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All You Need To Know About The Roles Of A Scrum Master

1. IntroductionHaving worked on Agile projects for a while, I was surprised to find out that “Scrum” came from the process word scrummage, a word used in rugby sports. In rugby, scrummage refers to restarting the game where the players are coming close to each other with their heads down and gaining a possession of the ball. The players work together in a unified manner relying on their strengths in order to overcome and break across their opponents, taking incremental steps collectively as a team.Traditional waterfall approach as a software development methodology is successfully practiced over many years as a structured and proven method. It emphasizes a lot on proper documentation and proper process control. In Traditional waterfall methodology, the entire stage is completed before moving sequentially to the next stage. The method, however, is rigid to changes during the software development cycle.Agile software development methodology, on the other hand, is quite the opposite, it looks into ensuring flexibility and incorporating regularly users inputs as a way to build better user products.Scrum software development methodology is a subset of the Agile methodology. “Scrum” methodology was the brainchild of 2 Japanese Hiro Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. Who wanted to create “a flexible and holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal.” 2. Who is a Scrum Master?A Scrum Master is a facilitator of the Agile development team. He is not the project manager nor the product owner. A Scrum Master is not a position but a role.However, having said that it doesn’t mean this role is less important than the role of a project manager. In fact, a scrum master is a crucial role in the success of an agile project.3. What does a scrum master do?Scrum Master is “A Servant Leader”.  The roles and responsibilities of the Scrum Master include:Making sure the team follows the agile processes.Shielding the team.Facilitating Scrum Ceremonies.Championing information radiators.Working with stakeholders to get tools and training for the team.4.  What Qualities does a Scrum Master have?A Scrum Master does not need a particular type of qualification to assume the responsibilities.  However, he or she should possess particular qualities necessary for the role.Traits of a good Scrum Master are-a) Influential - able to convince others, have empathy and respect for people and showing by exampleb) Collaborative - seek to collaborate with others in the organization and not for self-gloryc) Observant - alertness to identify issues and problem areasd) Knowledgeable - not only on agile processes but has some technical and project management knowledge5. Roles and Responsibilities of the Scrum MasterSome organization practices rotation of Scrum Master roles among the team members, this is up to each Scrum Team.However, the roles and responsibilities of the Scrum Master are common:SM is the Agile framework custodian and process owner for the team.SM is a facilitator and Servant Leader who never discourage but encourages and expects self-organization from the Agile development team. SM builds close collaboration across roles and functions in the organization, works on matters collectively and is not individualistic.SM protects the team from distractions which includes both external and internal.SM removes impediments, so the team can focus on the development work and tasks.SM is not typically a manager or lead, but he/she is an influential leader who does not do direct command and control.SM is a coach, give the bits of advice to the team and discussed issues encountered.SM is an adviser and is equipped with technical and project management know-how, this is so that he/she understands the problems and be able to provide a proper guidance and advice to the team.6. Scrum master skillsThese are the essential skills a Scrum Master should have:Encourage a self-organising teamRemove barriers and Shield the teamEncourage Collaboration and Resolve ConflictsCoach and Advises the teamEstablish partnerships (team, product owner, stakeholder)Facilitate and is a Servant Leadera) Encourage a self-organizing team - The scrum master needs to know when to hold his views and keep quiet to allow the team to be self-organizing. That said he should be actively listening attentively to the team members inputs and learning points and guide the team to perform better in subsequent sprints.b) Remove barriers and shield the team - The scrum master should shield the development team from outside distractions. At the same time, the job of the scrum master is to remove any project barriers and impediments including resolving resource issues. Allowing the team to focus on their development works and tasks. c) Encourage Collaboration and Resolve Conflicts - The scrum master should have respect for people. He should encourage collaboration among team members and also across teams. He should be a collaborator who is able to resolve conflicts within and across teams by focusing on the scrum values of openness, respect, and honesty.d) Coach and Advises the team - The scrum master should read widely and coaches the team on agile processes. Other than being a teacher to the team to explain scrum processes clearly and enforcing the practice for agile. The scrum master should have technical and project management knowledge. Imagine if the scrum master is not able to understand when a team member raise a project issue how will he provide guidance on the right course of actions? then be able to coach and guide the team effectively and run constructive meetings.e) Established partnerships (team, product owner, stakeholder) - The role of the product owner is to push the team to deliver fast, while the role of the scrum master is to protect the team. However, the scrum master needs to know when to strike a balance and to build partnerships with others.f) Facilitate and be a Servant Leader - The scrum master facilitates the daily scrum, sprint planning, sprint demo, and retrospective meetings. He has no particular authority over the team members and is not their manager. However, the scrum master should put the needs of the team members before himself and serve as a Servant Leader.7. What are the benefits of having a Scrum Master Certification?Why should you be interested in becoming a Certified Scrum Master?According to scrumalliance.org based on a survey with about 5000 people in February 2015, 87% agrees that Scrum improves the quality of work life for their team. At the same time, 81% of Scrum Masters who received certification agree that it has significantly helped to improve their practice.Check our CSM certification training schedules in Top cities of IndiaCertificationPlaceSchedulesCertified Scrum MasterBangaloreView SchedulesHyderabadView SchedulesChennaiView Schedules8.  Scrum master learning path (how to become a scrum master)How to become a Certified Scrum Master (CSM®)?Step 1: Attend a 2-day Certified Scrum Master course or seminarStep 2: In 30 to 90 days, register online for the Scrum Master Accredited Certification ProgramStep 3: Upon successful registration, you will receive your Exam Access Code instantly onlineStep 4: Take the online test anywhere, anytime on the multiple-choice questionsStep 5: Get your lifetime and international valid Scrum Master Accredited Certification Document instantly onlineIn a meanwhile, you can take a glimpse of the Certified Scrum Master (CSM®) training at KnowledgeHut.9.  Scrum Master training and certificationRequirements for CSM® (from scrumalliance.org)The first step toward your CSM® is to familiarize yourself with the Scrum framework.Then, attend an in-person, two-day  (16 hour) CSM® course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®) where you’ll get a comprehensive overview of how to organize and support a Scrum Team. After the course, you’ll need to pass the CSM® exam. After you pass the CSM® exam and accept the License Agreement, complete your Scrum Alliance membership profile and enjoy the benefits of certification.The Certified Scrum Master Exam is conducted online. The exam consists of 35 multiple choice questions and to pass the certified scrum master exam, you need to get at least 24  correct answers. You can take up the exam only after the completion of two days of training. The test takes about an hour to get completed.Scrum Alliance allows a candidate to make two attempts on the exam. This is available at no cost. However, subsequent attempts after the second time will be chargeable.For people who are Certified Scrum Masters, the next step in the Agile journey will attain the Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM®℠) certification.In order to prepare for the Certified Scrum Master exam (CSM exam), you can refer this Scrum tutorial. This is a complete guide that will help you in preparing for the Scrum Master examination.Requirements for A-CSM®  (from scrumalliance.org)Attend a certified educational offering to get techniques and skills that go beyond the basics and mechanics of Scrum, expanding into interaction, facilitation, coaching, and team dynamics.Successfully complete all educator-designed components of an approved educational offering. This may include pre- or post-course work as deemed necessary by your approved educator to complete the learning objectives.Validate at least one year of work experience specific to the role of ScrumMaster (within the past five years).Hold an active Certified ScrumMaster (CSM®) certification with the Scrum Alliance.NOTE:  You may take the A-CSM® course at any time after completing your CSM® certification, but must have at least 12 months of Scrum Master experience logged into your Scrum Alliance profile before you can receive your A-CSM® certification.You can opt for the Scrum Mock tests which will help you in raising your confidence level of passing the CSM exam with an excellent scope. Click here for CSM practice test online.10. Benefits of a Scrum Master CertificationThere are many reasons why people take the Scrum Master Certifications and here are just some of them:Expand career options across industry sectors using Scrum and Agile methodologyExpand career options across industry sectors using Scrum and Agile methodologyDemonstrate the attainment of Scrum knowledgeMeet like-minded Scrum professionals and networking Continuous learningIf you are ready to encourage your team and advance your  Scrum career, then it is an ideal opportunity to become a Certified Scrum Master (CSM®). Get enroll for the CSM® certification course today and start preparing for the success.Begin your Scrum Master journey today!

All You Need To Know About The Roles Of A Scrum Master

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  • by lorraine ong
  • 10th Dec, 2018
  • Last updated on 11th Mar, 2021
  • 11 mins read
All You Need To Know About The Roles Of A Scrum Master

1. Introduction

Having worked on Agile projects for a while, I was surprised to find out that “Scrum” came from the process word scrummage, a word used in rugby sports. In rugby, scrummage refers to restarting the game where the players are coming close to each other with their heads down and gaining a possession of the ball. The players work together in a unified manner relying on their strengths in order to overcome and break across their opponents, taking incremental steps collectively as a team.
Roles Of A Scrum MasterTraditional waterfall approach as a software development methodology is successfully practiced over many years as a structured and proven method. It emphasizes a lot on proper documentation and proper process control. In Traditional waterfall methodology, the entire stage is completed before moving sequentially to the next stage. The method, however, is rigid to changes during the software development cycle.
Agile MethodologyAgile software development methodology, on the other hand, is quite the opposite, it looks into ensuring flexibility and incorporating regularly users inputs as a way to build better user products.
Agile software development methodologyScrum software development methodology is a subset of the Agile methodology. “Scrum” methodology was the brainchild of 2 Japanese Hiro Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. Who wanted to create “a flexible and holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal.”

 2. Who is a Scrum Master?

A Scrum Master is a facilitator of the Agile development team. He is not the project manager nor the product owner. A Scrum Master is not a position but a role.
However, having said that it doesn’t mean this role is less important than the role of a project manager. In fact, a scrum master is a crucial role in the success of an agile project.

3. What does a scrum master do?

Scrum Master is “A Servant Leader”.  The roles and responsibilities of the Scrum Master include:

  • Making sure the team follows the agile processes.

  • Shielding the team.

  • Facilitating Scrum Ceremonies.

  • Championing information radiators.

Working with stakeholders to get tools and training for the team.

4.  What Qualities does a Scrum Master have?

A Scrum Master does not need a particular type of qualification to assume the responsibilities.  

However, he or she should possess particular qualities necessary for the role.

Traits of a good Scrum Master are-

Traits of a good Scrum Master
a) Influential - able to convince others, have empathy and respect for people and showing by example
b) Collaborative - seek to collaborate with others in the organization and not for self-glory
c) Observant - alertness to identify issues and problem areas
d) Knowledgeable - not only on agile processes but has some technical and project management knowledge

5. Roles and Responsibilities of the Scrum Master

Some organization practices rotation of Scrum Master roles among the team members, this is up to each Scrum Team.

However, the roles and responsibilities of the Scrum Master are common:

  • SM is the Agile framework custodian and process owner for the team.
  • SM is a facilitator and Servant Leader who never discourage but encourages and expects self-organization from the Agile development team. 
  • SM builds close collaboration across roles and functions in the organization, works on matters collectively and is not individualistic.
  • SM protects the team from distractions which includes both external and internal.
  • SM removes impediments, so the team can focus on the development work and tasks.
  • SM is not typically a manager or lead, but he/she is an influential leader who does not do direct command and control.
  • SM is a coach, give the bits of advice to the team and discussed issues encountered.
  • SM is an adviser and is equipped with technical and project management know-how, this is so that he/she understands the problems and be able to provide a proper guidance and advice to the team.

6. Scrum master skills

Scrum master skillsThese are the essential skills a Scrum Master should have:

Encourage a self-organising team
Remove barriers and Shield the team
Encourage Collaboration and Resolve Conflicts
Coach and Advises the team
Establish partnerships (team, product owner, stakeholder)
Facilitate and is a Servant Leader

a) Encourage a self-organizing team - The scrum master needs to know when to hold his views and keep quiet to allow the team to be self-organizing. That said he should be actively listening attentively to the team members inputs and learning points and guide the team to perform better in subsequent sprints.

b) Remove barriers and shield the team -
The scrum master should shield the development team from outside distractions. At the same time, the job of the scrum master is to remove any project barriers and impediments including resolving resource issues. Allowing the team to focus on their development works and tasks.
 
c) Encourage Collaboration and Resolve Conflicts - The scrum master should have respect for people. He should encourage collaboration among team members and also across teams. He should be a collaborator who is able to resolve conflicts within and across teams by focusing on the scrum values of openness, respect, and honesty.

d) Coach and Advises the team - The scrum master should read widely and coaches the team on agile processes. Other than being a teacher to the team to explain scrum processes clearly and enforcing the practice for agile. The scrum master should have technical and project management knowledge. Imagine if the scrum master is not able to understand when a team member raise a project issue how will he provide guidance on the right course of actions? then be able to coach and guide the team effectively and run constructive meetings.

e) Established partnerships (team, product owner, stakeholder) - The role of the product owner is to push the team to deliver fast, while the role of the scrum master is to protect the team. However, the scrum master needs to know when to strike a balance and to build partnerships with others.

f) Facilitate and be a Servant Leader - The scrum master facilitates the daily scrum, sprint planning, sprint demo, and retrospective meetings. He has no particular authority over the team members and is not their manager. However, the scrum master should put the needs of the team members before himself and serve as a Servant Leader.

7. What are the benefits of having a Scrum Master Certification?

Why should you be interested in becoming a Certified Scrum Master?

According to scrumalliance.org based on a survey with about 5000 people in February 2015, 87% agrees that Scrum improves the quality of work life for their team. At the same time, 81% of Scrum Masters who received certification agree that it has significantly helped to improve their practice.

Check our CSM certification training schedules in Top cities of India

Certification
Place
Schedules
Certified Scrum Master

8.  Scrum master learning path (how to become a scrum master)

How to become a Certified Scrum Master (CSM®)?
Learning path of Certified Scrum MasterStep 1: Attend a 2-day Certified Scrum Master course or seminar

Step 2: In 30 to 90 days, register online for the Scrum Master Accredited Certification Program

Step 3: Upon successful registration, you will receive your Exam Access Code instantly online

Step 4: Take the online test anywhere, anytime on the multiple-choice questions

Step 5: Get your lifetime and international valid Scrum Master Accredited Certification Document instantly online

In a meanwhile, you can take a glimpse of the Certified Scrum Master (CSM®) training at KnowledgeHut.

9.  Scrum Master training and certification

Requirements for CSM® (from scrumalliance.org)

The first step toward your CSM® is to familiarize yourself with the Scrum framework.
Then, attend an in-person, two-day  (16 hour) CSM® course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®) where you’ll get a comprehensive overview of how to organize and support a Scrum Team. After the course, you’ll need to pass the CSM® exam. After you pass the CSM® exam and accept the License Agreement, complete your Scrum Alliance membership profile and enjoy the benefits of certification.

The Certified Scrum Master Exam is conducted online. The exam consists of 35 multiple choice questions and to pass the certified scrum master exam, you need to get at least 24  correct answers. You can take up the exam only after the completion of two days of training. The test takes about an hour to get completed.

Scrum Alliance allows a candidate to make two attempts on the exam. This is available at no cost. However, subsequent attempts after the second time will be chargeable.

For people who are Certified Scrum Masters, the next step in the Agile journey will attain the Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM®℠) certification.

In order to prepare for the Certified Scrum Master exam (CSM exam), you can refer this Scrum tutorial. This is a complete guide that will help you in preparing for the Scrum Master examination.

Requirements for A-CSM®  (from scrumalliance.org)

Attend a certified educational offering to get techniques and skills that go beyond the basics and mechanics of Scrum, expanding into interaction, facilitation, coaching, and team dynamics.
Successfully complete all educator-designed components of an approved educational offering. This may include pre- or post-course work as deemed necessary by your approved educator to complete the learning objectives.
Validate at least one year of work experience specific to the role of ScrumMaster (within the past five years).
Hold an active Certified ScrumMaster (CSM®) certification with the Scrum Alliance.


NOTE:  You may take the A-CSM® course at any time after completing your CSM® certification, but must have at least 12 months of Scrum Master experience logged into your Scrum Alliance profile before you can receive your A-CSM® certification.

You can opt for the Scrum Mock tests which will help you in raising your confidence level of passing the CSM exam with an excellent scope. Click here for CSM practice test online.

10. Benefits of a Scrum Master Certification

There are many reasons why people take the Scrum Master Certifications and here are just some of them:
Expand career options across industry sectors using Scrum and Agile methodology

  • Expand career options across industry sectors using Scrum and Agile methodology

  • Demonstrate the attainment of Scrum knowledge

  • Meet like-minded Scrum professionals and networking 

  • Continuous learning

If you are ready to encourage your team and advance your  Scrum career, then it is an ideal opportunity to become a Certified Scrum Master (CSM®). Get enroll for the CSM® certification course today and start preparing for the success.

Begin your Scrum Master journey today!

lorraine

lorraine ong

Blog Author

Lorraine Ong is a skilled Strategist, Program and Product Manager, with 18 years of IT Management experience. She holds multiple certifications including PMP, Blackblot Product Management Professional, ScrumMaster, Scrum Product Owner, ITIL, CITPM, and J2EE Enterprise Architect. She has experience in policy writing and successfully lead teams in various large scale projects, products and programs implementations in MNCs and organisations.

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The V-Model is an extension of the waterfall model. Big Bang Process Model The Big Bang model is an SDLC model where we do not follow any definite process. The development begins with the required money and efforts as the input, and the output is the software developed which may or may not be as per customer demand. Agile Process Model Agile product development life cycle promotes frequent inspection and adaptation. The methodologies rely on the experience of small teams and teamwork to address any changes and promote trusted customer collaboration. Agile product development methods begin things in small increments. Iterations are small; typically of one to four weeks duration. RAD Process Model The RAD (Rapid Application Development) model is based on prototyping and iterative development with no special planning involved. The method of drafting the software itself involves the planning required for producing the product. Software Prototype Process Model The Software Prototyping refers to building software application prototypes which illustrate the functionality of the product under development, but may not truly hold the precise logic of the original software.What Is the Product Development Lifecycle? The product life cycle is an influential concept in marketing. It defines the stages a product goes through right from its inception to when it is removed from the market. Not all products relinquish the final stage. Some advance and grow while others rise and fail. The main stages of the product life cycle are: Research & development - Researching and developing the product before it is made available for sale in the market Introduction – Driving the product into the market Growth – When sales are expanding at their fastest rate Maturity – Sales are near their highest, but the percentage of growth is slowing down, e.g. new rivals in market or saturation Decline – Final step of the cycle, when sales begin to fallThis can be illustrated by looking at the sales during the time span of the product.What is a New Product Development Process? The product development method is a well-defined series of steps or stages a company uses to achieve its accomplishment of new offerings. Every company develops new product or services, but product development processes vary considerably from one company to another depending on the industry, the product type, whether the product is an incremental improvement or a breakthrough innovation, and the extent to which you focus on product portfolio management. What are the six steps of a traditional new product development process? A typical product development process of this kind has six steps with five gates. Step 1: Product Discovery  Step 2: Definition of Product Step 3: Product Business Case Development  Step 4: Detailed Product Design  Step 5 Validation/Testing of product developed Step 6: Product Launch Step 1: Product Discovery This initial step or stage of the new product development process is where new product ideas originate. A company forms a small team to study the idea and initial draft of the product, perform market analysis, and explore technical and market risk. The concept is the most important step for new products as this is where the most product ideas come from - and this determines the necessity for the development. If the study or product concept is wrong at the early stage, then not only is time wasted but it also increases opportunity cost.    Step 2: Definition of Product This stage encompasses polishing the definition of the product. The team creates the first comprehensive evaluation of the technology, and the market and business features of the new product concept. Developers and managers review and illustrate the important points of differentiation for the new product. If this process is carried out incorrectly, then it can increase time to market or cause the product to misinterpret the needs of the market. Step 3: Product Business Case Development Action supports the organization’s investment in the development of a product by having the team create a comprehensive business plan. This plan comprises exhaustive market research. The team explores the new product and where the intended product fits within it, and also creates a monetary model for the innovative offering that makes presumptions about market share. Step 4: Detailed Product Design The team outlines and assembles a working prototype of the product. In most cases they alpha-test the archetype, working with customers in an iterative manner; receiving feedback, and incorporating it into the prototype. This step in the new product development process is sometimes called Development, and charters the next step, “Validation/Testing.” Step 5: Validation/Testing of product developed Validation and testing mean ensuring the prototype operates as predicted. It also means verifying the product in the opinions of the customers and markets and testing the viability of the financial model of the product. Step 6: Product launch During the product development process, the team realizes everything required to bring the product to market, including marketing and sales plans.   Gate Reviews Each of these six phases finishes within a gate review where the team gives the management specific, pre-defined deliverables, and displays the outcomes required to move on to the next phase of the product development process.The world is moving away from this waterfall product development approach.  It is extremely process heavy and encourages additional interference from Senior Management.Image sourceMinimum Viable Process: A Modern Approach What value does the planning of a new product development bring to customers? Irrespective of its form-i.e. physical or digital, it should be able to solve the customer’s problem. It doesn't matter how complex the problem would be, but it should deliver a high-quality product that brings value to your customers.  In a nutshell, Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a variant of a software product that has enough functionalities to satisfy the primary needs of the first users and persuade investors to invest money into it. It is not a fully-grown product, but it can nonetheless bring business privileges and has the potential for additional development.  In other words, an MVP is a working prototype that should: Be fast to build Contemplate all resources (money, developers, etc.) on providing customers with real value Create those features that are important for a product to generate value The theory of an MVP was developed by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup. The author believes that the most important factor is to focus on business goals and not on the technology which has only secondary importance. Focus on investigating the market and understand the obstacles your potential customers want to solve.  Any product before it is released to the public is a mere theory. Testing in a real-life scenario is important to collect market feedback and then iterate. Each idea, even the most profound one, brings no business value until it is put into practice. An MVP allows you to verify, without making an ample investment of time and money, if the product attracts new customers when launched.  If your product is successful, continue to develop it so it becomes a foundation for a fully-grown product. When MVP needs improvements to be transformed into a product it should be completely reworked. MVP strategy allows you to considerably shorten your time-to-market.  A Modern, Lean Product Development Process Toyota began its journey with lean product development at Toyota Loom Works. Toyota started manufacturing cars. There were differences in manufacturing conditions between Japan and the USA. Toyota had few skilled engineers and had limited prior experience. Car companies in US employed a well-educated work team and benefited from the research and skill-sets of their engineering teams. To tackle this shortfall in knowledge and experience, Toyota escorted an incremental approach to development that built on their current knowledge and this became the basis of the lean systems. Lean Product Development (LPD) is based on lean thinking and lean principles that originally were developed in lean manufacturing. Lean thinking relates to way of thinking and specific practices that maintain less of everything – less resources, less work-in-process, less time, and less cost – to manufacture a physical product, knowledge product or service product.  The five Lean Thinking Principles are: Define and maximize customer value Identify the value stream and reduce waste Make the value-creating steps flow Empower the team Learn and improve Approach: Creating products that delight customers and meet business objectives. Agile methodology versus Waterfall methodology The waterfall project methodology is a traditional pattern for developing engineering systems that were used in manufacturing and construction projects. When executed in software development, specific tasks completed in one phase need to be assessed and validated before moving to the next phase. It is called a linear and sequential approach, where phases flow downward to the next.  The agile project methodology is an example of an incremental model for software development based on principles that focus more on people, decisions, and manageable responses to change. Planning of the whole project is broken down in small increments or short time spans. Each iteration involves the whole SDLC cycle so that a working product is delivered at the end. Some of the distinct differences are: Agile is an incremental and iterative approach; Waterfall is a linear and sequential approach. Agile distributes a project into sprints; Waterfall distributes project into phases. Agile helps to finish many small projects; Waterfall helps to complete one single project. Agile incorporates a product mindset with a focus on customer satisfaction; Waterfall introduces a project mindset with a focus on successful project delivery. Requirements are planned everyday in Agile, while in Waterfall, requirements are adjusted once at the start. Agile enables requirement changes at any time; Waterfall shuns scope changes once the project starts. Testing is done concurrently with development in Agile; testing stage comes only after the build phase in Waterfall. Testing teams in Agile can take part in specifications change; testing teams in Waterfall do not get involved in specification changes. Agile empowers the entire team to manage the project without a project manager; Waterfall requires a project manager who performs an essential role in every phase. Cross-functional teams Cross-functional collaboration involves people from diverse spheres, bringing together their knowledge, expertise, and experience. The major point is “work-interdependency”. Teams have to work together to accomplish results. Cross-team collaboration has become the demand of continually emerging new technologies, with new competitors scrumming, and companies aspiring to stay on top of the game. The success of a cross-functional team depends on several factors, without which a team would be struggling. Highly motivated team members Teams hold responsibility to achieve the mission Open-minded team members Management to support the team No opposing personal goals Clear priorities or direction Adequate communication Cross-functional collaboration can be a great team building measure and can build a more creative atmosphere. The 8 Benefits of Cross-Functional Team Collaboration are: To bring a gulp of creative ideas Engaged employees Spurring innovative ideas Exercising communication skills Developing management skills Chance to get in leadership roles Break stereotype and benefit from diversity Build better team spiritExample: Product development—Agile methodology (Case Study) Below is the case study of a team that faced issues but managed to implement solutions to resolve the issues and delivered output with high standards Issues Products or Services were not delivered on-time. Rework and burden caused employee stress and customer disappointment Lack of clear and well-defined product development methods Excessive projects in the pipeline; team was small, and resources were spread too thin Projects were continuously reprioritized leading to incompetent resource utilization Lack of clarity to project status The absence and missing of key resources led to inefficient product development Lack of strategic management Poor communication and hand-offs between departments Solution implemented Designed a portfolio management system that managed an appropriate and optimal number of projects based on available resources Acquired a scalable and robust lean product development process with integrated lean/agile techniques Implemented cross-functional teams with designated roles and responsibilities Standardized project management processes and enhanced project clarity across the organization Coached the product management team on maturing product strategies and roadmaps Trained and mentored senior management and project team members What made the solution successful? Active and strong senior management buy-in and support played an important role in implementing the solutions at high standards Built organizational knowledge that can be used in other active projects Projects were kept on hold until resources were available Efficient project planning facilitated proper collaboration within cross-functional teams Product development strategies and roadmaps helped the development team Daily stand-up meetings organized helped cross-functional teams to monitor project work, front and center Accommodated implementation timing based on the organization’s capability Effect or Consequence Within a couple of months, important and high priority projects were completed on-time (some early); the client was hence satisfied The client acquired a major contract from the customer due to improved on-time delivery and this, in turn, ensured more business Enhanced communication and coordination across all departments Senior management was competent to evaluate and prioritize the most important projects  Weekly Reports granted visibility to project status Product development and lean/agile processes are now efficiently embedded into the organization The internal conflicts between team members and departments have declined ConclusionNew product development is about transforming new and uninitiated ideas into workable products. This product will be your brainchild, which will provide a contentious advantage and help monopolize the market.The eight stages of product development may seem like a lengthy process, but they are outlined to save time and resources. New product improvement plans and prototypes are experimented with to assure that the new product will meet target market demands and desires. Implement a test launch during the test or marketing stage as a full market launch would be expensive. Finally, the commercialization stage is meticulously planned to maximize product success. A poor launch will affect product sales and could even affect the reputation and vision of the new product.Hence, A Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO®) is one such certification that helps holders become successful product owners by training them on aspects of on-time delivery of high-value releases and maximizing the ROI.
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The Best Product Development Process

What Is Product Development? Product development... Read More

Becoming a SAFe® 5 Program Consultant

“Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” – Socrates Over thousands of years, scientists & architects around the world, have been bewildered trying to understand how the great pyramids of Egypt were erected. The key lay in some extraordinary planning, known only to a few chief architects, who at that time, were one of the most important members of the king’s inner circle and responsible for all the royal work carried out. Although everyone knew ‘who’ built the pyramid, the million-dollar question was, ‘how’ did the chief architect of the pyramid communicate his precision planning techniques to a workforce of around 10,000 men?I know what you are thinking next, but yes, I am going to use this analogy to relate the chief architect of a Pyramid to an SPC (SAFe Program consultant). This analogy for me is relevant, since much like the architects who built the pyramids, the SPCs have an important task, of not only designing & charting out plans to take an enterprise on its path of efficiently scaling Agile but also to ensure, that they clearly communicate the plan to the very last scrum team involved in day-to-day product delivery. So, if you want to be an architect who wants to build a pyramid in your kingdom, oops, sorry got a bit carried away; I meant, if you are willing to become an SPC, who wants to implement SAFe in your Enterprise, then this blog is definitely for you, so please do read on.The role of an SPC:‘With the demand for Certified SAFe® professionals continuing to grow at an accelerated rate—especially among Global 2000 enterprises—the value of an SPC certification is greater now than ever before.’ – Scaledagile.com SAFe Program consultants are lean agile change agents who provide knowledge, share experience and pump in that extra horsepower needed to implement change. They are very much the first point of contact for the executives, when the organization reaches the so-called tipping point, running too many programs, hundreds of delivery teams and pretty much a chaotic situation. SPCs work on this rationale for a significant change.  Most importantly, SPCs are empowered to officially train people on the SAFe Framework which has an obvious multiplier effect on organizational competitiveness by increasing productivity, quality, and time-to-market.  There is also a strong return on investment for these trainings, especially if you are an internal change agent. At the end of the day, a SAFe Program Consultant helps increase employee engagement and fosters continuous learning while helping enterprises achieve better outcomes. Yep, that’s what they do. Amazing, isn’t it?  SPCs in their role should also be looking to address some of the gaps in other frameworks, like the below: Constantly ideate a tangible outcome by design in order to bring up the team's right brain activity. Formulate the possibility of teams & portfolios, ending up creating incremental productivity boosters by effective utilization of the IP sprint, as it’s the official approach to have better chance of disruptive innovation.Key areas of competency:By now I am sure, we all would agree that an SPC is a true servant leader who plays a crucial role in SAFe implementation, by applying the latest expert knowledge. They can correlate to existing enterprise (lean agile) ways of working and help the transformation team to identify the sweet spots to start the SAFe transformation. In order to achieve this, SPCs generally would have a very lean focus area, as shown below. As an SPC, you would be expected to be committed to helping people understand and implement SAFe properly and that too in a servant leadership manner. Many enterprise coaches have mentioned that SAFe isn't the only scaling approach that they work with, but a lot of people say (more often than others) that they do want to implement SAFe but want to keep to the true spirit of Agile and that probably is a key thing to keep in mind for any aspiring SPC candidate. Why should I be an SPC?Well, if I have to be brutally honest, you actually don’t need any specific certification in order to become an agile coach at an enterprise level. However, this only works out if you are well recognised within your organization, as a person who values agile practices and SAFe principles and has the key ability, to contribute to the enterprise level scaling initiatives. For everyone else (at least 90% of us) there is an SPC (SAFe Program Consultant) certification. This course is intended for all those who will be materially and directly involved in a SAFe adoption. This includes practitioners, change agents, and consultants responsible for implementing Agile programs and portfolios as part of an enterprise Lean-Agile change initiative. SPC certification definitely gives you an edge over the competition, as SAFe is pretty popular and in some cases, leads the way to adopt and professionalize aspects of scaling agile. SPC certification holds a lot of market value. It will also give you a deep dive into the SAFe implementation roadmap and its nitty gritty concepts. You will learn all about implementing SAFe in organizations at an enterprise level and how you can support this process in the capacity of consultant or internal change agent.  For e.g. a major concern that is raised against SAFe is the incorrect usage of the IP iteration. Rather than taking a break and finding ways to improve productivity, these iterations are more or less used as a Hardening sprint. Where an effective SPC will come into the picture, is when he/she coaches the team to take this time to do some design thinking, create prototypes to communicate about their business ideas (in most cases, the teams are the ones who know the problems much better as they are closer to it), present them to product VP and get them funded for next planning cycle.  You see the difference straight away, don’t you? These are some important things that an SPC needs to be empowered to take up. So if you are a senior agilist in your organization, instead of cribbing about some of the anti-patterns, why don’t you empower yourself by taking an SPC certification? Food for thought, eh?How to get certified? Given that SPC is an advanced level certification, its mandatory to go through the Implementing SAFe course, details of which can be read through in the following link. This is a 4-day training program, typically a classroom training but given the pandemic situation, a remote training mode (an online course with many practical tools) has been adopted and that too quite successfully. The hours are approximately 6 hours per day and may be extended to an extra course day. Please do expect some detailed case studies (success stories), some pre-reading/ video viewing material sent in advance so that you are better prepared (along with mock tests where applicable). Most of the trainers have quickly transitioned to online courses and they do a great job. Things have managed to move on faster than I thought and its only for the larger good.  However, there are some pre-requisites for taking up the certification, as below: 5+ years of experience in software development, testing, business analysis, product, or project management 3+ years of experience in Agile One or more relevant Agile certificationsThere is also the money factor, yes training & exam costs. For SPC, you may need to spend a min of $3000 (some training academies may offer a discounted price, so please do watch out for that) and then you have to pay $800+ per annum (yes, that is correct!) towards renewal costs. This can take a toll on quite a few but believe me there are many organizations willing to bear these costs for their employees as they understand its importance.Image SourceExam Tips: Here are some tips which you might be interested in, on how to prepare yourself for the SPC exam. Most of the SPC aspirants have applied these tips/tricks and have provided positive feedback that this actually works.  Please ensure that you go through and completely understand the big picture of SAFe.Make sure that you take an effort to sincerely relate it to the enterprise where you are working. Jot down a name in front of each role listed in the big picture and then map it to the relevant functions. Exam study materials – SAFe recommends that you go through multiple resources from the SAFe community platforms. Your trainer will be providing the details.  Attempt the sample tests provided by Scaled Agile, along with the mock tests that your trainer will provide. The practice test is available at no additional charge, and you can take it as many times as you like no matter the outcome (pass or fail). However, it provides the same bank of questions randomized in a different order. Once you have taken the sample tests / practice tests, I would highly recommend that you organize yourself and make some stats to data drive your decision of area of improvement and track progress. Questions are more or less, equally distributed from each level like foundations, portfolio & enterprise. Review the whole workbook and do not skip any slide. Every bullet point has a meaning and complete flow. Don’t even leave the glossaryKnowing your trainer:Whilst you are getting prepared to immerse yourself into the workshop or the exam, also please spend some time on understanding who is going to give you the training. It’s a sound advice, especially to those planning to register to an Implementing SAFe class to become SPCs – please do ask around and make sure you verify your SPCT knows his/her Scrum and Kanban properly. This can be done by checking if they have also obtained related scrum/Kanban specific certifications etc.  The Benefits: ‘Once trained, SPCs have the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to educate and train managers, teams, and the other stakeholders necessary to effectively drive the change. They become a critical part of the sufficiently powerful coalition for the changes needed to drive the next critical move’  - © Scaled Agile, Inc. I think this in itself is a very powerful motivation which can be used to reap further benefits.  As you can see, you clearly can’t ignore the enormous benefits of becoming a SAFe Program Consultant. Given that this certification is a formal recognition world over, it helps in supporting you advance in your professional development and for a few of you an SPC certification may as well be an important prerequisite to even apply for certain assignments. Taking up international assignments will only become that much easier. Since SAFe is so prevalent, an SPC certification will open up huge opportunities. A great SPC would be the one who can guide an organization to balance business agility with predictability; both of which are extremely important to the typical enterprise-scale technology organization. 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 in your agile community to help spread the word.  Hope to see you soon, with more such interesting topics. 
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Becoming a SAFe® 5 Program Consultant

“Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of t... Read More

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