity with Agile concepts and principles Awareness of Scrum, Kanban, and eXtreme Programming (XP) Working knowledge of software and hardware development processesExam detailsCandidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours) to complete the exam. There are 45 questions and passing score is 77% or 35 correct  Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours) to complete the exam. There are 45 questions and passing score is 73% or 33 correct   Certified SAFe® Agilist This is the certification that I acquired when I first started venturing into SAFe®. My certificate says “A Certified SAFe® 5 Agilist (SA) is a SAFe® enterprise leadership professional who is part of a Lean-Agile transformation. Key areas of competency include the application of Lean-Agile principles, execution and release of value through Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and building an Agile portfolio with Lean-Agile budgeting.”So, while it is a very good entry point and covers SAFe® thoroughly, there is no specific prescribed role other than ‘leadership’ and being part of the team, especially one involved as part of a Lean-Agile transformation.  PrerequisitesLeading SAFe® /SAFe® Agilist Certification Course; 5+ years’ experience in software development, testing, business analysis, product, or project management; experience in Scrum. Leading SAFe® is two-day course. Prices vary but they tend to be less than $1,000 USD. Attendees discuss how to establish team and technical agility and organize and re-organize around the flow of value. There are also exercises for supporting a key ceremony called PI Planning. Students also begin to understand how to implement a Lean Portfolio Management function in their enterprise. Key areas of competencyApply SAFe® to scale Lean and Agile development in the enterprise Apply Lean-Agile Mindset and principles Plan and successfully execute Program Increments Execute and release value through Agile Release Trains Build an Agile portfolio with Lean-Agile budgeting Exam detailsIn the author’s experience, the exam is difficult but not as difficult as, for example, the Project Management Professional Exam. Some questions may be situational but overall, they want to ensure that you understand the framework and its underlying principles. The exam can be taken any time after the class is completed but ideally should be taken within 30 days. It is a non-proctored, closed-book, multiple-choice exam. It can be accessed on-line within the SAFe® Community Platform. Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours) to complete the exam. There are 45 questions and passing score is 77% or 35 correct. Currently the exam is only provided in English. The first exam attempt is included as part of the course registration fee if the exam is taken within 30 days of course completion. Each retake attempt costs $50 USD. Retake policy – Second attempt on exam (first retake) can be done immediately after the first attempt. The third attempt requires a 10-day waiting period. The fourth attempt requires a 30-day waiting period. (It is not unusual for companies providing such exams to impose longer waiting periods if you fail. They want to give you more time to study.) Sample questionSeveral sample questions are provided online by Scaled Agile Framework. This is a typical SA question: What does SAFe® Principle #3, "Assume variability; preserve options," enable?  Specification traceability Better economic results Stronger Definition of Done Up front design of systems The answer is ‘Better economic results.’  Exam study materials Course materials – The course materials can be downloaded from the SAFe® Community Platform. Study guide – This study guide outlines the job role of a SAFe Agilist, and provides valuable resources related to the exam such as a detailed reading list. The Guide can be accessed through the Learning Plan in the Community Platform, after completing the course. Practice test – Practice tests run for the same duration as the actual test, and have an identical number of questions and level of difficulty. They are designed to be predictive of success on the certification exam. These tests are available on the Learning Plan in the  Community Platform and can be taken any number of times at no cost. Please note that this is not the actual exam. A candidate who has passed this exam is not guaranteed to get success on the certification exam. Sample Questions – Candidates can access a web-enabled, flashcard style version of the sample questions online and in the study guide. What you getCertification includes: Certified SAFe® Agilist PDF certificate. Certified SAFe® Agilist digital badge to promote your accomplishment online. One-year membership to the SAFe® Community Platform, which includes access to the SA Community of Practice. Access to Meetup groups and events that connect you with other SAFe® certified professionals. A variety of learning resources to support you during your SAFe® journey. Certified SAFe® Scrum Master Unlike the SA certificate, which is more general, the Certified SAFe® Scrum Master (SSM) has a specific role. He or she is a professional responsible for integrating Scrum practices into an organization. The role is very much analogous to – but not exactly the same as - the corresponding role in Scrum. As with the SA certification, you must first attend a two-day course. You cannot ‘test out.’ Certification expires one year from the date is earned.   Key areas of competency Use Scrum and Kanban to facilitate team events Support program execution Coach Agile teams PrerequisitesSAFE® Scrum Master course; experience working in a Lean-Agile environment.  SAFE® Scrum Master is a two-day course. This course explores the role of the Scrum Master in the context of the entire enterprise. The planning and execution of a Program Increment (PI), the core enabler of alignment across the various levels of a SAFe® enterprise, is discussed in detail. The curriculum also includes understanding the key components of Agile development at scale, facilitating Scrum throughout the enterprise, and executing Iteration Planning. Exam detailsThe exam can be taken any time after the class is completed but ideally should be taken within 30 days. It is a non-proctored, closed-book, multiple-choice exam. It can be accessed on-line within the SAFe® Community Platform. Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours) to complete the exam. There are 45 questions and passing score is 73% or 33 correct. Currently the exam is only provided in English. The first exam attempt is included as part of the course registration fee if the exam is taken within 30 days of course completion. Each retake attempt costs $50. Retake policy – The second attempt on exam (first retake) can be done immediately after first attempt. The third attempt requires a 10-day waiting period. The fourth attempt requires a 30-day waiting period. Sample questionSeveral sample questions are provided online by Scaled Agile Framework. This is a typical SSM question: Who facilitates the Scrum of Scrums?Release Train Engineer Product Owner Business Owners Scrum Master The answer is Release Train Engineer. Release Train Engineer is a role exclusive to SAFe®. Exam study materials  Course materials – The course materials are an essential artifact from the course and can be downloaded from the SAFe® Community Platform. Study guide – This guide details the job role and all resources related to the exam, including a detailed reading list. Access is available through the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform upon course completion. Practice test – The practice test is designed to be predictive of success on the certification exam and it has the same number of questions, level of difficulty, and time duration. It is part of the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform and can be taken an unlimited number of times at no cost. This is not the actual exam and passing it does not guarantee success on the certification exam. Sample Questions – A web-enabled, flashcard style version of the sample questions can be found online and in the study guide.  What you getBecoming a Certified SAFe® Scrum Master requires an exceptional range of skills and is a career path for many Scrum Masters. Certification includes: Certified SAFe® Scrum Master PDF certificate Certified SAFe® Scrum Master digital badge to promote the accomplishment online One-year membership to the SAFe® Community Platform, which includes access to the SSM Community of Practice Access to Meetup groups and events that provide connections to other certified SAFe® professionals A variety of learning resources to support certified professionals during their SAFe® journey Which certification should I choose?There is no one ‘right’ answer to this. Not all students are the same. When the time came to learn more about SAFE®, I asked myself the same question. Since I wasn’t seeking a specific role within a SAFe® team but was trying to attain a broader understanding of the framework, the SA certificate was sufficient, at least as an entry point. I found it gave me an excellent overview of the framework and I would feel poised to work in a SAFE® environment. However, if your goal is to be a Scrum Master or take your current Scrum Master skills to the enterprise level, then the SSM would seem to be a better choice.  Maintaining certificationYou can no longer renew your certification on an individual level. As of January 2021, Scaled Agile has moved to a membership model for the SAFe® Community Platform. With this transition you will now be able to renew your membership at one of three tiers, two of which will include a bundle renewal of all your SAFe® certifications. If you don’t need or want to include renewal of your certifications, you have the option to simply renew your membership to continue access to all the assets, tools, and resources to help you grow as a SAFe® professional. Information on this can be found on the SAFe site here.  The three Membership tiers are:SAFe® Program Consultant Membership ($895/year) - For members who currently hold SPC or SPCT certifications. Renews all certifications, provides access to all SAFe® content, and enables SPCs/SPCTs to train others to lead a Lean-Agile transformation. Certified SAFe® Membership ($295/year) - For members who currently hold one or more certifications, and who may benefit from a bundled pricing approach. Renews all certifications except SPC and/or SPCT, provides access to basic and some advanced content and continued access to course learnings and assets. Individual SAFe® Membership ($195/year) - For those who don’t seek certification but still benefit from the valuable content on the SAFe® Community Platform. No certification renewals included. Professional Development Units (PDUs) and Scrum Education Units are useful to maintain certifications So for example, a PMP is required to gather 60 PDUs in various categories every three years in order to maintain certification. The following tables detail how many are provided as a result of this course for each PMI certification.  Professional Development Units and Scrum Education Units (SA)PMI CertificationTechnicalLeadershipStrategicTotalPMP®6:006:003.0015.00PgMP®6:006:003.0015.00PMI_RMP®0.006:003.009.00PMI_SP®0.006:003.009.00PMI_ACP®0.006:003.009.00PfMP®0.006:003.009.00PMI_PBA®0.006:003.009.00Professional Development Units and Scrum Educations Units (SSM)PMI CertificationTechnicalLeadershipStrategicTotalPMP®12.002.250.7515.00PgMP®12.002.250.7515.00PMI_RMP®0.002.250.753.00PMI_SP®0.002.250.753.00PMI_ACP®12.002.250.7515.00PfMP®0.002.250.753.00PMI_PBA®0.002.250.753.00Conclusion Business agility is a crucial component in the ability of organizations to stay ahead of the competition in a fast-paced business world. Studies show that Scaled Agile Framework is by far the leading method of scaling agile. For Agilists, it is crucial to not only understand how agile scales but to also be certified in it so that your team (not to mention hiring managers) know that you are staying conversant with it. 

Certified SAFe Agilist(SA) Vs Certified SAFe Scrum Master(SSM)?

10K
  • by Jim Stewart
  • 26th May, 2021
  • Last updated on 27th May, 2021
  • 11 mins read
Certified SAFe Agilist(SA) Vs Certified SAFe Scrum Master(SSM)?

As organizations strive to achieve business agility, they find they are quickly outgrowing small-team Agile and need to decide on an approach to scale to the enterprise.

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) for Lean Enterprises is a knowledge base of proven, integrated principles, practices, and competencies for achieving business agility using Lean, Agile, and DevOps.

Due to its scalability and its number of roles and ceremonies, companies are increasingly expecting team members to not only be trained in SAFe® but also become certified. Since SAFe® is the most popular form of Scaled Agile, it is wise to consider becoming certified in this framework.

This article will compare and contrast two certifications – Certified SAFe® Agilist and Certified SAFe® Scrum Master.


SASSM
Learners are in these roles
  • CEO
  • Project Manager
  • Scrum Master
  • Team Lead
  • Release Train Engineer
  • Product Owner
  • Project Manager 
  • Scrum Master 
  • Team Lead 
  • Release Train Engineer 
  • Product Owner 
  • Consultant

Topics covered
  • Thriving in the Digital Age with Business Agility 
  • Becoming a Lean-Agile Leader 
  • Establishing Team and Technical Agility 
  • Building Solutions with Agile Product Delivery 
  • Exploring Lean Portfolio Management 
  • Leading the Change 

  • Introducing Scrum in SAFe® 
  • Characterizing the role of the Scrum Master 
  • Experiencing Program Increment planning 
  • Facilitating Iteration execution 
  • Finishing the Program Increment 
  • Coaching the Agile team 

What attendees get
  • Attendee workbook 
  • Preparation and eligibility to take the SAFe® 5 Agilist (SA (exam 
  • One-year membership to the SAFe® Community Platform 
  • Course certificate of completion

  • Attendee workbook 
  • Preparation and eligibility to take the SAFe® 5 Scrum Master (SSM) exam 
  • One-year membership to the SAFe® Community Platform 
  • Course certificate of completion 

Prerequisites
  • Highly recommended:  
  • 5+ years’ experience in software development, testing, business analysis, product, or project management 
  • Experience in Scrum 

  • Highly recommended: 
  • Familiarity with Agile concepts and principles 
  • Awareness of Scrum, Kanban, and eXtreme Programming (XP) 
  • Working knowledge of software and hardware development processes

Exam details
  • Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours) to complete the exam. There are 45 questions and passing score is 77% or 35 correct  
  • Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours) to complete the exam. There are 45 questions and passing score is 73% or 33 correct  

 Certified SAFe® Agilist 

This is the certification that I acquired when I first started venturing into SAFe®. My certificate says “A Certified SAFe® 5 Agilist (SA) is a SAFe® enterprise leadership professional who is part of a Lean-Agile transformation. Key areas of competency include the application of Lean-Agile principles, execution and release of value through Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and building an Agile portfolio with Lean-Agile budgeting.

So, while it is a very good entry point and covers SAFe® thoroughly, there is no specific prescribed role other than ‘leadership’ and being part of the team, especially one involved as part of a Lean-Agile transformation.  

Prerequisites

Leading SAFe® /SAFe® Agilist Certification Course5+ years’ experience in software development, testing, business analysis, product, or project management; experience in Scrum. 

Leading SAFe® is two-day course. Prices vary but they tend to be less than $1,000 USD. 

Attendees discuss how to establish team and technical agility and organize and re-organize around the flow of value. There are also exercises for supporting a key ceremony called PI Planning. Students also begin to understand how to implement a Lean Portfolio Management function in their enterprise. 

Key areas of competency

  • Apply SAFe® to scale Lean and Agile development in the enterprise 
  • Apply Lean-Agile Mindset and principles 
  • Plan and successfully execute Program Increments 
  • Execute and release value through Agile Release Trains 
  • Build an Agile portfolio with Lean-Agile budgeting 

Exam details

In the author’s experience, the exam is difficult but not as difficult as, for example, the Project Management Professional Exam. Some questions may be situational but overall, they want to ensure that you understand the framework and its underlying principles. 

The exam can be taken any time after the class is completed but ideally should be taken within 30 days. It is a non-proctored, closed-book, multiple-choice exam. It can be accessed on-line within the SAFe® Community Platform. 

Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours) to complete the exam. There are 45 questions and passing score is 77% or 35 correct. Currently the exam is only provided in English. The first exam attempt is included as part of the course registration fee if the exam is taken within 30 days of course completion. Each retake attempt costs $50 USD. 

Retake policy – Second attempt on exam (first retake) can be done immediately after the first attempt. The third attempt requires a 10-day waiting periodThe fourth attempt requires a 30-day waiting period. (It is not unusual for companies providing such exams to impose longer waiting periods if you fail. They want to give you more time to study.) 

Sample question

Several sample questions are provided online by Scaled Agile Framework. This is a typical SA question: 

What does SAFe® Principle #3, "Assume variability; preserve options," enable?  

  • Specification traceability 
  • Better economic results 
  • Stronger Definition of Done 
  • Up front design of systems 

The answer is ‘Better economic results.’  

Exam study materials 

  1. Course materials – The course materials can be downloaded from the SAFe® Community Platform. 
  2. Study guide – This study guide outlines the job role of a SAFe Agilist, and provides valuable resources related to the exam such as a detailed reading listThe Guide can be accessed through the Learning Plan in the Community Platform, after completing the course. 
  3. Practice test – Practice testrun for the same duration as the actual test, and have an identical number of questions and level of difficulty. They are designed to be predictive of success on the certification exam. These tests are available on the Learning Plan in the  Community Platform and can be taken any number of times at no cost. Please note that this is not the actual exam. A candidate who has passed this exam is not guaranteed to get success on the certification exam. 
  4. Sample Questions – Candidates can access a web-enabled, flashcard style version of the sample questions online and in the study guide. 

What you get

Certification includes: 

  • Certified SAFe® Agilist PDF certificate. 
  • Certified SAFe® Agilist digital badge to promote your accomplishment online. 
  • One-year membership to the SAFe® Community Platform, which includes access to the SA Community of Practice. 
  • Access to Meetup groups and events that connect you with other SAFe® certified professionals. 
  • A variety of learning resources to support you during your SAFe® journey. 

Certified SAFe® Scrum Master 

Unlike the SA certificate, which is more general, the Certified SAFe® Scrum Master (SSM) has a specific role. He or she is a professional responsible for integrating Scrum practices into an organization. The role is very much analogous to – but not exactly the same as - the corresponding role in Scrum. As with the SA certification, you must first attend a two-day course. You cannot ‘test out.’ Certification expires one year from the date is earned.  

 Key areas of competency 

  • Use Scrum and Kanban to facilitate team events 
  • Support program execution 
  • Coach Agile teams 

Prerequisites

SAFE® Scrum Master course; experience working in a Lean-Agile environment.  

SAFE® Scrum Master is a two-day courseThis course explores the role of the Scrum Master in the context of the entire enterpriseThe planning and execution of a Program Increment (PI), the core enabler of alignment across the various levels of a SAFe® enterprise, is discussed in detail. The curriculum also includes understanding the key components of Agile development at scale, facilitating Scrum throughout the enterprise, and executing Iteration Planning. 

Exam details

The exam can be taken any time after the class is completed but ideally should be taken within 30 days. It is a non-proctored, closed-book, multiple-choice exam. It can be accessed on-line within the SAFe® Community Platform. 

Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours) to complete the exam. There are 45 questions and passing score is 73% or 33 correct. Currently the exam is only provided in English. The first exam attempt is included as part of the course registration fee if the exam is taken within 30 days of course completion. Each retake attempt costs $50. 

Retake policy – The second attempt on exam (first retake) can be done immediately after first attempt. The third attempt requires a 10-day waiting periodThe fourth attempt requires a 30-day waiting period. 

Sample question

Several sample questions are provided online by Scaled Agile Framework. This is a typical SSM question: 

Who facilitates the Scrum of Scrums?

  • Release Train Engineer 
  • Product Owner 
  • Business Owners 
  • Scrum Master 

The answer is Release Train Engineer. Release Train Engineer is a role exclusive to SAFe®. 

Exam study materials  

  • Course materials – The course materials are an essential artifact from the course and can be downloaded from the SAFe® Community Platform. 
  • Study guide – This guide details the job role and all resources related to the exam, including a detailed reading list. Access is available through the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform upon course completion. 
  • Practice test – The practice test is designed to be predictive of success on the certification exam and it has the same number of questions, level of difficulty, and time duration. It is part of the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform and can be taken an unlimited number of times at no cost. This is not the actual exam and passing it does not guarantee success on the certification exam. 
  • Sample Questions – A web-enabled, flashcard style version of the sample questions can be found online and in the study guide. 

 What you get

Becoming a Certified SAFe® Scrum Master requires an exceptional range of skills and is a career path for many Scrum Masters. Certification includes: 

  • Certified SAFe® Scrum Master PDF certificate 
  • Certified SAFe® Scrum Master digital badge to promote the accomplishment online 
  • One-year membership to the SAFe® Community Platform, which includes access to the SSM Community of Practice 
  • Access to Meetup groups and events that provide connections to other certified SAFe® professionals 
  • A variety of learning resources to support certified professionals during their SAFe® journey 

Which certification should I choose?

There is no one ‘right’ answer to this. Not all students are the same. When the time came to learn more about SAFE®, I asked myself the same question. Since I wasn’t seeking a specific role within a SAFe® team but was trying to attain a broader understanding of the framework, the SA certificate was sufficient, at least as an entry point. I found it gave me an excellent overview of the framework and I would feel poised to work in SAFE® environment. 

However, if your goal is to be a Scrum Master or take your current Scrum Master skills to the enterprise level, then the SSM would seem to be a better choice.  

Maintaining certification

You can no longer renew your certification on an individual level. As of January 2021, Scaled Agile has moved to a membership model for the SAFe® Community Platform. With this transition you will now be able to renew your membership at one of three tiers, two of which will include a bundle renewal of all your SAFe® certifications. If you don’t need or want to include renewal of your certifications, you have the option to simply renew your membership to continue access to all the assets, tools, and resources to help you grow as a SAFe® professional. Information on this can be found on the SAFe site here.  

The three Membership tiers are:

  • SAFe® Program Consultant Membership ($895/year) - For members who currently hold SPC or SPCT certifications. Renews all certifications, provides access to all SAFe® content, and enables SPCs/SPCTs to train others to lead a Lean-Agile transformation. 
  • Certified SAFe® Membership ($295/year) - For members who currently hold one or more certifications, and who may benefit from a bundled pricing approach. Renews all certifications except SPC and/or SPCT, provides access to basic and some advanced content and continued access to course learnings and assets. 
  • Individual SAFe® Membership ($195/year) - For those who don’t seek certification but still benefit from the valuable content on the SAFe® Community Platform. No certification renewals included. 

Professional Development Units (PDUs) and Scrum Education Units are useful to maintain certifications So for example, a PMP is required to gather 60 PDUs in various categories every three years in order to maintain certification. The following tables detail how many are provided as a result of this course for each PMI certification.  

Professional Development Units and Scrum Education Units (SA)

PMI Certification
Technical
Leadership
Strategic
Total
PMP®
6:006:00
3.00
15.00
PgMP®
6:00
6:00
3.00
15.00
PMI_RMP®
0.00
6:00
3.00
9.00
PMI_SP®
0.00
6:00
3.00
9.00
PMI_ACP®
0.00
6:00
3.00
9.00
PfMP®
0.00
6:00
3.00
9.00
PMI_PBA®
0.00
6:00
3.00
9.00

Professional Development Units and Scrum Educations Units (SSM)

PMI Certification
Technical
Leadership
Strategic
Total
PMP®
12.00
2.25
0.75
15.00
PgMP®
12.00
2.25
0.75
15.00
PMI_RMP®
0.00
2.25
0.75
3.00
PMI_SP®
0.00
2.25
0.75
3.00
PMI_ACP®
12.00
2.25
0.75
15.00
PfMP®
0.00
2.25
0.75
3.00
PMI_PBA®
0.00
2.25
0.75
3.00

Conclusion 

Business agility is a crucial component in the ability of organizations to stay ahead of the competition in a fast-paced business world. Studies show that Scaled Agile Framework is by far the leading method of scaling agile. For Agilists, it is crucial to not only understand how agile scales but to also be certified in it so that your team (not to mention hiring managers) know that you are staying conversant with it. 

Jim

Jim Stewart

Author

Jim has been a project manager for twenty-five years and since 2003 has been independently providing consulting, training and mentoring. A PMP since 2001 and Certified Scrum Master since 2013, he contributes by helping organizations increase their project maturity and best practices. He is also a partner in The Agile Collaborative which provides agile consulting and is a certified Agile coach and SAFe agilist.  

Jim has established Project Management Offices and led projects for financial and pharmaceutical companies and provided best practices for many organizations. He recently established a PMO for a Middle Eastern telecommunications company and in helping a San Francisco-based company with various HR-based IT projects.  

Jim is co-author of the book, “Facilitating Project Planning Meetings: A Practical Guide to Ensuring Project Success.”  

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Who is the Target Audience for Certified Scrum Master Certification Course?

Who is the target audience for Certified Scrum Master certification course? It is easy to understand the Scrum rules, but it is difficult to implement it in real-time projects. CSM course is the best to learn both in detail. It not only teaches you the principles and practices of Scrum but empowers and energizes you to make meaningful changes. Certified Scrum Master course focuses mainly on the Product Owner, Scrum Master and the Team in a software development company. Who will be benefited from this course? Certified Scrum Master course is helpful for everyone who wants to become smart in implementing Scrum in their organizations. Doing a certification course in Scrum strengthens the Scrum Master's experience.  This learning event is highly productive and effective for both leaders and members. As the course is completely revolving around the Scrum Master role, individuals who are planning to take up this role will get benefited more from this course. There is one reputed company in Denmark that sends all the employees from receptionists to senior management to the Scrum training, in order to make them knowledgeable about Scrum concepts and enhance operations throughout their company.  Target Audience There is no such fixed set of target audience for the Scrum Master Certification course. It is designed not only for Scrum Masters but also for the complete project or product delivery teams and anyone interested to work with the Agile teams. You may be a- Software Engineer Product Manager Project Manager Team Leader Business Analyst Development team member Testers etc. Irrespective of your current designation, there are a few basic qualities you should have as a Certified Scrum Master.    It is best for organizations or teams who need memorable and practical instructions. Even students can join this course to get real-time work experience in Scrum by Certified Scrum Trainers (CST) such as: Understanding Scrum framework Building a backlog Estimating a project Different techniques to improve team productivity Effective, project-proven exercises You will also find a CFO, CIO, or CEO in the Certified Scrum Master training classes and others as well who are intended to expand Scrum throughout their organizations. The State of Scrum in 2017 The 2017 state of Scrum report by Scrum Alliance suggested that most of the successful businesses are using Scrum irrespective of the sizes. Agile and Scrum are not limited to only software and IT departments, they are being applied to different industries such as government, education, manufacturing, banking, and finance. Moreover, some other departments such as human resources, finance, and accounting, sales and marketing reported their ongoing Scrum projects. Here are 3 statistics by Scrum Alliance: 89% of Agile users said that they use Scrum approach. 86% reported that they hold a daily Scrum meeting.  83% reported that Scrum was responsible and important to improve the team’s quality of work. Taking a 2-day CSM course, qualifying the CSM exam, and accepting a license agreement primarily establishes you as a Certified Scrum Master. This certification is a way to tell your peers and the world that you have strong knowledge of Scrum and are fit to work as a Scrum Master.  After all, in the Agile confines, CSM certification is the ultimate answer and the way forward.
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Who is the Target Audience for Certified Scrum Mas...

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Why CSPO Certification Is Important For Your Career

This article looks at how and why the CSPO® Certification is increasingly becoming important for today’s Product Owner (PO). The article briefly discusses on the responsibilities of the PO, how the role is becoming mandatory within the organization in today's Agile landscape, what makes a great PO and about the CSPO Certification.Who is a Product OwnerThe Product Owner is a member of the Product Management / Business team who works closely with and is a part of the Agile team throughout the Sprints/Iterations. The responsibilities of a Product Owner(PO) spans across the aspects of People, Product and Process.PeopleThe PO is a conduit between Business and Engineering teams, acting as the “Voice of the Customer” and “Voice of the Business” to the teams,Is one of the members to create the Product vision and constantly communicates the same to the teams, and Is able to interact and communicate well with all stakeholders (Customer, Engineering , Sales, Marketing, Support etc.)ProductDefines and maintains the team’s Product backlog, Can answer “Why” a requirement has found a place in the product backlog, “Why” it is prioritized and “Why” the Customer wants the features, Can provide insights into what customer problem the requirements aim to resolve, Can provide Customer Journey Maps, User Personas and Real Life Examples, and Can determine the value that the product delivers to stakeholders and identify which product backlog items would deliver the most value.ProcessPrioritizes the product backlog and is able to provide the reasons and justification of prioritization to the teams, Is part of the regular Product Backlog refinements to refine User stories and Acceptance Criteria, Is available to the team throughout the iteration and provides continuous feedback, Seeks continuous feedback from Customers, and Is able to review the features and approve User Stories once they are completed.Significance of the PO roleTraditionally the Business/Product Management teams have suffered with constant shortage of time and conflicting priorities between dedicating time for Engineering teams and Customer facing responsibilities. Usually, the Customer facing responsibilities understandably end up as the higher priority,   leaving very little time for the teams.Earlier, the time dedicated by the Product Manager to Engineering teams was very little and elusive, sometimes limited to only email interactions. The Business teams were located at the customer sites and used to visit the Engineering teams occasionally, interacting with them through email or phone calls. As a result, the product and productivity suffered immensely.With the advent of Scaled Agile Frameworks and industry wide adoption of Agile, the role of the Product Owner has been laid out as a mandate and demands the increase of manpower in Business teams. Dedicated Product Owners are becoming increasingly indispensable and significant within teams. The role of the Product Owner role has come as a big relief for Engineering teams, because they are constantly in touch with the Business stakeholders as well as the team, and can smoothen and streamline communication channels.POs are often co-located with the Engineering teams, attending Daily (Stand up) Meetings, Refinement meetings, Sprint Review, Demos etc. in person with the team. They are also available anytime for quick feedback and queries doing away with time-zone difference and delays. The POs closely work with their Customer facing counterparts in the various customer locations, serving as the liaison between Business Teams and Engineering teams.The PO ‘s role is key for the success of the Agile way of working. It has become a “Must Have” role within the Agile landscape rather than a “Good to have” role. This has created a good demand for the PO role in the Software Industry. With the surging demand for POs in the industry, there are many professionals taking up the discipline of Product Management.  There are professionals from other functions like QA/Project Management/ Development etc. moving into the Product Management discipline as well.Who makes a “Great” PO?Although a PO satisfies all the roles and responsibilities required of his/her role, there are some traits and characteristics that set apart a great PO from the crowd.A great PO has conviction in the Product Vision and knows the priorities of the Business very well, and is able to articulate the same to the Engineering teams. Shows commitment in completing the team’s goals by providing early and timely feedback. A great PO is excellent in communication, able to understand the nuances of the various stakeholders and speaks in each one’s language (Customer, Engineering, Sales, Marketing, Support etc.) Does not take sides but does what is right for the given situation and for the Customers. Is able to say “No” and has the reasons for it.Is not a task master who dictates to the team but a great Influencer who has the answers to “what has to be done” and “why it has to be done”.   Trusts the team to know best on “How” things will be implemented. Negotiates well with the team for the Business but is fair in all interactions with the team winning the team’s trust. Is always curious in terms of the product implementation but does not interfere in the team’s approach of building the product.To really excel at the job, the PO has to constantly upskill and sharpen the tools he/she has to offer. The PO is required to have keen knowledge of the various practices and techniques that are being used by his/her peers in the industry, in order to stay ahead of the competition. The PO needs to be part of a “Community of Practice”, grow his/her network outside the organization and be clued into all the relevant trends in the industry.CSPO CertificationWith the growing demand for the PO role in the market, the Industry naturally creates ways to benchmark standards, uphold quality and nourish promising talent. The CSPO Certification is one such mark of standard and quality. It equips the Product Owner to become better at the job and helps certified individuals to stand out in the crowd. The CSPO course and the CSPO community offers the right environment for the Product Owner to excel in his/her job. The curriculum of the CSPO course is outlined below for your reference.ContentsScrum Basics Understand the Scrum Framework and workflow so that the PO   Agile Principles and Scrum Values Roles and Responsibilities Product Owner role in detail Scrum Master role at high level Team role at high level Product Vision Importance of Product Vision Creating the Product Vision Just enough preparations before creating the Product Vision Qualities of Product Vision Relationship between Product Vision and Product Road Map Estimation Estimation Levels and Techniques Accuracy is more desirable than Precision in Agile Estimation What can go wrong with Estimation   Difference between Estimating and Committing Product Backlog   Understand what Product Backlog is and is not Product Backlog Grooming Prioritization Importance and Benefits of Prioritizing Product Backlog Why everything cannot be Mandatory or Highest Priority Who should Prioritize Prioritization based on Multiple Factors Applying formal approaches to Prioritization   Giving leeway to teams to sequence work after prioritization Release Management Goal Iterative and collaborative Release Planning Quality and Technical Debt Releasing Software early and frequently Measuring velocity and Release Burndown chart Forecasting future releases Sprints Product Owner’s role in Scrum Meetings Collaboration between PO and Scrum Team, between PO and Scrum Master Team Commitment Understand why Sprints are Timeboxed and Protected from other distractions Concept of sustainable paceCareer Prospects and GrowthExisting POsFor people who are already wearing the Product Owner’s hat, the CSPO certification is like one more feather in their resume. Going through this course and certification will fine-tune their skills and help add multiple tools in their toolbox.Aspiring POsIn certain organizations, there might be team members exhibiting and playing the roles and responsibilities of a Product Owner without the role title. They would have acquired all the necessary skill-sets but not the formal official title yet. By attending the CSPO course and earning the CSPO certification they convey their readiness to play the role; and this gives the thrust necessary for their formal recognition into a Product owner’s role.Salary AspectsThe CSPO certification has global recognition and so will result in an increase in the pay package for a certified professional PO.What next for an accomplished CSPO?An accomplished CSPO can further his/her career prospects by taking up the Advanced CSPO course and certification. It will set the stage for the product owner to progress in their career path and play the role in a wider scope. Depending on the Organization type and structure it could be the role of a Product Manager, Product Portfolio Owner/Manager— and for the more adventurous, even the CEO of a startup! Some Product owners might choose to diversify into a Business Analyst role as well.In conclusion, the CSPO has become a benchmark certification for Product Owners in the Software Industry. It will definitely help existing and aspiring POs to sharpen and upgrade their skillsets. It is also a badge of accomplishment and achievement for a Product Owner, not only to set them as a class apart in their own organization, but also in their wider Product Management community.
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Why CSPO Certification Is Important For Your Caree...

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Roles And Responsibilities Of A Product Owner You Should Be Aware Of

A question I’m asked in many of my training sessions is about the difference between a Product Owner and a Business Analyst. Are they different names for the same role in different project management styles? Is a Business Analyst the person accountable for the project requirements when the software is developed using waterfall methodology; and is a Product Owner the person accountable for project requirements when the project is carried out using the Agile methodology?  This article attempts to help you understand about the warrior in Agile projects called the Product Owner. Is he / she the person in charge of software requirements? Or is he / she from the business side who will coordinate with the Business Analyst who in fact is a member of the development team? There is also an added confusion if this role belongs to the Product Management area.Who is a Product Owner?A Product Owner is an integral part of a product development or Scrum team. They are responsible for supervising the product backlog by making sure that it is up to date in terms of priorities and aligned with the vision of the product. The Product Owner represents the business or user, and is accountable for collaborating with the consumer to define what features will be present in the product release  Scrum Framework was developed in the early 2000s and since then there have been many different definitions floating around in the industry on who is a Product Owner. So, one day I decided to do some good old internet surfing on the topic “who is a Product Owner”.  I got the following answers from the Internet.Definition 1: A product owner is similar to a Business Analyst. He / she gathers software requirements from the various stakeholders and gives it to the development team. The development team goes to the Product Owner in case of any queries.Definition 2: The Product Owner is a part of the product management or development team. He / she creates the product backlog and prioritizes it. He / she will ensure that the development team is doing their job properly and are working on items that the Product Owner has prioritized.Now which of the above definitions is correct? What I have realized over the last few years as a Scrum trainer is that there is no globally accepted standard definition of a Product Owner role. The Scrum Guide does chalk out a few responsibilities of the Product Owner role, but different companies have different interpretations of this.  In some companies this role is a strategic role that involves collaborating with various stakeholders on the project and coming up with the software vision. The Product Owner then makes sure that the product vision is percolated down to the development team. And the development team develops the product exactly as per the Product Owner’s vision of the Product.In some companies this role is a very tactical or a hands-on role. The Product Owner is a very task-oriented person. He / she will write down software requirements, test the product developed by the development team, participate in the sprint review and make sure user stories are completed one after the other.What do Product Owners do?Ever since I embraced agile, I got to work with several Product Owners and mind you, this role is really critical as it collaborates with both the development team and the stakeholders. On the one hand, the Product Owner works with the stakeholders to get the right requirements or devise the requirements which they might not see or comprehend at that point. This not only improves the relationship with our customers but also helps to build trust. And on the other hand, the Product Owner helps the delivery team/development team understand the vision and the requirements. Hence, this role is similar to a bridge between the two ends that effectively paves the way for smooth communication.Deep dive into the Product Owner’s role:According to Roman Pichler, a leading Agile expert and the author of “How to Lead in Product Management”, the ultimate responsibility of a product owner is to ensure that the product creates value for its customers and users, as well as for the company. Think of the product owner as the person who champions the product, who facilitates the product decisions, and who has the final say about the product.” Pichler also says. “This includes if and how feedback is actioned, and which features are released.”The roles and responsibilities of a Product Owner include making sure that they understand the core of the product as well as how to facilitate collaboration at a 360-degree level, being both a liaison and the face of the user.At the most rudimentary level, as defined by the Scrum Guide, the Product Owner is responsible for maximising the value of work done by the development team. Let’s chalk out a few of the Product Owner’s responsibilities.1. Defining the vision: The purpose of the product is defined in the product vision. It is the Product Owner who creates this vision, manages it for the entire life of the product and owns the same. The Product Owner has the responsibility of creating a vision so that the development team clearly visualizes the expected outcome by the user. It is the Product Owner who interacts and collaborates with the users to understand their requirements, so that it can be effectively communicated with the team. Also, it is equally significant to communicate to the stakeholders the vision and goals so that they have a clear-cut understanding of the outcome.  The Product Owner has to be very passionate about this product vision. The product vision is not developed at one go but rather over many iterations, and improves over a period of time. The Product Owner makes sure that this product vision is in line with the vision of the company. He / she also creates a product roadmap for this product vision. Roadmap is a visual summary of the vision spread across a period of time. The vision will define the future state of the product and the motivations that the product tries to fulfil.2.  Managing the product backlogThe primary responsibility of the role of a Product Owner is managing the product backlog. Today’s market is really dynamic and every customer wants to stay on the top of the latest trends in the industry. This product backlog is derived from the roadmap created by the Product Owner. Even the items in the product backlog might require some movement due to changing priorities. It is the Product Owner’s responsibility to build up a stack of items in the backlog and prioritize them as per the business goals and the global approach. The product backlog is a dynamic list of items and as we call it in agile, it is a ‘live document’ that should be frequently updated, based on changing project requirements, all the way through to development. The Product Backlog exists as long as there is a Scrum team that works on the product.3. Prioritizing and Ordering Items in the Product Backlog: Another area where the product owner focusses on is to prioritize the needs of the stakeholders. A product owner should be able to determine the priority of product backlog items in order to deliver the maximum outcome. The Product Owners are constantly in touch with the stakeholders and understand the environment in which the product operates. When the needs and market conditions for the product change, the Product Owner will change the priorities in the Product backlog. He / she may add new items in the Product Backlog and remove the ones which are now obsolete due to new stakeholder needs. This means that the Product Owner must order the items in the Product Backlog to best achieve goals and missions. There are many tools to help Product Owners do this. The Product Owner is required to have the Backlog sequenced prior to the Sprint Planning Meeting. This means that each user story must be ordered by relative importance. The Product Owner will determine what needs to be developed in each iteration and how the product element will be developed over the life of the product.4. Overseeing development stagesOnce we have the basic entities in place – vision, product backlog, and the prioritization, the product owner has to make sure that he/she is participating in the overall development stages of the product. The team might need their Product Owner to get the clarity on a few queries or they might need to demo the committed item. The Product Owner will participate in the ceremonies with the team. In some ceremonies, this role can be active such as planning or backlog grooming but can also be passive or inactive such as in the daily Scrum.5. Anticipating client needs  In today's competitive environment, it is really important for someone in the role of a Product Owner, to understand the client/customer’s needs. The product owner should understand the market, the competition, and the users’ pain points. With those valuable pieces of information, the product owner can determine what features should be implemented, and in what order, with respect to time and importance. Sometimes the Product Owner can help the customers in configuring and penning down the items which they want but are not able to comprehend. And here communication plays a big role.6. Acting as primary liaison  As we have talked about at the start of our discussion, a product owner role involves acting as a primary liaison between the teams and the customers. The person in this role has to make sure the information flow is quick and clear so that there is no misinterpretation. The Product Owner has to make sure that the goal and the vision are correctly aligned with the work items on the product backlog. The Product Owner also acts as a liaison for business stakeholders and end-users, determining whether each story meets their shared expectations. When we say stakeholders, we mean the end users, or their representatives; they could be sponsors (who are paying for the product) or stakeholders who are also a part of the company's management. A stakeholder could be anyone with an interest in or an influence on the product. A Product Owner understands these stakeholders' needs and builds a vision that will drive the development team to develop the vision. Good product owners ensure that development teams can communicate directly with stakeholders, as long as they work on the priorities as chosen by the product owner.7. Evaluating product progress at each iteration   In every iteration, a product increment is created by the development team. The product owner inspects this product increment and decides if this is developed as per the vision created for the product. If it not as per the vision he / she may direct the development team to revise it in later sprints. Work that is either not complete or un-done needs to be re-prioritized or sequenced. The Product Owner makes sure that the development delivers the expected outcomes from the stories they worked upon and accepts it.  Thus, a Product Owner wears multiple hats throughout the product development effort.8. Participating in daily Scrum, Sprint Planning Meetings, and Sprint Reviews and RetrospectivesScrum ceremonies give a chance for the Product Owner to inspect and adapt. And as a result, being present at these ceremonies is identical to success. It is important for the product owner to join the Scrum meetings as it not only keeps the development team up to date with the priorities, but also helps the product owner understand the perspective of the team if there are any impediments.9. Terminating a Sprint if it is determined that a drastic change in direction is requiredIf the Sprint goal has no meaning (will not deliver business value) because of the extreme change, the product owner can terminate the sprint. The termination is most frequently the outcome of an intense change in business priorities; something previously considered important is no longer needed, or something even more significant is learned.How to become a Product Owner?Becoming a product owner requires a thorough understanding of the product as well as analytical and strategic skills. The person who wants to deep dive and become a good product owner needs to understand the market and the stakeholders. He/she should be able to create a vision and know when to juggle with the items in the product backlog so that the bucket is always prioritized.You can opt for some good certification programs provided by different authorities and gain a confidence in this area. As per my experience, I would recommend you to select a domain and master it!How to be a Good Product Owner | Product Owner Best PracticesWhat is A Certified Product Owner?As defined by the Scrum Alliance, a Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO®) is someone who has been trained by a Certified Scrum Trainer in Scrum terminology, practices, and principles that will enable them to fulfill the role of Scrum Product Owner.Is the Product Owner the Project Manager?Both a project manager and a product owner watch over teams who work to carry developments across the finish line together. But the path to that finish line deviates entirely from the start. The Product Owners are product driven and customer focused. They need to be actively engaged with the team because they are the ones responsible for deciding what features will go into the final product.Also, there is a confusion between a Product Owner and Product Manager. Let us understand the difference between the two.A Product Manager is a high-level role that has responsibilities for the entire product lifecycle. The role starts by focusing on customer discovery to product delivery. The product manager will drive the overall product strategy. This is a multidisciplinary role and is very strategic in nature.  The product owner works primarily with the production team to ensure that the development team develops a product that is aligned with the product roadmap.To summarize, the product manager decides on what products to build next, and the product owner coordinates with the development team to build these products.What are the challenges a Product Owner comes across?Below are the major challenges a Product Owner is more likely to come across:1. Missing product road map2. High-level acceptance criteria3. Spending too much time dealing with product support instead of grooming the backlog4. Changing priority while sprint is in progressProduct Owners can escape these usual snares by working around the product road map, centering on high-value backlog items, defining crisp acceptance criteria, concentrating on grooming quality backlog item, and avoiding disturbing sprints.What is the learning path for a Product Owner role?Are you a business analyst who is now unable to figure out his / her new duties as Product Owner? Are you looking to venture into a Product Owner role? Or are you looking to clear your understanding of Scrum Framework and understand the Product Owner role? Then embark on this journey with us in becoming a great Product Owner.Why should you go for a CSPO certification?  Every high-functioning Agile team has a well-trained Product Owner making critical product decisions. A Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO®) is one such certification that helps holders become successful product owners by training them on aspects of on-time delivery of high-value releases and maximizing the ROI. The globally recognized CSPO certification, therefore, is a career-defining credential for anybody willing to take up the challenging role of a Product Owner on a Scrum team in an organization.Increasing Demand for CSPO® Certified Professionals The industry today is ripe with endless opportunities for Product Owners. With 90% of modern teams using Scrum, the demand for Certified Scrum Product Owners has seen a steep rise. Their presence on an Agile team is guaranteed to ensure early ROI while maximizing business value.Scrum Alliance  underlines the importance of Product Owners as follows:38% of the Product Owners act as an intermediary and are responsible for maintaining relationships with the Stakeholders.24% of the Product Owners set project business priorities and work directly with the customers.15% of the Product Owner work directly with the Scrum team.The Future of a Product OwnerA Product Owner is indispensable for the Scrum teams. This role can be compared to that of a deeply rooted tree which has a firm foundation on the product side and provides vision, approach, and planned execution on the outer side. The product owners carry the ownership of the product in terms of quality and delivery as per the expectations set with the stakeholder.A Product Owner needs to have an all-inclusive view of the product along with all the other factors like business understanding, go to Market, organizational readiness, and product capabilities. All of these should be collectively managed, coordinated and aligned to drive product success.Product Owner Training:  Be an efficient Product Owner to raise product value & manage product backlog effectively!  Get trained by Scrum Alliance approved Certified Scrum Trainers® (CSTs)  Get certified from the globally acclaimed accreditation body, Scrum Alliance  Earn 16 PDUs and SEUs in just 2 days  Excel in addressing challenges through Scrum as an effective Product Owner  Advance your knowledge with an experiential learning format  Get Free E-learning Access to 100+ courses  The Scrum Product Owner Certification from the globally renowned Scrum Alliance endorses and validates your Scrum expertise while enabling you to take on the Product Owner role and responsibilities with dexterity, as you lead successful projects and ensure high-velocity releases of marketable products. 
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Roles And Responsibilities Of A Product Owner You ...

A question I’m asked in many of my training sess... Read More