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CSM vs. CSPO: Which Scrum Certification to Choose?

If you are a Scrum/Agile professional, then you are in the right place! Scrum roles such as Scrum Master and Product Owner have consistently topped the job ranking surveys and are among the highest paid jobs in the industry right now. Scrum certifications are valuable additions to your existing experience and go a long way in elevating your career. Here, we look at two of the most popular Scrum certifications-- the Certified ScrumMaster® and the Certified Scrum Product Owner®, both guaranteed to add to your skills, open up employment opportunities and make you eligible for higher salaries. Find out which one suits you best by looking at the eligibility, skills you can gain, the key learning outcomes of each and their respective training and exam costs. Scrum Alliance Both the CSM and the CSPO are offerings of the world-renowned certification body Scrum Alliance® (SA). Founded in 2001 by Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum, Scrum Alliance is the largest and most established professional certification body in the Agile community. Its vision is to promote Agile by guiding individuals and professionals in the practices, values and principles of Agile. What is CSM? CSM is the most widely recognised Scrum Master certification. This entry level credential is a great way to start and maintain your career in Scrum. It validates your expertise in Scrum values, principles and practices and empowers you to lead a Scrum team that is primed for agile success.  The CSM certification journey helps you understand the Scrum team accountabilities, Scrum event, Scrum artifacts and everything else that you can apply immediately in the real world. What is CSPO? The CSPO is undoubtedly the most popular Product Owner certification. Through the course of the training and certification you learn the intricacies of Scrum, the scope of the Product Owner’s role and become empowered to maximise value and your team’s work. This credential is the perfect opportunity for you to expand your horizons, seek better job opportunities and begin your journey of continuous improvement. CSM vs CSPO: Detailed comparison matrix   Certification Provider, Trainer Credentials, Training Mode Cost, Renewal, Validity Eligibility Learning Objectives, Curriculum Benefits of Certification Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) Certification Provider www.scrumalliance.org Instructor-Led Virtual Training by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). Training cost: INR 23999 in India, USD 1295 in US and CAD 1195 in Canada Exam fee included in training cost Renewal: Certificate valid for 2 years; 20 SEUs required; renewal cost: $100 Training: No prerequisites. Basic knowledge of Scrum in real-world context helpful, though not mandatory. Exam Prerequisites: 2-day in-person or 14 hours of live-online training by authorized training provider mandatory Learning Objectives Learn to become a good facilitator and coach, and enable high team performance Learn to lead change in any environment or industry and drive results by applying Scrum principles and techniques in the right way Improve efficiency at your workplace and motivate others to support your Scrum efforts. Curriculum   Agile and Scrum overview The three roles in Scrum Scrum ceremonies Scrum artifacts Sprint execution Daily Scrum and Sprint Retrospective Definition of Done and Acceptance criteria Definition of ready Release planning Sprint burndown chart Release burn-up chart Product planning User stories Agile estimation Planning poker Validates your commitment to continued excellence and quality Demonstrates your proficiency in Scrum Helps you get noticed at interviews or for promotions Command a higher salary than your non-certified peers Network with industry leaders and Agile professionals Qualify for the A-CSM® certification CSPO Certification Provider www.scrumalliance.org Instructor-Led Virtual Training by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). Training cost: INR 24999 in India, USD 1295 in US and CAD 1495 in Canada Renewal: Certificate valid for 2 years; 20 SEUs required; renewal cost: $100 Training: No prerequisites. Basic knowledge of Scrum in real-world context helpful, though not mandatory. Attend a 14 hour live online or 16 hours of in-person training with a CST, or 25 hours of face-to-face interaction with a Certified Agile Coach. Learning Objectives: Understand the core concepts of Scrum, Scrum flow, etc. and enhance your skills as a Product Owner Understand the scope of Product Owner and Scrum Master and lead, motivate Agile teams and team members. Facilitate transparent, smooth communication channels between the stakeholders and the Scrum team Learn how to improve on the implementation of Scrum functionality like Sprint. Learn how one can create practical efficiency-oriented plans and schedules and work better. Learn about methods to mitigate risks through predictive pre-planning. Learn ways and methods to improve business value and ROI and how to implement them. Learn ways to ensure maximum high-velocity within time and budget frames. Understand and learn Scrum foundations and the role of the Product Owner on a high-performing team Curriculum: Scrum Basics Roles & Responsibilities Product Vision Estimating Product Backlog Prioritizing Release Management Sprints Widen the scope of your career with the knowledge of popular Agile practices. Gain in-demand Scrum skills and demonstrate your Scrum knowledge. Actively engage with the community of Agile practitioners dedicated to continuous Scrum practice and improvement. Create a better product by leading and implementing Scrum in the team. CSM vs CSPO: Eligibility comparison Parameter CSM CSPO Can anyone take this course This course can be taken by: Software Engineers Product Managers Project Managers Team Leaders Business Analysts Development team members Testers Anyone who would like to build a career as a Scrum Master This course can be taken by:   Project Managers Developers Product Owners Managers-Software development Architects-Software development Product Managers Software developers Software testers Team leads/Team members interested in learning Scrum Can I take the certification exam directly without taking the course? No. Attending a 2-day in-person/14 hours of live-online training from a Certified Scrum Trainer is mandatory to appear for the exam No. CSPO has no exam but attending a 2-day in-person/14 hours of live-online training from a Certified Scrum Trainer is mandatory to get certified Is prior knowledge of Agile, Scrum or any other methodology necessary? It is recommended that you have basic knowledge of using Scrum in a real-world context, in order to get the most from the training.  Although not mandatory, having a good command over Scrum basics will prove effective in understanding the Product Owner’s role at an enterprise level.  Is prior work experience mandatory? No, this is an entry level certificate and does not require prior work experience No, this certification does not require you to have prior work experience CSM vs CSPO: Benefits comparison CSM CSPO Helps you gain Scrum Master skills par excellence Validates your expertise as a Product Owner who can manage stakeholders and drive value The CSM is your first step towards becoming an Agile coach and mentor Helps you gain conflict resolution skills to manage situations or escalations that may arise with stakeholders or development team members. Helps you gain organizational skills to manage teams and allocate work to smoothen processes Helps you gain prioritization skills so that you can ably prioritise items on the backlog Helps you understand Scrum in its entirety so that you can guide teams and promote Scrum in the enterprise Helps you understand Scrum values, principles and processes so that you can guide the development team and help stakeholders understand the value of Scrum Helps you qualify for Qualify for the A-CSM® certification Helps you qualify for Qualify for the A-CSPOSM and Certified Scrum Professional®-Product Owner (CSP®-PO) certification Opens you up to new opportunities and lucrative salaries Displays your commitment to continued excellence and helps you land lucrative job roles Makes you eligible for high salaries. CSM salary: in India: ₹1,450,000. In USA: $97319.  In Canada: CAD 85,000 Makes you eligible for high salaries. CSPO salary: in India: ₹1,760,015. In USA: $105,845.  In Canada: CAD 87,716 Gets you a  2-year membership with Scrum Alliance Gets you a  2-year membership with Scrum Alliance CSM vs CSPO: Cost comparison Training costs can vary based on region and the training provider.  Region CSM CSPO India INR 23999 INR 24999   United States of America USD 1295 USD 1295 Canada CAD 1195 CAD 1495 CSM vs CSPO: Exam comparison Certification Certifying Body Exam/Certification Eligibility Exam Format, duration and passing mark Process to get exam results Renewal Exam/Certifying fee CSM Scrum Alliance 2-day in-person/14 hours of  live online training by authorized training provider mandatory Exam Type: Online, Closed Book Test Question Type: MCQs Total Questions: 50 MCQs Passing Score: 74% Time Limit: 60 min On passing the CSM test, instantly download the CSM® certificate. Certificate valid for 2 years; 20 SEUs required; renewal cost: $100 Included in training cost CSPO Scrum Alliance   Attend a 14 hour live online or 16 hours of in-person training with a CST, or 25 hours of face-to-face interaction with a Certified Agile Coach No exam On successfully completing the course with a CST, you will receive the CSPO credential from Scrum Alliance Certificate valid for 2 years; 20 SEUs required; renewal cost: $100 Included in training cost CSM vs CSPO: Steps to get certified CSM CSPO Step 1: Register with a Global REP of Scrum Alliance (SA). Step 2: Take the 2-day in-person/14 hrs live-online CSM course and get instructed by Certified Scrum Trainers® (CSTs). Step 3: SA will send you a link to create login credentials on successful completion of course. Step 4: Click on the link received from Scrum Alliance and create your own login credentials. Step 5: Take the 1-hour online CSM® test which comprises of 50 MCQs by using those credentials. Step 6: Get 37 out of the 50 questions right, within the 60-minute time limit. Step 7: Once the test is cleared, you will be requested to accept a license agreement. Step 8: After accepting it, you will receive CSM designation & a 2-year membership from SA. Also, refer to our getting started guide: How To Become A Certified Scrum Master. Step 9: You have to renew the certification once every two years. Step 1: Sign up with a Registered Education Provider (REP) of Scrum Alliance. Step 2: To understand fundamental Scrum concepts and terminology go through the Scrum Guide and Agile Manifesto to prepare yourself for training. Step 3: Attend the 2-day in-person/14-hrs live-online CSPO course and get instructed by Certified Scrum Trainers® (CSTs). Step 4: After completing the course, the Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) will update your details to the Scrum Alliance website. Step 5: Scrum Alliance will send a welcome email to log in to your Scrum Alliance account and accept your CSPO license. Step 6: Login through this link to reset your Login credentials and accept your license. Step 7: Download your CSPO certificate by accepting your license. CSM vs CSPO: Training Comparison Parameter CSM CSPO Training Type In-person or live online In-person or live online Instructor Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) Duration 2 days/14 hrs 2 days/14 hrs Training Cost In India: INR 23999   In Canada: CAD 1195 In USA: $1295 In India: INR 23999   In Canada: CAD 1495 In USA: $1295 Training Eligibility No prerequisites. Basic knowledge of Scrum in real-world context helpful, though not mandatory. No prerequisites. Basic knowledge of Scrum in real-world context helpful, though not mandatory. Summary CSM vs CSPO: which is the right choice for you?  This question may plague your mind when you are looking at enhancing your career prospects with a credential. What certification to pursue will depend on where your interest lies, the job role you are currently pursuing and the trajectory you wish your career would take as you grow. But what is certain is that both the CSM and the CSPO can elevate your career and maximise opportunities that come your way.

CSM vs. CSPO: Which Scrum Certification to Choose?

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CSM vs. CSPO: Which Scrum Certification to Choose?

If you are a Scrum/Agile professional, then you are in the right place! Scrum roles such as Scrum Master and Product Owner have consistently topped the job ranking surveys and are among the highest paid jobs in the industry right now. Scrum certifications are valuable additions to your existing experience and go a long way in elevating your career.

Here, we look at two of the most popular Scrum certifications-- the Certified ScrumMaster® and the Certified Scrum Product Owner®, both guaranteed to add to your skills, open up employment opportunities and make you eligible for higher salaries.

Find out which one suits you best by looking at the eligibility, skills you can gain, the key learning outcomes of each and their respective training and exam costs.

Scrum Alliance

Both the CSM and the CSPO are offerings of the world-renowned certification body Scrum Alliance® (SA).

Founded in 2001 by Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum, Scrum Alliance is the largest and most established professional certification body in the Agile community. Its vision is to promote Agile by guiding individuals and professionals in the practices, values and principles of Agile.

What is CSM?

What is CSM?

CSM is the most widely recognised Scrum Master certification. This entry level credential is a great way to start and maintain your career in Scrum. It validates your expertise in Scrum values, principles and practices and empowers you to lead a Scrum team that is primed for agile success.  The CSM certification journey helps you understand the Scrum team accountabilities, Scrum event, Scrum artifacts and everything else that you can apply immediately in the real world.

What is CSPO?

What is CSPO?

The CSPO is undoubtedly the most popular Product Owner certification. Through the course of the training and certification you learn the intricacies of Scrum, the scope of the Product Owner’s role and become empowered to maximise value and your team’s work. This credential is the perfect opportunity for you to expand your horizons, seek better job opportunities and begin your journey of continuous improvement.

CSM vs CSPO: Detailed comparison matrix

  Certification Provider, Trainer Credentials, Training Mode Cost, Renewal, Validity Eligibility Learning Objectives, Curriculum Benefits of Certification
Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) Certification Provider

www.scrumalliance.org
Instructor-Led Virtual Training by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST).
  • Training cost: INR 23999 in India, USD 1295 in US and CAD 1195 in Canada
  • Exam fee included in training cost
  • Renewal: Certificate valid for 2 years; 20 SEUs required; renewal cost: $100
  • Training: No prerequisites. Basic knowledge of Scrum in real-world context helpful, though not mandatory.
  • Exam Prerequisites: 2-day in-person or 14 hours of live-online training by authorized training provider mandatory
Learning Objectives
  • Learn to become a good facilitator and coach, and enable high team performance
  • Learn to lead change in any environment or industry and drive results by applying Scrum principles and techniques in the right way
  • Improve efficiency at your workplace and motivate others to support your Scrum efforts.

Curriculum

 

  • Agile and Scrum overview
  • The three roles in Scrum
  • Scrum ceremonies
  • Scrum artifacts
  • Sprint execution
  • Daily Scrum and Sprint Retrospective
  • Definition of Done and Acceptance criteria
  • Definition of ready
  • Release planning
  • Sprint burndown chart
  • Release burn-up chart
  • Product planning
  • User stories

Agile estimation
Planning poker

  • Validates your commitment to continued excellence and quality
  • Demonstrates your proficiency in Scrum
  • Helps you get noticed at interviews or for promotions
  • Command a higher salary than your non-certified peers
  • Network with industry leaders and Agile professionals
  • Qualify for the A-CSM® certification
CSPO

Certification Provider

www.scrumalliance.org

Instructor-Led Virtual Training by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST).

  • Training cost: INR 24999 in India, USD 1295 in US and CAD 1495 in Canada
  • Renewal: Certificate valid for 2 years; 20 SEUs required; renewal cost: $100
  • Training: No prerequisites. Basic knowledge of Scrum in real-world context helpful, though not mandatory.
  • Attend a 14 hour live online or 16 hours of in-person training with a CST, or 25 hours of face-to-face interaction with a Certified Agile Coach.
Learning Objectives:
  • Understand the core concepts of Scrum, Scrum flow, etc. and enhance your skills as a Product Owner
  • Understand the scope of Product Owner and Scrum Master and lead, motivate Agile teams and team members.
  • Facilitate transparent, smooth communication channels between the stakeholders and the Scrum team
  • Learn how to improve on the implementation of Scrum functionality like Sprint.
  • Learn how one can create practical efficiency-oriented plans and schedules and work better.
  • Learn about methods to mitigate risks through predictive pre-planning.
  • Learn ways and methods to improve business value and ROI and how to implement them.
  • Learn ways to ensure maximum high-velocity within time and budget frames.
  • Understand and learn Scrum foundations and the role of the Product Owner on a high-performing team

Curriculum:

  • Scrum Basics
  • Roles & Responsibilities
  • Product Vision
  • Estimating
  • Product Backlog
  • Prioritizing
  • Release Management
  • Sprints
  • Widen the scope of your career with the knowledge of popular Agile practices.
  • Gain in-demand Scrum skills and demonstrate your Scrum knowledge.
  • Actively engage with the community of Agile practitioners dedicated to continuous Scrum practice and improvement.
  • Create a better product by leading and implementing Scrum in the team.

CSM vs CSPO: Eligibility comparison

Parameter CSM CSPO
Can anyone take this course This course can be taken by:
  • Software Engineers
  • Product Managers
  • Project Managers
  • Team Leaders
  • Business Analysts
  • Development team members
  • Testers
  • Anyone who would like to build a career as a Scrum Master
This course can be taken by:
 
  • Project Managers
  • Developers
  • Product Owners
  • Managers-Software development
  • Architects-Software development
  • Product Managers
  • Software developers
  • Software testers
  • Team leads/Team members interested in learning Scrum
Can I take the certification exam directly without taking the course? No. Attending a 2-day in-person/14 hours of live-online training from a Certified Scrum Trainer is mandatory to appear for the exam No. CSPO has no exam but attending a 2-day in-person/14 hours of live-online training from a Certified Scrum Trainer is mandatory to get certified
Is prior knowledge of Agile, Scrum or any other methodology necessary? It is recommended that you have basic knowledge of using Scrum in a real-world context, in order to get the most from the training.  Although not mandatory, having a good command over Scrum basics will prove effective in understanding the Product Owner’s role at an enterprise level. 
Is prior work experience mandatory? No, this is an entry level certificate and does not require prior work experience No, this certification does not require you to have prior work experience

CSM vs CSPO: Benefits comparison

CSM CSPO
Helps you gain Scrum Master skills par excellence Validates your expertise as a Product Owner who can manage stakeholders and drive value
The CSM is your first step towards becoming an Agile coach and mentor Helps you gain conflict resolution skills to manage situations or escalations that may arise with stakeholders or development team members.
Helps you gain organizational skills to manage teams and allocate work to smoothen processes Helps you gain prioritization skills so that you can ably prioritise items on the backlog
Helps you understand Scrum in its entirety so that you can guide teams and promote Scrum in the enterprise Helps you understand Scrum values, principles and processes so that you can guide the development team and help stakeholders understand the value of Scrum
Helps you qualify for Qualify for the A-CSM® certification Helps you qualify for Qualify for the A-CSPOSM and Certified Scrum Professional®-Product Owner (CSP®-PO) certification
Opens you up to new opportunities and lucrative salaries Displays your commitment to continued excellence and helps you land lucrative job roles
Makes you eligible for high salaries. CSM salary: in India: ₹1,450,000. In USA: $97319.  In Canada: CAD 85,000 Makes you eligible for high salaries. CSPO salary: in India: ₹1,760,015. In USA: $105,845.  In Canada: CAD 87,716
Gets you a  2-year membership with Scrum Alliance Gets you a  2-year membership with Scrum Alliance

CSM vs CSPO: Cost comparison

Training costs can vary based on region and the training provider. 

Region CSM CSPO
India INR 23999 INR 24999  
United States of America USD 1295 USD 1295
Canada CAD 1195 CAD 1495

CSM vs CSPO: Exam comparison

Certification Certifying Body Exam/Certification Eligibility Exam Format, duration and passing mark Process to get exam results Renewal Exam/Certifying fee
CSM Scrum Alliance 2-day in-person/14 hours of  live online training by authorized training provider mandatory Exam Type: Online, Closed Book Test
Question Type: MCQs
Total Questions: 50 MCQs
Passing Score: 74%
Time Limit: 60 min
On passing the CSM test, instantly download the CSM® certificate. Certificate valid for 2 years; 20 SEUs required; renewal cost: $100 Included in training cost
CSPO Scrum Alliance   Attend a 14 hour live online or 16 hours of in-person training with a CST, or 25 hours of face-to-face interaction with a Certified Agile Coach No exam On successfully completing the course with a CST, you will receive the CSPO credential from Scrum Alliance Certificate valid for 2 years; 20 SEUs required; renewal cost: $100 Included in training cost

CSM vs CSPO: Steps to get certified

CSM CSPO
  • Step 1: Register with a Global REP of Scrum Alliance (SA).
  • Step 2: Take the 2-day in-person/14 hrs live-online CSM course and get instructed by Certified Scrum Trainers® (CSTs).
  • Step 3: SA will send you a link to create login credentials on successful completion of course.
  • Step 4: Click on the link received from Scrum Alliance and create your own login credentials.
  • Step 5: Take the 1-hour online CSM® test which comprises of 50 MCQs by using those credentials.
  • Step 6: Get 37 out of the 50 questions right, within the 60-minute time limit.
  • Step 7: Once the test is cleared, you will be requested to accept a license agreement.
  • Step 8: After accepting it, you will receive CSM designation & a 2-year membership from SA. Also, refer to our getting started guide: How To Become A Certified Scrum Master.
  • Step 9: You have to renew the certification once every two years.
  • Step 1: Sign up with a Registered Education Provider (REP) of Scrum Alliance.
  • Step 2: To understand fundamental Scrum concepts and terminology go through the Scrum Guide and Agile Manifesto to prepare yourself for training.
  • Step 3: Attend the 2-day in-person/14-hrs live-online CSPO course and get instructed by Certified Scrum Trainers® (CSTs).
  • Step 4: After completing the course, the Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) will update your details to the Scrum Alliance website.
  • Step 5: Scrum Alliance will send a welcome email to log in to your Scrum Alliance account and accept your CSPO license.
  • Step 6: Login through this link to reset your Login credentials and accept your license.
  • Step 7: Download your CSPO certificate by accepting your license.

CSM vs CSPO: Training Comparison

Parameter CSM CSPO
Training Type In-person or live online In-person or live online
Instructor Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) Certified Scrum Trainer (CST)
Duration 2 days/14 hrs 2 days/14 hrs
Training Cost In India: INR 23999  
In Canada: CAD 1195
In USA: $1295
In India: INR 23999  
In Canada: CAD 1495
In USA: $1295
Training Eligibility No prerequisites. Basic knowledge of Scrum in real-world context helpful, though not mandatory. No prerequisites. Basic knowledge of Scrum in real-world context helpful, though not mandatory.

Summary

CSM vs CSPO: which is the right choice for you?  This question may plague your mind when you are looking at enhancing your career prospects with a credential. What certification to pursue will depend on where your interest lies, the job role you are currently pursuing and the trajectory you wish your career would take as you grow. But what is certain is that both the CSM and the CSPO can elevate your career and maximise opportunities that come your way.

KnowledgeHut

KnowledgeHut

Author

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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1 comments

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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Develop Epic(s)Helps PO in developing epicsDevelops epics and arranges user group meetingsHelps PO in developing epics5. Create Prioritized Product BacklogHelps PO in epic refinementRefines epicsHelps PO in epic refinement6. Conduct Release PlanningHelps PO and dev team with backlog prioritization and determining sprint lengthReviews the backlog and develops release planning scheduleHelps PO with backlog prioritization and determining sprint lengthPlan and Estimate7. Create User StoriesHelps dev team and PO write user storiesWrites user stories and incorporates them into the Prioritized Product BacklogWrites user stories8. Approve, Estimate, and Commit User StoriesEstimates the effort required to deliver the product defined in each user storyApproves user stories for the sprintAlong with the SM estimates the effort for each sprint and9. Create TasksHelps dev team break down the stories into tasksHelps dev team break down the stories into tasksBreaks down the approved stories into tasks and create a task list10. Estimate TasksHelps the dev team create the effort estimated task listHelps the dev team create the effort estimated task listCreates the effort estimated task list11. Create Sprint BacklogHelps the PO create sprint backlogCreates the sprint backlog and lists the tasks that need to be completed in the sprintHelps the PO create sprint backlogImplement12. Create DeliverablesGuides the dev teamHelps dev team if neededWorks on creating sprint deliverables13. Conduct Daily Stand-upArranges and conducts the meetingsMay or may not attend the meetingsAttends the meetings and defines any problems or issues faced14. Groom Prioritized Product Backlog Helps PO to groom the backlogUpdates and maintains the backlog continuouslyHelps PO to groom the backlogReview and Retrospect15. Convene Scrum of ScrumsHelps teams collaborate and notes any impediments that may be hindering work--Mentions their progress or any issues they may be facing16. Demonstrate and Validate Sprint Helps dev team in displaying what it has createdApproves or rejects what the dev team demonstratesDemonstrates deliverables to PO and stakeholders17. Retrospect SprintMeets with dev team to ponder on lessons learnt during the sprint. Documents the recommendations--With scrum master retrospect's on sprint and uses the recommendations for the next sprint18. Ship DeliverablesAlong with other team members ships acceptable deliverablesAlong with other team members ships acceptable deliverablesAlong with other team members ships acceptable deliverables19. Retrospect ProjectGets together with other team members and identifies the lessons learntGets together with other team members and identifies the lessons learntGets together with other team members and identifies the lessons learntSo, what best describes a Scrum team? There are many facets to a Scrum team, but the most relatable description would be a highly interconnected and cohesive unit that works together to solve issues. A well-organized Scrum team can raise the ROI of an organization and ensure long term stakeholder commitment.
What Best Describes a Scrum Team?

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Scrum Software for the Ultimate Project Management

Technology has made our lives easier. The number of tools and devices we have at our disposal has made our lives more productive and our work more efficient. The Agile software development methodology has been adopted by several organizations to improve their adaptability, responsiveness, and productivity.  How can we improve the way we incorporate Agile Scrum into our projects? Scrum tools can be the answer. Just like the other gadgets in our lives, Scrum software and tools help improve the productivity of our teams, keep stakeholders happy and help us deliver better products. Before we jump into the use and needs of Scrum software and tools let us understand more about Scrum roles and how they work.Three essential roles for Scrum successThe Scrum Guide defines three pillars of a Scrum team, which include:The Scrum MasterThe Product OwnerThe Development TeamThe Scrum team is a small unit which is self-organised and works towards achieving the same goal; that is, the development and deployment of the product and customer satisfaction.Three essential roles in a Scrum TeamThe Scrum Product OwnerThe Scrum Product Owner is among the most essential roles in the Scrum team and acts as a bridge between the stakeholders and the development team. More involved with the business side of the software development process, the PO represents the customer and can be considered as their proxy.  The Product Owner defines the product vision, and, along with the Scrum Master and the development team works towards delivering a product that matches stakeholder needs.The Scrum MasterThe Scrum Master is the servant leader whose main responsibility is to ensure that the Scrum team can perform to the best of its abilities. They do this by overseeing the day-to-day activities of the Scrum team and removing any impediments that may hinder the productivity of the development team. The Scrum Master facilitates stakeholder collaboration along with the product owner and ensures that teams can handle complex environments and deliver projects successfully.The Scrum development teamThe development team generally consists of three to nine people, according to the Scrum Guide. These would include developers, testers, designers and more. The team is allowed to take decisions and decide the length of the sprint and how they will go about it. The development team collaborates to create a high-quality product increment at the end of each sprint that is as per the expectations of the stakeholders.Scrum ceremonies or eventsScrum has five formal events as defined by the Scrum Guide. These events help to validate the Scrum artifacts and implementing them helps enhance transparency. The events are also called ceremonies and are:Sprint PlanningDaily ScrumSprint ReviewSprint RetrospectiveThe SprintWhat Does A Scrum Tool Do?What would you need a good Scrum tool to do? Make your life easier by making processes more efficient and less cumbersome, help you deliver quality products without making a huge dent on your budget, right?  With Scrum topping the popularity charts for Agile project management methodologies, the need for efficient Scrum tools has risen. There are plenty of Scrum tools available that fit the bill and provide interfaces that help teams seamlessly follow Scrum processes and reap its benefits. These tools help:Increase productivityIn task management, daily scrum management  Increase team collaborationIn progress tracking and risk managementScrum Software for the Ultimate ProjectThere are several Scrum software tools that aid in project development using Scrum; not just in technical environments, but in non-technical sectors as well. Software like JIRA, Infinity, TargetProcess, QuickScrum, Wrike etc provide:User friendly GUICompetitive pricingProduct backlog managementTime tracking and calendar tools for schedulingScrum metrics and chartsSprint planning toolsThird party tools for integrationUser story mappingBurnup and Burndown chartsand many more features that will help Agile teams serve their customers better, improve return on investment, reduce costs, enhance collaboration and ensure stakeholder satisfaction. These tools help team uphold the values of Agile and make implementing the Scrum framework easier.Best Scrum ToolsHere are some of the best Scrum tools available in the market:1. JIRAJira is a popular tool used by large organizations to manage their Scrum projects. It has numerous features including customizable scrum boards, reporting features and more. Here’s how teams benefit from this toolCustomizable Scrum and Kanban boardsRoadmaps to communicate with team and with stakeholdersAccess to tools for Agile reportingView of code and deployment statusEnd to end DevOps visibilityEasy scalabilitySecure deploymentDeveloper tool integrationRich APIs to automate processes2. TargetProcessThis tool has been especially designed for teams that want to scale agile. It offers a number of customizable features that make it easy to work with scrum and agile.  Here’s how teams benefit from this tool(Source: Targetprocess Agile Portfolio and Work Management Tool)IdeationBuilt in reports to analyse data and uncover trendsGather ideas across sourcesCloud hosting and on-premise hostingEnterprise grade securityCollaborate across the enterprise  Collaborate with DevOps tools including GitLab, Azure DevOps, GitHub etc3. VivifyScrumThis tool is marketed as an all-in-one solution to manage projects, collaborate and track. Here’s how teams benefit from this tool (Source: Agile Project Management Software - VivifyScrum)Tools to manage agile projects—organize, manage, track and deliverCollaboration boards to effectively collaborate with team and stakeholdersCreate invoices to track and manage business and clientsManage teams and track tasks4. InfinityThis tool is among the most popular in Agile and Scrum organizations due to the many customizations and features it provides. Its various tools help reduce time to market, ensure better quality, improve collaboration and enable customer satisfaction.Here’s how teams benefit from this tool Source: Infinity | Customizable Work Management Platform (startinfinity.com)How Can Scrum Apps Benefit Your Team?The number of Scrum apps and software available in the market for Scrum projects is mind boggling. Which one you choose depends on the requirements of your team and project, and each comes with its own benefits. Some of these benefits include:They help teams, organizations and the product being createdThey ensure better quality by providing the right framework, support mechanism and the right processesAllow for continual improvement by putting in place a feedback loop and sprint reviews by stakeholdersHelp solve impediments and daily issues by incorporating daily testing and product owner feedback into the development processEnsure upfront documentation and help prioritise high value items in the product backlog, thus decreasing time to market.  Quick feedback also helps improve the product and thus helps in continuous improvement.The faster marketing of products increases return on investment, helps tap the market demand and ensures long term benefits for the customer and thus earns their trust for the organizationThe primary tenet of Agile is team collaboration. Scrum software tools help in high level collaboration between the Scrum Master, Product Owner and the development team. Teams can organise, review, plan and discuss everyday tasks, meetings, impediments and more.How to Pick the Best Tool for Your Team?With so many options available, choosing the right Scrum tool for your team can be a tricky task. What you need to do is go through the features of the best tools and see which one best fits your requirements. While the number of features you get will be directly proportional to the money you are ready to pay for the tool, there are some basic requirements your tool must satisfy.Backlog creation:  The very basic format of a Scrum project lies in the creation of a product backlog which sets the pace for the entire project. The backlog is primarily created by the Product Owner with assistance from the Scrum Master and the development team. The tool you choose should help you create the product backlog so that you can prioritise items, define the sprints and identify sprint goals.Implement feedback:  Scrum projects are based on the Agile values of continuous feedback. Your scrum tool should have features which will make your customer’s feedback and requirements easily accessible to you. This will help you implement these changes at the earliest. This continuous feedback loop will help keep customers happy.Sprint creation:  Scrum is iterative and adaptive and works by breaking down projects into small sized sprints. Your tool must aid you in the creation of sprints and burndown charts. These help you keep track of your progress on the project and are essential components of a Scrum project.The other things your tool should be able to do include:Plan and trackCustomise process templatesCustomise dashboards and reportsHelp in time managementHelp create epics and storiesProvide collab and reporting toolsProvide review toolsAnd just like you will create a product that is user friendly, the tool you use also needs to be user friendly for the team. If your team is happy using it, and it makes your life easier and your projects better, then you have the right tool!
Scrum Software for the Ultimate Project Management

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Safe Agile Ceremonies - Expert Guide

“Winners take time to relish their work, knowing that scaling the mountain is what makes the view from the top so exhilarating.” ― Denis WaitleyWhat are SAFe agile events (or) ceremonies? – a brief overview:Before we jump into the topic, could I just take you a step back and remind you what SAFe is all about? SAFe is a way of taking any iterative Agile way of working (normally restricted to a team or few teams) and scaling it up at various levels of the organization, whilst applying a mindset of Lean manufacturing. It also deals with scalability at various levels. Beginning from Essential SAFe right up to Full SAFe, the framework caters to all organizational levels of scaling agility. As part of this, it broadens the core idea of agility mindset beyond just projects/development teams right up to executives/CXOs, who must prepare for enterprise level uncertainties. In a sense, it provides valuable enterprise level scaling insights helpful for the executives to tackle any uncertainties/risks associated with a project.As you start applying SAFe in your organisation, it is important for you to understand how each level works in conjunction with the other, depending on how mature your SAFe enterprise is. The key link between these levels is the SAFe specific events which help with smooth value delivery facilitation. The events help with alignment across teams, ARTs etc thus helping in managing risk by providing a level based cadence and synchronization.Essential SAFe - Your First Level of Scaling Using an Agile Release Train (ART). Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Source: Scaled AgileWhy do we need level-based ceremonies?While it is important to go through your team level events (like the 4 sprint events if you are doing scrum etc.) it is important to have the scaling events that help with bridging gaps and unblocking dependency between teams. The most important part of these SAFe specific events is for ‘Business Stakeholders’ to get a look (demo) at a proper incremental product and thus the value arising out of it. Makes sense? It did for me and let me tell you why.I was once associated with 3 feature teams, who were working towards a common product goal. They all had the same business stakeholders but were working on individual features. Team A was working on developing a Login page, Team B was working on a landing dashboard while Team C was hopping along, trying to provide a search functionality for the user. All of them were applying the Scrum framework and were running their own events. Sprint demos were happening individually and were being represented by the Product owner separately along with his business analysts. All seemed fine but there was a nagging problem. The product owner was worried, because he couldn’t bring any business stakeholder to view the demos, as they were being run in silos and there was no visibility on the incremental product. Well technically there was, but they would have to sit through three or four-hour events individually to get bits and pieces of the product demo. In the real world, it's not a possibility simply because your business stakeholders will not have that much time to spend on multiple demos. It is not a good use of their time either. So, what’s the solution? Simple, it’s SAFe to the rescue! Let’s try and understand how the SAFe specific events help with this.Prescribed PI Cadence for Various Levels of Scaling. Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Source: Scaled AgileHow do the events (or) ceremonies help to scale up according to the levels in SAFe:SAFe is very relevant and designed to thrive in situations where there are significant cross functional dependencies between agile teams and support / functional teams (infrastructure teams, architect community etc).  Essential Level:   As you start to scale up one level up, you will be working with anywhere between 5-12 agile teams who will all be collectively working towards a common goal which is the program increment or PI. The anchoring catalyst that brings them all together is your ART (Agile release train). Before getting into the events, lets understand the various roles involved at this level because this is the common denominator across all levels of SAFe and across organizations. This is where you need to get it right without which there is not much use in scaling higher. Key Roles involved: Release Train Engineer (RTE) System Architect/Engineer Product Management   Business OwnersPrescribed events on a typical Agile release train (ART). Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Source: Scaled AgilePI PlanningAccording to me, PI planning (hands down) is THE most significant aspect of executing this framework. This is where all the magic happens. It is sometimes referred to as the heart of the framework as it offers a clear vision of what the program increment needs to be, what the cross-team dependencies are and how they bring together the cultural sustainability much needed within the release trains. It is so important, that if carried out incorrectly it could lead to several ambiguities, development challenges and mostly a disastrous product increment. However, when it works well, the iterative cycle serves to flesh out the crucial elements of the plan and the processes ensure buy in from the stakeholders.Duration: A normal PI planning is a 2-day activity, which is a face to face cultural get together of the various ART teams. However, a new 3-day distributed PI planning has been introduced to help with geographically distributed teams (across various time zones), very apt for the current pandemic situation.“There is no magic in SAFe® except maybe for PI Planning”. – The authors of the SAFe framework.In big organizations with multiple distributed teams across multiple vendors, work streams etc. it is almost impossible to run these teams independently, whilst still having to deliver an incremental program. SAFe via the PI planning exercise mentioned above, helps with sorting out these issues by recognising cross team dependencies upfront, constantly negotiating & visualising them. This doesn’t just stop with the PI planning but the framework also proposes a cadenced way of continuing this via the scrum of scrums. The Program Board is an ideal way to showcase the cross-team dependencies.A sample SAFe Program board. Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Source: Scaled Agile1. Inspect and Adapt (I&A)An inspect and adapt event is scheduled after every PI. This event is dedicated to aligning to the principles of Kaizen, which simply means to change for the better. The events contain self induced thought processes to revalidate your assumptions that everything is working OK. The I&A event consists of three sub-parts as below:  PI System DemoQuantitative and qualitative measurementRetrospective and problem-solving workshop2. ART Sync Agile release trains tend to apply a cadenced synchronization process to help manage the ability to focus on continuous value delivery. An ART sync will typically comprise of the below sub-events.  Scrum of Scrums: This event is for representatives from all the teams on a release train to come together in a regular cadenced manner, especially on large ARTs. This is normally facilitated by the release train engineer (RTE) and will involve scrum masters of the individual teams and a few selected team members (authorised by the team). The sole purpose of the SoS calls are to understand progress towards the common goal, validate cross team dependencies and unblock impediments that may arise out of them. Duration: The length and frequency of the meeting will depend on a few factors like the size of the ART, the release frequency, type of features being worked on, ability to decouple releases etc. For e.g an ART which releases features into production every 4 weeks might want to have an SoS call every 2 weeks for about an hour. Again, if this doesn’t work for you, just inspect and adapt to what works well for your organizational needs. Just make sure that the SoS is utilised for its sole purpose and not just status updates as depicted in the below comic representation.Scrum of Scrums PO SyncThis event is represented by the Product Owner, business analysts and the product management group. This is used mainly to level up the product backlog refinement and for clarifying PI (Program Increment) scope, reviewing roadmaps and grooming for the upcoming PIs.Duration: Very similar in concept to the SoS, so just follow what works for the group. 3. System DemoAs part of a common understanding towards delivering incremental software, shortly after each iteration in the PI, there is a system demo scheduled. Work completed across all teams from the release train are compiled in a stable environment before it is reviewed by the business stakeholders and other important sponsors who may have a keen interest in the product. This is on top of the individual team level demos that happen after each iteration.Duration: Anywhere between 2-3 hours that will allow time for a demonstration of the program increment in a collative manner, on top of what has been delivered from the previous PIs as well.In case your ART is pretty small, then you may want to have just have some of the events combined into a more generic ART sync, where all roles come together to collaborate towards the program increment. This can sometimes occur if the ART is focusing on a particular value stream, confined to limited business functionality, rather than elaborate features.Solution/Portfolio LevelsAs you scale higher, the processes and events become much less prescriptive. There is a good reason for this because the focus at this level is not just on having repetitive demos that have already happened before but on building thought leadership around business outcomes and enhancing business agility. Which is why we will not be diving deep into that in this blog. But let us look at the events that occur at the macro level.Lean Budget Review  Idea Sharing via Communities of Practice (not a formal event but a collaborative group)Solution DemoPortfolio SyncRoadshowWhat are the benefits of SAFe Agile ceremonies?:The Magic of PI planningWell, the more I talk about this, the more excited I am. A PI planning event when carried out to its truest purpose, gets half the job done. Here is where most of the brainstorming occurs and business value gets determined and, in some cases, gets assigned in a quantifiable manner to user stories and helps with the prioritisation.PI Planning Synchronisation towards a common goalThe events are a constant reminder that all teams are working towards delivering incremental value either on a particular value stream, or feature or program. An RTE and Product Management will help reiterating the need to focus on the larger goal whilst helping sorting out inter team dependencies.Less prescriptiveAs is the framework itself, SAFe events/ceremonies are less prescriptive. An SPC would recommend, apply the principles but inspect and adapt as to what works for your organization. As per the example I provided earlier w.r.t to the duration of the SAFe events, start with something reasonable and then validate its effectiveness. Then leave Kaizen to do the rest.Visualization of incremental value deliveryOpportunity for Business stakeholders and sponsors to have a look at the overall program increment every iteration, thus helping them evaluate the progress and provide timely feedback on market trends. What are the common mistakes?Lack of a shared product visionThings can go wrong if there is not enough representation in the product management group, say for e.g at the PO Sync event. This can lead to a blurred product vision with each team working out of sync. This may ultimately get detected too late, probably at the time of the system demo, and lead to a whole lot of unwanted rework.SoS as a status updateThe Scrum Of Scrum event should be used as an event to unblock cross team impediments or dependencies and not to just update what each team has been doing or is doing in its current sprint. TimeboxingGiven the scale at which these events will be conducted, it is critical that the associated events are facilitated in a timeboxed manner or else the participants could end up sitting and talking for hours. Roles like RTE, SPC Coaches etc will be critical in addressing this issue.Remote facilitationLack of effective collaboration tools could lead to some disastrous situations whilst facilitating the SAFe events. Given that most teams are running virtual ceremonies/events at the moment, its crucial to establish a working distributed model. This will then ensure that the platform is set up for the most effective collaboration and cross-functional work to take place.While you try to scale, as per the implementation roadmap, its essential that you solidify the process around which your ARTs will be functioning. It’s like setting the railway tracks with the correct track gauge matching the configurations of the wheelsets of the trains that will run on them. If not, they will just derail. As your ARTs pass through your set process, they will only benefit by sustaining focus and pace while moving towards a successful incremental product delivery.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 among your agile community to help spread the word.  Hope to see you soon, with more such interesting topics.
Safe Agile Ceremonies - Expert Guide

“Winners take time to relish their work, knowing... Read More

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