How to Become a Certified Scrum Product Owner?

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06th Jun, 2022
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18th Dec, 2018
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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 Product Owner responsibilities and roles, 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!

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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