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CSM or CSPO: Which Certification Fits Your Requirement?

Agile methodology has been gaining a lot of clout in the IT Industry recently. With so much attention and talks around it all companies big and small are making themselves agile ready to deliver better sooner. Some common Certificate courses on Scrum methodology have also gained popularity because Scrum is the least restrictive of all agile approaches. CSM and CSPO are two such known Certifications that are often thought of as next steps in career progression introspection analysis. While both grant the benefit of knowledge, it is important to analyse what Certification makes more sense and can help better in future growth. CSM Certification: It is for professionals seeking the Certified Scrum Master Certification. Its course work is educative to learn about how Scrum methodology works. Moreover, all the principles and practices around scrum are discussed in detail to lay a sound foundation of its conceptual framework. This certification is beneficial to gain an understanding of Scrum for all present and future scrum projects. Gaining a CSM Certification would benefit individuals who would rather want a Certification that validates their scrum knowledge. Hiring decisions based on Certifications are usually a motivator for professionals pursuing the Certification. This could also lead to challenging opportunities in a space that may interest professionals. Also, professionals seeking to change their present roles can also benefit from this certification to project their interest in this field. Other benefits of CSM could be acceptance in scrum based teams based on scrum knowledge. Also since a lot of organisations tend to portray to their respective client base they own the skills and knowledge to deliver, they also rely on certified professionals to join them so that they may use this as their asset over competitors. Another reason to pursue CSM could also be to expand ones’ knowledge of scrum methodology to be at par with peers. Since existing technical courses do not teach these new methodologies in courseware, pursuing a course about Scrum can help deliver work better if you have recently joined a scrum team or if you plan to join one. So, it is beneficial not only for professionals seeking knowledge as fresher but also for experienced professionals who seek work in scrum space. CSPO Training: CSPO is a common IT Certification acronym for Certified Scrum Product Owner. CSPO Certification is beneficial for professionals who are closer to business.  This course is also useful to give an end to end view of the feature that traverses from conceptualisation to deployment or ideation to a minimum viable product. Also, aspects related to understanding stakeholder interests in each functionality are reiterated in this course. Also, because a Product Owner’s role is critical for any organisation they tend to seek candidates who can genuinely guide the team well. While Certification is a way to project, that relevant knowledge is present and make way for a baseline to set that a candidate has genuine interest in the area and that they are focused on continuous growth. A Certified Scrum Product Owner training is also a good to have training to be able to handle the work as a Product Owner better. While a lot of professionals learn on the job, this certification is from the very Scrum Alliance dedicated to set guidelines that can help smoothen the learning curve. A Certification decision is hence usually based on career goals, present career role, and future possible roadmap. Having knowledge is always good and to keep refreshing basics helps revisiting decisions and making teams and individuals in scrum space more effective.
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CSM or CSPO: Which Certification Fits Your Requirement?

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CSM or CSPO: Which Certification Fits Your Requirement?

Agile methodology has been gaining a lot of clout in the IT Industry recently. With so much attention and talks around it all companies big and small are making themselves agile ready to deliver better sooner. Some common Certificate courses on Scrum methodology have also gained popularity because Scrum is the least restrictive of all agile approaches. CSM and CSPO are two such known Certifications that are often thought of as next steps in career progression introspection analysis. While both grant the benefit of knowledge, it is important to analyse what Certification makes more sense and can help better in future growth.

CSM Certification:

It is for professionals seeking the Certified Scrum Master Certification. Its course work is educative to learn about how Scrum methodology works. Moreover, all the principles and practices around scrum are discussed in detail to lay a sound foundation of its conceptual framework. This certification is beneficial to gain an understanding of Scrum for all present and future scrum projects.

Gaining a CSM Certification would benefit individuals who would rather want a Certification that validates their scrum knowledge. Hiring decisions based on Certifications are usually a motivator for professionals pursuing the Certification. This could also lead to challenging opportunities in a space that may interest professionals. Also, professionals seeking to change their present roles can also benefit from this certification to project their interest in this field.

Other benefits of CSM could be acceptance in scrum based teams based on scrum knowledge. Also since a lot of organisations tend to portray to their respective client base they own the skills and knowledge to deliver, they also rely on certified professionals to join them so that they may use this as their asset over competitors.

Another reason to pursue CSM could also be to expand ones’ knowledge of scrum methodology to be at par with peers. Since existing technical courses do not teach these new methodologies in courseware, pursuing a course about Scrum can help deliver work better if you have recently joined a scrum team or if you plan to join one. So, it is beneficial not only for professionals seeking knowledge as fresher but also for experienced professionals who seek work in scrum space.

CSPO Training:

CSPO is a common IT Certification acronym for Certified Scrum Product Owner. CSPO Certification is beneficial for professionals who are closer to business.  This course is also useful to give an end to end view of the feature that traverses from conceptualisation to deployment or ideation to a minimum viable product. Also, aspects related to understanding stakeholder interests in each functionality are reiterated in this course. Also, because a Product Owner’s role is critical for any organisation they tend to seek candidates who can genuinely guide the team well.

While Certification is a way to project, that relevant knowledge is present and make way for a baseline to set that a candidate has genuine interest in the area and that they are focused on continuous growth. A Certified Scrum Product Owner training is also a good to have training to be able to handle the work as a Product Owner better. While a lot of professionals learn on the job, this certification is from the very Scrum Alliance dedicated to set guidelines that can help smoothen the learning curve.

A Certification decision is hence usually based on career goals, present career role, and future possible roadmap. Having knowledge is always good and to keep refreshing basics helps revisiting decisions and making teams and individuals in scrum space more effective.

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KnowledgeHut

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KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.
Website : https://www.knowledgehut.com

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2 comments

michael kors handbags 12 Aug 2017

After study a few of the blog posts on your website now, and I truly like your means of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website record and will probably be checking back soon. om.co

Vaibhav 21 Nov 2017

Hi, I am BA and have worked for around 6 months in Agile project. Can I do CSPO if I have working knowledge of Agile but havent done CSM or thorough Agile study ?

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"The Escutcheon Workshop" - PART 2 : Kanban Journey for the Infrastructure Operations Support and Service Teams

In my previous post, I had explained what is Kanban and how to view it in the context of Infrastructure Operations Support and Service .  Before we start the implementation of Kanban for a specific Operations Support and Service Team, we need to identify the team composition and work out its team structure. This will help us to implement Kanban effectively for the team. This process is known as team design and it is considered as a part of the organizational design (OD).  When we identify and form a team, we generally identify different support/service skills that the team should possess so that they can undertake the complete support/service for the customer. For e.g. if a single team is expected to provide network support services to the customer, the team should ideally have skills in L0, L1, L2, and L3 support. This ensures end-to-end support for the customer as a single ticket that can be resolved by one team instead of the customer depending on multiple teams (L2 – one team, L3 – another team and other multiple teams, where applicable) to complete his ticket and request. Each member identified at a particular level of support is skilled in their job and the skill level increases as the level move up. Each level has more experience and education. The different service levels are –  L0 – Basic resolution of issues through call resolution. Take the help of knowledge base to manage issue resolution.  L1 – Product Demo and basic troubleshooting including specific call resolution. Deal with physical connections and hardware. Basic network design - from about 30 to about 500 network point design. Basic project management skills.  L2 – Resolution of Technical problems. Focus on medium to large network design. 500 to about 2000 network point design. Intermediate project management skills.   L3 – Resolution of Major problems. Root cause analysis of problems with updations to the knowledge base. Design Experts and Data Center specialists with project management skills. Focus on 2000 to 30000+ network point design and familiar with high-end network equipment (CISCO/JUNIPER/Other Brands). The network support services could be in the form of network design, installation, support and maintenance. Additionally, the levels – L0, L1, L2, and L3 could vary in different organizations depending on the type of services being offered by the organization to the customer and the type of terminology used. We may also have additional or fewer levels depending on the focus of the organization. However, at a broad level, the above classification could be used to categorize different types of operations support and services in an organization. There are two types of team design that can be observed in an organization – teams that are exclusively made up of only one type of skill level, e.g. L2 support, L1 support. This is the component type team design.  Teams that are made up of the complete stack of support services provided – A single team having L0, L1, L2, and L3 skills. This is considered as the feature type team design where like a feature team, the operations support/service team provides complete end to end support to the customer (A feature team is a team that has all the skills needed to support the customer requirements and delivers the features to the customer). As organizations focus on agile and Kanban implementation for their teams and also emphasize imbibing the aspects of Spotify Engineering Culture (a culture that focuses on not having a hierarchical structure and which focuses on host and servant leadership), the attention is on forming teams that have end to end skills to resolve all the customer issues. Hence, the focus on full stack operations support/service teams.  Earlier, a team member used to have specific skills and built his skills in that area only, e.g. L2. This was the T type skill focus. Now, we have the PI type skill focus where a team member is expected to be an expert in at least two areas – e.g. L2, L1 and also have knowledge in other areas. It is acknowledged that there are constraints that need to be overcome to reach this level but it is expected that in the future, the demand will be for full stack skills (L0, L1, L2 and L3) from a single team member. This implies that a team member has all the skills necessary to deliver the service/support to the customer without having to depend on another member or wait to seek help from another member.  There are multiple constraints that need to be overcome in order to reach this state and organizations are facilitating this transformation that may happen over a period of time in the future. This will further strengthen the Operations support / service teams structure and delivery to the customer in the future.  After the skill matrix and the team members are identified to form a team, one of the members of the team is identified as a Kanban Master. He is responsible for facilitating the implementation of the Kanban practices and process for the team along with the help of other non-team members like an Agile Coach, Center of Excellence, Continuous Improvement team and other teams (e.g. training), where applicable.  Generally, we have an initial kick-off workshop for the newly formed team which I call as the Escutcheon workshop. An Escutcheon (as per the Oxford English Dictionary) is defined as –  An emblem or shield bearing a coat of arms or a flat metal piece that is used for protection and also ornamentation around a keyhole, door handle or light switch. The analogy with Escutcheon reminds us of the concept of the team subliminally forming a protective boundary for the team members and which helps the team members to undertake their daily work and take the help of other team members when stuck and ask for help when they are not able to resolve any issue. The team is also having a team name which gives an identity to the team, improves team bonding and which is similar to the coat of arms on a shield that bound fellow kinsmen during the olden times. The output of the workshop is also a diagram in the form of an Escutcheon. Hence, the term Escutcheon. This, of course, implies that the team members exhibit team member characteristics like trust, courage, transparency and other traits so that the concept of a team can be established and sustained in the future. Additionally, this does not mean that the team members can only ask for help from any other member within the team. They are free to also ask for help from any other member in the organization for additional ideas for issue resolution.  A typical output of an Escutcheon Workshop for a Network Operations Support / Service Team is given below -  Are you interested in learning more about Lean manufacturing? April 5th kicks off our Pull / Kanban System and Total Productive Maintenance Workshop! #TPM #PullKanban #Lean Learn more at https://t.co/I0gGUIU4UP pic.twitter.com/c6cfFI7WYx — IMEC (@IMECillinois) March 12, 2018 This network operations team is tasked to support network usage and monitor the performance of the network apart from other routine support / service activities. Hence, this becomes the important tagline or punchline of the team. The key words of the team focus on data, usage and performance (with respect to the network). The team emphasizes collaboration and creativity as key focus areas which will help them in their day to day activities related to network support and service, apart from other focus areas. The team calls themselves as “Network Tigers” and which is ready to support any network issue end to end within their scope of operation pertaining to network support and service. They adopt the logo of a Tiger Face which gives the team an identity to focus, bond and celebrate their successes and wins and support each other during lean periods.  Thus, the Escutcheon workshop helps the team to establish a facade (principal front face) to the customer as a single point of contact to help them for all their issues related to their network and help to resolve them end to end in the shortest possible time and with the highest quality. The team members keep improving their skills to meet this commitment to their customer and learn from their mistakes, adopt continuous learning and implement the lessons learnt from their projects to further strengthen their skills to match and exceed the customer expectations.  Hence, we have now established a full-fledged Operations Support / Service team having all the skill sets that are needed to address the queries, issues and tickets raised by the customer related to their network. Now the team needs to implement, establish, nurture, sustain and institutionalize Kanban values, principles and practices in their team to enable and facilitate the team to enhance customer delight and improve the quality of delivery.  In the upcoming Posts, I will focus on the next step in the Kanban journey as we learn how to implement Kanban for the Infrastructure Operations Support and Service teams – both at the team level and at the scale level (when we integrate multiple teams at scale to deliver support services to the customer).   
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"The Escutcheon Workshop" - PART 2 : Kan...

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Why Do We Use Fibonacci Series for Estimation

In this article, my focus is on sharing my experience as a Trainer/Mentor/Coach to Agile teams with respect to Agile estimations; and on using the Fibonacci sequence as scale to size the Story. What will you learn in this article? Agile practitioners mostly use Story points as a measure for estimation, typically using the Fibonacci scale. In this article we are going to understand the top reasons why we use the Fibonacci series for estimation, and how it works in practice. Before we get to the details, let us try to understand some of the fundamentals. Why do we need to estimate?Estimates help the project team to: Identify the time & effort required to arrive at the project schedule Identify the right number of people required to do the work Arrive at the budget by rolling up the cost of all activities required to complete the work; and Prioritize the work in conjunction with the value that will be delivered. Some software developers fear to provide effort estimates as they are accountable to complete their work within the time.  Hence, they take so much time to get into the details to make sure they have enough information to provide the estimates. This sometimes may not be possible during the beginning of the project as the team may not have enough information on hand to provide the effort estimates for all the tasks to be performed. Hence the order of magnitude (ROM, Budget or Definitive) will be applied at various stages during the project based on the available information to predict the effort needed to complete the activities. Agile Estimation  Typically, in traditional project management, effort estimations may or may not be agreed upon by the entire team. Estimates may either be given by the Project Manager/Tech Lead to the team or the developers/testers may estimate for the piece of work that they have been assigned. This way of estimating a project does not provide an opportunity for the team to collaborate. There may be a difference of opinion with the team members in the effort that need to be spent on an activity. The way the estimations are done within an Agile team is little different. It is just not about the measure used to estimate the effort (for example Story Points), but ensures that the team collaborate among themselves, thus providing an opportunity for knowledge sharing. This helps the accuracy of the estimates when compared to doing individual vs group estimates as the team members come from different backgrounds and roles (developers, testers, quality analysts, business analysts). An Agile team effort estimate focuses on relative sizing of user stories and does not focus on the duration; hence it is faster. The team learns to size the story relatively and accurately over a period of a few iterations (sprints), thus improving the predictability (arrived through establishing consistent velocity over a period of few iterations) as well.  Planning Poker is commonly used as the planning exercise for the team to collaborate and size the stories. Planning Poker uses Fibonacci sequence to assign a value to the epic/feature/story. What is Fibonacci Series?  According to Oxford dictionary, Fibonacci Series is : “ a series of numbers in which each number ( Fibonacci number ) is the sum of the two preceding numbers. The simplest is the series 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 etc” The formula to arrive at a Fibonacci sequence is: Xn = Xn-1 + Xn-2 This sequence will be slightly modified when used in Agile estimations: typically, it will not have values beyond 100 and may have 0, ½, 1, 2, 3, 5,8, 13, 20, 40, 100. Some teams limit the highest value as 21 and use 0, 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21. Top 3 Reasons Why Using the Fibonacci Sequence Will Make You Better at Estimating Tasks  1. Weber–Fechner law: “The Weber–Fechner law refers to two related hypotheses in the field of psychophysics, known as Weber's law and Fechner's law. Both laws relate to human perception, more specifically the relation between the actual change in a physical stimulus and the perceived change. This includes stimuli to all senses: vision, hearing, taste, touch, and smell” Applying the law to Numerical Cognition,  “Psychological studies show that it becomes increasingly difficult to discriminate between two numbers as the difference between them decreases. This is called the distance effect. This is important in areas of magnitude estimation, such as dealing with large scales and estimating distances. It may also play a role in explaining why consumers neglect to shop around to save a small percentage on a large purchase, but will shop around to save a large percentage on a small purchase which represents a much smaller absolute dollar amount”  (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weber%E2%80%93Fechner_law) The Fibonacci sequence very well corresponds to Weber’s law. The values in the Fibonacci sequence are about 60% higher than the previous value, and hence applying relative sizing is much easier. It is very challenging to distinguish the size of two numbers which are adjacent to each other, by just looking at the objects. Let us take an example of a football and cricket ball. The approximate diameter of a cricket ball would be 2.8 to 2.86 inches whereas the diameter of a football would be 8.66 inches. It is easy to distinguish the relative size of these two (i.e., approximately the diameter of a football is 3 times that of a cricket ball). However, it is very challenging to distinguish between two cricket balls that vary 1 inch in diameter, unless you measure both. If you look at the Fibonacci sequence, the relative size between two adjacent numbers is more than 60% and this helps us to be able to size them accordingly.   2. Reflect Uncertainty The smaller value assigned from the Fibonacci sequence to a user story usually means that the story is well understood, and the user story follows INVEST (Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Small and Testable) guidelines. Whereas the largest value denotes the story is not well understood or it needs to be broken down further. Smaller stories can be confidently estimated by the team in detail. A general practice from matured Agile teams is that the Fibonacci sequence is restricted up to 21 (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21) and any story which is of size beyond 21 will have to be broken down further. This ensures that the team is not giving any room for greater uncertainty and good practice for the team to write better stories under the INVEST guidelines. 3. Comparison Though it is not mandatory to use Fibonacci sequence for story point estimations, the sequence is easier to understand and adoptable by the team. Individuals are better at comparison than estimation.  The easy sequence and distinguishable values of Fibonacci sequence helps to estimate by not measuring the objects but by comparison. How Does Fibonacci Agile Estimation Work in Practice?  When do you think is the right time for the Agile team to estimate user stories that are prioritized by the Product Owner in the product backlog? In my experience, I would say that the estimates (story point sizing) should happen during the Iteration/Sprint backlog grooming sessions. This gives the team the time to go through the user stories in detail, collaborate and mutually agree using the Planning Poker exercise.  Then what do we do in Sprint Planning? – This ceremony should be used to pick the stories from the product backlog (fulfils Definition of Ready), that can be completed within the iteration/sprint and then breakdown the stories into tasks and do one more level of estimation which is effort estimation denoted in hours. Let us say a team is assigned a task to estimate a reporting module to be developed: The team would agree that it is a difficult task to provide an effort estimation and it would take a longer time to complete; but how long will it take? Using Simple, Medium and Complex categorization would simply mean that the estimate falls into the Complex category; but how complex is it? Breaking down the requirement into granularized tasks, getting to the minute details and then arriving at an effort estimation would be a complex process and time consuming as well. Can the team take linear sequence (1,2,4,8,10,12,14,16….) and size them for a high-level estimation? Is it possible to size between 50 and 52? What can be defined as the highest scale? Using Fibonacci series helps the team to size the stories which have a distinguishable value and as discussed earlier, matured Agile teams use modified Fibonacci series and have highest scale of 21 to size a story. As discussed above, the Fibonacci numbers are 60% above than the previous number, and that helps in relative sizing. Summary There are various methods to estimate user stories, like T-Shirt sizing, Dot voting, Affinity Mapping etc. Story points is the widely used measurement for sizing the user stories. Fibonacci series helps the team to compare between two stories; and its very nature of distinguishable values helps them to fit the story into the right size that reflects uncertainties, which further helps the team to refine the story to remove those uncertainties. Hope this article was useful to you.
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Top Agile Methods for Better Productivity

When a Scrum development team works on the productivity of a team using the Agile methodology, the first thing that comes to attention is the metric used to measure how much work the team does in an iteration: velocity. On the contrary, using velocity helps a Scrum development team to determine a team’s average capability on a normal sprint followed by how much they will agree to achieve in the next sprint iteration. The velocity is not preferred to determine the team’s productivity as it is just a simple indicator based on past sprints.The thing that matters at the end is the result and what the team has produced. A team is not recommended to be pushed to fasten its velocity. In the end, the outcome might be unpredictable as the team might economize on acceptance testing, avoid fixing bugs, or minimize restructuring to reach the target velocity. The key to increasing the velocity of the team is to resort to focusing on optimal velocity over time instead of maximized velocity. This also determines the overall quality of the finished product. Here are the top Agile methods involved in Scrum to allow the team to be more productive over time. 1. Eradicating obstaclesOne of the most important duties of a Scrum Master is to get rid of obstacles early and throughout the development process. This begins with asking appropriate questions while User Stories are being written. This gives developers space and time to do their work. While they are working, a Scrum Master also protects the development team from any disturbances from the stakeholders.In situations when the team does get interrupted, it is recommended for the team members to contact the Scrum Master to get their queries and issues resolved. Having a clear and focused mind is the key to operating at the highest level.The most obvious step is to avoid distractions as they are the primary reason for decreasing a team’s productivity. The team is unable to focus when they are asked to clarify why their productivity went down.2. Daily scrum meetings An efficient team always has a small group of professionals, the numbers can go to a maximum of 9. Anything more than that leads to communication issues and more consumption of time in meetings or huddles. A bigger team, in cases, can be split into two or more. A big team leads to more complications and misunderstandings and hence, is not a good idea. A larger team means more loss in information while exchanging thoughts and ideas and that will result in everybody in the team spending more time and effort to get any message or data across. 3. Team Capacity It is a known fact that all the team members must attend the daily scrum every day. The meeting can last for not more than 15 minutes every day to get an overview of the proceedings and the advancement of the undertaken work. All the concerns and ideas put across and need solutions during the meetings can be parked so that all of them can be addressed together. Any topic not related to the purpose of the meeting can be talked about at a fixed but separate time of the day.Furthermore, communicating with each other during the meeting will help in exchanging more information.4. Product backlog The backlog is the key to knowing where a product goes and what needs to be created on priority. So, everything in a project must be kept and properly maintained via a backlog. User Stories should have enough details and can be reordered in case of a change in priority. More accurate User Stories lead to less time consumption for the development team to understand them.An up to date and well-maintained backlog during an Agile project should have enough User Stories for at least one or two sprints.5. Constantly improving mindsetScrum is a continuous method that involves development because the whole method can be changed, not just the software. The point is to find something that requires alterations and to achieve it in the next sprint. This allows the team to tackle one issue at a time and move forward.Finding a clear move in the sprint retrospective to support the team is necessary. Someone must take ownership to act and make things work. This can be achieved by initiating small, easy actions that are less time-consuming first. During a sprint retrospective, it is recommended to take suggestions from each attendee and go for the most appropriate one. After that, a plan will be laid out to realize the chosen idea.6. Interruption bufferWhile running an application in production, it is necessary to keep maintaining and providing new features. However, there can be interruptions, like a bug that needs to be reported urgently or another team needing a developer for assistance. The point is, Sprints will be prone to interruptions, and provisions must be made to deal with these problems. A capable Scrum Master will log all these interruptions noting the number of interruptions, the time consumed in dealing with them and then add them to the next sprint.7. Have a vision of the task at handThe team works more efficiently in getting the deliverables when the Scrum Master already has laid out a blueprint to work on. This also includes having metrics and other relevant charts displayed, doing which will also let stakeholders and colleagues track the production rate.Refreshing the burndown chart daily and displaying the desired sprint result will reflect the customer or team satisfaction. Furthermore, a roadmap showing the working of the product will further enhance the vision of the team. There are multiple ways of sharing information to give everybody the idea of how things are going on while working on the product.To concludeWhen looking at the broader picture of the correct way to motivate a team to get the desired output, a successful team follows a very realistic and simple approach by using plain common sense that is instilled by the Scrum Master. Understanding how the team works and realizing the working style of each team member is one of the most important observations of an adept Scrum Master. It is a collaborative effort that cannot be done by one person but needs responsible efforts from every working member on the task. After all, it is not about ‘Me’ but ‘Us’ that helps in building a product successfully on time.
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Top Agile Methods for Better Productivity

When a Scrum development team works on the product... Read More