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How To Become A Certified Scrum Master

Introduction to Certified Scrum MasterWho is the Scrum Master?In one of our previous blog posts, Rumesh Wijetunge shared some relevant insights on the role of Scrum Master. Wearing different hats, coach, enabler, facilitator, team leader, problem-solver, s/he is in charge of giving right directions to team members so that they reach objectives. First promoter of Agile mindset, values and principles, the Scrum Master uses the Scrum framework to help a team in understanding, working on, and achieving a common goal.Responsibilities of the Certified Scrum MasterIt is expected from the Certified Scrum Master to promote an Agile way of working and to lead Scrum implementation in order to improve the team's overall performance. It implies these activities:Teaching Agile values and principles and ensuring they have been understood and adopted by the Scrum Team, and even by the whole organization if possible (and relevant)Implementing the Scrum framework so that it fits  the needs expressed by the Scrum TeamListening, observing and reflecting on how the Scrum Team is reacting to first changes, then selecting and adapting Scrum elements accordingly.Protecting Team Members from any interference or troubles that make them losing focus on their primary workAnticipating, identifying and removing any impediments, and coaching Team Members to learn to solve these situations by themselvesHelping the Product Owner to manage the Product Backlog so that time-to-market is reduced and every increment brings value to end customersActing as a Servant LeaderRequirements to become a Certified Scrum MasterGetting some basic knowledge about the Scrum framework is a nice-to-have prerequisite. However, the first mandatory step is to attend a two-day CSM course conducted by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®). This course will prepare you well for the CSM exam by delivering insights about how to organize and support a Scrum Team. The final step is easy: you need to accept the License Agreement and update your Scrum Alliance membership profile. Why you should be a Certified Scrum Master? Becoming a Certified Scrum Master is one way to expand your career opportunities. Indeed, Agile is spreading everywhere in organisations, in all industries. Strongly correlated, software and digitalization are eating the world, so the need for Scrum Masters in software development is increasing. It is also the beginning of a long journey: it enables you to engage with other Scrum practitioners all over the world, to share best practices, to solve common issues and to promote Agile values and continuous improvement.Besides, this certification offers you to learn foundation of Scrum and scope of the role of Scrum Master. And because it is delivered by Scrum Alliance , this is a very valid proof of your Scrum knowledge.What do I need to do to become a CSM? A true belief and strong interest in Agile philosophy will help for sure to get knowledge, to practice efficiently and to stand out among Agile practitioners. Nonetheless, passing the Scrum Alliance certification for Scrum Master lies mainly in learning Scrum fundamentals and attending to the two-day training (see above paragraph c.)a. Why CSM over PSM: Best Scrum Master certification1. Scrum.org courses- Price, Renewal, Pros, and ConsPrice: It includes exam fees but depends on content, duration, trainer and location:US: $1500Europe: 1500 eurosIndia: INR 26,000Renewal: No expiration (lifetime certification)Pros:Course content is officially designed by Scrum.org so all teachers deliver same content. It implies that Scrum.org selects qualified instructors and ensures students learn the same core content.Exam can be taken without attending course - Exam fees are $150There is an online free assessment exam for practisingCons: Exam is much harder than CSM. It requires experience, and deep theoretical knowledge2. Difference between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org coursesThe main difference lies in the fact that Scrum.org provides standard curriculum and course content, while training conducted to become CSM depends on individual trainers experience, opinion and knowledge.CSM Certification TrainingSyllabus of Scrum Master certification Scrum Alliance provides a list of selected resources to learn the Scrum framework. People who want to become Certified Scrum Master are invited to read articles from experts like Mike Cohn or Steve Denning, or from other members. One specific advantage with Scrum Alliance lies in their elearning series: a dozen short videos introduce Scrum Theory and Values, Scrum Roles, Scrum Events and Scrum Artifacts. Besides, it is strongly recommended to read those references:the Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherlandthe Scrum Primer by Pete Deemer, Gabrielle Benefield, Craig Larman and Bas Voddethe Do Better Scrum by Peter Hundermark Not mandatory but relevant to go further, Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyenand Software in 30 days by Ken Schwaber.Exam and Certification InformationScrum Alliance courses- Price, Renewal, Pros and Cons The CSM course is a two-day (16 hours) course delivered by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®).There is no standard fee, so the price can vary depending on the context: trainer, content, location, date ; the usual range is from 1000 to 1500 euros (or from 1150 to 1750 dollars).It includes two attempts to take the CSM exam and a two-year membership to the new Scrum Alliance® community. Those two attempts have to be used in the next 90 days after attendees receive the welcome email to pass the test. Beyond this duration, they will be prompted to pay $25 to take the exam. Certification is valid for two years, then it requires to be renewed after that.Besides, attendees to the CSM course will be granted with 14 PDUs credits: 10 PDUs in Technical Project Management and 4 PDUs in Leadership. What can be considered as a drawback is that there is no standard content course. Course materials are made by individual trainers, which implies it can be limited by their experience and opinion.Cost of the Scrum Master CertificationThere is no specific cost for the Certification: fee is included into the CSM two-day course. The structure of the examThe exam is composed of 35 multiple-choice and true/false questions. At least 24 correct answers are required to pass the exam, and there is no time limit to answer those questions. Topics covered in the CSM exam As this exam requires to demonstrate an understanding of the key Scrum elements, it covers general Scrum knowledge, Scrum roles, Scrum meetings and Scrum artifacts.Here are the Sample questions of CSM exam 1) What does NOT belong to the agile manifesto's main pillars?Individuals and interactions over processes and toolsWorking software over comprehensive documentationProcesses over peopleCustomer collaboration over contract negotiationAnswer: Processes over people2) How should work be allocated to the team in an Agile project?The Team Leader (ScrumMaster) should allocate specific tasks to individualsTasks should be randomly allocated to team members, using Planning PokerTeam members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skillsThe most complex tasks should be allocated by the Team Leader (ScrumMaster)Answer: Team members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skills3) What are the disadvantages of the classical waterfall model? (Select the best alternative)A)  End-Product has to be fully anticipated beforehandB)  Some requirements are implemented as defined in the beginning of the project, and yet they are not really needed by the customerC)  Each phase is strictly separated- A- A, B- C, B- A, B, CAnswer: A, B, C4) Who is responsible for prioritizing the product backlog?- Product Owner- Project Manager- Lead Developer- Business AnalystAnswer: Product Owner5) What kind of software development projects can be executed by Scrum Project Management Framework?- Complete software packages- Customer projects- Sub-systems, components or parts of bigger systems- All kinds of software development projects- None of the given answersAnswer: All kinds of software development projectsSalary of the Certified Scrum MasterSalary per year Junior Senior US$82,000 - 105,000$105,000 - 120,000Europe38,000 - 55,000 €55,000 - 75,000 €DubaiAED 25,000AED 35,000IndiaRs. 731,983Rs. 1,424,186How To Become A Certified Scrum Master: Refer to our getting started guide

How To Become A Certified Scrum Master

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How To Become A Certified Scrum Master

Introduction to Certified Scrum Master

Who is the Scrum Master?


In one of our previous blog posts, Rumesh Wijetunge shared some relevant insights on the role of Scrum Master. Wearing different hats, coach, enabler, facilitator, team leader, problem-solver, s/he is in charge of giving right directions to team members so that they reach objectives. First promoter of Agile mindset, values and principles, the Scrum Master uses the Scrum framework to help a team in understanding, working on, and achieving a common goal.

Responsibilities of the Certified Scrum Master

It is expected from the Certified Scrum Master to promote an Agile way of working and to lead Scrum implementation in order to improve the team's overall performance. It implies these activities:

  • Teaching Agile values and principles and ensuring they have been understood and adopted by the Scrum Team, and even by the whole organization if possible (and relevant)
  • Implementing the Scrum framework so that it fits  the needs expressed by the Scrum Team
  • Listening, observing and reflecting on how the Scrum Team is reacting to first changes, then selecting and adapting Scrum elements accordingly.
  • Protecting Team Members from any interference or troubles that make them losing focus on their primary work
  • Anticipating, identifying and removing any impediments, and coaching Team Members to learn to solve these situations by themselves
  • Helping the Product Owner to manage the Product Backlog so that time-to-market is reduced and every increment brings value to end customers
  • Acting as a Servant Leader

how to become a scrum master

Requirements to become a Certified Scrum Master

Getting some basic knowledge about the Scrum framework is a nice-to-have prerequisite. However, the first mandatory step is to attend a two-day CSM course conducted by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®). This course will prepare you well for the CSM exam by delivering insights about how to organize and support a Scrum Team. The final step is easy: you need to accept the License Agreement and update your Scrum Alliance membership profile.

 Why you should be a Certified Scrum Master?

 Becoming a Certified Scrum Master is one way to expand your career opportunities. Indeed, Agile is spreading everywhere in organisations, in all industries. Strongly correlated, software and digitalization are eating the world, so the need for Scrum Masters in software development is increasing. It is also the beginning of a long journey: it enables you to engage with other Scrum practitioners all over the world, to share best practices, to solve common issues and to promote Agile values and continuous improvement.

Besides, this certification offers you to learn foundation of Scrum and scope of the role of Scrum Master. And because it is delivered by Scrum Alliance , this is a very valid proof of your Scrum knowledge.

What do I need to do to become a CSM? 

A true belief and strong interest in Agile philosophy will help for sure to get knowledge, to practice efficiently and to stand out among Agile practitioners. Nonetheless, passing the Scrum Alliance certification for Scrum Master lies mainly in learning Scrum fundamentals and attending to the two-day training (see above paragraph c.)

a. Why CSM over PSM: Best Scrum Master certification

1. Scrum.org courses- Price, Renewal, Pros, and Cons

  • Price: It includes exam fees but depends on content, duration, trainer and location:
    • US: $1500
    • Europe: 1500 euros
    • India: INR 26,000
  • Renewal: No expiration (lifetime certification)
  • Pros:
    • Course content is officially designed by Scrum.org so all teachers deliver same content. It implies that Scrum.org selects qualified instructors and ensures students learn the same core content.
    • Exam can be taken without attending course - Exam fees are $150
    • There is an online free assessment exam for practising
  • Cons: 
    • Exam is much harder than CSM. It requires experience, and deep theoretical knowledge

2. Difference between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org courses

The main difference lies in the fact that Scrum.org provides standard curriculum and course content, while training conducted to become CSM depends on individual trainers experience, opinion and knowledge.

CSM Certification Training

Syllabus of Scrum Master certification 

Syllabus of Scrum Master certification


Scrum Alliance provides a list of selected resources to learn the Scrum framework. People who want to become Certified Scrum Master are invited to read articles from experts like Mike Cohn or Steve Denning, or from other members. One specific advantage with Scrum Alliance lies in their elearning series: a dozen short videos introduce Scrum Theory and Values, Scrum Roles, Scrum Events and Scrum Artifacts.

 Besides, it is strongly recommended to read those references:

  • the Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland
  • the Scrum Primer by Pete Deemer, Gabrielle Benefield, Craig Larman and Bas Vodde
  • the Do Better Scrum by Peter Hundermark

 Not mandatory but relevant to go further, Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen

and Software in 30 days by Ken Schwaber.

Exam and Certification Information

Scrum Alliance courses- Price, Renewal, Pros and Cons 

  • The CSM course is a two-day (16 hours) course delivered by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®).
  • There is no standard fee, so the price can vary depending on the context: trainer, content, location, date ; the usual range is from 1000 to 1500 euros (or from 1150 to 1750 dollars).
  • It includes two attempts to take the CSM exam and a two-year membership to the new Scrum Alliance® community. Those two attempts have to be used in the next 90 days after attendees receive the welcome email to pass the test. Beyond this duration, they will be prompted to pay $25 to take the exam. Certification is valid for two years, then it requires to be renewed after that.

Besides, attendees to the CSM course will be granted with 14 PDUs credits: 10 PDUs in Technical Project Management and 4 PDUs in Leadership.

 What can be considered as a drawback is that there is no standard content course. Course materials are made by individual trainers, which implies it can be limited by their experience and opinion.

Cost of the Scrum Master Certification

There is no specific cost for the Certification: fee is included into the CSM two-day course.

 The structure of the exam

The exam is composed of 35 multiple-choice and true/false questions. At least 24 correct answers are required to pass the exam, and there is no time limit to answer those questions.

 Topics covered in the CSM exam

 As this exam requires to demonstrate an understanding of the key Scrum elements, it covers general Scrum knowledge, Scrum roles, Scrum meetings and Scrum artifacts.

Here are the Sample questions of CSM exam 

1) What does NOT belong to the agile manifesto's main pillars?

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Processes over people
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Answer: Processes over people

2) How should work be allocated to the team in an Agile project?

  • The Team Leader (ScrumMaster) should allocate specific tasks to individuals
  • Tasks should be randomly allocated to team members, using Planning Poker
  • Team members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skills
  • The most complex tasks should be allocated by the Team Leader (ScrumMaster)

Answer: Team members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skills

3) What are the disadvantages of the classical waterfall model? (Select the best alternative)

A)  End-Product has to be fully anticipated beforehand
B)  Some requirements are implemented as defined in the beginning of the project, and yet they are not really needed by the customer
C)  Each phase is strictly separated

- A

- A, B

- C, B

- A, B, C

Answer: A, B, C

4) Who is responsible for prioritizing the product backlog?

- Product Owner
- Project Manager
- Lead Developer
- Business Analyst

Answer: Product Owner

5) What kind of software development projects can be executed by Scrum Project Management Framework?

- Complete software packages
- Customer projects
- Sub-systems, components or parts of bigger systems
- All kinds of software development projects
- None of the given answers

Answer: All kinds of software development projects

Salary of the Certified Scrum Master

Salary per year Junior Senior 
US$82,000 - 105,000$105,000 - 120,000
Europe38,000 - 55,000 €55,000 - 75,000 €
DubaiAED 25,000AED 35,000
IndiaRs. 731,983Rs. 1,424,186

How To Become A Certified Scrum Master: Refer to our getting started guide

Nicolas

Nicolas Casel

Blog Author

Scrum Master / Agile Consultant with passion for fostering Agile mindset and improving User Experience.
Other skills: web development, CMS, usability, e-learning

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2 comments

Jahnavi jonnavithula 16 Nov 2018

i think this is the 2nd article iam reading in ur blog . this is quite impressive thank you for the info

Krishna 19 Nov 2018

This article is really useful.

Jack W. 20 Jan 2019

Getting the PSM Certification is much more valuable and costs less money. But it is of course a bit harder to get. (need 85% to pass)

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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.Hence, 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.
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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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