Search

Scrum Master Filter

CSM®️ or PSM™ - Which Certificate Is More Valuable?

What is Scrum?The source of a correct definition of Scrum is the official Scrum Guide, authored and maintained by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schaber. Scrum has its roots in software development, but nowadays Scrum is applied in several contexts and industries.From the Scrum Guide:“Scrum is a framework for developing, delivering, and sustaining complex products. Scrum is not a process, technique, or definitive method. Rather, it is a framework within which you can employ various processes and techniques. Scrum makes clear the relative efficacy of your product management and work techniques so that you can continuously improve the product, the team, and the working environment."The latest update to the Scrum Guide also lists possible uses for Scrum:- Research and identify viable markets, technologies, and product capabilities;- Develop products and enhancements;- Release products and enhancements, as frequently as many times per day;- Develop and sustain Cloud (online, secure, on-demand) and other operational environments for product use; and,- Sustain and renew products.Origin of ScrumScrum is a process framework that has been used to manage work on complex products since the early 1990s. Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland worked on Scrum until 1995, when they co-presented Scrum at the OOPSLA Conference in 1995. This presentation essentially documented the learning that Ken and Jeff gained over the previous few years, and made public the first formal definition of Scrum.The Scrum Guide documents Scrum as developed, evolved, and sustained for 20-plus years by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber.  Both, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber were present at the event when the Agile Manifesto was written.Scrum was one of the several lightweight processes presented at that gathering in 2001. The Scrum Alliance - a non-profit organization promoting Scrum, was also founded in 2009.Throughout the years Scrum has evolved, and in fact, has been become simpler, but therefore not more easy to apply and practice. In case you're interested, you can look at the Scrum Guide revision history, and see the changes since 2010. To me personally, the beauty of Scrum lays in its simpleness, although some people would advocate they still find Scrum too complicated in terms of process.Scrum Alliance vs Scrum.orgIn 2001, Ken Schwaber left the Scrum Alliance and found Scrum.org. There was a bad impression of the Scrum Master about implementing a Scrum in the organization. The Scrum Masters misinterpreted that the 2-day Scrum Alliance CSM®️ certification course is enough to certify them as a Scrum Master.  Even organizations took amiss that those who attended 2-day training are the Scrum experts.The PSM™ certification of Scrum.org is different than CSM®️ certification. For PSM™ certification, attending a workshop is not mandatory. But, it is little harder to clear the PSM™  assessments which at least assures a precise level Scrum understanding.Note: The Scrum.org assessments are based on the Scrum Guide (fabricated by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland).Let’s see these two certifying bodies in details and figure out the difference between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org.Scrum Alliance- The CSM®️ certifying BodyFounded in 2001, Scrum Alliance® is the largest membership and certification organization in the Agile community. The Scrum Alliance is a non-profit organization and is governed by the Board of Directors. The Scrum Alliance has certified more than 750,000 practitioners worldwide, clearly contributing a lot to the spreading of Scrum worldwide. But, the Scrum Alliance is not simply a company providing training. The Scrum Alliance also organizes twice a year a global gathering and several regional gatherings and supports agile community events.From the Scrum Alliance website:"Scrum Alliance’s vision is to “Transform the World of Work” with a mission to guide and inspire individuals, leaders, and organizations with practices, principles, and values that create workplaces that are joyful, prosperous, and sustainable."Scrum Alliance certificationsAs there are 3 roles in Scrum, the Scrum Alliance offers 3 entry-level (foundational) certifications - there are CSM®️ (Certified Scrum Master), CSPO (Certified Scrum Product Owner), and CSD (Certified Scrum Developer). Next, you could apply for a Certified Scrum Professional (CSP), after indicating your practical experience with Scrum.Recently, the Scrum Alliance has changed the certification path and added an "advanced" certification and course. Today, the Certified Scrum Professional is specific for either Scrum Master, Product Owner, or Developer.These are the certifications:- Certified Scrum Master: CSM®️ --> Advanced CSM®️ --> CSP-SM- Certified Scrum Product Owner CSPO --> Advanced CSPO --> CSP-PO- Certified Scrum Developer (CSD)Next, you can obtain so-called "elevated" certifications, which involves a more rigorous screening and test to validate your knowledge, experience.The elevated certifications target to be an accredited trainer or coach:- CST (Certified Scrum Trainer) - people with this certification can provide official training in Scrum, on behalf of the Scrum Alliance. Trainers go through a rigorous process of co-training, and an application in order to pass the bar of becoming a CST.- CTC (Certified Team Coach) - to be recognized and accredited as a coach on the team level- CEC (Certified Enterprise Coach) - to be recognized and accredited as a coach on the enterprise levelThe coaching certifications involve more than Scrum, but agile & lean coaching in general.The Scrum Alliance also provides an Agile Leadership track - this is relatively new and split into two levels:- Certified Agile Leadership I- Certified Agile Leadership IIThe Agile Leadership courses increase your leadership effectiveness and learn how to be a better leader, no matter what your role.The Scrum Alliance provides also "extended" continuing education, courses.The Scrum Alliance is taking a broad view of how to transform the world of work (e.g. also applications of Scrum outside IT).Scrum.org- The PSM™  certifying BodyIn 2002, Ken Schwaber with others founded the Scrum Alliance and set up the Certified Scrum accreditation series.  Ken Schwaber left the Scrum Alliance in late 2009 and founded Scrum.org which oversees the parallel Professional Scrum accreditation series.On the Scrum.org website, there's a page called "Why Scrum.org?" explaining Ken Schwaber's motivation to separate from the Scrum Alliance and found Scrum.org. These are the motivations as formulated by Ken Schwaber:- I would create a new organization, Scrum.org, to continue developing and sustaining the Scrum Developer program.The program would lead to assessments and certifications based on a body of knowledge.- I would also redevelop a new, more advanced version of the Scrum courseware. This courseware, called Scrum-In-Depth, would focus on how to use Scrum in advanced circumstances. I would publish the Scrum body of knowledge on Scrum.org and formulate beginner, intermediate, and advanced assessments and certifications based on this body of knowledge.- I would form a new group of Scrum Trainers who welcomed openness and transparency.Scrum.org  aims to improve the Profession of Software Delivery and targets its courses and certifications in that area. The Scrum Alliance focuses on Scrum, and takes a broader view, as the Scrum Alliance's slogan is to "transform the world of work".Scrum.org certificationsThe certifications provided by Scrum.org are similar to the certifications of the Scrum Alliance. The certifications are called "Professional" The certification path is as following:- Professional Scrum Master: PSM™  level I --> level II --> level III- Professional Scrum Product Owner: PSPO- Professional Scrum Developer: PSD- Scaled Professional Scrum (SPS), based upon Scrum.org Nexus framework for scaling Scrum- Professional Scrum with Kanban (PSK I): to validate knowledge of how Scrum Teams can use Scrum with Kanban ability to support value creation and delivery. Kanban is a lean method to streamline work. Scrum has its foundations in lean, so it does make a lot of sense for teams to learn and apply Kanban. In fact, agile & lean are blending philosophies.- Professional Agile Leadership (PAL-I): Agile Leadership trackThere’s an optional (non-mandatory) PAL-E (Professional Agile Leadership - Essentials). The workshop provides a foundation for the role that leaders play in creating the conditions for a successful agile transformation.In summary,In a comparison to Scrum Alliance, remember the following practical points when you consider one or the other certification:Scrum.org certifications have no expiration date.Scrum.org certifications can be obtained by taking an online test. Physically attending a classroom course is not required.Scrum.org offers “open assessments” which are interesting for anyone to validate your Scrum knowledge, regardless of if you intend to get certified or not.To know more about various Agile and Scrum certifications and paths to learning these certifications to make a career move, you can refer certification pathway.Choosing between the best Scrum Master Certifications: CSM®️ vs PSM™ Agile and Scrum are today’s latest trends. Not only IT-based organizations but also non-IT organizations hire individuals who know the concepts of Scrum framework and its applications. Scrum is the Agile framework, focuses on the complex projects.Initially, the Scrum framework was used for software development, but today it is used as any other projects to get the fastest results. So, there is a rising demand for Agile-Scrum professionals in the organizations.CSM®️ and PSM™  are two major Scrum Master certifications. CSM®️ stands for Certified Scrum Master. CSM®️ is a certification issued by the Scrum Alliance. CSM®️ is a first (entry-level) certification for the Scrum Master. PSM™  stands for Professional Scrum Master. PSM™  is a certification issued by Scrum.org. PSM™  and PSM™  both are the entry-level certifications for the Scrum Master.    PSM™  by Scrum.org has a different approach than CSM®️ by Scrum Alliance in the following ways:- According to Scrum.org, there's no need to attend a class, to be able to take an online test to get certified. A practice assessment is available online, called "Scrum Open"- According to Scrum.org, a certification is a proof of knowledge and therefore has no certification dateLet’s see the differences between the CSM®️ and PSM™  in the tabular form.Certified Scrum Master (CSM®️)FeaturesProfessional Scrum Master (PSM™)50 multiple-choice questions, usually with four possible answersExam Pattern- Number of Questions: 80- Format: Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer and True/FalsePassing score: 74%Passing gradePassing score: minimum 85%Time limit: 60 minutesExam durationTime limit: 60 minutesEvery 2 yearsCertification renewal durationNo expiration (Lifetime certification)Fee: $1000 (cost of training and 1 attempt)Certification costFee:PSM I- $150PSM II- $250PSM III- $500(1st free attempt is given to those who attend the PSM training)The exam is easy once you attend the two-day CSM®️ training program. Also, you can practice with CSM®️ practice test/mock test, to know which areas you need to improve and pass the test with a good score.Level of the examDifficulty: IntermediatePSM assessments are difficult to pass. But, attending PSM training is highly recommended in order to pass the exam with a fair score, though it is not mandatory. Also, prepare with the Scrum practice tests to get a fair idea on this.Attending a 2-day CSM®️ course taught by a Scrum Alliance's Certified Scrum Trainer (CST)®️PrerequisiteNo prerequisite for taking the test$119,040  per yearSalary$100,500 per yearFinal ThoughtA search on “Scrum Master”, in the job title with as prerequisite “Certified Scrum Master” gives more than 1000 jobs results. If you want to get an idea of what companies and organizations ask in terms of Certified Scrum Master, you can have a look at the AgileCareers website (by Scrum Alliance). (there are mainly USA based jobs listed)This is all about the comparison between the CSM®️ and PSM™  and various certifying bodies like Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org that offer these certifications.In the end, knowledge matters whether it is CSM®️ or PSM™ certification. Both certificates have the same value in the job market. Also, both programs are highly compatible. It is very crucial what you earned during the certification process and the trainer will definitely help you to make the difference there.To know in-detail about the Scrum master certification benefits, roles, salaries and many more refer: Scrum Master Certification - The Definitive Guide

CSM®️ or PSM™ - Which Certificate Is More Valuable?

7312
CSM®️ or PSM™ - Which Certificate Is More Valuable?

What is Scrum?
The source of a correct definition of Scrum is the official Scrum Guide, authored and maintained by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schaber. Scrum has its roots in software development, but nowadays Scrum is applied in several contexts and industries.
From the Scrum Guide:

“Scrum is a framework for developing, delivering, and sustaining complex products. Scrum is not a process, technique, or definitive method. Rather, it is a framework within which you can employ various processes and techniques. Scrum makes clear the relative efficacy of your product management and work techniques so that you can continuously improve the product, the team, and the working environment."

The latest update to the Scrum Guide also lists possible uses for Scrum:
- Research and identify viable markets, technologies, and product capabilities;
- Develop products and enhancements;
- Release products and enhancements, as frequently as many times per day;
- Develop and sustain Cloud (online, secure, on-demand) and other operational environments for product use; and,
- Sustain and renew products.
Origin of Scrum
Scrum is a process framework that has been used to manage work on complex products since the early 1990s. Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland worked on Scrum until 1995, when they co-presented Scrum at the OOPSLA Conference in 1995. This presentation essentially documented the learning that Ken and Jeff gained over the previous few years, and made public the first formal definition of Scrum.

The Scrum Guide documents Scrum as developed, evolved, and sustained for 20-plus years by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber.  Both, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber were present at the event when the Agile Manifesto was written.

Scrum was one of the several lightweight processes presented at that gathering in 2001. The Scrum Alliance - a non-profit organization promoting Scrum, was also founded in 2009.


Throughout the years Scrum has evolved, and in fact, has been become simpler, but therefore not more easy to apply and practice. In case you're interested, you can look at the Scrum Guide revision history, and see the changes since 2010. To me personally, the beauty of Scrum lays in its simpleness, although some people would advocate they still find Scrum too complicated in terms of process.

Scrum Alliance vs Scrum.org

In 2001, Ken Schwaber left the Scrum Alliance and found Scrum.org. There was a bad impression of the Scrum Master about implementing a Scrum in the organization. The Scrum Masters misinterpreted that the 2-day Scrum Alliance CSM®️ certification course is enough to certify them as a Scrum Master.  Even organizations took amiss that those who attended 2-day training are the Scrum experts.

The PSM™ certification of Scrum.org is different than CSM®️ certification. For PSM™ certification, attending a workshop is not mandatory. But, it is little harder to clear the PSM™  assessments which at least assures a precise level Scrum understanding.

Note: The Scrum.org assessments are based on the Scrum Guide (fabricated by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland).

Let’s see these two certifying bodies in details and figure out the difference between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org.

Scrum Alliance- The CSM®️ certifying Body

Founded in 2001, Scrum Alliance® is the largest membership and certification organization in the Agile community. The Scrum Alliance is a non-profit organization and is governed by the Board of Directors. The Scrum Alliance has certified more than 750,000 practitioners worldwide, clearly contributing a lot to the spreading of Scrum worldwide. But, the Scrum Alliance is not simply a company providing training. The Scrum Alliance also organizes twice a year a global gathering and several regional gatherings and supports agile community events.

From the Scrum Alliance website:

"Scrum Alliance’s vision is to “Transform the World of Work” with a mission to guide and inspire individuals, leaders, and organizations with practices, principles, and values that create workplaces that are joyful, prosperous, and sustainable."

Scrum Alliance certifications

As there are 3 roles in Scrum, the Scrum Alliance offers 3 entry-level (foundational) certifications - there are CSM®️ (Certified Scrum Master), CSPO (Certified Scrum Product Owner), and CSD (Certified Scrum Developer). Next, you could apply for a Certified Scrum Professional (CSP), after indicating your practical experience with Scrum.

Recently, the Scrum Alliance has changed the certification path and added an "advanced" certification and course. Today, the Certified Scrum Professional is specific for either Scrum Master, Product Owner, or Developer.

These are the certifications:
Scrum Alliance certifications- Certified Scrum Master: CSM®️ --> Advanced CSM®️ --> CSP-SM
- Certified Scrum Product Owner CSPO --> Advanced CSPO --> CSP-PO
- Certified Scrum Developer (CSD)
Next, you can obtain so-called "elevated" certifications, which involves a more rigorous screening and test to validate your knowledge, experience.

The elevated certifications target to be an accredited trainer or coach:

CST (Certified Scrum Trainer) - people with this certification can provide official training in Scrum, on behalf of the Scrum Alliance. Trainers go through a rigorous process of co-training, and an application in order to pass the bar of becoming a CST.
- CTC (Certified Team Coach) - to be recognized and accredited as a coach on the team level
- CEC (Certified Enterprise Coach) - to be recognized and accredited as a coach on the enterprise level

The coaching certifications involve more than Scrum, but agile & lean coaching in general.

The Scrum Alliance also provides an Agile Leadership track - this is relatively new and split into two levels:
- Certified Agile Leadership I
- Certified Agile Leadership II
The Agile Leadership courses increase your leadership effectiveness and learn how to be a better leader, no matter what your role.

The Scrum Alliance provides also "extended" continuing education, courses.
The Scrum Alliance is taking a broad view of how to transform the world of work (e.g. also applications of Scrum outside IT).

Scrum.org- The PSM™  certifying Body

In 2002, Ken Schwaber with others founded the Scrum Alliance and set up the Certified Scrum accreditation series.  Ken Schwaber left the Scrum Alliance in late 2009 and founded Scrum.org which oversees the parallel Professional Scrum accreditation series.
On the Scrum.org website, there's a page called "Why Scrum.org?" explaining Ken Schwaber's motivation to separate from the Scrum Alliance and found Scrum.org. These are the motivations as formulated by Ken Schwaber:
- I would create a new organization, Scrum.org, to continue developing and sustaining the Scrum Developer program.
The program would lead to assessments and certifications based on a body of knowledge.
- I would also redevelop a new, more advanced version of the Scrum courseware. This courseware, called Scrum-In-Depth, would focus on how to use Scrum in advanced circumstances. I would publish the Scrum body of knowledge on Scrum.org and formulate beginner, intermediate, and advanced assessments and certifications based on this body of knowledge.
- I would form a new group of Scrum Trainers who welcomed openness and transparency.

Scrum.org  aims to improve the Profession of Software Delivery and targets its courses and certifications in that area. The Scrum Alliance focuses on Scrum, and takes a broader view, as the Scrum Alliance's slogan is to "transform the world of work".

Scrum.org certifications

The certifications provided by Scrum.org are similar to the certifications of the Scrum Alliance. The certifications are called "Professional" The certification path is as following:

Scrum.org certifications- Professional Scrum Master: PSM™  level I --> level II --> level III- Professional Scrum Product Owner: PSPO
- Professional Scrum Developer: PSD

- Scaled Professional Scrum (SPS), based upon Scrum.org Nexus framework for scaling Scrum

- Professional Scrum with Kanban (PSK I): to validate knowledge of how Scrum Teams can use Scrum with Kanban ability to support value creation and delivery. Kanban is a lean method to streamline work. Scrum has its foundations in lean, so it does make a lot of sense for teams to learn and apply Kanban. In fact, agile & lean are blending philosophies.

- Professional Agile Leadership (PAL-I): Agile Leadership track
There’s an optional (non-mandatory) PAL-E (Professional Agile Leadership - Essentials). The workshop provides a foundation for the role that leaders play in creating the conditions for a successful agile transformation.

In summary,
In a comparison to Scrum Alliance, remember the following practical points when you consider one or the other certification:
Scrum.org certifications have no expiration date.
Scrum.org certifications can be obtained by taking an online test. Physically attending a classroom course is not required.
Scrum.org offers “open assessments” which are interesting for anyone to validate your Scrum knowledge, regardless of if you intend to get certified or not.

To know more about various Agile and Scrum certifications and paths to learning these certifications to make a career move, you can refer certification pathway.

Choosing between the best Scrum Master Certifications: CSM®️ vs PSM™ 

Agile and Scrum are today’s latest trends. Not only IT-based organizations but also non-IT organizations hire individuals who know the concepts of Scrum framework and its applications. Scrum is the Agile framework, focuses on the complex projects.

Initially, the Scrum framework was used for software development, but today it is used as any other projects to get the fastest results. So, there is a rising demand for Agile-Scrum professionals in the organizations.

CSM®️ and PSM™  are two major Scrum Master certifications. CSM®️ stands for Certified Scrum Master. CSM®️ is a certification issued by the Scrum Alliance. CSM®️ is a first (entry-level) certification for the Scrum Master. PSM™  stands for Professional Scrum Master. PSM™  is a certification issued by Scrum.org. PSM™  and PSM™  both are the entry-level certifications for the Scrum Master.    

PSM™  by Scrum.org has a different approach than CSM®️ by Scrum Alliance in the following ways:
- According to Scrum.org, there's no need to attend a class, to be able to take an online test to get certified. A practice assessment is available online, called "Scrum Open"
- According to Scrum.org, a certification is a proof of knowledge and therefore has no certification date

Let’s see the differences between the CSM®️ and PSM™  in the tabular form.

Certified Scrum Master (CSM®️)
Features
Professional Scrum Master (PSM™)

50 multiple-choice questions, usually with four possible answers

Exam Pattern

- Number of Questions: 80
- Format: Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer and True/False

Passing score: 74%
Passing grade
Passing score: minimum 85%

Time limit: 60 minutes
Exam duration

Time limit: 60 minutes

Every 2 years

Certification renewal duration

No expiration (Lifetime certification)

Fee: $1000 (cost of training and 1 attempt)

Certification cost

Fee:
PSM I- $150
PSM II- $250
PSM III- $500
(1st free attempt is given to those who attend the PSM training)

The exam is easy once you attend the two-day CSM®️ training program. Also, you can practice with CSM®️ practice test/mock test, to know which areas you need to improve and pass the test with a good score.
Level of the exam

Difficulty: Intermediate
PSM assessments are difficult to pass. But, attending PSM training is highly recommended in order to pass the exam with a fair score, though it is not mandatory. Also, prepare with the Scrum practice tests to get a fair idea on this.

Attending a 2-day CSM®️ course taught by a Scrum Alliance's Certified Scrum Trainer (CST)®️

Prerequisite
No prerequisite for taking the test
$119,040  per year

Salary

$100,500 per year


Final Thought

A search on “Scrum Master”, in the job title with as prerequisite “Certified Scrum Master” gives more than 1000 jobs results. If you want to get an idea of what companies and organizations ask in terms of Certified Scrum Master, you can have a look at the AgileCareers website (by Scrum Alliance). (there are mainly USA based jobs listed)

This is all about the comparison between the CSM®️ and PSM™  and various certifying bodies like Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org that offer these certifications.

In the end, knowledge matters whether it is CSM®️ or PSM™ certification. Both certificates have the same value in the job market. Also, both programs are highly compatible. It is very crucial what you earned during the certification process and the trainer will definitely help you to make the difference there.

To know in-detail about the Scrum master certification benefits, roles, salaries and many more refer: Scrum Master Certification - The Definitive Guide

Frederik

Frederik Vannieuwenhuyse

Blog Author

Frederik is an experienced consultant, professional facilitator, coach and trainer. Frederik is constantly looking to help organisation to gain more agility and to create happy workplaces

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Suggested Blogs

How To Define Features in Agile Methodology?

Agile projects are known for their simple, iterative approach to cutting through the complexity. Even the most ambitious of Agile projects is taken one step at a time and breaks down complex work packages and tasks into low-level subtasks. Features and capabilities that are needed in the finished product are listed out, and then broken down to manageable chunks which are taken up and completed, one at a time.In this article, we will talk about Features in an Agile project. What are the characteristics of features and how are they applied? How do you build a feature list, and what are the advantages of breaking down features into user stories? Read on to find out!Agile projects are known for their simple, iterative approach to cutting through the complexity. Even the most ambitious of Agile projects is taken one step at a time and breaks down complex work packages and tasks into low-level subtasks. Features and capabilities that are needed in the finished product are listed out, and then broken down to manageable chunks which are taken up and completed, one at a time.In this article, we will talk about Features in an Agile project. What are the characteristics of features and how are they applied? How do you build a feature list, and what are the advantages of breaking down features into user stories? Read on to find out!What is a feature in Agile methodology?A feature is a service or function of the product that delivers business value and fulfils the customer’s need. Each feature is broken down into several user stories, as it is usually too big to be worked on directly. A user story is an informal, short description of a part of a software feature that is written from the user’s perspective and talks about how this particular bit of the feature will offer something of value.Why use features in Scrum and not only user stories?A feature is something that is sizeable enough to deliver measurable value to customers and creates a large chunk of functionality. Features are used to describe the functionality at a macro level, and they are required to create schedules and plan the high-level release of the product.Scrum works on the premise of short development cycles called Sprints, which usually last between 2 weeks and a month but not longer. One feature is typically completed over several sprints. In one sprint, only several user stories can be completed and not, perhaps, an entire feature.What’s the difference between features and epics in Agile?The product backlog is usually detailed into three levels of complexity with respect to tasks. Epics are large quantities of related work that can be broken down into features. A feature, as we have seen, is a service or function that delivers value to the end user. Each feature is broken down into a number of smaller and simpler tasks known as user stories. Do note that for a smaller project, with only around 8 to 10 people on the team, the product backlog may be divided into just features and user stories. Epics come into the picture for large projects with multiple teams who are working over a duration of several years.Who writes the features in Scrum, and what are the steps involved?The Scrum Guide, considered to be the Bible for all things Scrum, does not lay out any guidelines for the use of features.However, Scaled Agile, Inc. indicates that the Product Manager is the owner of the Features, which is to say, he or she finally decides what goes into the feature and what is its priority on the Backlog. The features are not necessarily written by the Product Manager, however, and this could be done by others on the team.On many teams, the Product Manager and the Product Owner are one and the same.There are several steps in the definition and writing of features. Define the WHY, or the benefit hypothesis: What is the functionality that the users gain from the feature? What are the benefits to be gained from implementing this feature? Calculate the business value: Keep in mind the number of users, how often each of them uses the feature, what is the timeframe within which the feature must be released for it to be useful, and how much effort goes into developing this feature. All these together will help to determine the ROI of the feature and ultimately whether it is worth the effort and cost. Features that bring in the most benefit at least cost will be prioritised. Describe the feature: What is the context and how will it be used? What is the need for the feature? Try to include technical details and any information that is important from the Product Manager’s point of view. Write down the acceptance criteria: What are the conditions under which the feature can be deemed to be done? This will help to reduce any ambiguity and mark work progress. How big should the product features be?While there is no hard and fast rule on this, and it is left largely to the convenience of project teams, it is generally agreed that it should be possible to complete a feature within a maximum of three months. When using SAFe, a feature is released in one single program increment. Teams that are working with investor funding and are getting the funds at regular cycles should be able to showcase a completed feature during each investment cycle, in order to demonstrate that they are progressing on track. What are feature points?Feature points represent the amount of the work complexity, effort taken, and knowledge required to complete one feature. They are the same as story points, but in the context of a feature rather than a user story.What are features called in different Agile Methodologies?A feature, while essentially having the same definition, could be called by different terms in different Agile methodologies. In Scrum, a feature is often referred to as a Backlog Item.   In XP, features are called Stories. DSDM terms a feature as a requirement. This could club together several system features. Agile UP defines features in the form of requirements and use cases.What are the characteristics of features?To be effective, a feature should always Offer measurable business value,   Contain enough information to allow for estimation of the work involved, Be small enough to be completed within a program increment or maximum of three months,   Be testable by the scrum team and the product management team.Feature breakdown structure (FBS)When getting into the nitty gritty of detailed planning, agile development uses a feature breakdown structure (FBS) approach that breaks down each feature into smaller, more manageable units of work. This allows easier communication between the customer and the development team, where both can understand each other well in a way that leaves no room for ambiguity. It also helps to track the progress of work against the value that is created. Over time and as the work progresses, the larger features can be broken into smaller features, instead of doing this breakdown all together in the beginning. This way, details are not fleshed out until the time when they are actually needed for design and delivery. Building an initial feature listAt the very start, before the release planning and iteration planning can happen, the team must sit together and list out as many potential features for the system as possible at this stage. Feature requests can come from many sources, and one person should be allocated to collate all these requests. While this could be the product manager, it could also be a customer proxy, a business analyst or someone who is responsible and accountable to the team. The team should refine these requirements, weeding out duplicate items, features that are not possible to implement, and requests that are very vague. As the features are identified, they are added to the list so that they can become a part of the planning processes. This initial feature list can be considered to be a preliminary outline that can be used as input to chart out the release and first iteration. It is not required to wait until all features are defined before getting started on the actual work, and it is also understood that the original list, descriptions, and priorities will evolve over time. Instead of waiting for everything to get detailed out at the outset, the team can get to work with the initial list without wasting any valuable time. As new features which could be critical get identified, they are simply added into the evolving release plan and will get delivered during a subsequent iteration. As the project progresses, the work adapts itself to accommodate new priorities, additional information from stakeholders, and the changing industry dynamics.Advantages of breaking down features into smaller user storiesUser stories, as we have learnt, represent smaller chunks of work while features represent fully formed functionalities of the product. There are many advantages to breaking down the features into functionalities, and the main ones are these: Stories narrow down the focus: Stories are small, doable portions of the work that do not overwhelm the developer. They represent an entire piece of functionality, however small it is, and so can measure incremental progress. Stories fit into a sprint: Features are too large to be completed within a sprint, but stories can be finished within this duration. This allows more efficient scheduling and planning of sprint tasks. Stories capture both intent and outcome: A product manager (who is not required to be technically fluent) can easily describe the outcome of a story to the developer, so that he or she can understand the intent. Stories mitigate the risk: As big stories come with a lot more complexity, they also involve more risk. When features are broken down into smaller stories, this risk is mitigated. Anny erroneous assumptions can be curtailed within a few days rather than several weeks into development. Feature vs. task planningFeatures come into play at a macro level of planning, and it is essential that at a later point they will need to be broken down into tasks and estimated. This is done during sprint planning and release planning.Feature planning and estimates help to schedule releases and iterations. Task planning and estimates help to allocate resources and plan the tasks within an iteration.Since the nature of agile project plans is always fluid and not very precise, feature estimates need not exactly map to a number of task estimates, but there should be a rough approximation between the two.
7353
How To Define Features in Agile Methodology?

Agile projects are known for their simple, iterati... Read More

What Is a Safe Product Owner?

The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is, in the words of Dean Leffingwell, Creator of SAFe: “a knowledge base of proven, integrated principles, practices, and competencies for achieving business agility using Lean, Agile, and DevOps.”  © Scaled Agile, Inc. Using SAFe, the process of scaling Agile across a large-scale enterprise can be streamlined. SAFe details out organizational workflows that enhance productivity and employee engagement and ensure customer delight through quick deliveries of quality products.  A key role on a SAFe team is played by the Product Owner. In this blog, you will understand the role of a SAFe Product Owner, and how it relates to that of a Scrum Product Owner. You will also understand the SAFe Product Owner’s role with respect to that of a SAFe Product Manager.What is a SAFe Product Owner?The SAFe Product Owner is the member of the team who works as the voice of the customer. He or she liaises with Product Management and other POs, besides other stakeholders, to define and list out stories in the Team Backlog and order them as per priority.  In an ideal situation, the SAFe PO is in the same office as the rest of the team. However, with today’s distributed teams, this does not always happen. One PO can support up to two Agile teams, at the most. The SAFe PO works with the SAFe Product Manager, who maintains the overall product vision. Key Role & Responsibilities of a SAFe Product OwnerThe main responsibilities of the SAFe PO extend across the team, and even beyond that to participate in Product Management events, where he or she will help to plan and create the Program vision and refine the Program Backlog. The following are the main responsibilities of the SAFe PO: 1. PI PlanningThe PO plays a significant role as a member of the larger Product Management team and has to participate in the events during Program Increment (PI) planning. The activity of program backlog refinement also requires every PO’s participation and close involvement. Before the event, the PO will keep the team backlog updated and will contribute to creating the vision and charting out the roadmap.When the planning event is in progress, the PO should be at hand to give clarity wherever needed. The entire SAFe team will work to map out the team’s PI objectives for the upcoming PI.2. During the IterationDuring the iteration execution, the PO holds extremely critical responsibilities:The PO builds, updates and maintains the team backlog, with updates from all stakeholders and the team. Reviewing and ordering the team backlog as a precursor to the Iteration Planning event is the responsibility of the PO. For this, they may need to coordinate dependencies with other POs.During the Iteration Planning event, the PO gives clarity of user story details, and is around to ensure alignment and concurrence on a final iteration plan. While the team elaborates on the backlog items and creates stories, the PO keeps track of the flow and maintains priorities. POs work with the team to flesh out each story, adding acceptance criteria and acceptance tests, applying Behaviour-Driven Development (BDD) practices. As the work progresses, the PO will work closely with the team to agree on the completion of accepted stories. and see whether they meet the Definition of Done and quality standards that have been laid down. The PO does not need to be a technical expert but should be able to understand the scope of the work that is coming up. He or she should collaborate with the engineers to assist in making decisions and sequencing the technological infrastructures that will enable the business functionality. During team demos, the PO coordinates between the team and stakeholders who are present.   They also participate in events such as the Iteration Retrospective and the Agile Release Train’s Inspect & Adapt workshop, providing the customer’s perspective on the work progress.3. During the Program ExecutionDuring each PI, the PO will connect with other POs to check and coordinate other dependencies, ensuring smooth work progress without any hiccups. They will sync up typically during weekly events. Additionally, POs play a valuable role in creating the System Demo for all the stakeholders involved in the program value stream. 4. Inspection and AdaptationThe Inspect and Adapt (I&A) workshop is held to address any large impediments to smooth progress. During this event, the PO works across teams to see how best to improve processes and increase team velocity and quality. During the I&A workshop, the PO participates in and holds the PI system demo for program stakeholders.SAFe Product Owner vs Scrum Product OwnerBefore we get into the differences in the roles and responsibilities of a SAFe Product Owner and a Scrum Product Owner, we need to also understand a third and more prominent role on a SAFe team: that of the SAFe Product Manager. The SAFe Product Manager is someone who works with several SAFe teams, typically two to four, and owns the Program Backlog—which gives him or her an overall view of the entire project (or the big picture).  The table below talks about the differences in the roles played by a SAFe Product Owner and a Scrum Product Owner.SAFe Product OwnerScrum Product OwnerBacklog ItemsA SAFe Product Owner undertakes the responsibility for the Team Backlog. This lists all the requirements (Backlog items) for the team.A Scrum Product Owner undertakes the responsibility for the Product Backlog. This is a prioritised list of all the requirements for the product.Number of teams they supportA SAFe Product Owner can serve, at most, two teams.A Scrum Product Owner can work with two or more teams.Vision and roadmapA SAFe Product Manager, not the SAFe Product Owner, defines the features and owns the vision and roadmap. A SAFe Product Manager is someone who works with two to four SAFe Product Owners. He or she will have an overall view of the entire program. As such, the SAFe Product Owner exerts less authority than the Scrum Product Owner.Scrum Product Owner defines the features and owns the vision and roadmap. So, as we can see, the Scrum Product Owner undertakes responsibilities that combine those of the SAFe Product Owner and the SAFe Product Manager (but to a smaller scale as the project is typically smaller).Who has the final say on the product?A SAFe Product Owner does not have a final say on what must be done for a certain Product. This is done by the SAFe Product Manager, who is the final authority and owns the vision and roadmap on a SAFe project.It is the Scrum Product Manager who has the final say on what needs to be done for the product.SimilaritiesJust like the Scrum PO, the SAFe Product Owner is also a core member of the team.  He or she is the customer proxy on the team, ensuring that the vision is always kept in focus.They have the responsibility of the Backlog- the Team Backlog in the case of the SAFe PO, and the Product Backlog in the case of the Scrum PO.Both POs work on prioritising the tasks that the team will take up next, guiding them on the relative importance of the stories.Again, both the SAFe PO and the Scrum PO work toward maximizing the product value.They keep an eye on the goal for the next iteration.They participate in reflections and inspect and adapt during and after each iteration.The two roles take part in the Planning, Retrospective and Review of an Iteration in SAFe/ Sprint in Scrum in a similar way.Can one person do both roles in SAFe; that of the Product Owner and Product Manager?The PO and the PM roles are completely distinct in SAFe, and each comes with its own set of responsibilities.There is a different focus for each role: The PM’s role is cantered on the benefits to the customer and the organisation. He or she is also the person with whom the business owners and members of the ART (Agile Release Train) connect. POs always have the needs of their own Agile team in focus.  Product Owners and Product Managers work together collaboratively to understand the customer’s needs and work toward fulfilling them. The flow of information is from the customer to the PM, and then down to the POs and their team members. The POs and PMs meet up at all ART or PO planning and sync up events and stay aligned with the same set of overarching goals. As we have seen, one person cannot undertake the roles of the SAFe Product Owner and the SAFe Product Manager at the same time. POs and PMs must at all times be connected, and work in tandem to deliver a successful product; however, having one person playing both roles is a sure route to disaster!  The last word… The SAFe Product Owner plays a role that is at the core of SAFe, setting up the product strategy, getting deep into customer requirements, and prioritizing the features as per their importance. They hold the responsibility of ensuring customer delight, even as they keep a pulse on the economic value that is to be derived from the product.  In the end, SAFe is all about giving the larger enterprise a framework for scaling Agile — to build better products, respond to volatile markets, and keep in step with emerging technologies — and without the Product Owner’s expertise, all this will fall short. 
9262
What Is a Safe Product Owner?

The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is, in the... Read More

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.The 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

Technology has made our lives easier. The number o... Read More

Useful links