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How Does the Product Owner Manage Various Stakeholders?

As you know, Scrum has the 3 most important roles, which are Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Team. Apart from these core roles, we have involved stakeholders. It is very important to manage various stakeholders to let the project go in the right direction. Now, when it comes to the Product Owner, one of the most important roles and responsibilities is to manage stakeholders. Managing their requirements, their areas of interests, areas of conflicts, and a lot more.  This article is going to talk about the Product Owner roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, It gives you insights about who all are the stakeholders, what does it mean to manage the stakeholders, what should be the process, and the further best tips to manage stakeholders. Let’s get started with understanding the basics first. Stakeholder ManagementA stakeholder is anyone interested in the product or we can say who is influenced by the product or involved in the product.This can be anyone who has a certain type of interest in the project, be it financial interest, someone who has invested, or it can be someone who is going to use the product, which could be customers. We will understand the various types of stakeholders in the coming section of this article.Now, coming to stakeholder management. Stakeholder Management plays a vital role in project success. It is basically about maintaining good relationships with the stakeholders, or we can say manage them to make them respond positively towards the project. We will understand various ways to implement this in the coming sections of the article.Let us first understand the roles and responsibilities of a Product Owner before we dive deep into managing stakeholders.Stakeholders and Product Owner Product Owner Role and ResponsibilitiesThe product owner is the most important person, who “owns” the product. This person is responsible for the Product Vision.A key decision-maker and responsible for the ROI of the businessResponsible for understanding the end customers and creating the product backlog requirements accordinglyResponsible for product backlog management (Prioritizing and Managing it)Responsible for reviewing and checking the potentially shippable product increment deliverable at the end of the sprintProviding feedback to the team at the regular intervals to make sure the product development is moving in the right directionRefining the product backlog, based on the feedback and changing market needsAnd not to forget, managing stakeholders!Now that we understand the Product Owner deeply and it’s responsibilities, let us understand the Stakeholders.Understanding the Various StakeholdersStakeholder A famous “Chicken” and “Pig” story in Scrum is one of the very good examples that explain how “Chicken” represents the stakeholders who are merely “involved” and “Pig” represents roles like Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the team, which are not only involved but “committed”. Someone who is not part of the team but still has an interest and involvement in product or project development and it’s progress. However, someone who would be affected by the project or product development.  This can include:Directors, Decision Makers at the organization End Users/End Customers Product Sponsors Marketing team Legal entities Etc. It is very important to take care of these Stakeholders and fulfill all their requirements during and after product development. Now, when we see Stakeholders, this will contain different sets of people and with different roles. This can include some really good stakeholders who would always encourage the team and provide constructive feedback. However, on the other hand, this can include some challenging stakeholders, who don’t support or provide any feedback. This is where comes the need for management of stakeholders. However, if we go with the management, it’s like managing people, because stakeholders would include people with different roles.  However, we will look at the larger picture here and see how to manage stakeholders. Let’s have a look at it by putting our feet into the Product Owner’s shoes.  Reviewing Stakeholder Management Process  As we got an idea that Stakeholder could be someone who would either support or someone who would either oppose. The process of managing these stakeholders is Stakeholder Management Process. It involves managing their expectations, communication, requirements, etc. It involves 4 different steps which will talk about:1. Identifying the StakeholdersIdentifying StakeholdersThe very first step that comes in the Stakeholder management process is “Identifying the Stakeholders”. This can be anyone who is involved in the project or is affected by the project. Let us have a look at different aspects for identifying the stakeholders:Someone who has an impact on the project Someone who has an opinion or a point of view on the project Someone who has a decision making power Someone who would like to see your project successful Someone who would like to see your project fail Someone who has an impact over your team Someone who can help resolve conflicts or remove challenges Someone who simply have an interest in the project Once, we list down and identify the stakeholders, it is easy for us to categorize them based on different aspects. This whole process is identifying the stakeholders. Once we know them, it is easy for us to manage them.2. Analyzing the StakeholdersAnalyzing the StakeholdersThere are several ways to analyze stakeholders. We will have a look at the two most important ones. The first one is Power-Interest Graph. Power-Interest Graph Power-Interest GraphHigh Power, High InterestThese stakeholders are mostly the decision-makers or the key-players. They can impact in a way that can make the project successful or fail. They are very easy to identify. Now, when it comes to communication, they should be actively engaged! These stakeholders are highly powerful, so we must try to meet their each and every requirement, otherwise they can even cancel our project if not satisfied.High Power, Low InterestThese stakeholders again have decision-making abilities but they are not so much interested. A lot of communication can make them disinterested in the project or product. They lack interest and therefore, they should be kept satisfied!   Do whatever it takes to keep them satisfied.Low Power, High InterestThese stakeholders are the ones who have less power over the project but they are keenly interested in what’s going on. They might impact the project, so it is important to keep them informed!Low Power, Low InterestThese stakeholders are the ones who are merely present and don’t expect to be involved much. They might not be interested and might not be expecting any sort of communication. It is important, you just monitor them!Now that we saw the Power-Interest Graph, another interesting way is the Stakeholder SWOT Analysis. Let us have a look at that one as well.Stakeholder SWOT Analysis. Another way is to analyze the stakeholders based on their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. What will be their Strengths and Weaknesses? What will be the opportunities and threats they would bring to the project? This will help analyze them better. SWOT Analysis 3. Prioritizing the StakeholdersFor a product owner, prioritization is like an ongoing activity. Just like they need to prioritize the backlog, a similar way, they need to prioritize the stakeholders. After the successful identification and analysis, once they are prioritized, they can be taken care of accordingly. This way, product owners can develop the communication plan and can further deliver the right message to the right stakeholder at the right time.4. Engaging the Stakeholders This is the last step where execution takes place. Now that we have identified, analyzed, and prioritized the stakeholders, this is where we will implement the communication plan. Determine different action plans, whether are going to have one on one conversations, meetings, or going to communicate through emails. We define and execute our plan accordingly and keep the stakeholders engaged as required. Thus, managing all their expectations.5 tips for the Product Owners to manage stakeholders effectively   By now, we know how to identify the stakeholders, analyse them, and different steps of the management process. Let's have a look at some of the best practices which Product owners can follow to manage stakeholders effectively: Don’t treat Stakeholders same. As we have seen the matrix above on identifying, analyzing and prioritizing the stakeholders. It is very important for the Product Owners to treat them accordingly. Based on our analysis, we categorize them and then based on our categorization, Product Owners need to treat them. Act like an Owner. Being a Product Owner is a great responsibility. It is the person responsible for the ROI of the business. With responsibility comes the authority. It is very important you act like an “Owner”. This not only gives you the power over stakeholders but also helps manage them more effectively. Communicate Upfront. Never hesitate to say “No” to the stakeholders. Being a product owner, you know what is good for the project and what is bad for the project in order to make it successful. As and when needed, for certain decisions and for the benefit of the project, feel free to say “No” to the stakeholders and be upfront in doing so. Set Expectations. It is very important that being a Product Owner, you set all the expectations with the stakeholders. Understanding what they need to know and what they are expecting out of the project. Further, You should be communicating with them in terms of their expectations only. Involve Scrum Masters. We know that Product Owner is responsible for managing the stakeholders, but this is not mandatory that Product Owner should do it all alone. Have your Scrum Master besides you to support you with all sorts of process questions, which can eventually help you manage the stakeholders more effectively.  These were some of the best tips to manage stakeholders effectively and efficiently.   To conclude, we discussed several types of stakeholders and we looked at the process of managing them. The major takeaway from this article is understanding the stakeholders. For understanding and managing them, Remember the 4 key points, which are Identifying, Analyzing, Prioritizing and Engaging the stakeholders. For engaging with the stakeholders, which involves the execution, we have provided you with 5 tips for the product owners to manage stakeholders effectively. Stay tuned for more such articles!

How Does the Product Owner Manage Various Stakeholders?

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How Does the Product Owner Manage Various Stakeholders?

As you know, Scrum has the 3 most important roles, which are Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Team. Apart from these core roles, we have involved stakeholders. It is very important to manage various stakeholders to let the project go in the right direction. 

Now, when it comes to the Product Owner, one of the most important roles and responsibilities is to manage stakeholders. Managing their requirements, their areas of interests, areas of conflicts, and a lot more.  

This article is going to talk about the Product Owner roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, It gives you insights about who all are the stakeholders, what does it mean to manage the stakeholders, what should be the process, and the further best tips to manage stakeholders. Let’s get started with understanding the basics first. 

Stakeholder Management

A stakeholder is anyone interested in the product or we can say who is influenced by the product or involved in the product.

This can be anyone who has a certain type of interest in the project, be it financial interest, someone who has invested, or it can be someone who is going to use the product, which could be customers. We will understand the various types of stakeholders in the coming section of this article.

Now, coming to stakeholder management. Stakeholder Management plays a vital role in project success. It is basically about maintaining good relationships with the stakeholders, or we can say manage them to make them respond positively towards the project. We will understand various ways to implement this in the coming sections of the article.

Let us first understand the roles and responsibilities of a Product Owner before we dive deep into managing stakeholders.

Stakeholders and Product Owner

Stakeholders and Product Owner

 
Product Owner Role and Responsibilities

The product owner is the most important person, who “owns” the product. This person is responsible for the Product Vision.

  1. A key decision-maker and responsible for the ROI of the business
  2. Responsible for understanding the end customers and creating the product backlog requirements accordingly
  3. Responsible for product backlog management (Prioritizing and Managing it)
  4. Responsible for reviewing and checking the potentially shippable product increment deliverable at the end of the sprint
  5. Providing feedback to the team at the regular intervals to make sure the product development is moving in the right direction
  6. Refining the product backlog, based on the feedback and changing market needs
  7. And not to forget, managing stakeholders!

Now that we understand the Product Owner deeply and it’s responsibilities, let us understand the Stakeholders.

Understanding the Various Stakeholders

Stakeholder

Stakeholder

 A famous “Chicken” and “Pig” story in Scrum is one of the very good examples that explain how “Chicken” represents the stakeholders who are merely “involved” and “Pig” represents roles like Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the team, which are not only involved but “committed”. Someone who is not part of the team but still has an interest and involvement in product or project development and it’s progress. However, someone who would be affected by the project or product development.  

This can include:

  • Directors, Decision Makers at the organization 
  • End Users/End Customers 
  • Product Sponsors 
  • Marketing team 
  • Legal entities 
  • Etc. 

It is very important to take care of these Stakeholders and fulfill all their requirements during and after product development. Now, when we see Stakeholders, this will contain different sets of people and with different roles. 

This can include some really good stakeholders who would always encourage the team and provide constructive feedback. However, on the other hand, this can include some challenging stakeholders, who don’t support or provide any feedback. 

This is where comes the need for management of stakeholders. However, if we go with the management, it’s like managing people, because stakeholders would include people with different roles.  

However, we will look at the larger picture here and see how to manage stakeholders. Let’s have a look at it by putting our feet into the Product Owner’s shoes.  

Reviewing Stakeholder Management Process  

As we got an idea that Stakeholder could be someone who would either support or someone who would either oppose. The process of managing these stakeholders is Stakeholder Management Process. It involves managing their expectations, communication, requirements, etc. 

It involves 4 different steps which will talk about:

1. Identifying the Stakeholders

Identifying Stakeholders

Identifying Stakeholders

The very first step that comes in the Stakeholder management process is “Identifying the Stakeholders”. This can be anyone who is involved in the project or is affected by the project. Let us have a look at different aspects for identifying the stakeholders:

  • Someone who has an impact on the project 
  • Someone who has an opinion or a point of view on the project 
  • Someone who has a decision making power 
  • Someone who would like to see your project successful 
  • Someone who would like to see your project fail 
  • Someone who has an impact over your team 
  • Someone who can help resolve conflicts or remove challenges 
  • Someone who simply have an interest in the project 

Once, we list down and identify the stakeholders, it is easy for us to categorize them based on different aspects. This whole process is identifying the stakeholders. Once we know them, it is easy for us to manage them.

2. Analyzing the StakeholdersAnalyzing the Stakeholders

Analyzing the Stakeholders


There are several ways to analyze stakeholders. We will have a look at the two most important ones. The first one is Power-Interest Graph. 

Power-Interest Graph Power-Interest Graph

Power-Interest Graph

  • High Power, High Interest

These stakeholders are mostly the decision-makers or the key-players. They can impact in a way that can make the project successful or fail. They are very easy to identify. Now, when it comes to communication, they should be actively engaged! These stakeholders are highly powerful, so we must try to meet their each and every requirement, otherwise they can even cancel our project if not satisfied.

  • High Power, Low Interest

These stakeholders again have decision-making abilities but they are not so much interested. A lot of communication can make them disinterested in the project or product. They lack interest and therefore, they should be kept satisfied!  

Do whatever it takes to keep them satisfied.

  • Low Power, High Interest

These stakeholders are the ones who have less power over the project but they are keenly interested in what’s going on. They might impact the project, so it is important to keep them informed!

  • Low Power, Low Interest

These stakeholders are the ones who are merely present and don’t expect to be involved much. They might not be interested and might not be expecting any sort of communication. It is important, you just monitor them!

Now that we saw the Power-Interest Graph, another interesting way is the Stakeholder SWOT Analysis. Let us have a look at that one as well.

Stakeholder SWOT Analysis. 

Another way is to analyze the stakeholders based on their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. What will be their Strengths and Weaknesses? What will be the opportunities and threats they would bring to the project? This will help analyze them better. 

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis

 

3. Prioritizing the Stakeholders

For a product owner, prioritization is like an ongoing activity. Just like they need to prioritize the backlog, a similar way, they need to prioritize the stakeholders. After the successful identification and analysis, once they are prioritized, they can be taken care of accordingly. This way, product owners can develop the communication plan and can further deliver the right message to the right stakeholder at the right time.

4. Engaging the Stakeholders 

This is the last step where execution takes place. Now that we have identified, analyzed, and prioritized the stakeholders, this is where we will implement the communication plan. Determine different action plans, whether are going to have one on one conversations, meetings, or going to communicate through emails. We define and execute our plan accordingly and keep the stakeholders engaged as required. Thus, managing all their expectations.

5 tips for the Product Owners to manage stakeholders effectively   

By now, we know how to identify the stakeholders, analyse them, and different steps of the management process. Let's have a look at some of the best practices which Product owners can follow to manage stakeholders effectively: 

  1. Don’t treat Stakeholders same. As we have seen the matrix above on identifying, analyzing and prioritizing the stakeholders. It is very important for the Product Owners to treat them accordingly. Based on our analysis, we categorize them and then based on our categorization, Product Owners need to treat them. 
  2. Act like an Owner. Being a Product Owner is a great responsibility. It is the person responsible for the ROI of the business. With responsibility comes the authority. It is very important you act like an “Owner”. This not only gives you the power over stakeholders but also helps manage them more effectively. 
  3. Communicate Upfront. Never hesitate to say “No” to the stakeholders. Being a product owner, you know what is good for the project and what is bad for the project in order to make it successful. As and when needed, for certain decisions and for the benefit of the project, feel free to say “No” to the stakeholders and be upfront in doing so. 
  4. Set Expectations. It is very important that being a Product Owner, you set all the expectations with the stakeholders. Understanding what they need to know and what they are expecting out of the project. Further, You should be communicating with them in terms of their expectations only. 
  5. Involve Scrum Masters. We know that Product Owner is responsible for managing the stakeholders, but this is not mandatory that Product Owner should do it all alone. Have your Scrum Master besides you to support you with all sorts of process questions, which can eventually help you manage the stakeholders more effectively.  

These were some of the best tips to manage stakeholders effectively and efficiently.  

To conclude, we discussed several types of stakeholders and we looked at the process of managing them. The major takeaway from this article is understanding the stakeholders. For understanding and managing them, Remember the 4 key points, which are Identifying, Analyzing, Prioritizing and Engaging the stakeholders. For engaging with the stakeholders, which involves the execution, we have provided you with 5 tips for the product owners to manage stakeholders effectively. Stay tuned for more such articles!

Ridhi

Ridhi Chhabra

Blog author

Ridhi Chhabra is working in the field of Project Management from last 8 years. She is also a Certified Scrum Master (CSM). She has been implementing Scrum Framework in 80% of her projects which are resulting in Successful Project Completion and Great Customer Experience. She has great Communication skills and got a proven experience in interacting with customers around the globe, across US, UK, Australia and South Africa.
She is currently working as an Executive Assistant Project Manager at KOHLEX Design India Pvt. Ltd., It is US Based Organization which is having main headquarters in California, United States and is handling operations in Hyderabad, India.


She enjoys meeting new people, traveling and writing blogs and articles. Refer to her LinkedIn for more articles.

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It is a simplified version of handling changes with no formal documentation or approval. The changes are integrated for the customer’s competitive advantage because it takes care of the market changes in the business to bolster your advantage to emerging opportunities. DELIVERING WORKING SOFTWARE FREQUENTLY: Provide immediate value to the customers by delivering features that are done. The development teams are wholly responsible for completion of sprints. They ensure that each feature developed is tested, and matches the customer’s requirements before it is delivered. The project team needs to focus on the delivery of value to the customer within a fixed delivery timeframe. BUSINESS PEOPLE AND DEVELOPERS WORK TOGETHER DAILY : Agile accepts changes in software development. It is hence important to clarify requirements on a timely basis to always keep all the team members notified and up-to-date during the development of the software. SUPPORT, TRUST AND MOTIVATE TEAM: Agile depends on focused, trusted, and motivated individuals to complete projects as per requirements of the client. Development teams have all the power to select the work they are most interested in by self-organization with no interference from the external management. FACE-TO-FACE CONVERSATION WITH DEVELOPMENT TEAM: Feedback via face-to-face interaction or video conference with development teams in different geographical locations is always encouraged as it assists in easy and smooth transfer of information amongst the members. WORKING SOFTWARE IS THE PRIMARY MEASURE OF PROGRESS: The only way to measure success factors is by delivering a working product that satisfies the customer’s needs. Delivering functional software to the customer is the ultimate way by which progress can be measured. AGILE PROCESSES TO SUPPORT A CONSISTENT DEVELOPMENT PACE: Teams establish the velocity rate at which they can deliver working software, and they follow the same process with each release. Agile methodology aims to keep the work-life balance of development teams and never burden them with huge amount of work, thus keeping them happy and motivated.  ATTENTION TO TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE AND DESIGN: The right technical skills and good design ensures the team can maintain the pace, constantly improve the product, and sustain market changes. SIMPLICITY: Focus on things that are important to add value to the project and customers. Develop the product as required and get the job done correctly. SELF-ORGANIZING TEAM ENCOURAGES GOOD ARCHITECTURE, REQUIREMENTS AND DESIGNS: In Scrum methodology, the team has overall control and is responsible for completing each sprint. The team performs in the best possible way needed to carry out the task. There is no interference of the project manager or from the human resources department. REGULAR REFLECTIONS ON HOW TO BECOME MORE EFFECTIVE: Self-improvement, process improvement, enhancing skills, and techniques help team members work more efficiently. It is imperative for Scrum teams to work and focus as a cognitive unit.  Working out new plans, checking requirements and adapting to changes will help the Scrum team to work more efficiently. THE GREAT AGILE DEBATE Agile development is a method based on iterative and incremental development. The requirements and solutions evolve in short sprint iterations through collaboration within self-organizing, cross-functional teams. The idea of the Agile method is to create a working software, compliant to change, and incorporate Face to Face interactions and collaboration over processes, tools or plans. It’s based on the principle of incremental delivery of the business value as quickly as possible through iterative development of software. The Agile Manifesto is the basis of the Agile practices, processes and principles etc used today. AGILE STRENGTHS:  It breaks tasks into small increments to allow the project to adapt and change quickly with the markets or client’s needs A project is developed in short iterations, or short time frames lasting from one to four weeks.  At the end of each iteration the agile approach allows teams to demonstrate the progress of the project to stakeholders; this ends the risk of bugs. Moreover, changes and additions can easily be adapted in each increment; this closely meets the client’s expectations. THE AGILE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX The Agile community is now the Agile Industrial Complex.  It is that web of agile institutions, Agile thought leaders and Agile consulting firms that implicitly collude to make normal the very harmful and disrespectful imposition of Agile practices on teams without consent.  According to Martin Fowler agile had become mainstream in 2016. It is no longer exotic or frowned upon on, as in the early days. Growing agile industrial complex scenario: Organizations have spun the simple agile methodologies into complex industrial processes. This complex agile industrial has ballooned up and further used only for commercialization purposes. The agile-industrial complex trains people provide shiny certificates and pushes those people into consulting or managing positions. Focus on methodology: Every organization today focuses on agile methodologies for creating different products. This has resulted in the implementation of agile methodologies in organizations without any technical excellence of able and experienced engineers.  Focus on projects instead of products: Instead of connecting development team with clients and focusing on quality, the deadline and finishing of the project is prized or is given more importance. IS THE MANIFESTO STILL RELEVANT? The Agile Manifesto has made a profound effect on software development, even reaching beyond into the wider world of business. There’s ample evidence that the Agile Manifesto remains relevant in software development even today. The Agile Manifesto established some core elements of the best modern software development practices, which are still industry standard.  Examples of its influence include: Scrum:  A framework for small teams based on Agile Unified Process: A simplified version of The Unified Process (UP), or Unified Software Development Process Dynamic Systems Development:  An approach to project management and solution delivery Agile Alliance - Guide to Agile Practices: A collaboration between the Agile Alliance and PMI The emphasis on fast shipping had a major influence on changing the way physical goods are delivered around the globe.  WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Agility means development with incremental approach, making small changes quickly, and learning from it through stakeholder feedback, making adjustments to our understanding of problems and repeating this many times. What to do: Find out and Plan the development incrementally within sprints. Initiate small steps towards your goal with quick deliveries. Adjust the understanding based on the feedback received. Lessons learnt should be implemented efficiently. Repeat all the steps. Below are a few simple steps that really describe what agile is all about.  Decide the goal to achieve. Perform small changes, test it, learn from it, adjust and repeat. Try to write code in agile way which is easy to change later. Implement small changes, get immediate feedback, initiate small iterations and make decisions that remove impediments for future changes as much as possible. Resolving problems using these basic agile principles, step by step at a time will ensure smooth transitions. The tools and methodologies will help to achieve agility. Avoid adding more processes.  Agile is a simple and fast way of learning and improving by taking small steps, one after the other. CONCLUSION Implementation of agile values to the project development process promotes communication both horizontally and vertically throughout the organization. It enhances innovation through high-performance multidisciplinary development teams and enhances business value by involving the client throughout the incremental delivery process. Improved communication, teamwork, collaboration, and organizational change improve the business value of products during the preliminary stages and throughout the project development lifecycle stages. Below are the concluding thoughts about Agile implementation Agile was born to simplify the lives of software developers, testers, and organizations. Transition from plan-based approach to Agile should result in the reduction of management overhead and lessen the burden of formalities from the creative development team. Be mindful of eliminating the right column of Agile Manifesto i.e., processes, tools, documentation, contract negotiation and the plan.  Agile methodology leads to avoiding misconceptions and helps in creating complex products. 
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12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto

Long before Agile came into existence, almost ev... Read More

Career Boost with CSM Certification

The ecosystem and landscape around every business is changing drastically. Digital technologies enable entities to develop digital products / services and to conduct their business significantly differently.  Example: Physical gift cards are now digital gift cards., like Amazon’s gift cards which can be shared with the near and dear ones during festive seasons or occasions. Customers can quickly buy this digital product online and gift it in a matter of a few seconds. This creates value for the customers and benefits the company that sells this product.  Organizations are heavily investing in newer technologies and at the same time focussing on refining their existing processes and working culture.  This enables them to increase and improve the speed and quality of the deliverables and also enhance customer experiences.  This is why global entities have taken on many best practices to contribute to the success of the interactions they have with different stakeholders. In this digital era, faster turnaround time is seen as one of the important traits of organizations developing and selling digital products. To accomplish this objective, IT organizations are exposed to a gamut of agile development models.   Today, “Scrum” (an agile development practice) is widely used as a mainstream practice in software development lifecycles, to create digital products like software. Let’s take a look at the overview of Scrum practices and understand how Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) certification can help you and your business. Scrum - an overview:Scrum methodology is based on principles like KISS (Keep It Simple & Straightforward) and progress iteratively with feedback.  This practice is: lightweight and implementable model. based on team collaboration. deceptively simple yet difficult to master.  based on “just enough” process and documentation mindset. An Analogy: Think about running a ten thousand metre race as a marathon run and slice the same race into some equal segments or sprints. Speed and quality increases when we slice the effort and maintain a constant pace or cadence.Scrum revolves around a concept called as “sprint” or a “timebox”.  So, sprint is a timebox of 2 to 4 weeks used to deliver some parts of the complete software in an iterative fashion. A simple sprint structure is expressed in the below diagram.  An Analogy: A teacher teaching the principles of abacus to the children divides the learners into four groups. The first set of children are beginners. They are taught to learn the abacus tools from scratch. They don’t have any targets as such. The second group of children know how to use the abacus tools and formulae. They are provided with a set of sums to solve with an upper time limit (for example 10 sets of sums in 10 to 15 minutes). The third set of children are in the advanced level. They are proficient enough to solve seventy to eighty sets of sums using abacus tools in less than five to seven minutes. Fourth set of expert level kids solve hundred plus sets of sums within five minutes with very minimal errors or no errors at all even without having a time pressure.  From the above analogy, we can conclude that when we repeatedly practice a simple method many times over and over, we gain perfection, maturity, speed and quality. We can now relate it with Scrum methodology. Scrum operates around simple processes which revolves around the Deming’s cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act). Let’s get introduced to some of the basic elements of Scrum which revolves around roles, artifacts and ceremonies.  Basics of Scrum: Scrum Roles:   Product Owner: The Product owner understands business, customer, market and stakeholder needs. This role serves as the voice of the customer who is responsible for maximizing the value of the product or software.   Scrum Master :The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that Scrum is understood and enacted by all the stakeholders who interact with the scrum teams. Anyone who wears the cap of a Scrum Master has to take up a versatile range of roles such as facilitator, coach, mentor, trainer, enabler, change agent, servant leader etc.  Development Team:The Development Team consists of T-shaped professionals who do the work of delivering a potentially releasable increment or a minimum viable product at the end of each sprint. Cross-functional teams who can collaborate and self-organize are capable of delivering the products to the stated quality.   Scrum Artifacts: Product Backlog: The product backlog is simply all the things that need to be done within the project. In traditional project management, a product backlog can be referred to as a Requirements Documentation. This document is owned by the Product Owner and the requirements are prioritized based on the business value. Needs are captured in the form of user stories with acceptance criteria.  Example of a user story:  As a customer of the bank I want to update my latest communication address on my own using the bank’s app So that I can receive all the parcels/documents sent by the bank without missing them.Sprint Backlog: The Sprint backlog is a list of tasks identified by the scrum team to be completed during the sprint. During the sprint planning meeting, the team selects some number of product backlog items usually in the form of user stories, and identifies the tasks necessary to complete each user story. In traditional project management, this is also called as an Activity List.  Minimum Viable Product:  A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the sum of the Product Backlog items delivered during each sprint. Delivering the MVP in each sprint is fundamental to the scrum because when work is divided into simple pieces it can be finished in a short iteration. Example: An insurance company’s software development team is developing a mobile based app to sell their insurance products. In the first 3 sprints, the development team, delivers functionality and features that enable customers to buy insurance products online. Iteratively, the team delivers minimum viable products such as network locator, branch locator, feedback, track/modify policy, e-insurance card and so on.  Scrum Ceremonies: Sprint Planning:  The purpose of the sprint planning meeting is to estimate and forecast the work that can be accomplished by the team in the given sprint. Sprint backlog is the output of this meeting. Daily Stand-up: The purpose of the daily stand-up or daily scrum is to plan the day, identify risks and ways to mitigate them. Updated sprint backlog and burn charts / scrum board / Kanban board are the outputs of this activity.Sprint Review: The purpose of the sprint review is to showcase or demonstrate the developed feature to the product owner and other stakeholders. This promotes quick feedback.  Sprint Retrospective: The purpose of the sprint retrospective is to identify improvements and mature the ways of working in the subsequent sprints.Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Certification from Scrum Alliance: This is an instructor-led training program designed and crafted to increase the knowledge base on fundamental elements of scrum practices in about sixteen hours. This program will be driven by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®).  This certification is apt for professionals who: aspire to become a Scrum Master are project managers who encounter Scrum work with Scrum teams are Business Analysts who interact with Scrum teams are in IT Operations team and collaborate with Scrum teams want to begin their agile journey want to take other advanced certifications offered by Scrum Alliance want to learn the foundations of Scrum Exam:  After successfully completing the course, a candidate can take an online examination. 37 right answers out of 50 will enable a participant to earn the CSM certification. The time limit for the exam is 60 minutes.  Maintaining the certification :  Keeping the certification active is a good way to continue reaping the benefits of being certified. An active certification will help practitioners stay connected with the agile community, share and gain knowledge and help the community thrive. To keep the credential active, a renewal fee of $100 for two years is applicable. One also has to clock 20 learning hours called SEUs (Scrum Education Units®) once in two years towards maintaining the credential.  Benefits of CSM certification: helps in improving career prospects helps in marketability of one’s profile helps in demonstrating and improving the credibility of one’s profile Conclusion:  In a nutshell, Scrum is a software development framework which supports the value statements of the Agile Manifesto. Roles, artifacts and ceremonies of Scrum encourages “individuals and interaction” promoting a transparent, self-organizing, trustful, collaborative environment, focuses on delivering “working software” or minimum viable product with just enough documentation, promotes “customer collaboration” and infuses a mindset to “welcome changes” based on feedback and business value. Scrum facilitates a disciplined way to develop products in an iterative way using timeboxing as its core mantra.  Other agile practices such as Lean, Kanban, DevOps, Test Driven Development, Behaviour Driven Development, Feature Driven Development, eXtreme Programming, can be used alongside or to complement Scrum practices.  Scrum can also be scaled up to make it suitable to work with larger sets of teams. Existing project management practices can be tailored to infuse Scrum into their ways of working. Any organization adopting Agile, can kick start the adoption by embracing Scrum as a steppingstone. Although there are many different certifications available on agile practices, CSM is seen as a simple and easy way for professionals to begin their Scrum/Agile journey. As per the data published in www.scrumalliance.org there are more than a million professionals across the globe who are certified in various agile certifications offered by Scrum Alliance. So why wait? Grab your opportunity now! 
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Career Boost with CSM Certification

The ecosystem and landscape around every busines... Read More