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Top Product Owner Anti-Patterns & How to avoid them

The Product Owner plays a very critical role in the success of Agile/Scrum implementations in an organization. The entire effort of adopting and scaling Agile across teams is bound to fail if the role of a Product Owner is not understood clearly.  Anti-patterns are practices that go against the spirit of the Scrum Guide, which unfortunately many Product Owners unconsciously fall into. These patterns are in violation of the core principles of Agile, and while each of them seems harmless on its own, in the long run meaningful progress will be hindered.   If you’re a Product Owner and are seeking to improve yourself, you should be aware of what other POs have done wrong, in order to avoid making the same mistakes. This list of some of the most common Product Owner anti-patterns—and the solutions for each—could help! Product Owner Anti-Patterns Busy or Missing Product Owner Product Owners should always make themselves available to the stakeholders, customers, development team and most important, the Scrum Master. This helps important questions to be answered quickly and valuable information to be provided on time. The Product Owner’s availability should never become the bottleneck of the progress of the development team.   Calling the Sprint Review a Sprint Demo During the Sprint Review, the Development Team, PO and Scrum Master figure out whether they are on track and are progressing well toward sprint goals. It is the best time to reaffirm the priorities on the Product Backlog and ensure that value and productivity are being maximised. At this time, a Sprint Demo does not match the importance of the review, and may be out of context.  Expressing the backlog in Technical user stories instead of focusing on business-related user stories While technical functionalities are also important, the User stories should be focussed on business-related aspects. The technical aspects will follow as a natural result of enforcing business requirements. The PO must always prioritise business-related user stories.  Writing detailed user stories When the user stories are too much in detail, there is no scope for negotiation. User stories will evolve over the period of subsequent sprints, and if there is too much of detail in the initial user stories, flexibility is sacrificed. If the user story looks like it is already complete, the development team will not spend time on suggesting improvements, and the stories will not be refined further. They should always be left open ended to increase team engagement.  Questioning the estimates given by the Dev Team The Development team knows their capabilities best, and will be able to provide reasonable estimates of how much time each task will take. A Product Owner who interferes with the estimation is likely to be overstepping his or her boundaries.  Not having a clear acceptance criteria for every story  If there are any user stories that are not defined with the acceptance criteria, it will not be possible to efficiently close out task completion. It would be far easier to make tangible progress if the user story is defined at the start of the refinement cycle, or as close to the start as possible.  Too large user stories As a rule of thumb, a user story should be completed in a maximum of a week or it could become too large to handle. When user stories are too big, the flow of work will be affected and feedback loops will be delayed. User story mapping can be used to slice each story into smaller components.  Not questioning the customers while collecting the requirements It is very important to involve the customers during the process of defining the requirements. They are the end users for whom the product is ultimately intended. When the customers are not included in the conversation, their needs may not be fulfilled. It’s also important to note that in an Agile project, the requirements could evolve over the course of the project, so it’s important to keep the stakeholders in the feedback loop.  Not allowing the Dev Team to work on Technical Debt When dev teams prioritize speedy deliveries over perfect functionality, at a later time the code may need to be refactored. This technical debt needs to be worked on in parallel with sprint deliveries, as otherwise it could pile up toward the end, causing delays in the final product release. A Product Owner should always be mindful of the technical debt and allow the team to iron it out alongside new deliveries.  Not validating the customer’s idea before implementing it While the customers may have specific ideas about what functionalities they need, they are not the experts. The Product Owner, who has sufficient knowledge of the product, should validate their ideas, discuss what is possible and what is not, and then implement the idea if it seems feasible.  Not allowing Development Team members to talk with the Stakeholders directly While the PO is in constant touch with stakeholders, Scrum encourages collaboration. The 4th Principle in the Agile Manifesto explicitly states that “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.” Development teams can also talk to stakeholders to get more clarity, if required. In the spirit of transparency, all such discussions should be made available to everyone so that there is no misunderstanding on any aspect. This is an aspect that should be decided at the outset by individual teams.  Not empowering the Proxy POs In some projects, a Proxy PO is a role created to act as a middleman between the stakeholders and developers. If there is any gap between the PO and the Dev team, the proxy PO steps in and focuses on current features in development. It is important that the proxy PO is sufficiently empowered to be able to perform these tasks effectively, when the PO is unable to do so themselves.  Lack of vision on the product being developed It is the responsibility of the Product Owner to create, manage and own the Product Vision. Unless the PO has clarity on the vision, the product may not turn out to be built as per customer needs.   Delivering more features than valuable features The PO must be aware of which features are the most valuable. If there are too many features being developed, but the most valuable ones are not given importance, then the product will not be as successful. The PO must be aware of which are the most valuable features, and should prioritise quality over quantity.  Not having well-defined prioritization mechanism in delivering user stories It is the PO who, in conjunction with the Scrum team, grooms and prioritises the product Backlog. The Product Owner moves the most important items to the top of the list, and should have a clearly laid out mechanism in place for doing so.  Changing priorities or requirements during the Sprint  If the PO suddenly changes priorities during the middle of the sprint, the development team may have tasks that are unfinished and will lose the momentum of completing them. Considerable time and progress will be lost. While it is a given that Agile is flexible enough to take on changing requirements, unless the circumstances are very exceptional, the priorities should never be changed in the middle of the Sprint.  No single Product Owner, required governance missing in case of multiple POs In the case of a complex project, there could be multiple POs working together. This leads to loss of governance as there could be too many people making important decisions. To be effective, the team should have clear knowledge of who is the PO and who are the proxies.  Missing in Scrum Ceremonies While it is the Scrum Master who facilitates Scrum ceremonies, for complete transparency and smooth communication, it is important that the Product Owner should also be present. The PO should make time to be available at all important ceremonies and events.  Relying on mail communication for answering queries from Dev Team While email communication is always good for complete clarity and maintaining a record, when the PO relies only on emails to communicate with the Dev team, valuable time is lost. Instead, the PO should always be available for urgent queries from the team, and if necessary the responses can be later recorded over email to ensure that there is no misunderstanding.  No emphasis on Quality It is the Product Owner who maintains the Product Vision and should ensure delivery of high quality products. When there is not enough emphasis on improving quality, the Dev team will also lose the required engagement and could churn out substandard work.  Treating estimates as deadlines The core principle of any Agile project is flexibility. When a Product Owner starts to treat an estimated time as a firm deadline, there is loss of flexibility. At times the Dev team may require some extra time to create features with high quality, or the requirements could also have evolved over the course of the project, necessitating an extension of time. The PO should be flexible with respect to time estimates.  Instructing team on what needs to be done, acting as a Manager The Scrum team works in collaboration with each other, and with the PO and Scrum Master to deliver the features during each sprint. There are no managers in Scrum, and the whole team takes ownership for product delivery. If the PO acts as a manager then the spirit of Scrum is lost.  Expecting user stories to be created by team, considering SM and PO to be there only to review the stories While anyone can write user stories, it is the PO’s responsibility to ensure that they are well formulated and organised into a Product Backlog. The Scrum Guide states that it is the PO who is responsible for “ clearly expressing Product Backlog items”, and if user stories are the primary expression of these Backlog items, then it is the PO who must take the ownership of these tasks.   Pushing team to do extra work for finishing everything forecasted during Sprint Planning Agile is nothing if not flexible. During the Sprint Planning process, the team estimates how much work can be completed during the sprint. However, despite best efforts some of these tasks may be rolled over to the next sprint. Pushing the team to complete all the forecasts could reduce quality and increase technical debt, and it is not advised to do so.  Holding the team responsible for any rework post feedback from stakeholders during Sprint Review When there is any feedback from stakeholders asking for changes, it is most often the responsibility of the Product Owner who may have miscommunicated the requirements to the team. In such a case, the team should not be held responsible for the feedback, but the PO should own the responsibility and ensure that there is amicability all around.  Not showing interest in answering team queries for clarifications after Sprint planning A PO should always be available for answering doubts and settling queries after Sprint planning. Failure to do so will cause delays in work, and could necessitate some unnecessary rework.  Not coachable by Scrum Master The Scrum Master is required to act as a teacher, mentor and coach, and in cases where the PO or the team are not aware of the Scrum framework and principles, he or she is required to step in and guide them. If the Product Owner is not conducive to being coached, the project will suffer.  Unable to prioritize the work It is the Product Owner’s primary responsibility to prioritize the work, in conjunction with the stakeholders, customers and Scrum Master. He or she must groom the Product Backlog and move the more important items to the top of the list for the next sprint. If the PO is unable to perform this task the way it should be done, then the work will not be executed as per plan and on time.  Consistently changes priorities during the Sprint In an Agile project, it is possible that priorities could change during the course of a Sprint. However, if this happens too often, it is possible that focus will be lost and the team velocity will suffer due to items that are left unfinished. Wherever possible, the PO should change priorities only at the end of each Sprint, rather than in between. Accepting partially completed PBI’s A Product Backlog Item that is partially completed should never be accepted by the PO at the end of the sprint. Instead, it should be re-estimated on the Product backlog to reflect the amount of work left pending, and should be added to the top of the next Sprint Backlog. Work that is left undone creates confusion and uncertainty. It is important that the Definition of Done should be met, before a PBI is mentioned as ‘done’.  Allowing dev team to change the Story points of a user story post implementation Once the team starts work on the user stories, they could be tempted to re-estimate stories. This is a practice that the PO should not encourage. The story point is just an estimate and accuracy is not required. With experience, the team will become more efficient at more precise calculations.  Not saying “No” to the stakeholders and allowing the product backlog to grow in size It is inevitable that customers or stakeholders will, over the course of the project, keep checking up on the competition. They may want to change the features, add new ones or redefine the product entirely. A Product Owner who is unable to say No when needed will cause the project to go off track.  There's nothing more paralysing than a Scrum team with a bad Product Owner!  The characteristics stated above lead to nothing but a Product Owner “Fishbowl” where new ideas and innovative thoughts pertaining to Scrum processes find no entry at all. The Product Owner is.. The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the Development Team. It’s a one-person role that brings the customer’s perspective of the product to a Scrum Team.   The Product Owner is responsible for:   Developing and maintaining a product vision and market strategy  Product management   Ordering and managing the Product Backlog   Involving stakeholders and end-users in Product Backlog refinement and backlog management   Alignment with other Product Owners when needed from an overall product, company or customer perspective. A GREAT PRODUCT OWNER…   Grasps, shares and spreads the product vision: A great Product Owner acts as the client's voice (also called a proxy-client at times) and makes a product vision together with the stakeholders. Each choice is taken on account of the product vision. This guarantees sustainable product improvement, gives clarity to the development team and expands the chances of product success definitely.  Understanding the customer’s goals:  A great Product Owner truly understands the customer’s goals with the product and is able to outpace their expectations. After all, pleasing the customer is the ultimate goal. Is a good decision maker: A great Product Owner is an authorized person to take product-related decisions. It may take some time to support his/her decisions, but this is an essential condition for an economical pace of the development team Manages the product backlog: A great Product Owner comprehends that the product backlog should be in sequence. Priority, risk factor, quality, getting to learn and dependencies are all considered and balanced with each other. Prefers one-to-one communication:  A good Product Owner believes in one-to-one communication to convey information. User stories are used as a medium of conversation. Knows modeling techniques:    A great Product Owner has a knapsack full of workable modeling techniques and knows when to apply a specific model. Based on the model application he or she drives the project success. Shares experiences: A great Product Owner offers experiences with peers. This may be inside the organization, or outside it. Conferences and meetings are great approaches to share experiences and garner information. Furthermore, recording lessons learnt can be significant learning opportunities for other Product Owners.  Is present: To be effective, the Product Owner should always be available for discussions with the stakeholders, customers, development team and the Scrum Master.  Claims user story mapping: A great Product Owner should ace the idea of user story mapping. It is a method that enables you to add a second dimension to your backlog. The visualization empowers you to see the master plan of the product backlog. Keeps an eye on functionality: A successful Product Owner keeps an eye on functional as well as on the non-functional aspects of the product. The motto of the Product Owner is to exceed the quality expectations of the customer and enabling functionality that provides value to the product. So, the functionality is the main focus of the Product Owner.   Is knowledgeable: A great Product Owner has a deep product knowledge and comprehends the technicality. Larger products might be difficult to understand and scale. In this case, the PO should know the formula to solve the large queries. Comprehends the business domain:  A great Product Owner knows the ins and outs of the domain. A product should be built with a clear idea of every aspect , not just an understanding of the development needs but also being aware of the current market trends. No matter how great your product is, shipping it after the window of opportunity closes is a waste of time and barely of any value. Acts on different levels: A great Product Owner is capable of acting on different levels. These levels are popularly denoted as- strategic, tactical and operational. At the board level, a PO should know how to demonstrate the product strategy. Thereafter, he should create a strong support at middle management and facilitate the development team to cope with their daily challenges. Knows the 5 levels of Agile planning.   Within Agile, planning is done continuously. Every product needs a vision (level 1) which will provide input to the product roadmap (level 2). The roadmap is a long-range strategic plan of how the business would like to see the product evolve. Based on the roadmap, market conditions and status of the product the Product Owner can plan releases (level 3). During the Sprint Planning (level 4) the team plan and agree on Product Backlog Items they are confident they can complete during the Sprint and help them achieve the Sprint Goal. The Daily Scrum (level 5) is used to inspect and adapt the team's progress towards realizing the Sprint Goal. Is able to say 'no'. A great Product Owner knows the best time and way to say “no”. This indeed is a difficult trait to master. While it is easy to give any new idea or feature the nod, there is a flip side. Good backlog management necessitates creating a manageable product backlog with items that will mostly get realized. Appending non-productive items to the backlog will only create false expectations. Acts as a "Mini-CEO". A great Product Owner basically is a mini-CEO for his product. He or she has a sharp eye for opportunities, focuses on business value and the Return On Investment and acts promptly on all possible risks and threats. Every growth aspect such as size, quality, market share of the product is taken into consideration. Knows the different types of valid Product Backlog items. A great Product Owner can clarify the fact that the Product Backlog consists of more than only new features. For example, technical innovation, bugs, defects, non-functional requirements and experiments, should also be taken into account. Takes Backlog Refinement seriously. A successful Product Owner spends sufficient time refining the Product Backlog. Backlog Refinement is essentially the act of adding detail, estimates and order to items in the Product Backlog. The result should be a Product Backlog that is granular enough and easily understandable. On an average, the Development Team spends no more than 10% of their capacity on the refinement activities. There is no such prescribed approach. The Product Owner can also involve stakeholders and the Development Team in backlog refinement, each for a valid reason. The stakeholders are given the opportunity to state their expectations. The Development Team can clarify functional and technical implications. This will ensure a holistic understanding and enhance the quality of the Product Backlog considerably. Consequently, the opportunity to build the right product with the desired quality will also increase. Common FAQs A product owner is noticing that overall quality is starting to degrade. What might they do to address the problem? Discuss it with the rest of the team in a retrospective. The Scrum Master who facilitates the retrospective should then help the team to identify the underlying causes and help on how to improve. A possible outcome can be that the Definition of Done needs to be improved, for example a code review can be included. What should happen if the product owner does not accept a story by the end of the iteration? The Product Backlog Item (‘story’) goes back to the Product Backlog. The Product Owner can decide that it needs to be finished in the next Sprint. In the Retrospective at the end of the Sprint, the Product Owner can discuss with the rest of the team on how to prevent this from happening again.  Concluding Thoughts: A Product Owner is indispensable for a functional Scrum team. Not only is the PO the bridge between the development team and the client, but he or she also ensures streamlined product delivery. Ill-defined Product Owner roles and some of the critical PO anti-patterns are some of the impediments many of the Agile organizations are battling at present. The only long-term solution to such persistent issues is clarity on PO roles and a proper understanding of the end-to-end Scrum processes.

Top Product Owner Anti-Patterns & How to avoid them

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Top Product Owner Anti-Patterns & How to avoid them

The Product Owner plays a very critical role in the success of Agile/Scrum implementations in an organization. The entire effort of adopting and scaling Agile across teams is bound to fail if the role of a Product Owner is not understood clearly. 

Anti-patterns are practices that go against the spirit of the Scrum Guide, which unfortunately many Product Owners unconsciously fall into. These patterns are in violation of the core principles of Agile, and while each of them seems harmless on its own, in the long run meaningful progress will be hindered.  

If you’re a Product Owner and are seeking to improve yourself, you should be aware of what other POs have done wrong, in order to avoid making the same mistakes. This list of some of the most common Product Owner anti-patterns—and the solutions for each—could help!

Product Owner Anti-Patterns

  • Busy or Missing Product Owner

Product Owners should always make themselves available to the stakeholders, customers, development team and most important, the Scrum Master. This helps important questions to be answered quickly and valuable information to be provided on time. The Product Owner’s availability should never become the bottleneck of the progress of the development team.  

  • Calling the Sprint Review a Sprint Demo

During the Sprint Review, the Development Team, PO and Scrum Master figure out whether they are on track and are progressing well toward sprint goals. It is the best time to reaffirm the priorities on the Product Backlog and ensure that value and productivity are being maximised. At this time, a Sprint Demo does not match the importance of the review, and may be out of context. 

  • Expressing the backlog in Technical user stories instead of focusing on business-related user stories

While technical functionalities are also important, the User stories should be focussed on business-related aspects. The technical aspects will follow as a natural result of enforcing business requirements. The PO must always prioritise business-related user stories. 

  • Writing detailed user stories

When the user stories are too much in detail, there is no scope for negotiation. User stories will evolve over the period of subsequent sprints, and if there is too much of detail in the initial user stories, flexibility is sacrificed. If the user story looks like it is already complete, the development team will not spend time on suggesting improvements, and the stories will not be refined further. They should always be left open ended to increase team engagement. 

  • Questioning the estimates given by the Dev Team

The Development team knows their capabilities best, and will be able to provide reasonable estimates of how much time each task will take. A Product Owner who interferes with the estimation is likely to be overstepping his or her boundaries. 

  • Not having a clear acceptance criteria for every story 

If there are any user stories that are not defined with the acceptance criteria, it will not be possible to efficiently close out task completion. It would be far easier to make tangible progress if the user story is defined at the start of the refinement cycle, or as close to the start as possible. 

  • Too large user stories

As a rule of thumb, a user story should be completed in a maximum of a week or it could become too large to handle. When user stories are too big, the flow of work will be affected and feedback loops will be delayed. User story mapping can be used to slice each story into smaller components. 

  • Not questioning the customers while collecting the requirements

It is very important to involve the customers during the process of defining the requirements. They are the end users for whom the product is ultimately intended. When the customers are not included in the conversation, their needs may not be fulfilled. It’s also important to note that in an Agile project, the requirements could evolve over the course of the project, so it’s important to keep the stakeholders in the feedback loop. 

  • Not allowing the Dev Team to work on Technical Debt

When dev teams prioritize speedy deliveries over perfect functionality, at a later time the code may need to be refactored. This technical debt needs to be worked on in parallel with sprint deliveries, as otherwise it could pile up toward the end, causing delays in the final product release. A Product Owner should always be mindful of the technical debt and allow the team to iron it out alongside new deliveries. 

  • Not validating the customer’s idea before implementing it

While the customers may have specific ideas about what functionalities they need, they are not the experts. The Product Owner, who has sufficient knowledge of the product, should validate their ideas, discuss what is possible and what is not, and then implement the idea if it seems feasible. 

  • Not allowing Development Team members to talk with the Stakeholders directly

While the PO is in constant touch with stakeholders, Scrum encourages collaboration. The 4th Principle in the Agile Manifesto explicitly states that “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.” Development teams can also talk to stakeholders to get more clarity, if required. In the spirit of transparency, all such discussions should be made available to everyone so that there is no misunderstanding on any aspect. This is an aspect that should be decided at the outset by individual teams. 

  • Not empowering the Proxy POs

In some projects, a Proxy PO is a role created to act as a middleman between the stakeholders and developers. If there is any gap between the PO and the Dev team, the proxy PO steps in and focuses on current features in development. It is important that the proxy PO is sufficiently empowered to be able to perform these tasks effectively, when the PO is unable to do so themselves. 

  • Lack of vision on the product being developed

It is the responsibility of the Product Owner to create, manage and own the Product Vision. Unless the PO has clarity on the vision, the product may not turn out to be built as per customer needs.  

  • Delivering more features than valuable features

The PO must be aware of which features are the most valuable. If there are too many features being developed, but the most valuable ones are not given importance, then the product will not be as successful. The PO must be aware of which are the most valuable features, and should prioritise quality over quantity. 

  • Not having well-defined prioritization mechanism in delivering user stories

It is the PO who, in conjunction with the Scrum team, grooms and prioritises the product Backlog. The Product Owner moves the most important items to the top of the list, and should have a clearly laid out mechanism in place for doing so. 

  • Changing priorities or requirements during the Sprint 

If the PO suddenly changes priorities during the middle of the sprint, the development team may have tasks that are unfinished and will lose the momentum of completing them. Considerable time and progress will be lost. While it is a given that Agile is flexible enough to take on changing requirements, unless the circumstances are very exceptional, the priorities should never be changed in the middle of the Sprint. 

  • No single Product Owner, required governance missing in case of multiple POs

In the case of a complex project, there could be multiple POs working together. This leads to loss of governance as there could be too many people making important decisions. To be effective, the team should have clear knowledge of who is the PO and who are the proxies. 

  • Missing in Scrum Ceremonies

While it is the Scrum Master who facilitates Scrum ceremonies, for complete transparency and smooth communication, it is important that the Product Owner should also be present. The PO should make time to be available at all important ceremonies and events. 

  • Relying on mail communication for answering queries from Dev Team

While email communication is always good for complete clarity and maintaining a record, when the PO relies only on emails to communicate with the Dev team, valuable time is lost. Instead, the PO should always be available for urgent queries from the team, and if necessary the responses can be later recorded over email to ensure that there is no misunderstanding. 

  • No emphasis on Quality

It is the Product Owner who maintains the Product Vision and should ensure delivery of high quality products. When there is not enough emphasis on improving quality, the Dev team will also lose the required engagement and could churn out substandard work. 

  • Treating estimates as deadlines

The core principle of any Agile project is flexibility. When a Product Owner starts to treat an estimated time as a firm deadline, there is loss of flexibility. At times the Dev team may require some extra time to create features with high quality, or the requirements could also have evolved over the course of the project, necessitating an extension of time. The PO should be flexible with respect to time estimates. 

  • Instructing team on what needs to be done, acting as a Manager

The Scrum team works in collaboration with each other, and with the PO and Scrum Master to deliver the features during each sprint. There are no managers in Scrum, and the whole team takes ownership for product delivery. If the PO acts as a manager then the spirit of Scrum is lost. 

  • Expecting user stories to be created by team, considering SM and PO to be there only to review the stories

While anyone can write user stories, it is the PO’s responsibility to ensure that they are well formulated and organised into a Product Backlog. The Scrum Guide states that it is the PO who is responsible for “ clearly expressing Product Backlog items”, and if user stories are the primary expression of these Backlog items, then it is the PO who must take the ownership of these tasks.  

  • Pushing team to do extra work for finishing everything forecasted during Sprint Planning

Agile is nothing if not flexible. During the Sprint Planning process, the team estimates how much work can be completed during the sprint. However, despite best efforts some of these tasks may be rolled over to the next sprint. Pushing the team to complete all the forecasts could reduce quality and increase technical debt, and it is not advised to do so. 

  • Holding the team responsible for any rework post feedback from stakeholders during Sprint Review

When there is any feedback from stakeholders asking for changes, it is most often the responsibility of the Product Owner who may have miscommunicated the requirements to the team. In such a case, the team should not be held responsible for the feedback, but the PO should own the responsibility and ensure that there is amicability all around. 

  • Not showing interest in answering team queries for clarifications after Sprint planning

A PO should always be available for answering doubts and settling queries after Sprint planning. Failure to do so will cause delays in work, and could necessitate some unnecessary rework. 

  • Not coachable by Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is required to act as a teacher, mentor and coach, and in cases where the PO or the team are not aware of the Scrum framework and principles, he or she is required to step in and guide them. If the Product Owner is not conducive to being coached, the project will suffer. 

  • ​Unable to prioritize the work

It is the Product Owner’s primary responsibility to prioritize the work, in conjunction with the stakeholders, customers and Scrum Master. He or she must groom the Product Backlog and move the more important items to the top of the list for the next sprint. If the PO is unable to perform this task the way it should be done, then the work will not be executed as per plan and on time. 

  • Consistently changes priorities during the Sprint

In an Agile project, it is possible that priorities could change during the course of a Sprint. However, if this happens too often, it is possible that focus will be lost and the team velocity will suffer due to items that are left unfinished. Wherever possible, the PO should change priorities only at the end of each Sprint, rather than in between.

  • Accepting partially completed PBI’s

A Product Backlog Item that is partially completed should never be accepted by the PO at the end of the sprint. Instead, it should be re-estimated on the Product backlog to reflect the amount of work left pending, and should be added to the top of the next Sprint Backlog. Work that is left undone creates confusion and uncertainty. It is important that the Definition of Done should be met, before a PBI is mentioned as ‘done’. 

  • Allowing dev team to change the Story points of a user story post implementation

Once the team starts work on the user stories, they could be tempted to re-estimate stories. This is a practice that the PO should not encourage. The story point is just an estimate and accuracy is not required. With experience, the team will become more efficient at more precise calculations. 

  • Not saying “No” to the stakeholders and allowing the product backlog to grow in size

 It is inevitable that customers or stakeholders will, over the course of the project, keep checking up on the competition. They may want to change the features, add new ones or redefine the product entirely. A Product Owner who is unable to say No when needed will cause the project to go off track. 

There's nothing more paralysing than a Scrum team with a bad Product Owner! 

The characteristics stated above lead to nothing but a Product Owner “Fishbowl” where new ideas and innovative thoughts pertaining to Scrum processes find no entry at all. 

The Product Owner  is..

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the Development Team. It’s a one-person role that brings the customer’s perspective of the product to a Scrum Team.  

The Product Owner is responsible for:  

  • Developing and maintaining a product vision and market strategy 
  • Product management  
  • Ordering and managing the Product Backlog  
  • Involving stakeholders and end-users in Product Backlog refinement and backlog management  
  • Alignment with other Product Owners when needed from an overall product, company or customer perspective.

A GREAT PRODUCT OWNER…  

Grasps, shares and spreads the product vision:

A great Product Owner acts as the client's voice (also called a proxy-client at times) and makes a product vision together with the stakeholders. Each choice is taken on account of the product vision. This guarantees sustainable product improvement, gives clarity to the development team and expands the chances of product success definitely. 

Understanding the customer’s goals: 

A great Product Owner truly understands the customer’s goals with the product and is able to outpace their expectations. After all, pleasing the customer is the ultimate goal.

Is a good decision maker:

A great Product Owner is an authorized person to take product-related decisions. It may take some time to support his/her decisions, but this is an essential condition for an economical pace of the development team

Manages the product backlog:

A great Product Owner comprehends that the product backlog should be in sequence. Priority, risk factor, quality, getting to learn and dependencies are all considered and balanced with each other.

Prefers one-to-one communication: 

A good Product Owner believes in one-to-one communication to convey information. User stories are used as a medium of conversation.

Knows modeling techniques: 

  A great Product Owner has a knapsack full of workable modeling techniques and knows when to apply a specific model. Based on the model application he or she drives the project success. 

Shares experiences:

A great Product Owner offers experiences with peers. This may be inside the organization, or outside it. Conferences and meetings are great approaches to share experiences and garner information. Furthermore, recording lessons learnt can be significant learning opportunities for other Product Owners. 

Is present:

To be effective, the Product Owner should always be available for discussions with the stakeholders, customers, development team and the Scrum Master. 

Claims user story mapping:

A great Product Owner should ace the idea of user story mapping. It is a method that enables you to add a second dimension to your backlog. The visualization empowers you to see the master plan of the product backlog.

Keeps an eye on functionality:

A successful Product Owner keeps an eye on functional as well as on the non-functional aspects of the product. The motto of the Product Owner is to exceed the quality expectations of the customer and enabling functionality that provides value to the product. So, the functionality is the main focus of the Product Owner.  

Is knowledgeable:

A great Product Owner has a deep product knowledge and comprehends the technicality. Larger products might be difficult to understand and scale. In this case, the PO should know the formula to solve the large queries.

Comprehends the business domain: 

A great Product Owner knows the ins and outs of the domain. A product should be built with a clear idea of every aspect , not just an understanding of the development needs but also being aware of the current market trends. No matter how great your product is, shipping it after the window of opportunity closes is a waste of time and barely of any value. 

Acts on different levels:

A great Product Owner is capable of acting on different levels. These levels are popularly denoted as- strategic, tactical and operational. At the board level, a PO should know how to demonstrate the product strategy. Thereafter, he should create a strong support at middle management and facilitate the development team to cope with their daily challenges. 

Knows the 5 levels of Agile planning.  

Within Agile, planning is done continuously. Every product needs a vision (level 1) which will provide input to the product roadmap (level 2). The roadmap is a long-range strategic plan of how the business would like to see the product evolve. Based on the roadmap, market conditions and status of the product the Product Owner can plan releases (level 3). During the Sprint Planning (level 4) the team plan and agree on Product Backlog Items they are confident they can complete during the Sprint and help them achieve the Sprint Goal. The Daily Scrum (level 5) is used to inspect and adapt the team's progress towards realizing the Sprint Goal.

Is able to say 'no'.

A great Product Owner knows the best time and way to say “no”. This indeed is a difficult trait to master. While it is easy to give any new idea or feature the nod, there is a flip side. Good backlog management necessitates creating a manageable product backlog with items that will mostly get realized. Appending non-productive items to the backlog will only create false expectations. 

Acts as a "Mini-CEO".

A great Product Owner basically is a mini-CEO for his product. He or she has a sharp eye for opportunities, focuses on business value and the Return On Investment and acts promptly on all possible risks and threats. Every growth aspect such as size, quality, market share of the product is taken into consideration.

Knows the different types of valid Product Backlog items.

A great Product Owner can clarify the fact that the Product Backlog consists of more than only new features. For example, technical innovation, bugs, defects, non-functional requirements and experiments, should also be taken into account.

Takes Backlog Refinement seriously.

A successful Product Owner spends sufficient time refining the Product Backlog. Backlog Refinement is essentially the act of adding detail, estimates and order to items in the Product Backlog. The result should be a Product Backlog that is granular enough and easily understandable. On an average, the Development Team spends no more than 10% of their capacity on the refinement activities. There is no such prescribed approach. The Product Owner can also involve stakeholders and the Development Team in backlog refinement, each for a valid reason. The stakeholders are given the opportunity to state their expectations. The Development Team can clarify functional and technical implications. This will ensure a holistic understanding and enhance the quality of the Product Backlog considerably. Consequently, the opportunity to build the right product with the desired quality will also increase. 

Common FAQs

A product owner is noticing that overall quality is starting to degrade. What might they do to address the problem?

Discuss it with the rest of the team in a retrospective. The Scrum Master who facilitates the retrospective should then help the team to identify the underlying causes and help on how to improve. A possible outcome can be that the Definition of Done needs to be improved, for example a code review can be included.

What should happen if the product owner does not accept a story by the end of the iteration?

The Product Backlog Item (‘story’) goes back to the Product Backlog. The Product Owner can decide that it needs to be finished in the next Sprint. In the Retrospective at the end of the Sprint, the Product Owner can discuss with the rest of the team on how to prevent this from happening again. 

Concluding Thoughts:

A Product Owner is indispensable for a functional Scrum team. Not only is the PO the bridge between the development team and the client, but he or she also ensures streamlined product delivery. Ill-defined Product Owner roles and some of the critical PO anti-patterns are some of the impediments many of the Agile organizations are battling at present. The only long-term solution to such persistent issues is clarity on PO roles and a proper understanding of the end-to-end Scrum processes. 

Sandeep

Sandeep Kshirsagar

trainer

Sandeep is an Agile mentor with more than 12 years of experience as a Developer, Test Engineer, Automation Engineer, Scrum Master and an Agile Coach. He is presently working as an Agile Coach at Knowledgehut Solutions Pvt Ltd. Up until this point, he has prepared 800+ programming experts and trained more than 450+ programming experts in Agile journey at different organizations.
 

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Why Scrum Is Lightweight; Simple To Understand; Difficult To Master?

85 percent of respondents say Scrum continues to improve quality of work life—State of Scrum 2017-2018 We have all heard companies who have adopted Scrum wax eloquent about its advantages and the benefits it brings in to business. Scrum has been adopted because it is supposed to be simple and promotes collaboration and communication. Yet, more organizations attempting the Agile/Scrum transformation often fail and end up abandoning their transformation or get stuck in a limbo. So, is the golden statement that ‘Scrum is lightweight, simple to understand, difficult to master’ true? In this blog we attempt to decipher this statement and understand how Scrum Masters can help make Scrum projects or implementations successful.Where to start?So, what makes Scrum so popular? That it is better suited to the changing market conditions of the present times is well known, but how is it able to do it?  Scrum is an adaptable, iterative framework that helps Scrum teams break down large projects into small chunks called epics and sprints. Goals are defined and timeboxed. Teams are small, self-organized and with a high degree of cross-function. A goal or functionality has to be delivered at the end of each sprint. This helps for quick feedback and gives teams the ability to adapt to changing requirements—a must in times when products have to adapt quickly to please changing user preferences.  The advantages of Scrum include:  More satisfied customers Better managed processes and happier teams Better visibility into projects Better quality products  Projects completed withing time and budget constraints Better adaptability  Motivated teams Lightweight Management ProcessScrum is a lightweight framework because it provides adaptable solutions to complex problems and helps teams and organizations generate value.Why Scrum is considered to be lightweight, easy to understand but difficult to master?Lightweight: Scrum, based on Agile values, has few elements and maximizes responsiveness to customer needs. This makes it lightweight and apt for software development in the modern world.  Easy to Understand: With just three roles, three artifacts, four ceremonies and 12 Agile values, Scrum is pretty easy to understand. Scrum is a collection of practices and concepts that teams use to build processes around. The Scrum Guide which is the Scrum bible is also easy to read and understand. The three scrum roles are: Team, Scrum Master, Product Owner The ceremonies are:  Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Retrospective and Sprint Review The three artifacts are: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Burndown chart  Difficult to Master: So, if Scrum is so easy to learn about and understand then why is that it’s difficult to actually implement and master? Let us look at this from the perspective of a Scrum Master. A Scrum Master is a critical part of the Scrum team and is in effect a microcosm of Scrum upholding the Agile values and focusing on creating a self-organizing, highly motivated and collaborative team. Scrum is a not a one-size-fits- all framework. Perhaps that is what makes it difficult to master. It has to be tailored to suit the needs of each project, team and organization. There are several factors that need to be considered before adopting Scrum. The Scrum Master’s role, similarly, needs to be learnt and there are several skills a professional must have or needs to cultivate in order to be a successful Scrum Master. The Scrum Master’s Role in a Successful Scrum Adoption:There are many Scrum teams that have started out in the right way, but soon fall by the wayside as they do not follow Scrum in principle. This is where the Scrum Master plays a very critical role in the success of the team. Despite Scrum being ‘simple to understand and difficult to master’ the Scrum Master is considered to be the expert on all things Scrum.As a coach, guide and mentor, the Scrum Master should facilitate the successful adoption of Scrum, and help others to gain mastery over Scrum principles and values.A Scrum Master must mandatorily follow certain core values and inspire the team to follow them as well. These core values that include openness, commitment, focus, courage and respect bring the team together and promote better work ethics and practices.Besides inculcating Scrum principles and values and guiding a successful adoption, a Scrum Master should also have these attributes:  An Unbiased and Open Mind:  An unbiased and open mind is key to being a good Scrum Master. As part of their portfolio, Scrum Masters have to work with different teams and team members having different personalities. Having an open mind will help the Scrum Master to not look at every team with the same lens and treat each team differently. Solutions that work for one team may not work for other teams or situations. Having an open mind will help you realise this and tweak your decisions based on teams and situations.   Transparency:  Transparency and open communication are the pillars of Scrum. As a Scrum Master your intentions should be open and transparent to everyone including your team and the product owner. The team must at all times know your reasons for doing certain things or taking certain decisions. Being upfront with the team members will help in trust building and lead to better work ethics.   Metrics to Map Progress:There are several tools available to track a team’s progress and the Scrum Master must ensure that these metrics showing the team’s progress be made available to the entire team. This will help the team better plan sprints, work collaboratively and improve working practices in order to ensure better output and value.   Motivation for Team Members: Keeping your team members happy and motivated is a Scrum Master’s main job. This includes removing obstacles that may impede the team from performing and helping them work according to Scrum values and techniques. The development team develops the product, and a happy team means a well-built product and satisfied customers. Assistance to the Product Owner:  As a Scrum Master, aiding the Product Owner is a major part of your responsibility. The Product Owner is a major stakeholder in the Scrum team and the Scrum Master aids the product owner in backlog management and by facilitating Scrum events, product planning and by helping the team to identify backlog items. Aiding the Product Owner in issues that they may face with regards to the project, stakeholders or the team will create a positive environment and will make things between the team and the product owner smoother.   Focus on the Challenges: Every Scrum project comes with its set of issues. But an effective Scrum Master will be aware of every challenge or impediment that comes in the way of the development team and takes these problems head on. Focusing on these challenges early on and resolving them is paramount to the success and progress of the team and the project. Appreciation for Achievements:  The focus of daily sprints and retrospectives is often to celebrate achievements and give the development team proper appreciation. A Scrum Master encourages and motivates and this they also do by respective current achievements. While giving advise on how things should be done is necessary, appreciating the team on its achievements is equally important.   Respect for Others: Your team members all have different personalities and each brings their own uniqueness and expertise to the team. No one team member is less or more important than the other. An effective and efficient Scrum Master will recognise this early on and treat every team member with the same amount of respect.  Understanding of Situations in the Right Context:  Not all things are as what they appear. The sooner a scrum master understands this, the better. Situations in context to teams, individuals and even the organization are not always black and white and the Scrum Master must consider the baggage of organizational culture, current systems, internal politics, etc before coming to a conclusion about a team or a team members. Instead, one must attempt to form close relationships with the team and understand the workings of the team and the organizations before passing judgement. Ability to Have Tough Conversations :  You as a Scrum Master are often seen as a problem solver, friend and mentor. But don’t let this image of yours come in the way of making tough decisions or having tough conversations. As a Scrum Master you must have the courage to do the right thing and if this means having difficult but necessary conversations with either the team members, the product owner or the stakeholders, then you must do it.    Courage to Protect the Team:  More often than not, there are unreasonable demands made on the development team. The Scrum Master should have the courage to protect the team and say an emphatic ‘no’ to the Product Owner or the stakeholders.  Accountability: You are accountable for your team’s success as you are for its failures. If as a Scrum Master you want your team to be accountable then the best way to get them to do that is to be accountable yourself. You can do this by being more invested in the day-to-day activities of the team and considering yourself to be a part of the team as well.  Support for Team Members: As a Scrum Master you are not just invested in the project but also in the growth of individual team members. You should motivate, encourage and support your team members to grow and reach heights in their careers.   Deep Commitment: If the team feels that the Scrum Master is committed to the project, committed to the team and committed to the team members, then they are more likely to be open and transparent with the Scrum Master. This trust with the team has to be built so that team members can be open about the challenges they face. The Scrum Master is the voice of the team and must support them at all stages.   Focus on Improvement:  Scrum is all about continuous improvement and the success of the Scrum Master is also tied to the continuous improvement of the Scrum team. If your team is getting better with time then you are doing well as a Scrum Master. From daily sprints to retrospectives, the Scrum Master provides avenues for the team to improve itself, identify problems and suggest solutions to work better.  Conclusion Scrum is the most used Agile framework, yet there are several lessons that organizations need to learn about Scrum before they embark on a transformation journey. This lightweight and easy to use framework can turn around the fortunes of companies if implemented in the right way. It’s important for an organization’s culture to be ready to accept and implement Scrum for project and organizational success.  
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Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servant-Leader!

The term servant leader is synonymous with a Scrum Master. But what does it mean? The Scrum Master is a servant leader in Agile projects, but servant leadership goes far beyond Agile, and Scrum Masters serve more than just the team.In this blog we attempt to look at the Scrum Master’s role as a servant leader, what the role entails and the responsibilities of the Scrum Master beyond the team, in context to the organization. What is servant-leadership?The term servant leadership was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in his article “The Servant as Leader”, in which he defined a servant leader as: The Servant-Leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That leader significantly differs from one who is leader first, may be due to the need to acquire power, material belonging, control and authority within the organization. Servant leadership is something very different from traditional leadership, which places the leader at the top of the hierarchy and the employees in the lower rung. Servant leadership, in a sense, is the opposite of traditional leadership, as it places the leader at the bottom of the hierarchy while employees are on the higher rungs. The leaders, in this case, are serving the people above them. Servant leadership refers to leaders who believe in serving people and the community that they are a part of, rather than accumulating power for themselves. This style of leadership emphasizes on helping subordinates better themselves, empowering employees and helping others perform to the best of their abilities.Servant leadership does not prescribe telling employees what to do, instead it helps the workforce find their sense of ownership and unlock their potential to reach their goals. Servant leadership is all about empowering others, which when consistently done can raise morale, enhance productivity and reduce employee attrition.Servant Leadership and ScrumScrum, in a way, is the very essence of servant leadership. Unlike traditional project management methodologies, it does not follow a top-down, hierarchical approach. Instead, decisions are lateral and happen with the involvement of the whole team. Scrum is the perfect approach in which to practice the concept of servant leadership. The 5 Scrum values of Openness, Respect, Commitment, Courage, and Focus, adhere to the philosophy of Servant Leadership. The Scrum Master plays a key role in the development of the product, the team and the organization. The Scrum Guide defines the servant leadership a Scrum Master’s role has to perform in context to the roles mentioned above. The Scrum Values that a Scrum Master practices have a ripple effect throughout the organization. The Scrum Master is seen as an evangelist for practicing and promoting Scrum in the enterprise.The Agile Manifesto and servant-leadershipThe Agile Manifesto states that one must value: Individuals and interactions over Process and tools Working software over Comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation Responding to change over Following a plan These again align with the values of servant leadership, which is all about putting people or employees first. The Agile Manifesto describes focusing on building projects around motivated individuals and giving them an environment of support, trust and collaboration—all characteristics of servant leadership.Who Are These Servant Leaders?The Scrum Guide defines the service provided by the Scrum Master as servant leadership. The Scrum Master selflessly provides servant leadership to the development team, product owner and the whole organization. By serving these entities, the Scrum Master can create a high performing team, a valuable product and an efficient organization that is able to meet business objectives and keep customers happy.  Though the term Scrum Master may be deceptive, the Scrum Master is not a master of the team but in fact serves the team in order to ensure smooth functioning and productivity.Servant Leadership and Scrum Master Roles of Servant LeadershipServant leadership:The day-to-day activity of a Scrum Master involves servant leadership. Servant leadership in a scrum team involves performance planning, coaching, helping the team self- organize, resolving conflicts through conflict management, removing obstacles that hinder progress and serving the team. The Scrum Master, while practicing servant leadership, helps the team grow and mature and become independent enough to make their own decisions. Servant leadership in Scrum is all about making the team self-reliant, so they can cope with the pressures of the role. As a servant leader the Scrum Master creates a high performing team, helps them become collaborative and high performing in order to achieve goals and meet the requirements of the customer.  Service to the Scrum Team: As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the development team perform. They help the team perform to the best of their abilities by giving them an environment that is conducive to work in, encouraging them, guiding them and removing obstacles that may hinder progress. As a coach, the Scrum Master will guide the team on scrum processes and help them adhere to Agile values during the development of the product. The Scrum Master is responsible for the scrum team’s effectiveness, and they work tirelessly to ensure that the team is motivated, encouraged, creative and innovative. The Scrum Master through servant leadership helps the team improve Scrum practices which helps them become more productive and generate value. The Scrum Team’s role in motivating and helping the team comes through in the daily stand-up meetings that are arranged as part of the sprint. The Scrum Master encourages team members to share their grievances and progress made through the sprint. Team members can talk about obstacles that may be hindering their work and due cognizance will be taken up by the Scrum master to ensure that these obstacles are removed.  According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Development Team by: Coaching the team in becoming self-organized and cross-functional Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value increments by removing impediments Helping the team deliver within the timeframe of the sprint Service to the Product Owner: The Scrum Master is a servant leader not just for the development team but also the Product Owner. While the Product Owner is primarily responsible for the product backlog, they cannot do this alone. The Scrum Master aids the development team and the Product Owner with effective product backlog management.The Scrum Master is involved at every stage of the product backlog grooming, helping the product owner with Scrum events, product planning and to identify backlog items along with the development team. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner define the product vision to the team.   According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by: Helping in Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management Helping the Scrum Team understand manage the Product Backlog items Setting up empirical product planning in complex environments and, Managing and facilitating stakeholder collaboration.Service to the Organization: The Scrum Master is a coach and motivator not just for the development team but goes beyond the team to spread the awareness of Scrum in the entire organization. Scrum Masters coach and help teams and departments understand Scrum and develop an Agile mind-set. Besides servant leadership to the team a Scrum Master is also involved in promoting the ideas and values of Scrum. An organization can get an agile mind-set only if the entire organization adopts Scrum and not just a few teams. This is where the Scrum Master comes in, helping other teams not involved with Scum to gain the Agile mind-set, through training and coaching. The Scrum Master is an Agile evangelist and promotes Scrum enterprise-wide.According to Scrum.org the Scrum Master serves the organization by: Leading, training, and coaching the organization in adopting Scrum Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization Coaching employees and stakeholders in the way Scrum works Helping stakeholders work with Scrum TeamsSome Servant-Leader Behaviours for every Scrum MasterBeing empathetic: This is the foremost personality trait required for anyone wanting to become a Scrum Master. Your empathy will shine through in your interactions with the team members and your dealings with the stakeholders. You should be able to see problems from the point of view of each party and work towards solving these problems. Caring: As a caring and empathetic Scrum Master, your team will feel free to approach you and share their concerns. Providing a listening ear will make you more approachable. You will be able to more clearly understand the impediments that are stopping project progress and work towards providing a solution.  Managing Conflicts: Not all team members will get along with each other and this can cause disruptions and problems within the team, lowering their productivity. As a Scrum Master you need to be great at conflict management, help others solve their problems, work with each other and create a high performing and harmonious team. Building relationships: You need to build a rapport with your team, the product owner and the stakeholders. This will help you communicate freely and help others approach you with their problems and issues. You need to build that relationship of trust and take everyone along on the journey of success.  Being ethical: Ethics play an important role in software development, especially since software now controls every aspect of our lives. The product created should be free of malice and fraud. The Scrum Master should guide the team in delivering the product at a value and standard that is expected and agreed upon with the stakeholder. There should not be any shortcuts or concessions made on the quality of the product delivered as this will affect not just the Scrum Master and the team’s reputation but will cause a dent in the reputation of the organization.   Conclusion  Servant leadership and the Scrum Master’s role is the backbone of Scrum. The Scrum Master as a servant leader re-emphasizes the values of Scrum and helps to enhance teamwork, collaboration, motivation and value. Under the able servant leadership of the Scrum Master, individual members and the team will grow, become more confident and help in delivering value.  
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A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small teams. But the true benefits of Agile can only be reaped if Agile and Scrum are scaled at the enterprise level. However, this is easier said than done. According to statistics, 47% of Agile transformations are not successful. While this is a worrying trend, there are still hundreds of organizations who have got it right and are able to survive the competition by innovating faster, delivering value and adapting to changing markets. How are they doing it? By using scaled Scrum.There are several tools and frameworks available for scaling Scrum at the enterprise level. In this blog, we attempt to look at a few of these.  Scaling Scrum with NexusNexus is among the most popular frameworks for scaling Scrum. According to the Nexus Guide, “Nexus is a framework for developing and sustaining scaled product delivery initiatives. It builds upon Scrum, extending it only where absolutely necessary to minimize and manage dependencies between multiple Scrum Teams while promoting empiricism and the Scrum Values.” How is Nexus different from Scrum? Scrum defines three primary roles: The Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the development team. These three roles work together in one team.The Nexus framework consists of several Scrum teams that work together toward a common product goal and defines the Nexus Integration Team as an additional accountability.  Nexus helps to build on the values of Scrum and also solves the collaboration and dependency challenges that tend to occur between teams in Scrum.Benefits of using Nexus Nexus extends Scrum in the following ways:  Accountabilities: Nexus introduces the Nexus Integration Team, which consists of the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and members. This team is accountable for delivering a workable product at the end of each sprint.  Events: Nexus events aim to add to or supplement Scrum events and serve not just individual teams but also the Nexus Integration Team. The objective of a sprint is to achieve the Nexus sprint goal. Artifacts: Although the teams are different, within the Nexus framework they all work towards a single goal and follow a single product backlog. There’s a high amount of transparency and work is allocated to each team. The Nexus Integration TeamAccording to the Nexus Guide, “the Nexus Integration Team exists to coordinate, coach, and supervise the application of Nexus and the operation of Scrum so the best outcomes are derived.” The Nexus Integration Team or NIT comprises of the Scrum Master, the Product Owner and Nexus integration team members. There are generally three to nine Scrum teams working together in Nexus. All of them follow a single product backlog and work towards delivering a single product. The Nexus Integration Team forms an essential role within Nexus and is tasked with providing transparent accountability among the teams in Nexus.Product OwnerThe Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the product value and the work carried out in Nexus. Their primary task is to order and refine the product backlog. Being a member of the Nexus Integration Team, the product owner will work with all the Scrum teams in the Nexus Integration team. The product owner and the teams work towards better defining and refining the product backlog.Scrum MasterJust like in regular Scrum, the Scrum Master in the Nexus Integration Team is also responsible for ensuring that the Nexus framework is understood by everyone on the team as prescribed by the Nexus Guide.   MembersThe members of the Nexus Integration Team are the Scrum team members who aid the Scrum teams in adoption of tools and practices that will help the team and members deliver value at the end of each sprint that meets the definition of done. Nexus Integration Team membership should be considered more important than the individual Scrum Team membership and members should work towards first fulfilling their Nexus team responsibilities.What are the Events in Nexus?Nexus adds or augments the events as defined by Scrum. The Nexus event durations are like Scrum event durations and are guided by the Scrum Guide.  Nexus events consist of: Sprint- A Nexus sprint is the same as in Scrum, at the end of which a single increment is delivered.  Cross team refinement- The aim of Nexus is to enhance collaboration and reduce cross team dependencies. Cross team refinement helps to make dependencies and responsibilities more transparent. This makes it easier for Scrum teams within the Nexus to clearly identify and deliver their allocated tasks.  Nexus Sprint Planning- Nexus sprint planning will involve the participation of the Product Owner and concerned teams' members from each team. The purpose of the Nexus Sprint Planning is to assign and co-ordinate activities for a single sprint.  Nexus Daily Scrum- This is like the daily stand up in Scrum. Nexus daily scrum is used to identify any issues and track progress. Any issues are immediately prioritized and solved so that they do not hinder the work of the developers.  Nexus Sprint Review- This event is held at the end of sprints to provide feedback on the increment that has been built and on any future updates that have to be made. Nexus Sprint Retrospective- Like in Scrum, Nexus retrospectives are an important part of the project and are used to reflect on how quality and consistency can be improved.  Some Nexus ArtifactsNexus artifacts are the same as Scrum artifacts and when implemented correctly ensure transparency and value maximization. Every artifact is designed to give a commitment. For example, the product backlog is the artifact and its commitment is the product goal. Other artifacts and their commitments include: Nexus Sprint Backlog-Nexus Sprint Goal Integrated Increment-Definition of Done Along with Nexus, LeSS is another popular framework for scaling agile.  Scaling Scrum with LeSS The Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework is an offering from Atlassian and is a framework for scaling Scrum to multiple teams that are working on the same product. The idea behind LeSS is to start with a single Scrum team as defined in the Scrum Guide and then replicate it to multiple teams who are working on a single product. LeSS has earned the label of being “barely sufficient” as it is a simple framework to apply and uses the basic concepts of Scrum to scale.  How do Sprint Planning meetings in LeSS work?  LeSS generally carries out sprint planning in two stages. Sprint Planning One focuses on selecting items that are of topmost priority, solving unanswered issues and defining the sprint goal. The Sprint Planning Two is like the sprint plan of regular Scrum and focuses on creating a plan of action for getting things done.  Daily meeting  The daily Scrum meeting in LeSS is similar to how it is done in normal single Scrum teams and involves team members discussing the work accomplished and the work to be done during the day. It is a time-boxed meeting and helps teams address any issues that may be hindering work.   Sprint Delivery Meeting (Review) The sprint review meeting is an essential part of LeSS and helps teams and stakeholders review the product built during the sprint and suggest changes and new ideas.   Retrospective The retrospective for LeSS is similar to one team Scrum. These retrospectives held at the end of the sprint will help teams to reflect on the progress of tasks, and identify the obstacles that may hinder or impede the overall project.  Let’s take a look at some of the other frameworks that are used for scaling agile. Scaling Scrum with SAFe®The Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe in short, follows the principles of lean and agile and helps in scaling Scrum to the enterprise. It helps to manage alignment, collaboration, and delivery from multiple agile teams to ensure enterprise success. It systematically focuses on applying Scrum at each level of the enterprise, to maximize value and ensure a successful agile transformation.A successful SAFe adoption ensures end-to-end business agility with significant improvements in strategy, delivery, execution and business competencies. It helps organizations overcome competition and ensure innovative business solutions to gain customer trust and partnership. The SAFe framework is continuously improvised in order to help organizations cope with the digital age and ensure that business outcomes are delivered.Scaling Scrum with the Scrum@Scale frameworkAnother framework that allows organizations to implement Scrum at scale is the Scrum@Scale framework. This framework expands on the core principles of Scrum and helps to scale Scrum over a wide range of industries and sectors, ensuring customer satisfaction and creation of successful products. It promotes communication across all teams and departments, and optimizes resources, removes roadblocks and ensures creation of innovative products.A Final Word By driving Agile at the organizational level, companies can gain all the benefits of team-level Scrum at scale. More often than not the principles of team level Scrum are not sustainable at the enterprise level and the transformation fails. Tested and proven Agile scaling frameworks are now able to turn this around, and help organizations scale up the principles and practices of Scrum to become more adaptable, flexible and responsive. Professionals can master these frameworks and help their organization adopt the culture, mind-set and principles of Scrum and agile.  
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A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small tea... Read More

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