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How To Choose A Scrum Master?

A common problem most of the scrum teams face is with regards to selecting a suitable team member to become the scrum master for the team. It has become a strenuous activity for some teams, for some a ritual whereas for some others it has become just another activity not to be stressed about. However, giving careful thought to the process of selecting a suitable scrum master will be beneficial for any scrum team with different scrum tools   Who is the Scrum Master?  A common analogy when teaching scrum is to refer to the scrum in rugby. The rugby scrum is where the two packs of the two opposing teams lock horns in order to gain possession of the ball. The scrum stays firm when the lines stay upright and strong. The responsibility of the scrum half is to get the ball out of the scrum and give it the direction to be taken by passing it on to the next suitable in line. The agile scrum master’s role is similar to the scrum half. The scrum master is the one who gives the team the correct direction and helps them achieve objectives of the project by guiding them in the correct direction. The scrum master is expected to be the protector, problem solver and process consultant for the scrum team.   When to select the scrum master? So when is the most suitable time to select a scrum master for the team? Like with any project the work begins once the contract has been agreed upon and signed between the two parties. This precedes analysis of the problem or opportunity, analysis of the stakeholders, identification and agreement on a solution statement and finally the development of a business case.  Once the project is confirmed it is handed over to a scrum master. So, it seems most suitable to assign the scrum master for the project as soon as the project is confirmed and contracts are signed. But is it the case?  It will be much better to appoint a team member who would be involved in the project while the bidding for the project or the proposal stage is in progress. The team member would thus be in the best position to understand the exact requirements of the project as well as the expectations of the client. By again, is this the most suitable person to be nominated as the scrum master? May be, or may be not!   Who should be the scrum master? Selecting an appropriate scrum master is prudent for the smooth execution and success of any agile project. First of all lets see characteristics of a scrum master.   Problem Solver It is said that the scrum master must be like a road construction worker who is developing a new road. He would need to identify big rocks or thorny areas on the path ahead and be able to clear that path by applying suitable problem solving skills. Similarly, the scrum master must be able to apply necessary facilitation skills, negotiation skills and problem solving skills to remove any impediments that the team may face.   Protector The Scrum master must be like the guardian angel of his team. A project team is always pressurized by the client to deliver value within the triple constraints of time, cost and scope. Similarly, the team is pressurized by the management and other teams to take or share team members in other projects. The scrum master must be able to protect his team from such external interferences and allow the team to focus on doing their task.   Process consultant The scrum master must be the one who defines and adopts agile processes and practices for the team. As the process consultant the scrum mater must be able educate the team members about the tailoring made to agile practices, be able to guide the team on a daily basis and be able to make necessary process related decisions as and when required.   Available and committed The scrum master’s presence is essential for any team to schedule scrum ceremonies, facilitate those events and to guide decision making during those events. The mere presence of a strong scrum master will be a confidence booster for the team. So, if the scrum master constantly takes leave or is not present for team meeting and is busy at other client meetings that person may not be the suitable to be the scrum master.   Servant Leader The scrum master is by no means a project manager. The scrum master must be knowledgeable to lead the team by example. He too should be able to contribute to the cross-functional team. Similarly, the scrum master must be a person who sticks with the team during good times and bad. Once, in one of the projects that I was involved in, the team had to work 12 to 15 hours per day for 2 whole months to meet client deadlines. The team was on the verge of quitting when the scrum master himself brought in food and drinks for the team and handed over the items to each team member in person patting them on the back and sitting with them a good 10 to 15 minutes.   Changing responsibilities? It is always good to have a change in scrum master role thought the life of the project. This will bring a different perspective and a point of view. However, it is always important to keep in mind the afore-mentioned qualities of a good scrum master and to ensure that the new scrum master does not disrupt the existing good state of the project. As the old adage goes the leader is as good as his team!!.  
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How To Choose A Scrum Master?

622
How To Choose A Scrum Master?

A common problem most of the scrum teams face is with regards to selecting a suitable team member to become the scrum master for the team. It has become a strenuous activity for some teams, for some a ritual whereas for some others it has become just another activity not to be stressed about. However, giving careful thought to the process of selecting a suitable scrum master will be beneficial for any scrum team with different scrum tools

 

Who is the Scrum Master? 

A common analogy when teaching scrum is to refer to the scrum in rugby. The rugby scrum is where the two packs of the two opposing teams lock horns in order to gain possession of the ball. The scrum stays firm when the lines stay upright and strong. The responsibility of the scrum half is to get the ball out of the scrum and give it the direction to be taken by passing it on to the next suitable in line.

The agile scrum master’s role is similar to the scrum half. The scrum master is the one who gives the team the correct direction and helps them achieve objectives of the project by guiding them in the correct direction. The scrum master is expected to be the protector, problem solver and process consultant for the scrum team.

 

When to select the scrum master?

So when is the most suitable time to select a scrum master for the team? Like with any project the work begins once the contract has been agreed upon and signed between the two parties. This precedes analysis of the problem or opportunity, analysis of the stakeholders, identification and agreement on a solution statement and finally the development of a business case. 

Once the project is confirmed it is handed over to a scrum master. So, it seems most suitable to assign the scrum master for the project as soon as the project is confirmed and contracts are signed. But is it the case? 

It will be much better to appoint a team member who would be involved in the project while the bidding for the project or the proposal stage is in progress. The team member would thus be in the best position to understand the exact requirements of the project as well as the expectations of the client. By again, is this the most suitable person to be nominated as the scrum master? May be, or may be not!

 

Who should be the scrum master?

Selecting an appropriate scrum master is prudent for the smooth execution and success of any agile project. First of all lets see characteristics of a scrum master.

 

Problem Solver
It is said that the scrum master must be like a road construction worker who is developing a new road. He would need to identify big rocks or thorny areas on the path ahead and be able to clear that path by applying suitable problem solving skills. Similarly, the scrum master must be able to apply necessary facilitation skills, negotiation skills and problem solving skills to remove any impediments that the team may face.
 

Protector
The Scrum master must be like the guardian angel of his team. A project team is always pressurized by the client to deliver value within the triple constraints of time, cost and scope. Similarly, the team is pressurized by the management and other teams to take or share team members in other projects. The scrum master must be able to protect his team from such external interferences and allow the team to focus on doing their task.
 

Process consultant
The scrum master must be the one who defines and adopts agile processes and practices for the team. As the process consultant the scrum mater must be able educate the team members about the tailoring made to agile practices, be able to guide the team on a daily basis and be able to make necessary process related decisions as and when required.
 

Available and committed
The scrum master’s presence is essential for any team to schedule scrum ceremonies, facilitate those events and to guide decision making during those events. The mere presence of a strong scrum master will be a confidence booster for the team. So, if the scrum master constantly takes leave or is not present for team meeting and is busy at other client meetings that person may not be the suitable to be the scrum master.
 

Servant Leader
The scrum master is by no means a project manager. The scrum master must be knowledgeable to lead the team by example. He too should be able to contribute to the cross-functional team. Similarly, the scrum master must be a person who sticks with the team during good times and bad. Once, in one of the projects that I was involved in, the team had to work 12 to 15 hours per day for 2 whole months to meet client deadlines. The team was on the verge of quitting when the scrum master himself brought in food and drinks for the team and handed over the items to each team member in person patting them on the back and sitting with them a good 10 to 15 minutes.
 

Changing responsibilities?
It is always good to have a change in scrum master role thought the life of the project. This will bring a different perspective and a point of view. However, it is always important to keep in mind the afore-mentioned qualities of a good scrum master and to ensure that the new scrum master does not disrupt the existing good state of the project. As the old adage goes the leader is as good as his team!!.
 

Rumesh

Rumesh Wijetunge

Chief Innovation Officer - Zaizi Limited, Chief Operating Officer - LearntIn (Pvt) Ltd., Director /

Rumesh is an IT business leader with over 12 years of industry experience as a business analyst and project manager. He is currently the CIO of Zaizi Limited, a UK based data management company heading the operations in Sri Lanka, the COO of LearntIn, a global training institute based in Sri Lanka and is also a lecturer / trainer at multiple private universities on management, IT, business analysis and project management subjects. He is the current president of the IIBA Sri Lanka chapter and is one of the most qualified and sought after trainers in Sri Lanka. Refer his LinkedIn profile for more details and to see more articles he has written on linkedin

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Scrum Master Salary

How much does a Scrum Master earn? How prolific being a Scrum Master is? These are quite relatively simple and common questions but answering them is not that simple. Scrum Master was created around 1992 by Jeff Sutherland and his teams and is quite a new term. Nevertheless, it has not taken long to establish its importance to companies across the world. Scrum Master is currently one of the most promising jobs in the world.In this article, we will cover various aspects of a Scrum Master salary, such as how much a Scrum Master earns, what affects it and how, what the future prospects of a Scrum Master are in terms of salary structure and growth, and why Scrum Masters earn so much.How much does a Scrum Master Earn?According to Payscale, on an entry-level, Scrum Masters in India earn an average of Rs 723,565 per year, going up as high as Rs 1,486,991. In the USA, the average entry-level scrum master salary is $79,309 per year, the highest reaching a six-figure mark of $107,957. However, with more experience, the figures become interestingly better and here is how. Once again, Payscale search results indicate that an experienced Scrum Master in India earns an average of Rs 1,441,276 per annum with the maximum earnings going as high as Rs 2,078,905. Similar reports show that an experienced Scrum Master in the USA earns $103,566 per year on an average, earning as high as $134,203.Below mentioned are statistics from Payscale:Scrum Master Experience/CountryIndiaUSAEntry-Level Scrum MasterRs 723,565 p.a.(Rs 1,486,991 highest)$79,309 p.a.($107,957 highest)Experienced Scrum MasterRs 1,441,276 p.a.(Rs 2,078,905 highest)$103,566 p.a.($134,203 highest)The 2018 research by Glassdoor state that the Scrum Masters are one of the highest paid professionals in the USA, with the average salary being $98,239 and vacancies as high as 1,876. Cities such as New York, Atlanta, Charlotte, Columbus, and Richmond are considered to be the best and most prolific places for the Scrum Masters to work in.Evidently, the figures above are quite staggering and impressive, showing us how fruitful and career aspiring being a Scrum Master is.Here is a table of content for Average Scrum Master salary based on regions:Scrum Master Salary/RegionUSAINDIACANADAGBRAUSTRALIAAverage Scrum Master Salary/yearUS$93,2851,411,000CA$87,000£51,124A$110,000And here is the average salary based on various Scrum certifications:Scrum Master CertificationsSalary in US$/YearCertified Scrum Master (CSM)89,150Professional Scrum Master (PSM )91,000Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)108,000Agile Scrum Master (ASM)115,000Scrum Master Certified (SMC)115,000SAFe Scrum Master114,546Salaries that Top Companies pay the Scrum MastersScrum has become so popular down the years that an incredible number of the major software companies adopt its methodology and ways of solving issues.According to the Scrum Guide, Scrum has been adopted by a vast number of software development companies around the world.Apart from being religiously used in manufacturing, operations, education, marketing and other fields, Scrum has been an important problem-solving tool for all the major software companies.Provided that you have the skills to deal with conflicts and are a proven facilitator, you have a great chance to join any of the top companies who are hiring skilled Scrum Masters like you.Glassdoor job search results in India reveal that the major companies hiring Scrum Masters are:Companies Hiring Scrum MastersAverage Salary in INR/yearCisco Systems2,200,000Capgemini1,487,461Amdocs1,279,001Tata Consultancy Services1,243,340Cognizant Technology Solutions1,242,530Wipro1,019,654Accenture1,000,975And in the USA, Scrum Masters are highly sought after by these major brands:Companies Hiring Scrum MastersAverage Salary in US$/yearTransUnion104,728Thomson Reuters104,130UnitedHealth Group97,904Ciber97,156IBM93,403J.P. Morgan91,786Capital One87,732AT&T85,977In the past few years, the pay structure for Scrum Masters has increased at a relatively quick pace. Although Scrum’s popularity status continues to get better, being a Scrum Master is undoubtedly a tough task because what a Scrum Master needs is more like servant leadership skills, and that is the primary asset a Scrum Master needs to possess. After all, it is all about following the Agile-Scrum tactics to finish projects on time along with keeping the quality of the end product intact.Factors affecting a Scrum Master’s salaryThere are many factors that determine how much a Scrum Master earns. Some of the key ones are:1. ExperienceThis is one of the most important criteria, if not the most important one. Like discussed in the previous section of this article, not only the salary of a Scrum Master increases with experience, the job role and position in an organisation gets better as well. Here are a few of the required skills/experience:In terms of landing a better Scrum master job with high pay package, it is recommended for a professional to have worked as a Scrum Master for a minimum of one year with a software development team, one that was diligently applying Scrum principles, practices, and theoryAdequate skills in and understanding of servant leadership, facilitation, situational awareness, conflict resolution, continual improvement, empowerment, and increasing transparency.2. The skills required by the job roleAnother important one. A Scrum Master’s role is not restricted to particular job designation. The more you know about the other Agile approaches in problem-solving, the better your job role and salary will be. By Agile approaches, we are talking about XP, Kanban, Crystal, FDD, etc3. Awareness of multiple Agile techniquesTo get better job opportunities, it is preferred to have knowledge of widely successful Agile techniques such as:User StoriesATDDTDDContinuous IntegrationContinuous testingPairingAutomated TestingAgile Games4. Applicable knowledge of the technologiesA particular organisation will pay you a better package for a Scrum Master if you have a sound grip over the type of technology they use to run their business. Why? It is simple. If you are aware of the system they work in, then they do not have to work on much in getting you in sync with the way they work in their organisation5. Knowledge of appropriate patterns and techniquesA progressive Scrum Master always thinks of using a variety of relevant well-documented patterns and techniques for filling in the intentional gaps left in the Scrum approach, such as Burndown technologies, various Retrospective formats, handling bugs and many more6. Location of the jobThe salary of a Scrum Master depends massively on where the job posting is. If the living standard of a particular city is high, so are the chances of getting a higher pay package. On the other hand, a city having a comparatively lower standard of living renders the Scrum Masters with a lesser salary range.Reason for Scrum Masters being so valuedWhy are the Scrum Masters paid so much? What do the Scrum Masters have to offer that makes them so vital to organisations? After all, in the past few years, Scrum methods have swiftly brought in a revolutionary change in project handling and problem-solving matters.We are living in times when software needs to be delivered on time after much feedback, changes, supervision. Collaboration with frequent updates and patches. To meet the delivery deadline, it is essential to keep the team members connected and in sync, preferably face-to-face. This is critical as the team working on the project should be well informed, collaborated and kept up to date throughout the project. Failure to execute any one of these steps would lead to a breakdown in software, the end result being loss of business, not to forget the reputation of the relevant organisation being tarnished.Nowadays, companies prefer the Agile workflow and are aware of the importance of a Scrum Master in an organisation. Converting a team into a productive one and self-organised by following the Agile practices without any fail, that’s what Scrum Masters do and that is what makes them special.
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Scrum Master Salary

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Agile Project Management Vs. Traditional Project Management

In this fast-moving world, project management has become one of the most important pillars that are helping businesses run without any glitch in their processes. Both small and large scale organizations around the world are exploiting technology and depending on project management systems to deliver the software development project successfully. Whether it is team workflow management or timing, these tools help to ensure that everything is going well without any obstacles. While there are tens of different project management approaches, Agile is considered one of the most practical and flexible software development mechanism that exist today. It is capable of executing a variety of tasks, but what sets it apart from others? Let’s find it out. Here’s a brief comparison of Agile management and traditional project management software:                                                                                                                    Traditional vs Agile Project Management Overview of Agile and Traditional Project Management What is Traditional Project Management? The traditional Project Management (waterfall) approach is linear where all the phases of a process occur in sequence. Its concept depends on predictable tools and predictable experience. Each and every project follows the same life cycle which includes the stages such as feasibility, plan, design, build, test, production, support, as shown in the figure above. The entire project is planned upfront without any scope for changing requirements. This approach assumes that time and cost are variables and requirements are fixed. This is the reason why traditional project management faces budget and timeline issues. What is Agile Project Management? When a traditional system focuses on upfront planning where factors like cost, scope, and time are given importance, Agile management gives prominence to teamwork, customer collaboration, and flexibility. It is an iterative approach that focuses more on incorporating customer feedback and continuous releases with every iteration of software development project. The basic concept behind Agile software development is that it delves into evolving changes and collaborative effort to bring out results rather than a predefined process. Adaptive planning is perhaps the biggest feature of Agile and one that makes it a crowd favorite among project managers. Scrum and Kanban are two of the most widely used Agile frameworks. They are very well known for encouraging decision-making and preventing time consumption on variables that are bound to change. It stresses customer satisfaction and uses available teams to fast-track software development at every stage. The table below shows the major differences between Agile project management and traditional project management.                                                                                Table: Agile project management vs traditional project management Why is Agile Preferred and why not the traditional project management? Agile is preferred by most developers and managers because of a variety of reasons. Let’s have a look at the most common ones: Project complexity Traditional: This method is the best fit for small or less complex projects as it follows linear approach. Sudden changes in the project or any other complexities can block the entire process and make the team go back to step one and start all over again. Agile: This is the best methodology to follow in case of complex projects. A complex project may have various interconnected phases and each stage may be dependent on many others rather than a single one as in simple projects. So, Agile methods are preferred for large complex projects, as they can respond better to such structures. Adaptability Traditional: This approach works with a belief that once a phase is done, it will not be reviewed again. So, it is not adaptable to rapid changes in the work plan. In case if any sudden situation arises or any change in the requirements from the client’s side, traditional approach fails to adapt to the new change. The only choice is to start from the very beginning once again. This wastes a lot of effort and time in the process. Agile: The adaptability factor is very high in this methodology since it is not linear. Complex projects consist of several interconnected stages, where a change in one stage can cause an effect on another. And the project managers can take calculated risks in such scenario, as there is a chance of high adaptability.  Scope for feedback and changes Traditional Each and every process is clearly detailed and defined at the start of the project in the traditional approach. It cannot deal with any big change or feedback that might require a change in the process. Mostly, the project delivery time and budget are fixed, allows change very rarely. Agile There is a high acceptance for feedback and change in this method. The process is very flexible and allows constant feedback that can help to provide better output within the fixed project delivery time. The main reason that managers or developers choose agile direction is for the flexibility it offers. Developers working with Agile management are able to respond to customer requests quickly as they are only addressing small parts of the project at a time and the customer validates each iteration or sprint before finalizing.   Some of the important characteristics of Agile development Breaks project into parts Agile divides a project into parts (called iterations) where the release is sent to the customer after every single iteration. Additionally, the success of the project can be easily foreseen through the success of these iterations. This removes the need for upfront planning completely. Self-organized As mentioned above, Agile uses a parallel mode of management. Employees of a company are not managed by a central line of control, but by groups. For example, in Agile, there may be eight teams working on a single project. Each team is managed by itself without external guidance. The teams only interact with each other for project discussion and process linking as they are otherwise not self-sufficient. Generally speaking, an Agile project consists of three parts: The product owner – the expert on the project (for which the product is being developed) and is the main person who oversees the projects The scrum master – this person manages the process involved in Agile. He/she looks after the iterations and its completion The team – individuals who play significant and minor roles in the software development process Customer Engagement In Agile, customer engagement is at the very top. The customer is regarded highly in its frameworks as after every iteration, feedback is generated and acted upon. Overall, Agile is clearly the winner among project management systems. When compared with other traditional approaches, Agile’s features come to the fore and reiterate why it is one of the top software used by companies globally. Can Agile Coexist with Other Approaches? This is a question asked by many project managers, and opinions of experts seem to be divided. While some say it is possible for Agile to coexist with traditional project management systems, they suggest being cautious and using them for different terms. For example, using two different approaches on the same project can be counter-productive and highly explosive. As Agile and most other frameworks are totally contrasting to each other, the projects may go for a toss. On the other hand, some experts believe that it is not possible for Agile and other tools to co-exist because of their contrast. Using them together can cause disorder in the entire company system, making the productivity to go for a toss. Agile vs Traditional- Adoption Growth According to a recent online survey of 601 IT and development professionals, it is proved that Agile is the new typical formula for project success. The majority of projects and development teams are now adopting this methodology, while the traditional waterfall approaches have many flaws.    Traditional organizations vs. #Agile organizations #SALC16 pic.twitter.com/bBgxkQB1fI — Scrum Alliance (@ScrumAlliance) January 20, 2016 Agile was first introduced about 15 years ago as a substitute for traditional software development approaches. Many people considered it as challenging to implement traditional approach practices and Agile adopters stated that this new style of software development improves team collaboration and is more customer-centric.  Though Agile method was present more than a decade ago, the vast majority of organizations have adopted the practice in the last 5 years. Moreover, the survey reported that agile adoption saw an inflection point between the year 2009-2010. As shown in the above figure, agile adoption seems to have slow incremental growth till 2008 and then its growth was accelerated after gaining traction in the market. Reasons for the transition to Agile Most of the organizations who transitioned from traditional to agile project management have listed the following reasons: Improves collaboration between teams- 54% Enhances the quality level of software in organizations- 52% Results in enhanced customer satisfaction- 49% Speeds time to market- 43% Reduces development cost- 42% The Verdict In the traditional software development, the customer involves only before the start of the development process. So, there might be a number of mistakes and a large amount of money needs to be spent to rework on them. Since in the Agile software development, the customer involves at each stage, the corrections can be made once the defects are detected. This helps us in saving cost. As we can see, Agile project management is really in-demand for teams. It helps the team to work on the top priority ones at the right time and allows them to walk through the risks much faster than they would with traditional project management tools.
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Agile Project Management Vs. Traditional Project M...

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5 Scrum Boards that perfectly depict project progress

Quite possibly, few tools are as simple – yet as powerful – as a Scrum task board. Teams that plan their work in sprints use these boards during each sprint to visually depict where they are at. Just by looking at the task board, it is possible to evaluate the progress and judge whether the sprint is on track or not. In its simplest form, a task board has a list of tasks that are categorized as yet-to-start, ongoing and completed. Over the years, Agile teams across the world have created their own adaptations of the traditional Scrum board….have a look, and decide which one will work for you! The Scrum wall                                    Photo credit: http://jalbum.net/blog/entry/getting-ready-to-launch-the-new-site Teams that use up the entire wall as a Scrum task board get extra space that can be put to good use. They can put down all their information in one place, with additional inputs like the overall calendar, backlog, decisions, comments and so on up there for everyone to see. Say it with Lego!                                                             Source: http://agilethings.nl/creative-planning/ We always knew Lego was versatile, but this gives the concept of versatility a whole new look! This team uses a Lego planning board, with rows depicting user stories and columns depicting weeks or sprints. Each team member is assigned one colour, and the numbers of bricks in that colour show the exact time availability of that member. A long 4 stud brick indicates a full day of work, while a two stud represents a half day. A fun and creative way to plan your sprints! Hourglass Scrum/Kanban board                                 Source: http://www.strongandagile.co.uk/index.php/the-hourglass-scrumban-board/ An hourglass is a fun way to depict the flow of tasks. Work in progress tasks are the ones at the neck of the hourglass; completed tasks are moved below and the pending ones are in the top half of the hourglass. Note that when the WIP tasks are limited to one in each story( as the space in the neck is narrow), they get more attention. Release Radar                                              Source: http://agileboardhacks.com/tag/portfolio-management/ By turning the traditional board into a circle, this team led by Daniel Aragao of Thoughtworks created a great way to deal with prioritising urgent tasks. Items in the outer rings of the circle are not urgently required, while those closer to the centre are needed asap. Each slice of the circle represents a project , which is identified by a sticky note on the outer edge. Scrum for Trello Teams that work in different locations and across various time zones need a virtual Scrum board to track work progress. Trello is often used to manage task boards and sprints, with a Firefox/Chrome extension called Scrum for Trello. Innovation is the key to success. What works for another Scrum team may not work as well for you; try out your own tweaks and quirks, and customise your own Scrum task Board. You can learn more about Scrum tools and techniques by attending a CSM Training from a certified trainer. Happy Scrumming!
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5 Scrum Boards that perfectly depict project progr...

Quite possibly, few tools are as simple – yet as... Read More

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