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How To Improve Agility With One Simple Change

The principles of agile product development emphasize on the active user and Product Owner/ business involvement. A collaborative and cooperative approach between all stakeholders is also essential. With this in mind, it pays to take a closer look at the collaborative tools used in your development processes. For Scrum Masters who find themselves working with a relatively new team, it makes sense to select tools that will enhance collaborative efforts within the Scrum Team, as well as other stakeholders in the organisation. For Scrum Masters working with a more mature Scrum Team (Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team) and successfully delivering product increments for a number of sprints, making a change in one of your collaborating tools can improve agility.  Whether you are a Scrum Master setting up a new team or one that is working with a mature Scrum team, taking a step back and analysing the collaboration tools can take your team performance to the next level. Select the right collaboration software, for more effective agile performance.  Top left: Slack, Yodiz, JIRA, Zoom. Here’s a guide to what feature each of these tools would need to have so that it can effectively serve the team. 1) Organisation communication tool What is the primary method for communication within the organisation? Is it a real-time messaging tool with file sharing capabilities, or e-mail? Scrum teams should be meeting daily and have face time with the Product Owner. However, after the 15-minutes Daily Scrum, having a business communication tool in place that supports team collaboration provides the ability for constant communication. These quick responses and turn-around time help improve productivity and agility within the team.  For organisations using the combination of a chat and e-mail for this purpose, the change to an instant messaging tool for business will allow for these added benefits: Creating small group chat (channels) for improved communication within smaller teams Allows for teams to self-organise, improves collaboration Attaching images, screenshots and other relevant files to the conversation for a more agile development process Integration with the Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog or the video conferencing tool used for distributed team communications 2) Product Backlog  The Product Backlog is owned and maintained by the Product Owner or Product team. It is a tool used to gather, discuss and expand on product requirements. In an agile development environment, requirements usually evolve as new data is gathered by the Product Owner. Discussion between stakeholders and the Tech lead takes place. It is beneficial that these discussion threads are recorded to avoid having the Product Owner repeat the conversations that took place earlier. Epics are broken down into user stories and then into more granular tasks, as they emerge closer to engineering sprints.  The Product Owner should be able to constantly re-prioritise these granular tasks in the Product Backlog. A simple project management software that enables the Product Backlog Items (PBI) to be dragged up and down the priority list is more efficient than a static list. The Product Backlog software would need to enable the Product Owner to effectively carry out these activities: Easily re-prioritise the Product Backlog Items (PBI) Keep a record of the discussion threads between the Product Owner, Tech lead and other stakeholders for each PBI Estimate each PBI (this is useful to have during the Backlog Refinement meeting) Ensure PBI are visible and accessible to the development team as well as other stakeholders in the organisation, at any point in time A simple Project Management tool would be more effective than a Product Backlog that is groomed on a notepad or a spreadsheet. 3. Sprint Backlog The Sprint Backlog is the development team’s interpretation of the Product Owner’s tasks. It usually mirrors the Product Backlog. However, each Product Backlog Item (PBI) could be represented by more than one task in the Sprint Backlog.  Development team members usually add other tech-related tasks to this backlog.  The benefits of using a software development tool and not a physical board (with post-its) to represent the Sprint Backlog are: Development team members are able to access the Sprint Backlog at any given time and location, during the sprint. A sprint backlog represented in a digital format allows for distributed team members. It also allows team members to work remotely. Ease of use and promotes usage. Team members are expected to update the sprint backlog as new information is available. This usually happens daily. The selected software development tool should be easy to use yet powerful enough to provide adequate customisation for your team’s preferences. Digital sprint backlogs allow for advanced team data capture and analysis. Most tools come with built-in report generation features. Standard sprint reports such as Burndown chart, Velocity chart, and sprint report are easily generated. For teams using Kanban, Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) and Control Chart can be generated. Analysis of these reports can be effectively used at team retrospectives. The definition of done is understood by the team and is illustrated in the columns in the Sprint Backlog (board).  4. Daily Standup If you have distributed team members, or allow Development Team members to work remotely, then a good video conferencing tool is essential to ensure team members are able to communicate well.  The video conferencing software can be used for Daily Standup, for distributed teams.   

How To Improve Agility With One Simple Change

452
How To Improve Agility With One Simple Change

The principles of agile product development emphasize on the active user and Product Owner/ business involvement. A collaborative and cooperative approach between all stakeholders is also essential. With this in mind, it pays to take a closer look at the collaborative tools used in your development processes.

For Scrum Masters who find themselves working with a relatively new team, it makes sense to select tools that will enhance collaborative efforts within the Scrum Team, as well as other stakeholders in the organisation.

For Scrum Masters working with a more mature Scrum Team (Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team) and successfully delivering product increments for a number of sprints, making a change in one of your collaborating tools can improve agility. 

Whether you are a Scrum Master setting up a new team or one that is working with a mature Scrum team, taking a step back and analysing the collaboration tools can take your team performance to the next level.


Select the right collaboration software, for more effective agile performance. 
Top left: Slack, Yodiz, JIRA, Zoom.

Here’s a guide to what feature each of these tools would need to have so that it can effectively serve the team.

1) Organisation communication tool
What is the primary method for communication within the organisation? Is it a real-time messaging tool with file sharing capabilities, or e-mail?

Scrum teams should be meeting daily and have face time with the Product Owner. However, after the 15-minutes Daily Scrum, having a business communication tool in place that supports team collaboration provides the ability for constant communication. These quick responses and turn-around time help improve productivity and agility within the team. 

For organisations using the combination of a chat and e-mail for this purpose, the change to an instant messaging tool for business will allow for these added benefits:

  • Creating small group chat (channels) for improved communication within smaller teams
  • Allows for teams to self-organise, improves collaboration
  • Attaching images, screenshots and other relevant files to the conversation for a more agile development process
  • Integration with the Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog or the video conferencing tool used for distributed team communications

2) Product Backlog 

The Product Backlog is owned and maintained by the Product Owner or Product team. It is a tool used to gather, discuss and expand on product requirements. In an agile development environment, requirements usually evolve as new data is gathered by the Product Owner. Discussion between stakeholders and the Tech lead takes place. It is beneficial that these discussion threads are recorded to avoid having the Product Owner repeat the conversations that took place earlier. Epics are broken down into user stories and then into more granular tasks, as they emerge closer to engineering sprints. 

The Product Owner should be able to constantly re-prioritise these granular tasks in the Product Backlog. A simple project management software that enables the Product Backlog Items (PBI) to be dragged up and down the priority list is more efficient than a static list.

The Product Backlog software would need to enable the Product Owner to effectively carry out these activities:

  • Easily re-prioritise the Product Backlog Items (PBI)
  • Keep a record of the discussion threads between the Product Owner, Tech lead and other stakeholders for each PBI
  • Estimate each PBI (this is useful to have during the Backlog Refinement meeting)
  • Ensure PBI are visible and accessible to the development team as well as other stakeholders in the organisation, at any point in time

A simple Project Management tool would be more effective than a Product Backlog that is groomed on a notepad or a spreadsheet.

3. Sprint Backlog


The Sprint Backlog is the development team’s interpretation of the Product Owner’s tasks. It usually mirrors the Product Backlog. However, each Product Backlog Item (PBI) could be represented by more than one task in the Sprint Backlog. 

Development team members usually add other tech-related tasks to this backlog. 

The benefits of using a software development tool and not a physical board (with post-its) to represent the Sprint Backlog are:

  • Development team members are able to access the Sprint Backlog at any given time and location, during the sprint. A sprint backlog represented in a digital format allows for distributed team members. It also allows team members to work remotely.
  • Ease of use and promotes usage. Team members are expected to update the sprint backlog as new information is available. This usually happens daily. The selected software development tool should be easy to use yet powerful enough to provide adequate customisation for your team’s preferences.
  • Digital sprint backlogs allow for advanced team data capture and analysis. Most tools come with built-in report generation features. Standard sprint reports such as Burndown chart, Velocity chart, and sprint report are easily generated. For teams using Kanban, Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) and Control Chart can be generated. Analysis of these reports can be effectively used at team retrospectives.
  • The definition of done is understood by the team and is illustrated in the columns in the Sprint Backlog (board). 

4. Daily Standup

If you have distributed team members, or allow Development Team members to work remotely, then a good video conferencing tool is essential to ensure team members are able to communicate well. 

The video conferencing software can be used for Daily Standup, for distributed teams. 
 

Jennifer

Jennifer Ng

Blog Author

Jennifer Ng is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with 10 years experience as a digital project manager. Equipped with a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) qualification from Scrum Alliance, she dived into one of Southeast Asia's leading tech startups to look for adventure in agile product development. It has been challenging yet rewarding to be the Agile Coach of the organisation and Scrum Master to the scrum team. Nevertheless, it has been exciting coaching team members to think in an agile manner and working with the team to adapt processes to fit the constantly-changing landscape of a startup environment.


 

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Best Product Owner Certifications in 2021

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A solid Product Owner certification along with these qualities can give your career a total makeover and make you a team favourite. 
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Best Product Owner Certifications in 2021

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SAFe® Agilist Certification Vs PMI-ACP®: Which Certification Should You Choose?

The competition for jobs is getting tough in today’s world. Whether you are a job seeker, corporate employee, or a consultant, you should keep your skills up to date in a fast-paced, online world. Agile has become the standard of project management very fast in today’s world, specifically in the IT and service field. Most of the project management professionals have adopted Agile techniques, tools, and concepts to deliver the projects successfully that has never been seen before.If you want to make a career in Agile or want to make a career shift then Agile certification can be an added advantage. You might be in confusion as to which certification you should do, as there are different types of Agile certifications available. SAFe® Agilist and PMI-ACP® are the two most in-demand IT certifications today that will increase your career growth and salary.  In this post, we will discuss both the certifications and help to choose a career that best suits you.SAFe® AgilistLarger organizations are struggling with Agile, especially the well-established enterprises who are trying to adopt Agile and shift their way of doing things. SAFe® is one such example that provides best practices for adopting Agile at an organizational level and SAFe® certification covers every aspect of Agile from architecture, governance, funding, integration, and roles. Holding a SAFe® certification proves your proficiency and hands-on experience and shows your knowledge and skills in real-time implementations.SAFe® Agilist could be a perfect choice for you if you want to be part of different teams in the adoption of SAFe® and willing to be part of enterprise Agile. Scaled Agile is something different to standard Agile knowledge which is required for Agile change agents, managers, and executives for leading a lean-agile change initiative in large-scale enterprises. This is also essential for those executives who have already implemented Agile principles and practices at small-scale enterprises and now want to take it to the next level.Leaders of Lean-Agile change initiative can learn how to build a Lean-Agile Mindset and implement the SAFe® principles and practices to support Agile Teams, Program Portfolio Management, and Teams from this SAFe® 4 Agilist (SA) course. SAFe® Agilist certification demonstrates your efficiency of leading the Scaled Agile Framework adoption in an enterprise context.PMI-ACPPMI-ACP® certification could be an ideal choice for those who have been applying Agile values and principles in their day-to-day project work and who want to shift to a leadership role. To apply for  the PMI-ACP® certification, applicants must have at least 2,000 hours of working experience on project teams and 1,500 hours of working experience with Agile methodologies or on Agile project teams. Applicants should also complete 21 hours of Agile training and need to pass the exam.The PMI-ACP® is close to the mid-level CSP that is offered by the Scrum Alliance. Enterprises that are shifting to an Agile context and applying different Agile techniques are more interested in recruiting individuals with PMI-ACP® certification.PMI-ACP® could be a right choice if your enterprise is looking forward to adopting Agile framework in order to achieve high-end project goals. It not only covers Scrum framework but also includes XP, Kanban, Lean, and other frameworks. The PMI-ACP® certification exam is more difficult when compared to the basic Scrum Master certifications and individuals must take online or classroom training before going to attempt the exam.Let’s see the key differences between SAFe® Agilist and PMI-ACP®:It is important to look at the career opportunities before selecting the particular course. Think of various factors such as job security, responsibility, stress, income, and other benefits while choosing a profession.Just choosing a certification that is best for you doesn’t lead to the success you deserve. Choosing the best training provider will have a huge impact on the effectiveness of a course. Compare course outlines of different institutes and find the best training provider that will guide you in the right direction of the particular course chosen. You can also visit the institutes and attend some of the demo sessions to understand their approach to training. KnowledgeHut is a Registered Education Provider and offers both SAFe® Agilist and PMI-ACP® training classes across the country by experts who have years of industry experience.
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SAFe® Agilist Certification Vs PMI-ACP®: W...

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