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The Pros and Cons of the Scaled Agile Framework

“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.” ― Patrick OvertonThe Hurricane effect:  In 2005, the US Government declared a state of emergency in Florida and a few neighbouring coastal areas. They were preparing for what was going to be one of the most devastating natural forces in modern history – Hurricane Katrina. The situation was chaotic with millions of people being evacuated from their homes, shelters running out of supplies and weather forecasts reaching new levels of unknowns.  However, there were two people who were attempting to do the unthinkable. A reporter from a leading broadcasting company and a scientist from NWS were planning to understand the phenomenon better. They were preparing themselves to capture footage and data, by entering the inside of the ‘Eye’ of the hurricane; something unthinkable given the hazards of being at the epicenter of such a huge storm. The benefits though were remarkably crucial, with the data captured to be used for important scientific analysis and research, to help prepare better for such hurricanes. However, the big question was, would they survive?  Much like the above scenario, SAFe® (Scaled Agile framework) is a modern-day IT storm that has hit the industry. When SAFe was introduced in 2011 not everyone was prepared for its landfall moment, but as more niche versions came out and the flexibility to apply it at various levels was rolled out with improvement of business agility at its core (the eye), many organizations have started to realise the benefits.  However, the big question in this scenario is, how many of us have managed to get a peek inside the eye of this storm?  Have we managed to utilise SAFe to realise potential business agility?  In this article, we will be exploring exactly this along with the pros and cons of applying SAFe framework at your organization.  What is SAFe? – a brief introduction  SAFe is a way of taking any iterative Agile way of working (normally restricted to a few teams) and scaling it up at various levels of the organization, whilst applying a mindset of Lean manufacturing. SAFe feeds on the factor that there is an enormous need for adaptability in the industry, especially for large enterprises which are bogged down by legacy processes and outdated technological hierarchies but somehow need to stay relevant in the market, unable to respond to a rapidly changing customer need. If applied correctly, SAFe will empower businesses to compete in today’s marketplace and help them thrive in what is already a chaotic era of digital transformation.  It is to be noted that since its launch, SAFe has had many versions rolled out, with the latest being SAFe 5.0, which is a significant update from the framework perspective itself. This version handles key guidance over several core competencies that will ultimately transform an organization into a Lean Enterprise and achieve Business Agility. Image sourceBeing an Agile enthusiast myself, I quite often get asked about when and why should we start using SAFe? Will it really work? etc. Hence the main purpose of this article is to is to bring out some general Pros and Cons (For and Against thoughts) that are out there in the public. This article will focus only on SAFe and will not be used to compare it with any other scaling framework. Pros of SAFe: SAFe is very relevant and designed to thrive in situations where there are significant cross functional dependencies between agile teams and support / functional teams (infrastructure teams, architect community etc). Although there are numerous benefits of properly implementing SAFe, below are some of the key Pros which we will be highlighting in this article. Scalability at various levels – Beginning from Essential SAFe right up to Full SAFe, the framework caters to all organizational levels trying to scale agile. As part of this, it broadens the core idea of the agility mindset beyond just projects/development teams and extends it right up to executives/CXOs, who must prepare for enterprise level uncertainties. So, it provides valuable enterprise level scaling insights that executives will find useful while having to tackle any of these uncertainties/risks. PI planning & Dependency management – According to me, PI planning (hands down) is THE most significant aspect of executing this framework. This is where all the magic happens. It is sometimes referred to as the heart of the framework as it offers a clear vision of what the program increment needs to be, what the cross-team dependencies are and brings together the cultural sustainability much needed within the release trains. It is so important, that if carried out incorrectly it could lead to several ambiguities, development challenges and mostly a disastrous product increment. However, when it works well, the iterative cycle serves to flesh out the crucial elements of the plan, and the processes ensure buy in from the stakeholders. A normal PI planning is a 2-day activity, which is a face to face cultural get together of the various ART teams. However, a new 3-day distributed PI planning has been introduced to help with geographically distributed teams (across various time zones), very apt for the current pandemic situation.  “There is no magic in SAFe® except maybe for PI Planning”. – The authors of the SAFe framework. In big organizations with multiple distributed teams across multiple vendors, work streams etc. teams have to run independently whilst still having to deliver an incremental program. SAFe via the PI planning exercise mentioned above, helps with sorting out these issues by recognising cross team dependencies upfront and constantly negotiating & visualising them. This doesn’t just stop with the PI planning, but the framework also proposes a cadenced way of continuing this via the scrum of scrums. The Program Board is an ideal way to showcase the cross-team dependencies.Image sourceImproved Time to Value – The great philosopher Aristotle once said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”. Imagine a republic day parade where there are several regiments of the army, navy, and air force, along with their bands, all marching in synchronization. Regardless of whether you are a foot soldier, a wing commander or the president of India or somewhere in between, everyone is following the same process, protocols, creating a unified collaborative event. Much like this, in SAFe almost all parts of the organizations from scrum teams, ARTs, portfolio teams and C level executives, collaborate at an enterprise level by marching to the same drum beat, towards a unified set of goals. What this does is, it helps with a unified planning & execution, repeatedly, whilst incorporating timely feedback at all levels and thereby delivering value faster. Image SourceA customer story from Scaledagile.com website has a quote from a leading financial services company’s Agile coach – “Our time-to-value has gone down using the SAFe process. If reaching production would normally take 1 1/2 years, now it could be eight months with the new processes and approach.” A wonderful achievement indeed. Isn’t it? End User driven ideology – Having an empathetic mindset towards product design, build execution & delivery is a critical factor for the success of any product. SAFe proposes a primarily research driven, customer centric enterprise, focusing on producing empathy maps prior to the design phase to exactly understand how the end user will be impacted for any decision the enterprise makes. This also helps the organization to better understand market rhythms and stay ahead of the hype cycle, tapping into important unexplored areas giving the much-needed edge.  Alignment to business goals – What SAFe does (and does beautifully) is, it breaks some of the silos between business and technology. It actively encourages business stakeholders to interact / brainstorm with the relevant IT product delivery teams. The stakeholders also help to quantitatively prioritise initiatives/work items by assigning each item a business value, thereby aligning the business and technology in terms of the enterprise level goals, values and ultimate vision. The interaction mostly happens through various events that are embedded in the framework itself like PI planning, system demos, scrum of scrums etc. Remember the last thing that we do not want to happen in an enterprise-wide transformation is a total misalignment between business strategy and IT delivery.   Enterprise Business Agility – At the end of the day, whichever framework an organization uses to scale agile, it is of no use unless it helps the organization to thrive in this chaotic digital era wherein the key lies in the time taken to respond to market changes and dealing with ambiguous yet emerging opportunities. As mentioned in the above point, SAFe helps in aligning the business and IT strategy, making sure that there is a growing hierarchical structure running in parallel with an entrepreneurial network. This kind of a customer centric framework helps in offering both efficiency and stability served with a hint of innovation. Cons of SAFe:  Too many jargons/terminologies to remember – SAFe does have a heavy usage of terminology. To name a few, they sound like this - release trains, Program Increments, runways, guardrails, enablers, spikes etc. Phew !!! let’s just take a breath eh?! Also it has its own way around things, when it comes to Agile terminologies. SAFe has managed to modify some of the common agile terms & processes in order to fit into the "framework" that they prescribe. For e.g. a sprint is referred to as iteration, story points come with prescriptions and spikes get estimated. Why would someone need to estimate and size Spikes?  Can seem more like a Push rather than a Pull (top-down approach) – This is another seemingly un-intentional drawback of the SAFe framework, mainly because of multiple layers of administration and co-ordination. There are specific roles at each layer which tend to take away some of the obvious freedom from developers (unlike Scrum) and limit the flexibility to experiment. Not only does it take away the limelight from the self-organised teams but also almost makes them extinct when it comes to decision making.  Image sourceThe Hardening sprint – A notoriously misused phase within the SAFe framework is the Innovation or IP sprint. Although it has a fancy name, teams or enterprises often use it as a hardening phase for the increment, mainly for bug fixing, pipeline issues stabilization etc. I have often seen hardcore agilists rant about this and question the very purpose of this phase. According to some, where incrementing features is fundamental to Agile and Scrum, this framework completely bypasses the same. This can occur in organizations who do not have a robust DoD (Definition of Done) both at team levels as well as enterprise level and are often overlooked at the retrospectives for the sake of meeting deadlines.  Not for start-ups – Since SAFe is predominantly a large enterprise agility scaling framework, it may not suit a situation like a start-up, especially if the whole set up is less than say 30-40 people strong-- typical of any start-up company. Applying SAFe techniques in such a scenario may reduce the flexibility to react quickly in a volatile market. May seem Anti-Agile? – Ken Schwaber himself, has had a dig at this, questioning some of SAFe’s strategies, like the necessity for turning it into a product and licensing it, charging people to use it, adhoc tooling partnerships, etc. A few other agile practitioners believe that the SAFe framework is just too ‘complete’ to help the Agile culture of a company thrive, regardless of its size; unlike Scrum, which sticks to the true values & principles of agile and is left intentionally ‘incomplete’ in order to allow opportunities to adopt new values.  In a way SAFe can hamper the “Individuals and Interactions” aspects. Conclusion:If your head is spinning right now, don’t worry, it's absolutely OK to be in that mind state for a moment, considering that implementing SAFe is a major decision for any organization and should not be taken lightly. It will involve a significant amount of effort, training time and of course cost. Understanding SAFe may prove to be a gargantuan task, but it is a necessity to understand the framework correctly. My suggestion is simple. If you want to implement SAFe, please go ahead, but do not rush it. Take it one step at a time and follow the SAFe implementation roadmap. This roadmap (depicted in the diagram below) is a very useful strategy and charts out some critical moves which are needed in order to achieve organizational change. Image sourceAny major decision like whether to implement or not to implement SAFe is almost likely to be very contextual. I am sure the adoption of SAFe is only going to increase as enterprises turn to something that is readily available to adopt and will definitely open up their cheque books for SAFe and its partners. However, the key would be in trying to understand and measure what impacts it is resulting in.  Measuring some of the key aspects & business outcomes (like cycle time, release frequency, NPS, key business metrices like customer retention etc.) will be critical along with the adoption of SAFe. Remember, similar to the hurricane effect, SAFe is a storm in the current industry climate and is sure to take us all on a whirlwind tour. The trick is to be smart and have a peek into the eye of the storm, in order to reap the benefits and lay out strong foundations for the future of agile scaling at enterprise levels.  Thanks for your patience and wish you all the very best in your Agile journey. In case you want me to write about any specific topic, please feel free to comment below and I’ll be more than happy to add them to my ‘Blog Backlog’. If you liked the article, please do share it among your agile community to help spread the word.  Hope to see you soon, with more such interesting topics.

The Pros and Cons of the Scaled Agile Framework

10K
The Pros and Cons of the Scaled Agile Framework

“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.” ― Patrick Overton

The Hurricane effect:  

In 2005, the US Government declared a state of emergency in Florida and a few neighbouring coastal areas. They were preparing for what was going to be one of the most devastating natural forces in modern history – Hurricane Katrina. The situation was chaotic with millions of people being evacuated from their homes, shelters running out of supplies and weather forecastreaching new levels of unknowns.  

However, there were two people who were attempting to do the unthinkable. A reporter from a leading broadcasting company and a scientist from NWS were planning to understand the phenomenon better. They were preparing themselves to capture footage and data, by entering the inside of the ‘Eye’ of the hurricane; something unthinkable given the hazards of being at the epicenter of such a huge storm. The benefits though were remarkably crucial, with the data captured to be used for important scientific analysis and research, to help prepare better for such hurricanes. However, the big question was, would they survive?  

Much like the above scenario, SAFe® (Scaled Agile framework) is a modern-day IT storm that has hit the industry. When SAFe was introduced in 2011 not everyone was prepared for its landfall moment, but as more niche versions came out and the flexibility to apply it at various levels was rolled out with improvement of business agility at its core (the eye), many organizations have started to realise the benefits.  

However, the big question in this scenario is, how many of us have managed to get a peek inside the eye of this storm?  Have we managed to utilise SAFe to realise potential business agility?  In this article, we will be exploring exactly this along with the pros and cons of applying SAFe framework at your organization.  

What is SAFe– a brief introduction  

SAFe is a way of taking any iterative Agile way of working (normally restricted to a few teams) and scaling it up at various levels of the organization, whilst applying a mindset of Lean manufacturing. SAFe feeds on the factor that there is an enormous need for adaptability in the industry, especially for large enterprises which are bogged down by legacy processes and outdated technological hierarchies but somehow need to stay relevant in the market, unable to respond to a rapidly changing customer need. If applied correctly, SAFe will empower businesses to compete in today’s marketplace and help them thrive in what is already a chaotic era of digital transformation.  

It is to be noted that since its launch, SAFe has had many versions rolled out, with the latest being SAFe 5.0, which is a significant update from the framework perspective itself. This version handles key guidance over several core competencies that will ultimately transform an organization into a Lean Enterprise and achieve Business Agility

Typical results reported by SAFe enterprisesImage source

Being an Agile enthusiast myself, I quite often get asked about when and why should we start using SAFe? Will it really work? etc. Hence thmain purpose of this article is to is to bring out some general Pros and Cons (For and Against thoughts) that are out there in the public. This article will focus only on SAFe and will not be used to compare it with any other scaling framework. 

Pros of SAFe: 

SAFe is very relevant and designed to thrive in situations where there are significant cross functional dependencies between agile teams and support / functional teams (infrastructure teams, architect community etc). Although there are numerous benefits of properly implementing SAFe, below are some of the key Pros which we will be highlighting in this article. SAFe key process, ideologies and success factors

  • Scalability at various levels – Beginning from Essential SAFe right up to Full SAFe, the framework caters to all organizational levels trying to scale agile. As part of this, it broadens the core idea of the agility mindset beyond just projects/development teams and extends it right up to executives/CXOs, who must prepare for enterprise level uncertainties. So, it provides valuable enterprise level scaling insights that executives will find useful while having to tackle any of these uncertainties/risks. 
  • PI planning & Dependency management – According to me, PI planning (hands down) is THE most significant aspect of executing this framework. This is where all the magic happens. It is sometimes referred to as the heart of the framework as it offers a clear vision of what the program increment needs to be, what the cross-team dependencies are and brings together the cultural sustainability much needed within the release trains. It is so important, that if carried out incorrectly it could lead to several ambiguities, development challenges and mostly a disastrous product increment. However, when it works well, the iterative cycle serves to flesh out the crucial elements of the plan, and the processes ensure buy in from the stakeholders. A normal PI planning is a 2-day activity, which is a face to face cultural get together of the various ART teams. However, a new 3-day distributed PI planning has been introduced to help with geographically distributed teams (across various time zones), very apt for the current pandemic situation.  

“There is no magic in SAFe® except maybe for PI Planning”. – The authors of the SAFe framework. 

In big organizations with multiple distributed teams across multiple vendors, work streams etc. teams have to run independently whilst still having to deliver an incremental program. SAFe via the PI planning exercise mentioned above, helps with sorting out these issues by recognising cross team dependencies upfront and constantly negotiating & visualising them. This doesn’t just stop with the PI planning, but the framework also proposes a cadenced way of continuing this via the scrum of scrums. The Program Board is an ideal way to showcase the cross-team dependencies.A sample SAFe Program board

Image source

  • Improved Time to Value – The great philosopher Aristotle once said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”. Imagine a republic day parade where there are several regiments of the army, navy, and air force, along with their bands, all marching in synchronization. Regardless of whether you are a foot soldier, a wing commander or the president of India or somewhere in between, everyone is following the same process, protocols, creating a unified collaborative event. Much like this, in SAFe almost all parts of the organizations from scrum teams, ARTs, portfolio teams and C level executives, collaborate at an enterprise level by marching to the same drum beat, towards a unified set of goals. What this does is, it helps with a unified planning & execution, repeatedly, whilst incorporating timely feedback at all levels and thereby delivering value faster. 

An analogy depiction, comparing the synchronization of various regiments to the enterprise level event synchronization practised in SAFe

Image Source

A customer story from Scaledagile.com website has a quote from a leading financial services company’s Agile coach – “Our time-to-value has gone down using the SAFe process. If reaching production would normally take 1 1/2 years, now it could be eight months with the new processes and approach.” A wonderful achievement indeed. Isn’t it? 

  • End User driven ideology  Having an empathetic mindset towards product design, build execution & delivery is a critical factor for the success of any product. SAFe proposes a primarily research driven, customer centric enterprise, focusing on producing empathy maps prior to the design phase to exactly understand how the end user will be impacted for any decision the enterprise makes. This also helps the organization to better understand market rhythms and stay ahead of the hype cycle, tapping into important unexplored areas giving the much-needed edge.  
  • Alignment to business goals – What SAFe does (and does beautifully) is, it breaks some of the silos between business and technology. It actively encourages business stakeholders to interact / brainstorm with the relevant IT product delivery teams. The stakeholders also help to quantitatively prioritise initiatives/work items by assigning each item a business value, thereby aligning the business and technology in terms of the enterprise level goals, values and ultimate vision. The interaction mostly happens through various events that are embedded in the framework itself like PI planning, system demos, scrum of scrums etc. Remember the last thing that we do not want to happen in an enterprise-wide transformation is a total misalignment between business strategy and IT delivery  
  • Enterprise Business Agility – At the end of the day, whichever framework an organization uses to scale agile, it is of no use unless it helps the organization to thrive in this chaotic digital era wherein the key lies in the time taken to respond to market changes and dealing with ambiguous yet emerging opportunities. As mentioned in the above point, SAFe helps in aligning the business and IT strategy, making sure that there is a growing hierarchical structure running in parallel with an entrepreneurial network. This kind of a customer centric framework helps in offering both efficiency and stability served with a hint of innovation

Cons of SAFe 

  • Too many jargons/terminologies to remember – SAFe does have a heavy usage of terminology. To name a few, they sound like this - release trains, Program Increments, runways, guardrails, enablers, spikes etc. Phew !!! let’s just take a breath eh?! Also it has its own way around things, when it comes to Agile terminologies. SAFe has managed to modify some of the common agile terms & processes in order to fit into the "framework" that they prescribe. For e.g. a sprint is referred to as iteration, story points come with prescriptions and spikes get estimated. Why would someone need to estimate and size Spikes?  
  • Can seem more like a Push rather than a Pull (top-down approach) – This is another seemingly un-intentional drawback of the SAFe framework, mainly because of multiple layers of administration and co-ordination. There are specific roles at each layer which tend to take away some of the obvious freedom from developers (unlike Scrum) and limit the flexibility to experiment. Not only does it take away the limelight from the self-organised teams but also almost makes them extinct when it comes to decision making.  

A comic depiction taking a dig at scaling agile

Image source

  • The Hardening sprint – A notoriously misused phase within the SAFe framework is the Innovation or IP sprint. Although it has a fancy name, teams or enterprises often use it as a hardening phase for the increment, mainly for bug fixing, pipeline issues stabilization etc. I have often seen hardcore agilists rant about this and question the very purpose of this phase. According to some, where incrementing features is fundamental to Agile and Scrumthis framework completely bypasses the same. This can occur in organizations who do not have a robust DoD (Definition of Done) both at team levels as well as enterprise level and are often overlooked at the retrospectives for the sake of meeting deadlines.  
  • Not for start-ups – Since SAFe is predominantly a large enterprise agility scaling framework, it may not suit a situation like a start-up, especially if the whole set up is less than say 30-40 people strong-- typical of any start-up company. Applying SAFe techniques in such a scenario may reduce the flexibility to react quickly in a volatile market. 
  • May seem Anti-Agile? – Ken Schwaber himself, has had a dig at this, questioning some of SAFe’s strategies, like the necessity for turning it into a product and licensing it, charging people to use it, adhoc tooling partnerships, etc. A few other agile practitioners believe that thSAFe framework is just too ‘complete’ to help the Agile culture of a company thrive, regardless of its size; unlike Scrum, which sticks to the true values & principles of agile and is left intentionally ‘incomplete’ in order to allow opportunities to adopt new values.  In a way SAFe can hamper the “Individuals and Interactions” aspects. 

Conclusion:

If your head is spinning right now, don’t worry, it's absolutely OK to be in that mind state for a moment, considering that implementing SAFe is a major decision for any organization and should not be taken lightly. It will involve a significant amount of efforttraining time and of course cost. Understanding SAFe may prove to be a gargantuan task, but it is a necessity to understand the framework correctly. My suggestion is simple. If you want to implement SAFe, please go ahead, but do not rush it. Take it one step at a time and follow the SAFe implementation roadmap. This roadmap (depicted in the diagram below) is a very useful strategy and charts out some critical moves which are needed in order to achieve organizational change.

The proposed SAFe implementation roadmap Image source

Any major decision like whether to implement or not to implement SAFe is almost likely to be very contextualI am sure the adoption of SAFe is only going to increase as enterprises turn to something that is readily available to adopt and will definitely open up their cheque books for SAFe and its partners. However, the key would be in trying to understand and measure what impacts it iresulting in.  Measuring some of the key aspects & business outcomes (like cycle time, release frequency, NPS, key business metrices like customer retention etc.) will be critical along with the adoption of SAFeRemember, similar to the hurricane effect, SAFe is a storm in the current industry climate and is sure to take us all on a whirlwind tour. The trick is to be smart and have a peek into the eye of the storm, in order to reap the benefits and lay out strong foundations for the future of agile scaling at enterprise levels.  

Thanks for your patience and wish you all the very best in your Agile journey. In case you want me to write about any specific topic, please feel free to comment below and I’ll be more than happy to add them to my ‘Blog Backlog’. If you liked the article, please do share it among your agile community to help spread the word.  

Hope to see you soon, with more such interesting topics.

Dileep

Dileep Rajkumar

Author

Dileep Rajkumar , a seasoned software and agile delivery expert, who specialises in quantitative product development for large digital transformations. A self motivated individual, always committed to helping various teams and individuals, realise their potential and deliver quality (incremental) software!!

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Software development companies use a variety of Agile methodologies, but the Scrum framework is undoubtedly the most popular of them. The report we’ve just mentioned states that 58% of respondents use the Scrum framework in project management, whereas other practices (Kanban, XP, and others) are less common. Moreover, many web developers combine Scrum with other methodologies. Scrum is a powerful tool that helps software development companies streamline their workflow and make it more efficient in terms of productivity and costs. 5 Useful Tips to Make Scrum Work+ The adoption of Scrum can surely help your organization develop and launch a successful digital product, but the word “Scrum” alone doesn’t perform any magic. Scrum is a project management framework and, therefore, requires proper implementation. Several serious mistakes may cause project to fail. There are, however, several useful tips that make Scrum work, so let’s take a look: Tip #1: Describe the Sense and Rules of Scrum to All Team Members This might seem like an evident and trite recommendation, but it’s really important. If the members of your web development team don’t fully understand the essence and principles of Scrum, you won’t be able to benefit from all the advantages of this methodology. Instead of collaboration, you might get problems and misunderstanding. Instead of efficient time management, your team might waste time with zero-generated value. What’s the result? Poor productivity. If you think that training isn’t important, you’re quite wrong: one web development company out of three experiences problems with the implementation of Agile methodologies due to insufficient training. Therefore, train your team properly: they must clearly realize what Scrum is about and who’s responsible for what in this process. If Scrum roles and practices are understood and applied as they are supposed to, your company will be able to leverage smooth workflow and high efficiency. Tip #2: Stick to the Rules of Retrospectives Retrospective (also called “retro”) is the core element of Scrum, so it must be held appropriately. Retrospective isn’t just a fancy word. It’s a technique that has its rules. Many Scrum teams turn sprint retrospectives into a meaningless waste of time because they don’t stick to the rules. Remember that a sprint retrospective gives a Scrum team a chance to improve their workflow. For a typical month-long sprint, a retro should take no more than 3 hours. Spending more time on it is inefficient and counterproductive. During a sprint retrospective, team members should do the following: Share their ideas about a just-finished sprint (process, relationships, environment); Decide what went well and what went wrong Offer improvements and propose a plan for implementing them. As a result, your team will define problems and suggest solutions. Don’t forget that sprint retrospectives require the presence of a Scrum Master who moderates the event and encourages the team. Sprint retrospectives help Scrum teams become more efficient and professional. Tip #3: Avoid Interruptions Though each Scrum team has a sprint backlog that contains all the tasks for a sprint, there might still be some urgent tasks that interrupt the workflow. Though such interruptions seem to be inevitable, it’s recommended to avoid them. If your Scrum team has to cope with the tasks beyond a sprint backlog, it’ll be less productive and may even fail to deliver an increment of a product at the end of a sprint. Of course, if there are improvements to the code, they must be done as soon as possible. However, it’s a part of a Scrum workflow. All other tasks, like adding new features to a product, for example, must be reported to a Product Owner who should prioritize a product backlog and decide when these tasks should be fulfilled. Scrum teams must be focused. Once the team members are forced to shift from one task to another, a workflow stops to be Agile and Scrum doesn’t work. The best solution to this problem is to have an experienced Product Owners who’ll minimize interruptions and manage a product backlog in the most efficient way. Tip #4: Hire a Skilled Scrum Master In Scrum, teams are self-managed. However, it doesn’t mean they can manage themselves perfectly well without a Scrum Master. Hiring a skilled and experienced Scrum Master is essential for building a productive workflow of a Scrum team. But why? What does a Scrum Master do? In a nutshell, the Scrum Master makes sure that a development team sticks to Scrum, its principles, and practices. The Scrum Master manages the team’s workflow: organizes daily stand-up meetings and retrospectives;coaches the team members and removes impediments. Apart from these tasks, the Scrum Master also collaborates with the Product Owner and helps with product backlog management. Yet, the Scrum Master mustn’t become a boss who gives orders. Scrum teams should remain self-managed and the Scrum Master can interfere and make decisions only if team members can’t agree upon an issue. A skilled Scrum Master will help your development team be focused, productive, and capable of fulfilling the most challenging projects. Tip #5: Focus on Value Your Team Delivers Many Scrum teams are focused on velocity, which is an amount of work a development team handles during a sprint. Lots of Scrum teams use story points to measure velocity. Though velocity is, undoubtedly, the most important metric in Scrum, it shouldn’t become a goal for your team. The Agile Manifesto clearly states that working software is more important than comprehensive documentation. This means that team members should do their best to deliver value instead of chasing after story points. Story points are merely informal agreements on how much effort each task requires, whereas working software is an objective value. Also, development teams shouldn’t neglect code quality. If there’s a choice: more story points per sprint versus better code quality, the priority should be given to code quality.
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5 Scrum Tips That Actually Work

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INFOGRAPHIC: Agile And Management Learning Path For Your Next Career Move

Agile has become the most important methodology for companies searching for an incremental way to deal with project management and software development. And, this has enhanced the demand for IT professionals who have a sound knowledge of the methodology and its implementation. There are different certifications available to test the knowledge and competency of the IT professionals on Agile frameworks. Here, KnowledgeHut provides you the ‘Agile and Management certification roadmap’ that will help take your career to the next level.Be familiar with all the Agile and Project Management certifications offered by different accreditation bodies that are categorized based on the courses offered and make a wise career move.Scrum AllianceKnowledgeHut is a Global Registered Education Provider (REP) of Scrum Alliance which offers certifications in Scrum, a leading Agile framework.Introductory- Foundation and Practitioner coursesCertified ScrumMaster®(CSM)This CSM course provides effective knowledge on Scrum basics and its implementation in the real world.Certified Scrum Product Owner®(CSPO)Agile professionals who are close to the business end of projects will benefit from this CSPO course.Certified Scrum Developer® (CSD)Developers and programmers who have work experience in an Agile environment will benefit from this CSD course. Training is provided through two different paths such as for:CSM Holders- 3-Day Agile Engineering Practices CourseNon-CSM Holders- 1-day CSD into course, 3-Day CSD Agile Engineering Practices Course and 1-day CSD technical elective course.Once you obtained the initial certification for your chosen track, you can start with the Advanced level certification which is the next stage of the pathway to CSP.Advanced- Individuals with foundation-level certification can enter this phaseAdvanced Certified ScrumMaster™ (A-CSM™)The A-CSM course targets individuals who already have experience with Scrum and the ScrumMaster role and existing CSMs.Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner™ (A-CSPO™)This A-CSPO course targets individuals who already have experience with Scrum and the Product Owner role and existing CSPOs.After successful completion of Advanced level learning, candidates will be eligible to take the CSP certification of their chosen pathway. On successful completion of your chosen path to CSP, you can continue with the certifications such as CST (Certified Scrum Trainer), CTC (Certified Team Coach), CEC (Certified Enterprise Coaches℠), along with Certified Agile Leadership.Scrum.OrgKnowledgeHut is a Professional Training Network member of Scrum.org which offers certifications in Scrum, a leading Agile framework. It is recommended for every individual to pass the specific introductory course first, before going to the next levelProfessional Scrum Developer™The PSD certification is available for everyone who wants to prove their knowledge in building the complex software products with the help of Scrum.Professional Scrum Foundations™ (PSF)This PSF course targets freshers and individuals who want to revise Scrum basics.Professional Scrum Master™ (PSM)This course is aimed at Scrum Masters, Managers, and Scrum Team members who are responsible for getting the most out of Scrum. Three levels of certifications are available in PSM training:PSM I- IntroductoryPSM I certification holders will have a strong knowledge of the fundamental aspects, roles, and attributes of Scrum.PSM II- BeginnerPSM II certification holders understand the principles and processes of the Scrum framework and can effectively implement it in the enterprise context.PSM III- AdvancedPSM III certification holders demonstrate a distinguished level of mastery over Scrum.Professional Scrum Product Owner™(PSPO)This course is aimed at experienced Product Owners and Product Managers who want to improve their business success with Agile practices. Two levels of certifications are available in PSM training:PSPO I- Introductory to Intermediate levelPSPO I reflects an intermediate understanding of ScrumPSPO II- AdvancedPSPO II reflects an advanced learning of ScrumAfter successful completion of Advanced level learning of your chosen path, you can continue with the professional certifications such as PST (Professional Scrum Trainer™), PSPO Certified Trainer and the independent certifications such as Professional Agile Leadership™ (PAL), and SPS (Scaled Professional Scrum™) can be taken without any other Scrum.org credential as a prerequisite.Project Management Institute(PMI)Earning PMI® certifications will help you gain visibility within your organization and may expand your earning potential, enhance your job stability, and provide a competitive stand in the job market. KnowledgeHut is a Global REP for Project Management Institute, Inc. Here, we shall look at different PMI certifications available.Introductory- Beginning stage of an individual's journeyProject Management Professional (PMP®)This PMP course covers overall Project Management concepts and is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers.PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP®)The PMI-ACP® certification is designed for those willing to implement Agile practices in their projects.Advanced- Individuals with beginner level certification can enter this phaseProgram Management Professional (PgMP®)This PgMP® course is designed for those who handle complex and multiple related projects to achieve strategic and organizational results.Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP®)This PfMP course is designed for experienced project and program managers who want to enhance their ability to support and manage their enterprise project portfolio.Individuals can opt for Certified Associate Project Management (CAPM)® and PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)® certification courses without any other PMI credential as a prerequisite.Scaled Agile AcademyKnowledgeHut offers different SAFe certifications from Scaled Agile Academy that are designed to help larger organizations struggling with Agile implementation for larger development efforts. Here we categorized the Scaled Agile Framework certifications based on different roles that can help you choose your career path.Agile Change Agents ConsultantsSAFe® 4 Program Consultant (SPC)SPC certification demonstrates your ability to deploy SAFe framework in the context of an enterprise-wide Agile transformation.Executives, Managers, StakeholdersSAFe® 4 Agilist (SA)The Leading SAFe® SA certification training will train the attendees on the skills required to lead an enterprise Agile transformation by leveraging the SAFe®, and its underlying principles derived from Agile development, Lean, systems thinking, product development flow, and DevOps.Release Train Engineers/Value Stream EngineersSAFe® 4.5 Release Train Engineer (SAFe® RTE)From this course, individuals will explore the skills required to drive end-to-end delivery of value through ARTs (Agile Release Trains) and also learn to build a high-performing ART through coaching and servant leadership by becoming a SAFe® RTE.Product Managers/Product OwnersSAFe® Product Owner/Product Manager (SAFe® PO/PM)Attendees will gain the skills required to guide the delivery of value in a Lean enterprise and learn about the tools, mechanics, and activities used to manage programs and backlogs.Scrum MastersSAFe® Scrum Master (SSM)- IntroductoryAttendees (Scrum Masters) will gain an understanding of the Scrum Master role as a part of the entire organization.SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master (SASM)- AdvancedCurrent Scrum Masters will gain the skills needed to implement Scaled Agile Framework and lead high-performing Agile teams.Agile TeamsSAFe® for TeamsIndividuals will gain an in-depth understanding of the Agile Release Train, how it delivers value, and what they can do to perform their role effectively using Scrum, XP, and Kanban.ICAgileICAgile-accredited courses help organizations and professionals in developing an Agile mindset and enabling sustainable organizational agility. Here we shall look at the learning roadmap of different ICAgile courses.Roadmap to ICAgile Certified Expert in Agile Testing (ICE-AT)Agile Testing- IntroductoryThis certification aims at Agile testers or aspiring Agile testers who wish to learn and practice Agile testing techniques. Even Test Managers, Testers, Developers, and Analysts with a passion for testing will benefit from this course.Agile Test Automation- AdvancedThis certification aims at Test engineers, Agile testers, or aspiring Agile testers with a desire to learn and practice Agile test automation. Test Managers and developers with a passion for learning automation skills will also benefit from this course.ICAgile Certified Expert Agile Testing- Expert/ProfessionalTo acquire the ICAgile Certified Expert in Agile Testing (ICE-AT), an applicant must show competency in the discipline of test automation and Agile testing to a review committee of three industry-recognized experts. The applicant will be assessed through an interactive virtual session with the review committee.Roadmap to ICAgile Certified Expert in Agile Coaching (ICE-AC)Agile Team Facilitation- IntroductoryThis certification is designed for Agile team leaders or aspiring team leaders who are passionate about servant leadership and have a desire to learn and practice the art of facilitation as part of coaching and team facilitation.Agile Coaching- AdvancedThis certification is designed for Agile coaches or aspiring coaches who are passionate about servant leadership and have a desire to learn and practice coaching, teaching, facilitation and mentoring in service of Agile teams.ICAgile Certified Expert In Agile Coaching- Expert/ProfessionalTo acquire the ICAgile Certified Expert in Agile Coaching (ICE-AC), an applicant must show competency in the discipline of Agile coaching to a review committee of three industry-recognized experts. The applicant will be assessed through an interactive virtual session with the review committee.Roadmap to ICAgile Certified Expert In DevOps (ICE-DO)Foundation of DevOpsDevelopers, Operations leads and team members, Agile Coaches, Managers, or anyone with a passion for DevOps will benefit from this certification.Implementing DevOpsDevelopers, Operations leads/team members, testers, security leads/team members, technical coaches, and technical leads, or anyone interested in the hands-on implementation of DevOps will benefit from this certification.ICAgile Certified Expert In DevOpsThe ICE-DO certification is still in development. So, it is recommended to obtain the above two certifications first before preparing for this certification.Winding UpDeciding to start a career in an Agile environment in the IT industry is an exceptionally good choice. Getting an Agile certification can help you get started and get ahead in your career. Remember, certifications show your ability to your managers, co-workers and future employers. Getting certified is a great way to differentiate yourself from your peers.Choose wisely! And all the best on your certification learning path!!
INFOGRAPHIC: Agile And Management Learning Path Fo...

Agile has become the most important methodology fo... Read More