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Here Are The Questions Scrum Masters And Product Owners Should Be Asking

Being a part of an Agile team is no easy street. Especially if it comes to handling critical roles such as a Scrum Master or a Scrum Product Owner. They are typically at the helm of the organizations and mean a lot to the respective Agile teams. While it is tempting to seek opportunities as a Product Owner or a Scrum Master, there are a few things the aspirants need to take care of. These mostly pertain to the unique roles and responsibilities and the approaches to seamlessly integrate Agile values into the organizational fabric.    Founder of Apple Brook Consulting – Daniel Gullo says, “Certifications are just a way to establish a baseline. Just because someone has an Agile certification doesn’t mean they’ll be good at their job.”  In this article, we have compiled the most common Scrum Master questions and answers, alongside some of the standard Product Owner questions and solutions.    Necessary #Scrum Master questions for an interview - basics: https://t.co/f5mv0iWqXe #agile — Jasmina Nikolic (@Jazilla) 15 January 2017   Two Commonly Asked Questions On Estimates: 1.Can I get an estimate of the time needed to complete this work (in terms of hours, days, weeks, months or years)?   There can be answers like- many weeks, which can even take more than a month. But getting an estimate from the team members like- “probably a week or a few weeks” can be good to make a decision if the team can formally estimate that work in a more precise way. 2.How confident are you in that estimate?    From this question, you can assess the-  Degree of confidence of the team members and  Agreement level of the team members If most of the people in the team are 90% confident about the estimate, it is more likely to be accurate than the one where the confidence level is scattered. However, disagreement in the confidence level of the team members indicates that the team rushed to create an estimate, which can be less credible.   Three Questions On Team Discussions: Scrum Masters or Product Owners sometimes want to know, after what level of detailed discussion and thorough analysis, the team has reached that decision. Here are some questions that the Scrum Masters and the Product Owners ask often: What are the three other options you considered before making these decisions? What’s the worst thing that could happen if we pursue this way? What has to go right and what will be the best decision? As a Scrum Master or Product Owner, you don’t need to ask these questions, rather you can overrule the decisions made by the team members. But it is your right to understand the ‘confidence level of the team members’ in making the decision and how aligned they are with that decision. These questions are formulated to bring to light the disagreement among the team members about a decision.  Two Questions On Meetings:   ‘If you meet too often, the team will get frustrated and worn down.’ Scrum Master or Product Owner should not call up meetings very frequently. During each of the meetings, the participants should be less. Here are the two questions that the Scrum Master and the Product Owner keep asking: Do we need each and everyone present here? Should anyone else be present here?   The first question is concerned about the team members’ attendance at the meeting. Usually, team members think that they should be there in every meeting, even though it is completely irrelevant to them. The presence of the team members in every meeting, however, is not mandatory.  E.g: A Java developer can attend the meeting on the discussion of the ‘latest release of Java’ and whether to upgrade that release or not. In this case, Java-based developers additionally working on related technologies can also participate in the meeting. It is the responsibility of the concerned manager to appreciate those people who are eager to attend the meeting and like to work collaboratively. In such cases it should be ensured that they do not attend the irrelevant meetings. On the flip side, the second question will help you to find out the missing person for the meeting whose presence is utterly needed.   One question to ask while roaming around:     The Scrum Master should spend ample time in healthy conversations. This is referred as a “management by wandering around”. They can do this whenever they find team members discussing something important related to work. As counterintuitive as it may sound, these sorts of “unplanned corridor meetings” are more effective and impactful than the scheduled Scrum meetings.  E.g. if a programmer and a tester are having an important conversation, the Scrum Master might listen to everything in case he/she can help solve anything.  Does anyone else want to know anything? This question is a mandate and will help the team members dig deeper into the problem or else get the query resolved with the help of team members and the Product Owner.    One question during Daily stand-ups:   Finally, here comes a question which can be asked during Daily Scrum especially when the team feels confused about the Sprint burndown chart. Whether they will be able to finish everything as per the plan or not. At this time, looking at the Sprint burndown chart, the SM and the PO may ask questions like: What do you know that I don’t know?  The response to this question might vary from person to person. One team member may react that he/she has not yet updated the time in the tool or they are at the learning stage and require more time to speed up.   Last words- Being a Scrum Master and a Product Owner, asking questions frequently is the best way to grasp new things quickly. Also, this gives a clarity about the team members and their work because asking questions divulge more than the making statements. That exactly is how you live Agile!   

Here Are The Questions Scrum Masters And Product Owners Should Be Asking

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Here Are The Questions Scrum Masters And Product Owners Should Be Asking

Being a part of an Agile team is no easy street. Especially if it comes to handling critical roles such as a Scrum Master or a Scrum Product Owner. They are typically at the helm of the organizations and mean a lot to the respective Agile teams. While it is tempting to seek opportunities as a Product Owner or a Scrum Master, there are a few things the aspirants need to take care of. These mostly pertain to the unique roles and responsibilities and the approaches to seamlessly integrate Agile values into the organizational fabric. 

 

Founder of Apple Brook Consulting – Daniel Gullo says, “Certifications are just a way to establish a baseline. Just because someone has an Agile certification doesn’t mean they’ll be good at their job.” 

In this article, we have compiled the most common Scrum Master questions and answers, alongside some of the standard Product Owner questions and solutions. 
 

 

Two Commonly Asked Questions On Estimates:

1.Can I get an estimate of the time needed to complete this work (in terms of hours, days, weeks, months or years)?


 

There can be answers like- many weeks, which can even take more than a month. But getting an estimate from the team members like- “probably a week or a few weeks” can be good to make a decision if the team can formally estimate that work in a more precise way.



2.How confident are you in that estimate? 

 

From this question, you can assess the- 

  • Degree of confidence of the team members and 
  • Agreement level of the team members

If most of the people in the team are 90% confident about the estimate, it is more likely to be accurate than the one where the confidence level is scattered.

However, disagreement in the confidence level of the team members indicates that the team rushed to create an estimate, which can be less credible.

 

Three Questions On Team Discussions:


Scrum Masters or Product Owners sometimes want to know, after what level of detailed discussion and thorough analysis, the team has reached that decision. Here are some questions that the Scrum Masters and the Product Owners ask often:

  • What are the three other options you considered before making these decisions?
  • What’s the worst thing that could happen if we pursue this way?
  • What has to go right and what will be the best decision?

As a Scrum Master or Product Owner, you don’t need to ask these questions, rather you can overrule the decisions made by the team members. But it is your right to understand the ‘confidence level of the team members’ in making the decision and how aligned they are with that decision. These questions are formulated to bring to light the disagreement among the team members about a decision. 

Two Questions On Meetings:

 

‘If you meet too often, the team will get frustrated and worn down.’

Scrum Master or Product Owner should not call up meetings very frequently. During each of the meetings, the participants should be less. Here are the two questions that the Scrum Master and the Product Owner keep asking:

  • Do we need each and everyone present here?
  • Should anyone else be present here?

 

The first question is concerned about the team members’ attendance at the meeting. Usually, team members think that they should be there in every meeting, even though it is completely irrelevant to them. The presence of the team members in every meeting, however, is not mandatory. 

E.g: A Java developer can attend the meeting on the discussion of the ‘latest release of Java’ and whether to upgrade that release or not. In this case, Java-based developers additionally working on related technologies can also participate in the meeting. It is the responsibility of the concerned manager to appreciate those people who are eager to attend the meeting and like to work collaboratively. In such cases it should be ensured that they do not attend the irrelevant meetings.

On the flip side, the second question will help you to find out the missing person for the meeting whose presence is utterly needed.

 

One question to ask while roaming around:

 

 

The Scrum Master should spend ample time in healthy conversations. This is referred as a “management by wandering around”. They can do this whenever they find team members discussing something important related to work. As counterintuitive as it may sound, these sorts of “unplanned corridor meetings” are more effective and impactful than the scheduled Scrum meetings. 

E.g. if a programmer and a tester are having an important conversation, the Scrum Master might listen to everything in case he/she can help solve anything. 

  • Does anyone else want to know anything?

This question is a mandate and will help the team members dig deeper into the problem or else get the query resolved with the help of team members and the Product Owner



 

One question during Daily stand-ups:



 

Finally, here comes a question which can be asked during Daily Scrum especially when the team feels confused about the Sprint burndown chart. Whether they will be able to finish everything as per the plan or not. At this time, looking at the Sprint burndown chart, the SM and the PO may ask questions like:

  • What do you know that I don’t know? 

The response to this question might vary from person to person. One team member may react that he/she has not yet updated the time in the tool or they are at the learning stage and require more time to speed up.

 

Last words-

Being a Scrum Master and a Product Owner, asking questions frequently is the best way to grasp new things quickly. Also, this gives a clarity about the team members and their work because asking questions divulge more than the making statements.

That exactly is how you live Agile! 

 

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This can be replaced by a virtual experience, like having a video-conferencing as a solution.Understand the Time Difference:Teams face a lot of communication problems if their team members work in different time zones. You can help your team across the world by making them aware of the different time zones in which the team members are working. Using a  physical map with pushpins depicting how the team is distributed, is an example for the same.Use the right tools and training:Identify the tools that will help your team. Get consents from your team members and see if the tool will be helpful for the team or not for that project. Most importantly, train your team on the tools. Don’t expect the team members to know about the new tools and how to use them without any practice.  Train them for the same.With many organizations going global, distributed teams are becoming a common culture to work in. Agile, along with additional efforts by the team, will work well with the distributed teams.Different Agile FrameworksThere are various methods and frameworks that are used by businesses and organizations in the world of development and manufacturing. To name a few:Extreme Programming(EX)ScrumFeature Driven Development (FDD)Dynamic Systems Development Method(DSDM)Crystal MethodologyKanban Method (Lean or Agile)Pragmatic ProgrammingLean DevelopmentUnified ProcessRational Unified ProcessScrum at a glanceScrum is a framework which is used by teams to help them manage their work. It implements Agile principles as a set of artifacts, roles, and practices.Scrum Roles: Scrum has specified three important roles, namely Product Owner, Scrum Master, Scrum Team.Product Owner:A Product Owner holds the responsibility for the product that the team is building and why they are building it. Moreover, he is responsible for keeping the backlog up-to-date and in the order of the priority.Scrum Master:He holds the responsibility to ensure that the team is following the scrum process. They are in the continuous look out for the team’s improvement, while at the same time work on resolving the backlog issues that arise during the sprint.  Scrum Team: The individuals who comprise the team with the responsibility of building the product. They are the engineer of the product and its quality.Scrum Events: Scrum events are used in order to create regularity. All the events are time-boxed, that is it cannot exceed the fixed maximum duration. The elements of Scrum Events are Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum Meetings, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.Sprint: A product incremental is developed in a Sprint. It is usually of a duration of one month or less. The main motive is to provide a pattern to work for the team and the business.Sprint Planning: The work to be performed in a Sprint is discussed and planned in a Sprint Planning meeting.Daily Scrum Meetings:It is a 15-minute meeting held for the team which is conducted on a daily basis. The main motive is to understand the work done since the previously held scrum meeting and to create a plan for the day. It is often referred to as the Daily Stand-up Meeting.Sprint Review: A Sprint Review is held at the end of every Sprint. The team sits along with the stakeholders to discuss what was done in the Sprint. The main objective of this meeting is to obtain feedback for further progress.Sprint Retrospective: It occurs after a Sprint Review and prior to the next sprint planning. The main goal is to introspect and improve in order to make the next Sprint even more effective.Scrum Artifacts: It is like a logbook which provides the Scrum team and the stakeholders with the information that they need to be aware of, like the understanding of the project under development, the activities done and being planned in the project. The Scrum Artifacts are Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Product Increment.Product Backlog: It is a prioritized list of values that a team can deliver made available by the Product Owner to the Scrum Team. The Product Owner adds, changes and re-prioritizes the product backlog as needed.Sprint Backlog:It is the list of items that a team plans to deliver in the sprint. The sprint starts when all the members of the team agree that the Sprint Backlog is achievable.Product Increment: This is the most important Scrum Artifact. The product of a Sprint can be known as an Incremental if the produces product is potentially shippable. It should meet all of the quality criteria that are set by the Product Owner and the team.  What is Scaled Agile Framework SAFe®?Scaled Agile Framework provides a simple, lightweight experience for the software developing team, where they can apply lean-agile practices at the enterprise level. It can handle the needs of large value streams and complex system developments, despite being simple and light in weight. Its framework is divided into three segments: Team, Program, and Portfolio.SAFe® allow teams to do the following:Implement Lean-Agile software at an enterprise levelIt is based on the principles of  Lean and AgileIt is designed to meet the needs of all stakeholders within an organization.DevOps Vs AgileUsing Agile and DevOps are considered to be the best approach for bringing change within a team or an organisation. One of the most common questions that come across people’s mind is how are Agile and DevOps related to each other. In this regard, it must be noted that DevOps did not emerge as a response to Agile; rather these two are discrete approaches. DevOps slowly grew as a means to plug the communication gap in Agile development.Let's have a look at what this actually means and how Agile and DevOps are related.What is DevOps?DevOps is a culture which promotes collaboration between the Development and Operation Team. It helps in deploying code to production in a faster and automated way., increasing the organization’s speed to deliver applications and services.Difference between Agile and DevOps.AgileProject Trait or FactoDevOpsIt is an iterative approach that focuses on the collaboration, customer feedback and small releases of the product.DefinitionIt is an approach that brings together the practice of development and operations team.It focuses on constant changes.TaskFocuses on constant testing and delivery.Manages complex projects.PurposeManages end-to-end engineering processes.Provided by the customers.FeedbackProvided by the internal team.Agile doesn’t emphasize on automation.AutomationDevOps primary goal is Automation.Can be implemented with a range of frameworks like sprint, safe and scrum.ImplementationDoesn’t have any commonly accepted framework. Its primary goal is focusing on collaboration.Smaller the team, even a few people will work on the project, meaning they can move faster.Team SizeThey have a relatively larger team size as it involves stack-holders.Emphasizes on getting all of its members trained so that they can be familiar with the skills.Skill SetDevelopment and operation teams divide and spread the skill sets between themselves.Agile targets Software DevelopmentScopeDevOps targets end-to-end business solution and faster deliverySoftware DevelopingImportanceDeveloping, testing and implementation all are important.Application of Agile outside SoftwareThe end result after an agile application is a product or a project that will meet best with the customer needs, while at the same time deliver it with minimal cost and time, enabling organisations to attain results earlier as compared to the results obtained via the traditional approaches.The roots of Agile Software Developments are lean, agile manufacturing and organizational learning. Looking at these roots, one can realise that they did not originate in the world of software. Many practices of Agile like Stand-up meetings, prioritization, and visual management originated outside software.These techniques are applied in the development sector of non-software products as well, such as computers, medical devices, computers, food, clothing, etc. Principles of Agile Software Development have found applications in general management platforms, like finance, governance, risk, etc.Common Myths about AgileMyths and misunderstandings are common to spread over any method or framework. With time, it becomes a belief and people start to accept it as common knowledge. Read along to know some of the most common myths that have been growing around Agile.Implementation of Agile is easy:Teams should not just learn the best practices of Agile, but should also be able to judge if the selected project is the right fit for agile. They should evaluate if the organization can adopt the values and principles of agile. It is very important for the organisation to invest the time, effort and resources to institute and establish the expectations, culture, and infrastructure to hold up the implementation of Agile methodology. Practice and commitment are very much required as well.Agile Practice is New:Agile has been in practice since the greater part of the last century. The frameworks which are now collectively known as Agile mostly evolved during the late 1980s and 1990s. Hence, many people are familiar with Agile.  Reading is enough to know about Agile:Reading a book to understand Agile is not enough. It is a good idea to read a book to get a good understanding, but it cannot replace practical experience, which is very important to enable an agile mindset and to transform an organisation to become agile.Agile doesn't need any planning:Planning is very vital with any approach, that is if not carried out properly, it will diminish the effectiveness of performance. Although, Agile plans the activities more evenly throughout the project life cycle. Planning starts right from the beginning of an agile project and is continuously iterated throughout the project as new information is gained. Working in this manner makes the project team more effective and help them adapt to changes in an easier way.Agile is not the same as anarchy:Managers feel that self-organisation is identical to anarchy and hence, fear losing control over their agile team. Dues to Agile, the role of management may change but managers play an integral role in their company. They have the responsibility to define visions and goals, as well as help the team to gain full potential.Agile gives prompt results: Agile transformations always go through a learning curve, but they mostly deliver huge benefits. The delivered results might go downwards before it changes to going upwards in the process before it begins to enhance its delivery capabilities.Agile is possible only with small projects:Agile development is composed of small groups, who are cross-functional and collaborative throughout the process of development. This motion is equally effective for larger projects as multiple teams can be formed where they can focus on separate components.Agile is applicable only for software deliveries:The Agile manifesto describes agile in the context of software delivery. But Agile can be used in businesses which are not software-related as Agile is suitable for any dynamic business which experiences variability.Agile Transformation vs. Agile Adoption A strong majority of organizations are already defaulting to Agile. But there is one common barrier. The lack of understanding of the differences between Agile transformation and Agile adoption. A clear perception of these differences is necessary to realize which is the best fit for your team or organization ー Agile Adoption or Agile Transformation.Agile Adoption: The word Adoption is used to describe the action of taking up or putting something into action or effect. Similarly, Agile Adoption can be referred to as the act of “doing Agile”.Agile adoption makes the process of software development simpler, faster and better.Agile Transformation: Agile Transformation refers to the process of converting a business or an organisation from its previously followed methods to ‘Agile’ methods, which will help them in continuous delivery of software in a fluid manner. The process involves a change in the mindset of all the people working in the organisation, which might not be acceptable by all.An effective Agile transformation is usually seen to happen in three stages-Organizational transformation: This entails setting up teams, defining processes, and finally, deciding how the teams will work in close collaboration.Workflow transformation: This is intended to establish a culture of “self-organization” and empower team members to effectively carry out Agile-specific ceremonies and activities.Personal transformation: This phase aims at developing a collective “Agile mindset” which fosters continuous improvement and enables team members to deliver continuous value.  Agile AdoptionFactorAgile TransformationAgile adoptions are fast. Can be measured in days or weeks.Speed of ChangeAgile Transformations take a long time. Can be measured in years.Short TermPlanning TimeframeLong TermAgile Adoption has a very rare impact.Impact on the Structure of the organization.Directly impacts the power and controls in an organisation.The team and the stakeholders might feel that has changed to become more self-organized.Change in Culture.It has a widespread impact as the whole culture is being transformed.Agile will make all the difference The future is ripe with endless possibilities for Agile, and companies across the globe are already realizing it.Various organizations around the globe are now adopting different approaches to software development according to their needs and demands.Agile has got a promising future in particular for the teams making the best use of it.In the long haul, the same teams will help their organisations by delivering products at less cost. With AI and big data becoming a core part of decision making, data-driven Agile will soon become a major focus.On a closing note, Agile and its practice do not commit to resolving each and every problem faced by an organization. But they do guarantee to establish an environment which will help them solve problems through learning, continual planning, and collaboration.The motto remains the same: to deliver a high-quality product in a shorter period of time.
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The Definitive Guide to Agile Framework

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Must-have tools for Seamless Agile Management

For a long time, developers did not have a lot of freedom with their projects when it came to product development. Expected to work within the restraints provided by the top management or the sponsor of the project, and creatively limited by locked plans, developers craved to think out of the box and unleash their intuition and skills to develop a much more productive system.  This led to the rise of Agile development, a methodology that allows developers to be flexible and creative in delivering exactly what users demand. Agile management took over a whole new system of development. This management system has come a long way since its birth and has now become one of the best manifestos for project management.   However, with such a heavy structure in place, there were strenuous tasks and methods involved. To get accustomed to this manifesto, you should invest in a good Agile and Scrum certification to get well versed with the different Agile tools given below: Agile Manager This tool helps organize and guide teams from the start as they work towards developing working code for an Agile model. At the beginning of this process, the manager will gather important user stories and contemplate on how to attack the problems addressed by them.  During each code sprint, the developers record their progress on user stories and their problems. The entire progress is plotted on a dashboard so that everyone is up to date with their work. Agile Manager dashboardThe Agile Manager offers many features: Creates epics and map them to releases, features and stories Uses story points for estimation Analyses sprint performance with help of dashboard and scrum Uses templates and custom statuses for process management JIRA The JIRA tool is one of the best tools for project management. The team first makes a list of project tasks with the help of a tool called Confluence. Then they track the tasks on an interactive Kanban board that developers can update as they finish each task.  This Agile tool is integrated with other tools. Bamboo is a tool that offers continuous integration that pre-builds the code before evaluating it. Discussions take place through HipChat, and these revolve around the tasks and probable solutions.  Jira dashboardMain features offered in JIRA include: Issue tracking Boards Epics Bug tracking Custom fields Planbox Planbox is a hierarchical tool. It offers four specific levels of organizational power, thus allowing many teams to simultaneously work towards a single goal. The topmost level is called the initiative, which is broad and abstract. They contain various projects, which are filled with tasks. Planbox creates these projects and evaluates them to form a report. This report is prepared for the shareholders.  There are various amazing features like looping customer reviews and time tracking. This tool is integrated with Github for storage and Zendesk for tracking customer satisfaction.Planbox dashboardLeanKitLeankit is a very unique tool. It aims to create a conference room type of whiteboard where most projects start from. This lets members post virtual notes on it that represent tasks, user stories or glitches, which should be addressed later.   The board has a fast update feature and lets multiple teams work together in separate spaces while still coordinating together.  Leankit dashboardThe key features offered by Leankit are:Board view templates Track issues and bugs Manage project portfolios Lean metrics and reporting Proggio This is a next generation project management tool which focuses on and around the team instead of the task. It has a good visual representation that allows managers to create a full-project blueprint. This promises team clarity and increased planning capabilities.With the powerful task management tool, every team member is sure to be on track, and the virtual portfolio is an added accessory that helps tabulate developer progress.  Now, chasing around team members for every update is no longer necessary! Any and all progress report by the team members will clearly be reflected in the project timeline.  Proggio dashbarodThey main features offered by Proggio include: Board and List views Visual tracking Better timelines Choose the Agile tool best suited for your business In this vast market, there are unlimited tools created for Agile, but the above-mentioned are the ones which yield the best results. This will help you evaluate and find the tool that functions best for your context and is comfortable for your team. With every team applying their unique approach to the Agile methodology, choosing the right tool may appear to be a rather difficult task. However, once the Agile manifesto is in place, things are sure to run quite smoothly and profitably.  Be sure to check our latest course schedules for Agile and Scrum and take strides ahead with your professional growth in Agile.
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Must-have tools for Seamless Agile Management

For a long time, developers did not have a lot of ... Read More

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