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How to Become a Certified Scrum Product Owner?

Who is a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO® )?A Product Owner is a role defined in Scrum. Scrum is a framework for complex product development (*). The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work performed the Development Team. The role exists in Scrum to have 1 person with a clear accountability of WHAT product or service will be built. The Product Owner role is also used as a title outside Scrum, in other frameworks, but if you want to understand the definition of the role and responsibilities of a Product Owner, you need to start to look and to understand it in the scope of a Scrum Team.  (*) (“product”, to be defined in context, this is a generic term for the product or service being developed for the end-users) (*) (“development”, also to be defined in context, this is a generic term for all activities needed to create and deliver value to the end-users)A Certified Scrum Product Owner is a certification issued by the Scrum Alliance for the Product Owner role.Roles and Responsibilities of the Certified Scrum Product Owner :A Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product (or service, …) being built. The Product Owner is responsible for WHAT will be built by the development teamThe role of the Product Owner can be quite challenging and high-demanding.When reading The Scrum Guide, it says that product backlog management is the main activity for a Product Owner. The product backlog is a tool to ensure it’s clear what’s needed in the product and what’s the most valuable thing to build next. Managing a backlog, and refining items on the product backlog is a continuous activity. The Product Owner often serves as the spokesperson for the product. This means he/she needs to be able to answers questions appropriately, for example regarding product vision, roadmap, planning, why certain choices have been made, etc. This also includes NOT answering certain questions, because the Product Owner knows the development team is in a more appropriate position to answer the question more accurately, and as well to facilitate a conversation with the development team involved. The strategic significance of the CSPO®The Product Owner role in Scrum is a role, both with a tactical, strategic and operational aspect. The Product Owner is the personification of the end-users, customers, business stakeholders. He or she represents the different views, perspectives and he or she is finally accountable for maximizing value.To be able to do the job, the Product Owner has business (domain) knowledge, affinity with end-users, affinity with “development” (activities needed to deliver a piece of value), and knowledge of how to do agile product management. Product management is a multi-disciplinary job.Sometimes, a Product Owner is a role given to a person, as an additional role to his/her existing function. To my experience, a Product Owner requires at least half the time of a normal day job. I have seen Product Owners who were not involved in the necessary activities. Given below are the duties crucial to any Product Owner.Do’sTreat requirements as a hypothesis, focus on learningEnsuring Product Backlog items are clearly expressedKeep slicing for value (use techniques as user story mapping)Create a shared understanding by visualizationChallenge the team by asking open questionsChallenge your stakeholders by repeatedly asking “Why?”Engaging with end-users to get feedback, treat the sprint review at the last responsible moment to get feedbackFacilitating Product Backlog Refinement (necessary to ensure items are ready to be planned in an upcoming sprint)Treat estimates as estimates, not commitments, trust the teamFeed the team with problems not only solutionsFocus on goals (long-term and short-term)Communicate uncertainty to stakeholders, as uncertaintyUnderstanding Lean Product DevelopmentDo engage in retrospectivesBe fair about what’s done and not doneSet an example, act and speak according to Scrum Values and Agile PrinciplesTips to consider for becoming CSPO® What is CSPO®  certification?CSPO®  stands for Certified Scrum Product Owner. It’s the initial (entry-level) certification of a Product Owner. Scrum Alliance is the accredited body of the CSPO® . Now, let’s see the steps for becoming CSPO® . Prerequisites to become a CSPO® There are no specific prerequisites to attend a course. You can attend a live online or in-person course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®), or receive private coaching from a Certified Agile Coach (CAC). After successfully completing the course, you will be asked to accept the CSPO License Agreement and complete your Scrum Alliance membership profile.Who can take up this CSPO®  course?Anyone interested in the Product Owner can take up this course.Why you should become a CSPO®  certified?A CSPO®  certification is accreditation and a proof of a body of knowledge at a specific point in time. The industry is asking for certifications, so if you want to take up the Product Owner role, a certification can give you this extra accreditation.Difference between CSPO®  and PSPO CSPO®  is an abbreviation which stands for Certified Scrum Product Owner. This is a certification offered by the Scrum Alliance, specifically for the Product Owner role. PSPO is an abbreviation which stands for Profession Scrum Product Owner. This is a certification offered by scrum.org, specifically for the Product Owner role.In my opinion, both certifications are equivalent and define a high-quality standard. Certifications issued by scrum.org do not expire. Of course, to test and validate your knowledge, having a decent understanding of the product owner role is mandatory, therefore preparation and study are key. Participating in training to learn, and to experience what Scrum is about, is always highly recommended. You can study the PSPO Subject Areas.Importance of the CSPO®  certification for an individual to boost his/her career as a successful Product OwnerYou need to decide for yourself if you think certifications are an added value. Eventually, it’s about a hands-on experience in the role. I do think that classroom course offers an added valueIn case you want to take up the role of a Product Owner, and you have not much knowledge yet, a classroom course is recommendedIn case you already are working as Product Owner, and you want to refresh your knowledge, take an updated perspective, a classroom course is recommendedCSPO®  certification validityCertification gives you access to a renewable, two-year membership with Scrum Alliance. The certification is 2 years valid. You can read here how it works to renew your certification.Step-by-step process to become a CSPO®  1. Find a Certified Scrum Product Owner course on the Scrum Alliance website2. Prepare for the trainingRead and understand the Scrum GuideRead and understand the manifesto for agile software development3. Attend the 2-day course. Enjoy!Salary and career growth of Certified Scrum Product Owner vs Non-certified Scrum Product OwnerHere, you can see an overview of the certifications path offered by the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org. According to the 12th state of the Agile report by VersionOne, the chapter is about “Agile Methods and Practices”, having a dedicated customer or product owner is a technique indicated by 63% of the respondents. In the 2017 State of Scrum report (by Scrum Alliance), 40% of certifications are Certified Scrum Product Owner. 81% agree that certification improves practice.ConclusionBeing a product owner is a satisfying job! If you get a certification it will add an extra line on your curriculum which will catch the eye of recruiters. Besides that, it’s a learning journey and you’ll only understand the traits of the job by experience. Get your CSPO® certification today.Have a successful career ahead!

How to Become a Certified Scrum Product Owner?

7392
How to Become a Certified Scrum Product Owner?

Who is a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO® )?

A Product Owner is a role defined in Scrum. Scrum is a framework for complex product development (*). The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work performed the Development Team. The role exists in Scrum to have 1 person with a clear accountability of WHAT product or service will be built. The Product Owner role is also used as a title outside Scrum, in other frameworks, but if you want to understand the definition of the role and responsibilities of a Product Owner, you need to start to look and to understand it in the scope of a Scrum Team. 

 (*) (“product”, to be defined in context, this is a generic term for the product or service being developed for the end-users)

 (*) (“development”, also to be defined in context, this is a generic term for all activities needed to create and deliver value to the end-users)

A Certified Scrum Product Owner is a certification issued by the Scrum Alliance for the Product Owner role.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Certified Scrum Product Owner :

A Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product (or service, …) being built. The Product Owner is responsible for WHAT will be built by the development team

The role of the Product Owner can be quite challenging and high-demanding.

When reading The Scrum Guide, it says that product backlog management is the main activity for a Product Owner. The product backlog is a tool to ensure it’s clear what’s needed in the product and what’s the most valuable thing to build next. Managing a backlog, and refining items on the product backlog is a continuous activity. 

The Product Owner often serves as the spokesperson for the product. This means he/she needs to be able to answers questions appropriately, for example regarding product vision, roadmap, planning, why certain choices have been made, etc. This also includes NOT answering certain questions, because the Product Owner knows the development team is in a more appropriate position to answer the question more accurately, and as well to facilitate a conversation with the development team involved. 

The strategic significance of the CSPO®

The Product Owner role in Scrum is a role, both with a tactical, strategic and operational aspect. 

The Product Owner is the personification of the end-users, customers, business stakeholders. He or she represents the different views, perspectives and he or she is finally accountable for maximizing value.

To be able to do the job, the Product Owner has business (domain) knowledge, affinity with end-users, affinity with “development” (activities needed to deliver a piece of value), and knowledge of how to do agile product management. Product management is a multi-disciplinary job.

Sometimes, a Product Owner is a role given to a person, as an additional role to his/her existing function. To my experience, a Product Owner requires at least half the time of a normal day job. 

I have seen Product Owners who were not involved in the necessary activities. Given below are the duties crucial to any Product Owner.

Do’s

  • Treat requirements as a hypothesis, focus on learning
  • Ensuring Product Backlog items are clearly expressed
  • Keep slicing for value (use techniques as user story mapping)
  • Create a shared understanding by visualization
  • Challenge the team by asking open questions
  • Challenge your stakeholders by repeatedly asking “Why?”
  • Engaging with end-users to get feedback, treat the sprint review at the last responsible moment to get feedback
  • Facilitating Product Backlog Refinement (necessary to ensure items are ready to be planned in an upcoming sprint)
  • Treat estimates as estimates, not commitments, trust the team
  • Feed the team with problems not only solutions
  • Focus on goals (long-term and short-term)
  • Communicate uncertainty to stakeholders, as uncertainty
  • Understanding Lean Product Development
  • Do engage in retrospectives
  • Be fair about what’s done and not done
  • Set an example, act and speak according to Scrum Values and Agile Principles

Step-by-step process to become CSPO

Tips to consider for becoming CSPO® 

  • What is CSPO®  certification?

CSPO®  stands for Certified Scrum Product Owner. It’s the initial (entry-level) certification of a Product Owner. Scrum Alliance is the accredited body of the CSPO® . Now, let’s see the steps for becoming CSPO® 

  • Prerequisites to become a CSPO® 

There are no specific prerequisites to attend a course. You can attend a live online or in-person course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®), or receive private coaching from a Certified Agile Coach (CAC). After successfully completing the course, you will be asked to accept the CSPO License Agreement and complete your Scrum Alliance membership profile.

  • Who can take up this CSPO®  course?

Anyone interested in the Product Owner can take up this course.

  • Why you should become a CSPO®  certified?

A CSPO®  certification is accreditation and a proof of a body of knowledge at a specific point in time. The industry is asking for certifications, so if you want to take up the Product Owner role, a certification can give you this extra accreditation.

  • Difference between CSPO®  and PSPO 

CSPO®  is an abbreviation which stands for Certified Scrum Product Owner. This is a certification offered by the Scrum Alliance, specifically for the Product Owner role. PSPO is an abbreviation which stands for Profession Scrum Product Owner. This is a certification offered by scrum.org, specifically for the Product Owner role.

In my opinion, both certifications are equivalent and define a high-quality standard. 

Certifications issued by scrum.org do not expire. Of course, to test and validate your knowledge, having a decent understanding of the product owner role is mandatory, therefore preparation and study are key. Participating in training to learn, and to experience what Scrum is about, is always highly recommended. You can study the PSPO Subject Areas.

  • Importance of the CSPO®  certification for an individual to boost his/her career as a successful Product Owner

You need to decide for yourself if you think certifications are an added value. Eventually, it’s about a hands-on experience in the role. I do think that classroom course offers an added value

  • In case you want to take up the role of a Product Owner, and you have not much knowledge yet, a classroom course is recommended
  • In case you already are working as Product Owner, and you want to refresh your knowledge, take an updated perspective, a classroom course is recommended
  • CSPO®  certification validity

Certification gives you access to a renewable, two-year membership with Scrum Alliance. The certification is 2 years valid. You can read here how it works to renew your certification.
Stakeholder Management

Step-by-step process to become a CSPO®  

1. Find a Certified Scrum Product Owner course on the Scrum Alliance website

2. Prepare for the training

Read and understand the Scrum Guide

Read and understand the manifesto for agile software development

3. Attend the 2-day course. Enjoy!

Salary and career growth of Certified Scrum Product Owner vs Non-certified Scrum Product Owner

Here, you can see an overview of the certifications path offered by the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org. According to the 12th state of the Agile report by VersionOne, the chapter is about “Agile Methods and Practices”, having a dedicated customer or product owner is a technique indicated by 63% of the respondents. 

In the 2017 State of Scrum report (by Scrum Alliance), 40% of certifications are Certified Scrum Product Owner. 81% agree that certification improves practice.

Conclusion

Being a product owner is a satisfying job! If you get a certification it will add an extra line on your curriculum which will catch the eye of recruiters. Besides that, it’s a learning journey and you’ll only understand the traits of the job by experience. Get your CSPO® certification today.

Have a successful career ahead!

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

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1 comments

Maricruz 07 Jan 2019

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KnowledgeHut Editor 23 Jan 2019

Thank you so much Maricruz.

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Many organizations use JIRA as a one-shot solution to automate their processes, and JIRA has almost become synonymous with Agile. Even organizations that don’t deploy it across all levels use it for at least some of their projects. Such is the popularity of JIRA. So, what exactly makes it so popular? JIRA provides a simple and easy-to-use solution for project management tasks, right from gathering requirements to maintaining releases and generating all sorts of reports and metrics. The best part of the tool is that it is highly customizable, attending to the needs of one and all. If it is said that there isn’t a thing that one cannot do using JIRA in terms of project management, then that is not an understatement.  Since Agile is the buzzword now and most organizations are opting for it, this article will provide users with a detailed insight on how to carry out their project management tasks and software development activities by using a Scrum framework.   Before moving ahead, there are two basic pre-requisites that the user who intends to use JIRA must have and they are: Pre-Requisites:  An active account on JIRA Required permissions (Super Admin, Project Admin, etc. – Defined by organizations) 1. Creation of Project: The first and most important thing is to create a project in JIRA under which we will be carrying out our activities and tracking the progress of those. There are two ways a user can create a project.  Method 1:  Step 1: Log in to JIRA using your credentials. Once you are logged in, you will land on the project dashboard which will look something like this.  Step 2: Click on Settings icon and select the Projects option as highlighted in the image below.   Step 3: Select “Create Project” option as shown in the image.   Step 4: After clicking on “Create Project”, you will be prompted with two options to select from.  Classic Project  Next Gen Project Step 5: Once you have selected the type of project, you will be asked to enter the Project name. You will also have the option to change the type of template i.e Scrum, Kanban or Bug Fixing, depending on the purpose for which you wish to use JIRA.  Once done, you must click on the “Create” button.  And voila, it’s that simple. Once you have clicked on the create button, you will land on the project dashboard with the name of the project highlighted on the top left. As we can see in the image below, project name “My Scrum Project” is visible. Method 2.  The steps remain the same, only difference is that instead of navigating through settings, once you have logged in, you will have the option to navigate via “Projects” link as depicted in the pic.  2. Creating Backlog: Once the project has been created the second important step is to define requirements in a backlog. As you can see in the pic below, there is the option to select “Backlog” from the left side panel/navigation pane to navigate to the backlog section.  Here you can start creating backlog items. This backlog serves as the “Product Backlog”. Users can outline requirements in terms of Epics, User Stories, Tasks and Bugs which are known as “issue types” in JIRA. In short, everything that is created is an issue in JIRA. Please note that for ease of understanding and reference, I am sticking to the most basic issue types as mentioned above.  Step 1: To create issues in JIRA, all that is needed to be done is to click on the “Create” button on the top most navigation bar. This bar remains visible at all times by default, no matter whichever page you navigate to. Step 2: Once the user clicks on “Create”, a dialog box to enter details of the issue will open.   The two most important fields in this are:  Project: This field, by default, is populated with the name of the project you are in. But in case you wish to change the project field, the same can be selected from the dropdownIssue Type: This option by default is selected as “Story” but can be changed depending on which issue you want to create. The relevant issue can be chosen from the dropdown. Below image shows how it all looks like in JIRA. There are two types of fields on the dialog box; Mandatory and Non-Mandatory. Mandatory fields are marked with a red Asterix. Also, these fields change on change of the issue type i.e. on basis of what is applicable to the issue type being selected.  As already mentioned, JIRA is highly customizable and a JIRA admin can add or change more issue types based on what terminology is being used by the project and/or organization on the whole. E.g. Issue type of Features can also be added in case teams follow a feature-based development approach wherein features are divided across teams and encompass the hierarchy of epics and stories.  In a similar manner, issue type “Story” can be amended to be displayed as “User Story” or at times to be more specific, something like “Functional User story” and/or “Technical User story”. In addition to this, the fields are also customizable. New fields can be added and the rule of mandatory and option field can also be altered depending on what works best for the team. To make these changes, the JIRA admin needs to navigate to the settings section and then to the desired settings type to change them. Please note that these settings will only be available to the user who either is a JIRA admin or has permission to perform these activities. Permissions are issued by the JIRA admin to the user.  Coming back to the topic of creation of backlog, once you fill up the details and click on “Create” at the bottom of the dialog box, a new issue is created in JIRA that now starts reflecting in the backlog.  Issues can also be created by using the short cut link available in the backlog section as highlighted below.  Once you click on “+” icon, you will be able to select the type of issue to create and provide a summary for the same.   After entering the summary details, you are required to click enter and the issue is created. To enter other details, you will have to navigate to the created issue by clicking on it in backlog or opening the same in a new tab and then doing the needful.  As soon as an issue is created, the same starts reflecting in the backlog. Here you can see two stories and one bug that were created, are visible in the backlog. 1. Linking Issues:  We all know the hierarchy of requirements goes something like Epics > Stories > Tasks. JIRA gives us the capability to link one issue type with another. To start with as a very basic ask, stories will fall under the epics and thus need to be linked with the correct epic. This linkage is something which replaces the requirement traceability of traditional models. When everything is perfectly linked then it can be easily known which requirement from the customer was covered under which epic and if we go into a granular level, under which story and even tasks the requirements fall under. Similarly, if a bug is found in the story while working on it, the bug can also be logged and linked against the story.  To link issues, the steps below can be performed.  Epic Link: To link stories under an epic, JIRA specifically provides the field “Epic Link” in stories. 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As soon as you enter the bug issue id and click on link, the story is linked with the bug or to be more specific, the story is marked ‘blocked’ by the bug. In this way multiple stories can be blocked with a single bug and vice versa.   Note – Stories can be linked to other stories to showcase linkage, to mark dependency, to display duplicity/redundancy etc in the same manner, all that is needed is to select the correct option from the dropdown after selecting “Link issue”. Issue Prioritization in Backlog.  As the rule goes, the product backlog must be prioritized at all times i.e. the issue with the highest priority should be at the top and the issue with least priority should be at the bottom of the backlog, so that the teams working on the backlog have a clear idea about the work they need to pull in once the next iteration starts or to understand if they have capacity for more during the ongoing sprint. Keeping the backlog prioritized also helps the team to keep working as per the product roadmap in the absence of the product owner and as such the team does not get blocked.  JIRA also provides the capability to keep the backlog prioritized at all times by the simple function of dragging and dropping the issue above or below the other ones. Below images will give you an idea of the same.  Scenario 1: Once you start creating issues in the backlog, the issues start reflecting in the ascending order of their Issue IDs i.e. the order in which they are created. For ease of reference, the issues have been named as 1, 2, 3, 4 and placed one after the other.  Now assume that the priority of Story 4 is the highest and thus it should be at the top of the backlog, followed by test story 2, followed by 1 and 3 respectively. Thus, they should be placed in order of 4,2,1 and 3 in the backlog. 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PO can open the stories and discuss the details and Acceptance Criteria with team members. Once all the stories have been discussed, the team can start pulling the stories in the sprint and for that to happen the team will need a sprint in JIRA. It is again very simple.  Step 1: In the backlog section, there is a “Create Sprint” button.  Step 2: Once you click on the button; a sprint is created, starting from sprint 1 with a prefix of project ID as shown in the image below. You have the option to create issues directly in the sprint using the quick link as mentioned above for the backlog or the issues can be dragged and dropped in the sprint created. All the issues dragged and dropped in the sprint created, as discussed in sprint planning, will serve as the sprint backlog.  Step 3:  Once all the issues are dragged and dropped in the sprint, the sprint is ready to be started. As an example, we see that test story 4 and 2 as well as a bug have been dragged to sprint 1 as displayed in the image below.Please note as part of sprint planning session, details like Story Assignee, story points and hourly estimates can be filled in the stories using the fields available. Also, in case the story owner wants to highlight the individual tasks they intend to perform as part of working on the story like Analysis, Coding, Review etc or in case multiple team members are working on a single story then to highlight individual work assignments, the option of creating tasks can be used. Tasks can be created just like stories, as mentioned above. It is similar to work breakdown in traditional models.What needs to be made sure is that before marking the sprint planning as being complete, all the stories have been pulled in sprint and assigned and estimated in terms of story points or hours or both, according to the approach the teams have decided to take. All the sub tasks that have been created, can optionally be assigned. If desired, these subtasks can also be estimated. Once all this is done, the Scrum Master can then mark sprint planning as complete and proceed to start the sprint.  As we know that before sprint planning, a goal is provided by the PO to the team. The same goal can be added in the sprint. Just select the three dots option besides the sprint on right side and select edit sprint and you will be able to enter the sprint goal.  4. Starting Sprint: Once the planning is complete and activities like estimations, assignments and tasking have been done, it is time to start the sprint. This is simple to do. In the backlog, there is a “Start Sprint” button. Once you click on it, a dialog box appears where you can verify sprint goal and set a duration for the sprint. After reviewing the details, you can click on “Start” and we are good to go.  5. in Progress:  Once the sprint has started, you can navigate to the “Active Sprint” section to visualize the progress on the stories in the sprint. Team members can update the stories to depict statuses from “To Do”, “In Progress” and “Done” and also update their daily hours in the stories in case teams are estimating in terms of hours.  6. Completing/Closing Sprint:  On the last day of the sprint, it is important to mark the ongoing sprint as closed in JIRA so that next sprint can be planned and started.  All the items which are marked done are considered complete. Anything pending to be completed is either moved to the next sprint or to backlog in consultation with the PO.  Step 1: In the “Active Sprint” section. On the top right corner, you need to click on “Complete Sprint” button.  Step 2: Once the “Complete Sprint” button is clicked, a dialog box appears with details of issues that have been completed and the ones which are pending. Select the place where you wish to move the pending items to, either to the backlog or next sprint which is to be started.Step 3: Once you select the desired value under “Move to” field and click on “Complete” button the Sprint is marked as complete.   
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In recent times, Agile has proved to be more than just a buzzword in the IT industry.The amazing results of Agile project management have widened its scope for implementation in other than IT industry also; therefore, we often come across the terms like “being Agile” and “doing Agile”.More and more organizations and enterprises irrespective of size and business niche are adopting Agile with an eye on commitment, delivery values, profitability, customer’s satisfaction etc. Because of continuous Agile evolvement, you need to align Agile practices with the latest trends to compete with excellence in 2018 and beyond. Following are the top five Agile trends that will help you plan and sail safe through the competitive marketing environment.1) Short-Term Activities Oriented Agile Training:Organizing the short-term activities oriented intensive workshop/training, planned to train the participants for implementation of specific skill in real projects, is a new emerging trend in Agile organizations. The long and exhaustive classroom training of 4 or 5 days are no longer a preference. The short–term Agile workshops/training leave the Agile team members with new ideas and cohesive understanding of the Agile roadmap. The improved capability to execute short iterations supports to market the product early. In addition, Agile workshops are helping the organizations to develop multi-disciplinary Agile specialists to maximize overall performance.2) Rapid Feedback:Predictions are good to plan but the ever-changing working conditions, new demands, and altered quality standards etc deviate the results. The biggest trend in Agile management for 2018, I noticed recently, is to focus more on rapid feedbacks of developments rather than depending on the predicted outcome. Rapid feedback is vital for Agile teams to understand the way project development is going. Creating a friendly environment allowing every team member to comment and even seek the feedback saves considerable time besides giving a true picture of progress. Continuous Integration (CI) is the best tool to maximize the benefits of rapid feedback.3. Embracing Agile Spirit:  Over the years, a number of organizations twisted & curled Agile methodology to meet their interests and suitability; as a result, some of these tasted just the semi-success. The new trend shows that organizations are embracing the Agile spirit as a part of organizational culture. Organizations are conducting short-period objective oriented trainings to strengthen the Agile mindset of team members.The application of modern Agile principles leads the organizations to deliver more values with satisfactory profit. There are four core characteristics of Agile mindset - value matters, small cycles matters, ecosystem in entire organization matters and culture matters. Agile Spirit embracement can be improved by following the five simple tactics- be transparent, be disciplined, ensure participation, get everyone aligned and set up collaboration as an Agile tool.  4) Cloud-Based Solutions:More Agile teams are adopting cloud-based solutions to find new ways for envision (prediction), coding, testing and deployment faster than they are/were doing now with the intention to have an edge over their competitors. Server-less computing has become the favorite of Agile teams; as, it reduces the need of ‘always on’ traditional server infrastructure, in addition to reducing the infrastructure and operational costing. The organizations that follow cloud-based Agile methodology have enormous competitive advantages supporting for higher quality, greater agility, faster market responsiveness, reducing costing, improving client’s experience etc. It can be said that Cloud technology is going to be an Agile accelerator.5) More Focus on ‘Business Value’ of User Stories:“If you can’t measure the results, you can’t improve the process” fine fits to modern Agile culture. Today, Agile organizations are more focused on measuring the lagging indicators like ROI of new products/ features, Net Promoter Score (NPS) of team members & customers, cycle time and operational stability etc. Using three-dimensional metrics, encompassing complexity, ROI and business value, is the new approach to measure the business value of a user story. Identifying business values before writing a user story rather than writing a user story and then evaluating the business values is a significant shift in modern Agile practice.Summary:Agile culture adoption is growing fast in organizations around the world. Internal Agile coaches, consistent Agile practices, and implementation of a common tool across Agile teams are the top three factors encouraging businesses to continue their Agile journey. According to ‘12th annual State of Agile report’, the top five Agile benefits reported by the organizations are –Better project visibility – through- rapid feedbackFaster delivery – through – cloud-based solutionEnhanced productivity – through – activities oriented learning workshopsImproved ability to manage the changing priorities – through – deep focus on business value of a user storyBetter IT alignment – through – Agile spirit embracementKnowledgeHut provides objective-oriented customized Agile training that helps the organizations match the steps with the latest trends in Agile methodology.
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Top 5 Agile Trends to Take You Safe Through 2021 a...

In recent times, Agile has proved to be more than ... Read More

The Spotify model - Agile

Many companies find it hard to scale Agile due to the various complexities that come with multiple teams, locations, time zones and different cultures. Over the past decade, many Scaling frameworks like SAFe, LESS, DAD have been introduced into the Agile world by various Agile practitioners and groups. This article is about one such scaling model called the “Spotify Model”. Origins of Spotify Model “Spotify” is a Sweden based music streaming company founded in 2006. The structure used by the company to scale agile across its various teams located in different locations came to be called as the Spotify Model. This model is becoming increasingly popular due to its flexibility and simplicity. Need for change in Organization Structure Today’s world is constantly changing due to social, political, and economic disruptions. The 2019-2020 COVID is a classic example of disruption in the entire world to the “business as usual”. To keep up with the disruption and competition, companies must be nimble and innovative to respond quickly and stay ahead of their peers. The hierarchical structures and organizational processes that worked well for decades are no longer enough to keep up with this fast-paced world. While traditional hierarchies and managerial processes are still very much required to run the show, the need of the hour is to also have an additional network structure operating in tandem with the traditional norms. The purpose of this network is to continually assess the business, the industry, and the organization, and react with greater agility, speed, and creativity than what has existed before.  There are so many examples around us where Start-up organizations thrive in the network structure and fail miserably when they have to scale, and cannot continue with traditional hierarchy and processes. In equal measure, around us are examples of Enterprise giants collapsing under the weight of the traditional hierarchy alone without the nimbleness and speed of the network structure.  Both the operating structures – the hierarchy and the network, are essential for today’s businesses to thrive. Kotter’s theory of establishing a dual operating system within an organization resonates heavily in the Spotify Model and compels us to draw parallels. In the Model we can see that there are innovative and thriving network structures and at the same time there is space to establish the traditional hierarchy as well. Spotify Model Squad: The Squad is the basic entity of the model which comprises the team that does the work. The Squad does not have a dedicated Squad lead but has a dedicated Product Owner.  The Product Owner tells the Squad “What” has to be done , prioritizes the work and maintains the backlog. Each Squad is self-organizing and can choose to follow Scrum, Kanban, XP or a hybrid of these. Squads are aligned to their mission, product strategy and short-term goals. Each Squad owns the release and delivery end to end. Typically, an infrastructure / DevOps Squad enables them to carry out smooth releases but does not do it for them. The Squad has access to an Agile Coach who runs retrospectives and Sprint Planning meetings. The coaches help the Squads to continuously improve. Tribe: A Tribe is a group of Squads that are related to each other by nature of the work being done by them. for e.g multiple Squads working together on the same product feature or closely related product features/ same product within a portfolio of different products.The number of people in a Tribe is recommended to be 100 in line with the Dunbar number. As per the Dunbar number, most people cannot maintain a social relationship with more than 150 people or so. All the Squads within a Tribe are co-located and physically able to interact in common areas dedicated for this purpose. There is a Tribe Lead who is responsible for creating a productive and an innovative environment for the Squads. The Tribe Lead can be part of a Squad as well.  Tribes meet often to showcase what they have been working on, what has been delivered and their learnings. The showcase could include the working software, new tools and techniques. Handling Dependencies One of the foremost challenges to resolve in a scaled agile environment are “conflicts and dependencies”. These can crop up during the development of a product among the Squads within a Tribe and also exist among Squads in other Tribes as well.   Dependencies could slow down or block the progress. Such dependencies are identified and are handled by reprioritization or through technical solutions. Sometimes innovative ideas could help remove the dependencies.  The end goal is to avoid dependencies between Tribes by making the Tribes self-organizing; and once that is achieved by having minimal dependencies among Squads within a Tribe. Survey for Continuous Improvement: A survey is done for all Squads at the end of every Quarter to understand the pain points and areas for improvement. For e.g multiple Squads having issues with the release process need urgent attention. One of the Squads not getting enough support from their Product Owner needs leadership intervention. Chapter: Certain disciplines/technological areas within the Tribe, like QA, Database Specialists, Front-end developers, Back-end developers, UX Specialists will benefit with regular discussions and interactions. People within these functions across multiple Squads and within the same Tribe constitute the Chapter. Constant communication within the Chapter members is encouraged. Each Chapter meets regularly to discuss their achievements and challenges in their respective areas of expertise e.g QA Chapter, UX Chapter, DB Chapter. There is a Chapter Lead who can guide the various members of the Chapter on “How” things can best be done. For e.g the QA Chapter lead can strategize the End-to-End Functional, Performance and Security Testing to be carried out for the new version of the product in an upcoming release. This will ensure the testers within all the Squads have a common well thrashed out testing strategy for the upcoming product release.  The Chapter lead can also be the line manager of the members in his Chapter, performing the traditional managerial responsibilities like people development, performance appraisals, career growth etc. The Chapter lead is also a member of one of the Squads in the Tribe, making him remain closer to ground realities.x` All the Chapter leads within a Tribe typically could report to the Tribe lead, and the Tribe Lead performs all the managerial responsibilities for the Chapter Leads within his Tribe as well as the next level Squad members of his Tribe.  Guild : A Guild is like a “community of interest” cutting across Tribes throughout the Organization/ Business Unit.  Imagine an Enterprise that has three Tribes each located in three different locations. There could be QA Chapters for each Tribe with respect to the location. There is also a need for QA members of one Tribe to exchange and share processes and learnings with QA members of the other two Tribes. The Guild is an organic structure that serves this purpose.  The Guild cuts across the Tribes spread across the organization across locations. Knowledge, tools, and practices are shared. For e.g the QA Guild includes all the QA Chapter members and in addition can include other members who are interested.  Guilds usually are not focussed on a specific release or delivery but on their area of expertise in a generic way. They have mailing lists, publish newsletters and conduct unconferences once in a while.  Spotify as a “Scaling Agile Model” Many of the foundational elements within the model become the backbone to scale agile in the organization adopting it. Spotify Model recognizes the need for a Network Structure within the organization to make it nimble and agile. The elements within the Spotify model help to establish Agile scaled to multiple teams spread across various locations and areas of work. The Spotify Model recognizes self-empowerment and self-organization, and at the same time aligns the Squads within a Tribe to work in tandem, in order to create complete and usable software products. The Chapters across Squads provide the environment for cross Squad collaboration. The Quarterly Survey in the Squads and handling dependencies within and across Tribes enables agility and continuous improvement. The Guilds help in improving the organizational culture to better adapt to the technological advancements and provide competitive readiness. Unique Benefits of the Model Spotify focusses on Agile Principles rather than mandating specific practices. Squads are autonomous to choose their own agile way of working. (Scrum/XP/Kanban/Scrumban etc. Not all Squads within a Tribe follow the same method) Specific Agile ceremonies and artifacts are not imposed on the Squad. Practices which work well with multiple Squads are automatically adopted by other Squads without the resistance that comes with standardization. This creates a balance of consistency across Squads along with the flexibility needed for autonomy. Though Squads are autonomous and loosely coupled they are tightly aligned by grouping them into Tribes. How Spotify is different from other Scaled Agile frameworks  While SAFe is a heavyweight scaled agile framework having many different flavours like Essential SAFe, Portfolio SAFe, etc, Spotify is more of a lightweight framework.  It might work very well for start-ups that are growing into medium Enterprises or for larger enterprises that are not ready yet for something as heavy as SAFe. The role of the Scrum Master is absent in Spotify, but the Squads have access to Servant Leaders in the form of Chapter and Tribe Leads and Agile Coaches. Conclusion  The Spotify Model has been a popular buzzword due to its unique nomenclature, flexibility and simplicity. It recommends the need for a community-based networking structure within the organization and focuses on the Agile Principles rather than Practices. It is a very unique and liberating Scaled Agile model and requires the practitioners to be extremely mindful and responsible while adopting it, so that it can be tailored for their specific organizational needs. 
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The Spotify model - Agile

Many companies find it hard to scale Agile due to ... Read More