Search

Scrum Team Composition - The Ideal Team Structure for Agile

Scrum is all about small teams that can adapt and evolve quickly, and the Scrum Guide states that the ideal Scrum size of a team is 11 or fewer people. Large teams are not prescribed by Scrum as teams with more people eventually result in more processes and hierarchies.But what if you are dealing with a large project and a large budget? What if the scope of your project necessitates a larger team? What does Scrum advise in this case? In this blog, we attempt to take you through the structure of a Scrum team, the differences between a traditional team and an Agile team, and the various roles and responsibilities of scrum team members.The reason Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber and co-created the Agile Manifesto was because of the rigidity associated with traditional project management methods and teams.  Traditional teams follow a top-down approach, are led by a manager and must follow a rigid hierarchical process during the software development lifecycle.Agile teams on the other hand are small, independent units that are cross-functional, responsive, and self-managing, which means that there is no one leader and decisions such as who does what and when, are taken by the team members. The team has just one focus, and that is to deliver something at the end of a certain timeframe, and all the team members collectively work towards it.  This autonomy and self-organization that embody the values of Agile help Scrum and agile teams perform better and keep them motivated.Traditional team vs Agile Team structureTraditional teams are based on function and generally one team will be involved in completing the entire project. Alternatively, specialized teams may be involved in completing certain chunks of the project. For example, developers create code, designers are involved with UX, and testers will test functionality.  Agile, on the other hand, has several small teams working on a project with each team being involved in completing a particular section of the project and delivering a particular function. Teams will include members having different skill sets, which are needed to deliver the function that has been assigned to the team. They will collaborate as and when needed. This structure is needed in order to self-organise and ensure better focus for the part of the project that the team is involved in.Building a Scrum Team: Scrum Team CompositionThe Scrum Team is responsible for all product-related activities from stakeholder collaboration, verification, maintenance, operation, experimentation, research and development, and anything else that might be required—Scrum GuideA scrum team is mainly made up of three main roles:DevelopersScrum MasterScrum Product OwnerThe scrum team often chooses itself. Which is to say; that the Product Owner along with the Scrum Master chooses the developer or the development team; or in more progressive organizations, the Product Owner chooses the development team. These two, in turn, choose the Scrum Master who they think would best be able to perform the duties of a servant leader. The Product Owner is often chosen by the management based on his or her capabilities.According to the Scrum Guide, the development team consists of five to eleven people including developers, testers, architects, designers etc.The Scrum team is driven by its common goal, which is to create product value and ensure that all stakeholder requirements are met. In Agile organizations, Scrum teams are required to be self-organized and empowered to take their own decisions.Structure of Scrum Team: The three Roles and their responsibilitiesAs described earlier, the scrum team consists of the development team, the scrum master and the product ownerThe development team: Redefining “developer”The development team is at the core of the scrum project. The team is made of more than just developers, and comprises UI/UX designers, testers, writers and others who are part of the team due to their skill and ability to contribute to the sprint goal.  Though the product owners own the product backlog and order and prioritise it, they do this with the help of the development team. The development team can give product owners an estimate of the sprint size. The development team maintains utmost transparency and keeps the product owner and the scrum master up to date with progress made. Although they follow the vision put forth by the product owner, they are empowered to take their own decisions, and they do this by being self-organized.  Once the product backlog is defined and the sprints are underway, the development team meets every day in what is a called a daily scrum meeting. These short fifteen-minute meetings help developers define the progress made and set the agenda for the next day's work. They are also able to call out any impediments that may be blocking progress. This ensures transparency through the progress of the project as everyone including the product owner known the progress made in the sprints so far.  The development team strives to meet the sprint goals within each sprint, thus keeping the project on track.The Product Owner: Setting clear directionThe Product Owner is the owner of the product vision, creating the product backlog and defining the product goal that needs to be achieved. The product owner ensures that the development team is clear on what needs to be achieved in each sprint and there is no ambiguity in understanding the client requirements or the product to be built.  The product owner’s responsibility is to ensure that the product backlog is maintained with the utmost transparency and that the scrum master and the development team are on the same page in terms of understanding the sprint goal for each sprint. He or she maximizes value by prioritizing products that need to be delivered first.  The Product Owner is the bridge between the stakeholders and the development team, facilitating clear communication between the two. This makes this role very crucial as they must earn the trust of both parties by working in the interest of both.  Through product backlog management, stakeholder management and release management, the product owner keeps the project on track, ensures stakeholder satisfaction and with the development team delivers a high-quality product at the end of each sprint.The Scrum Master: Holding it all togetherIt’s not an understatement to say the scrum master holds it altogether. From supporting the product owner to acting as a servant leader for the team, the scrum master does it all.The chief responsibility of the scrum master is to ensure that the team can perform without any distractions or impediments to their work. This would involve solving issues and removing roadblocks that may threaten to hinder progress.  The Scrum Master is also a scrum evangelist and must ensure that the team is working according to Agile and Scrum professionals. This requires them to coach and mentor the team on Scrum processes—and not just the team, but the Scrum Master also has the larger responsibility of promoting Scrum in the whole enterprise.  Their servant leadership style of working helps Scrum Masters to aid the development team in its day-to-day activities while also supporting the Product Owner in maximizing value, managing and ordering the product backlog, sprint planning and in communicating sprint goals effectively to the development team.  The Scrum Master strives to bring in transparency and self-organization and helps the team in following the empirical approach to working.Get started with agile scrum rolesSo, now you know the three main parts to a scrum project. But which role would suit you best? This depends largely on your skills, experience and interest.  If creating, designing, building and delivering is what excites you more, then being on the development team would be your niche. You can deliver value through every sprint and challenge yourself to create, innovate and build new things. As a developer you may often double up as a scrum master for your team, especially if you are well versed with agile.If promoting agile and scrum in the organization and mentoring folks on processes and practices is your jam, then you will be a great Scrum Master. As a Scrum Master, your servant leadership skills will be put to test. This people-centric role will help you manage teams and help them reach their goals.  If product management, interacting with customers and the business domain is what you like best, then you will do marvellously as a product owner. You must put on your thinking caps and interpret the requirements of the stakeholders to the team. Not just this, you may also be required to help customers understand what else their product can do or provide. You must be at your diplomatic best keeping not just the stakeholders happy but even your development team.When Should You Start Creating a Second Team?If Scrum Teams become too large, they should consider reorganizing into multiple cohesive Scrum Teams, each focused on the same product. Therefore, they should share the same Product Goal, Product Backlog, and Product Owner—Scrum GuideGenerally, when the scope and the budget of the project increases, more team members get assigned and there is a need to split the teams for better efficiency.  The keyword here is ‘same product’ which means that even multiple teams need to continue having the same goal and objective and work towards achieving it. Experts emphasize on following the Agile values of collaboration and communication even when multiple teams are involved.  Although each team should have clearly defined goals and there should be separation of work, a high level of collaboration between multiple agile teams must be achieved. This can be achieved through daily stand ups, cross team retrospectives and cross team release planning.What Do the Experts Say?The Scrum Guide suggests having between three and nine team members who are executing the sprint backlog. Scrum works best in smaller teams, so if your team size is increasing then it is time to start creating the second team.  Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of the Scrum Framework, says that one can create multiple teams of an optimal size that best suits the Scrum operations in the organization.Jeff Bezos has forever implemented the two-pizza rule in Amazon, which is that every internal team should be small enough that it can be fed with two pizzas. Amazon follows this approach to enhance efficiency and scalability.Signs That the Team Is Getting Too BigYour daily scrum or stand ups are exceeding the 15-minute recommended duration because your team is too largeYour grooming and sprint planning sessions are less productive and more confusing as there are suggestions from too many peopleRetrospectives are leading to more conflict and there are fewer similar things tying up team members togetherCross-functional TeamsWhile splitting a team, the product manager must make sure that teams continue to remain cross-functional. While there may be a tendency to split teams based on similar types of skills, this will go against the values of Scrum. The split teams must have team members who have a diverse range of skills and should focus on delivering sprint goals together as a team.  Agile teams are cross functional, which means that an agile team brings together people of different expertise who work together to achieve a common goal. This index on cross functional teams is because such teams are said to foster innovation, are highly productive, accountable, adaptable to change, flexible and reach goals faster due to their collaboration and self-organization.Cross-functional teams are said to work better when the team size is small. This is expected since such teams have people with diverse skills and diverse personalities.  In order to achieve success, the onus is on choosing the right team members. The right team should be assembled to get the best out of the cross functional collaboration.It’s also important that such a team is given the right tasks and assigned the right goals. Though there is a high degree of autonomy in cross functional teams, it is important to give them the right direction so that they know their end goals. If clear goals are not defined there may be a tendency to go beyond allocated resources.  While there is a huge degree of autonomy with the teams, it important that such teams have a common thread that ties them together. A leader can be the common link between all team members. The leader ensures that there is consistent and open communication between the team members, each team member is given the proper tasks, goals are defined, the team is placed above the individual and success is shared by all the team members.  Conflicts and tensions between team members in such a diverse group is natural, but this is where the leader, often the scrum master, steps in and ensures conflict management.  There are several tools available in the market that help cross functional teams perform better. These tools make communication and retrospection easier, a requirement that is more important these days when team members are scattered across geographies, and projects are more intense.Should the Teams Have Separate Backlogs?The general rule of thumb is to have a single product backlog for a particular product. Managing a backlog may become cumbersome as more and more sprints get added, and technical debt increases.  This problem arises more when you are working with multiple teams. As a product owner you may be tempted to create multiple backlogs.  But keep in mind that Scrum is quite rigid about having only one product backlog for one product as having multiple backlogs can create confusion, reduce collaboration, create more silos and lead to teams getting frustrated.  A single backlog may be difficult to manage, especially when multiple teams are involved but remember that it also helps to ensure that there is a single goal shared by all teams, there is more communication and collaboration, dependencies are reduced and there is lesser confusionConsider Expanding the Product TeamMost teams generally have a single product owner, but if it is a large project with multiple teams then we can consider adding more members to the product team. As a product owner with a large portfolio, you may get overwhelmed with managing the different aspects of the role. In such a case you could consider adding junior product managers who can take on the responsibility of handling every task, like writing user stories, quality assurance, validating new features and more.  Scrum Roles vs Job TitlesThe beauty of scrum is that it is value driven. The three core job roles of scrum master, product owner and development team are roles and not titles. But the problem arises when you are mapping titles to roles. A team or an organization has titles such as lead architect or associate tester, while Scrum has roles. How do you as an organization transitioning to agile, map these titles to roles?  A good workaround for this is to map people to roles instead of mapping titles to roles. You need to see which professional, or team member possesses the skills that will help them work better in the Scrum role. Your project manager, for example, may be great at helping team members by solving their problems, negotiating and handling conflict. This person will make a great scrum master.  Understanding what qualities, a particular role needs and then cross referencing it with your resources is the best way to map people with roles. Placing the people with the best characteristics in a particular role is an important aspect of scrum which will ensure happier teams and more productivity.

Scrum Team Composition - The Ideal Team Structure for Agile

8K
Scrum Team Composition - The Ideal Team Structure for Agile

Scrum is all about small teams that can adapt and evolve quickly, and the Scrum Guide states that the ideal Scrum size of a team is 11 or fewer people. Large teams are not prescribed by Scrum as teams with more people eventually result in more processes and hierarchies.

But what if you are dealing with a large project and a large budget? What if the scope of your project necessitates a larger team? What does Scrum advise in this case? In this blog, we attempt to take you through the structure of a Scrum team, the differences between a traditional team and an Agile team, and the various roles and responsibilities of scrum team members.

Traditional team vs Agile team The reason Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber and co-created the Agile Manifesto was because of the rigidity associated with traditional project management methods and teams.  Traditional teams follow a top-down approach, are led by a manager and must follow a rigid hierarchical process during the software development lifecycle.

Agile teams on the other hand are small, independent units that are cross-functional, responsive, and self-managing, which means that there is no one leader and decisions such as who does what and when, are taken by the team members. The team has just one focus, and that is to deliver something at the end of a certain timeframe, and all the team members collectively work towards it.  This autonomy and self-organization that embody the values of Agile help Scrum and agile teams perform better and keep them motivated.

Traditional team vs Agile Team structure

Traditional teams are based on function and generally one team will be involved in completing the entire project. Alternatively, specialized teams may be involved in completing certain chunks of the project. For example, developers create code, designers are involved with UX, and testers will test functionality.  

Agile, on the other hand, has several small teams working on a project with each team being involved in completing a particular section of the project and delivering a particular function. Teams will include members having different skill sets, which are needed to deliver the function that has been assigned to the team. They will collaborate as and when needed. This structure is needed in order to self-organise and ensure better focus for the part of the project that the team is involved in.

Building a Scrum Team: Scrum Team Composition

Scrum Team Composition

The Scrum Team is responsible for all product-related activities from stakeholder collaboration, verification, maintenance, operation, experimentation, research and development, and anything else that might be required—Scrum Guide

A scrum team is mainly made up of three main roles:

  • Developers
  • Scrum Master
  • Scrum Product Owner

The scrum team often chooses itself. Which is to say; that the Product Owner along with the Scrum Master chooses the developer or the development team; or in more progressive organizations, the Product Owner chooses the development team. These two, in turn, choose the Scrum Master who they think would best be able to perform the duties of a servant leader. The Product Owner is often chosen by the management based on his or her capabilities.

According to the Scrum Guide, the development team consists of five to eleven people including developers, testers, architects, designers etc.

The Scrum team is driven by its common goal, which is to create product value and ensure that all stakeholder requirements are met. In Agile organizations, Scrum teams are required to be self-organized and empowered to take their own decisions.

Structure of Scrum Team: The three Roles and their responsibilities

As described earlier, the scrum team consists of the development team, the scrum master and the product owner

The development team: Redefining “developer”

The development team is at the core of the scrum project. The team is made of more than just developers, and comprises UI/UX designers, testers, writers and others who are part of the team due to their skill and ability to contribute to the sprint goal.  

Though the product owners own the product backlog and order and prioritise it, they do this with the help of the development team. The development team can give product owners an estimate of the sprint size. The development team maintains utmost transparency and keeps the product owner and the scrum master up to date with progress made. Although they follow the vision put forth by the product owner, they are empowered to take their own decisions, and they do this by being self-organized.  

Once the product backlog is defined and the sprints are underway, the development team meets every day in what is a called a daily scrum meeting. These short fifteen-minute meetings help developers define the progress made and set the agenda for the next day's work. They are also able to call out any impediments that may be blocking progress. This ensures transparency through the progress of the project as everyone including the product owner known the progress made in the sprints so far.  

The development team strives to meet the sprint goals within each sprint, thus keeping the project on track.

The Product Owner: Setting clear direction

The Product Owner is the owner of the product vision, creating the product backlog and defining the product goal that needs to be achieved. The product owner ensures that the development team is clear on what needs to be achieved in each sprint and there is no ambiguity in understanding the client requirements or the product to be built.  

The product owner’s responsibility is to ensure that the product backlog is maintained with the utmost transparency and that the scrum master and the development team are on the same page in terms of understanding the sprint goal for each sprint. He or she maximizes value by prioritizing products that need to be delivered first.  

The Product Owner is the bridge between the stakeholders and the development team, facilitating clear communication between the two. This makes this role very crucial as they must earn the trust of both parties by working in the interest of both.  

Through product backlog management, stakeholder management and release management, the product owner keeps the project on track, ensures stakeholder satisfaction and with the development team delivers a high-quality product at the end of each sprint.

The Scrum Master: Holding it all together

It’s not an understatement to say the scrum master holds it altogether. From supporting the product owner to acting as a servant leader for the team, the scrum master does it all.

The chief responsibility of the scrum master is to ensure that the team can perform without any distractions or impediments to their work. This would involve solving issues and removing roadblocks that may threaten to hinder progress.  

The Scrum Master is also a scrum evangelist and must ensure that the team is working according to Agile and Scrum professionals. This requires them to coach and mentor the team on Scrum processes—and not just the team, but the Scrum Master also has the larger responsibility of promoting Scrum in the whole enterprise.  

Their servant leadership style of working helps Scrum Masters to aid the development team in its day-to-day activities while also supporting the Product Owner in maximizing value, managing and ordering the product backlog, sprint planning and in communicating sprint goals effectively to the development team.  

The Scrum Master strives to bring in transparency and self-organization and helps the team in following the empirical approach to working.

Get started with agile scrum roles

So, now you know the three main parts to a scrum project. But which role would suit you best? This depends largely on your skills, experience and interest.  

If creating, designing, building and delivering is what excites you more, then being on the development team would be your niche. You can deliver value through every sprint and challenge yourself to create, innovate and build new things. As a developer you may often double up as a scrum master for your team, especially if you are well versed with agile.

If promoting agile and scrum in the organization and mentoring folks on processes and practices is your jam, then you will be a great Scrum Master. As a Scrum Master, your servant leadership skills will be put to test. This people-centric role will help you manage teams and help them reach their goals.  

If product management, interacting with customers and the business domain is what you like best, then you will do marvellously as a product owner. You must put on your thinking caps and interpret the requirements of the stakeholders to the team. Not just this, you may also be required to help customers understand what else their product can do or provide. You must be at your diplomatic best keeping not just the stakeholders happy but even your development team.

When Should You Start Creating a Second Team?

If Scrum Teams become too large, they should consider reorganizing into multiple cohesive Scrum Teams, each focused on the same product. Therefore, they should share the same Product Goal, Product Backlog, and Product Owner—Scrum Guide

Generally, when the scope and the budget of the project increases, more team members get assigned and there is a need to split the teams for better efficiency.  

The keyword here is ‘same product’ which means that even multiple teams need to continue having the same goal and objective and work towards achieving it. Experts emphasize on following the Agile values of collaboration and communication even when multiple teams are involved.  

Although each team should have clearly defined goals and there should be separation of work, a high level of collaboration between multiple agile teams must be achieved. This can be achieved through daily stand ups, cross team retrospectives and cross team release planning.

What Do the Experts Say?

The Scrum Guide suggests having between three and nine team members who are executing the sprint backlog. Scrum works best in smaller teams, so if your team size is increasing then it is time to start creating the second team.  

Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of the Scrum Framework, says that one can create multiple teams of an optimal size that best suits the Scrum operations in the organization.

Jeff Bezos has forever implemented the two-pizza rule in Amazon, which is that every internal team should be small enough that it can be fed with two pizzas. Amazon follows this approach to enhance efficiency and scalability.

Signs That the Team Is Getting Too Big

  • Your daily scrum or stand ups are exceeding the 15-minute recommended duration because your team is too large
  • Your grooming and sprint planning sessions are less productive and more confusing as there are suggestions from too many people
  • Retrospectives are leading to more conflict and there are fewer similar things tying up team members together

Cross-functional Teams

Cross-functional Teams While splitting a team, the product manager must make sure that teams continue to remain cross-functional. While there may be a tendency to split teams based on similar types of skills, this will go against the values of Scrum. The split teams must have team members who have a diverse range of skills and should focus on delivering sprint goals together as a team.  

Agile teams are cross functional, which means that an agile team brings together people of different expertise who work together to achieve a common goal. This index on cross functional teams is because such teams are said to foster innovation, are highly productive, accountable, adaptable to change, flexible and reach goals faster due to their collaboration and self-organization.

Cross-functional teams are said to work better when the team size is small. This is expected since such teams have people with diverse skills and diverse personalities.  In order to achieve success, the onus is on choosing the right team members. The right team should be assembled to get the best out of the cross functional collaboration.

It’s also important that such a team is given the right tasks and assigned the right goals. Though there is a high degree of autonomy in cross functional teams, it is important to give them the right direction so that they know their end goals. If clear goals are not defined there may be a tendency to go beyond allocated resources.  

While there is a huge degree of autonomy with the teams, it important that such teams have a common thread that ties them together. A leader can be the common link between all team members. The leader ensures that there is consistent and open communication between the team members, each team member is given the proper tasks, goals are defined, the team is placed above the individual and success is shared by all the team members.  

Conflicts and tensions between team members in such a diverse group is natural, but this is where the leader, often the scrum master, steps in and ensures conflict management.  

There are several tools available in the market that help cross functional teams perform better. These tools make communication and retrospection easier, a requirement that is more important these days when team members are scattered across geographies, and projects are more intense.

Should the Teams Have Separate Backlogs?

Product BacklogThe general rule of thumb is to have a single product backlog for a particular product. Managing a backlog may become cumbersome as more and more sprints get added, and technical debt increases.  

This problem arises more when you are working with multiple teams. As a product owner you may be tempted to create multiple backlogs.  But keep in mind that Scrum is quite rigid about having only one product backlog for one product as having multiple backlogs can create confusion, reduce collaboration, create more silos and lead to teams getting frustrated.  

A single backlog may be difficult to manage, especially when multiple teams are involved but remember that it also helps to ensure that there is a single goal shared by all teams, there is more communication and collaboration, dependencies are reduced and there is lesser confusion

Consider Expanding the Product Team

Most teams generally have a single product owner, but if it is a large project with multiple teams then we can consider adding more members to the product team. As a product owner with a large portfolio, you may get overwhelmed with managing the different aspects of the role. In such a case you could consider adding junior product managers who can take on the responsibility of handling every task, like writing user stories, quality assurance, validating new features and more.  

Scrum Roles vs Job Titles

The beauty of scrum is that it is value driven. The three core job roles of scrum master, product owner and development team are roles and not titles. But the problem arises when you are mapping titles to roles. A team or an organization has titles such as lead architect or associate tester, while Scrum has roles. How do you as an organization transitioning to agile, map these titles to roles?  

A good workaround for this is to map people to roles instead of mapping titles to roles. You need to see which professional, or team member possesses the skills that will help them work better in the Scrum role. Your project manager, for example, may be great at helping team members by solving their problems, negotiating and handling conflict. This person will make a great scrum master.  

Understanding what qualities, a particular role needs and then cross referencing it with your resources is the best way to map people with roles. Placing the people with the best characteristics in a particular role is an important aspect of scrum which will ensure happier teams and more productivity.

KnowledgeHut

KnowledgeHut

Author

KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.
Website : https://www.knowledgehut.com

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Suggested Blogs

How to Lead Teams to the Next Agile Awakening

Building and leading an Agile transformation calls for leaders with a whole new set of capabilities. Not only must they have a substantially different mind-set, but they should also be able to drive a paradigm shift across teams—one that fosters and enables innovation and collaboration, and maximizes value creation at scale.  Paving the way to a successful transformation, the Disciplined Agile® (DA™) toolkit from the Project Management Institute harnesses the most appropriate Agile, Lean, and traditional practices, guiding organizations on the best-fit processes for their team’s context. DA does not prescribe a specific approach, but guides Agilists in choosing and tailoring the best strategies for their ways of working.KnowledgeHut has entered into an exclusive partnership with Project Management Institute (PMI)®, to help you lead your teams to the next Agile awakening, leveraging Disciplined Agile®.  During the launch of the exclusive partnership on September 2, 2021, we had Mark Lines and Scott Ambler, the Founders of Disciplined Agile in conversation with Dr. Srini Srinivasan, Managing Director, PMI South Asia, bringing us their insights on how to make the most out of your Agile investments leveraging Disciplined Agile.Joe Cahill, Chief Customer Officer, PMI Global, shared with the audience about PMI’s initiatives to offer professionals strong, credible new capabilities and certifications that will differentiate them and open doors.Amol Pradhan, Chief Transformation Officer, Enterprise Agility at IBM, and Falguni Rolekar, Enterprise Transformation Leader, IBM, added their perspectives—honed over five decades of collective experience with Agile transformations—on challenges with scaling Agile and how the Disciplined Agile approach helps to overcome them.Tremendous value was unlocked in the power-packed interactions, and we were just as excited as you to learn about the DA toolkit from the creators themselves. We’ve compiled some of the key discussion points to give you a glimpse into the event.Choosing your Way of Working and staying relevant in the Agile worldSRINI: How do I and the other professionals in this audience stay relevant with the advances that are happening in the Agile world today and how do we use that to advance our careers? MARK: The Agile landscape is full of certifications, with each of these certifications usually based on one particular method or framework or set of techniques. For Agile practitioners, it's like putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  All these different certifications have gaps. This is where Disciplined Agile is different, we're not another method. We're not another framework, and that's why we've been referring to it as a tool kit. At last count, DA has over 1600 practices, that you can use to choose your way of working. The key takeaway is that if you go to a two-day certification course, you're going to learn a set of techniques, but certainly not 1600 techniques. Whatever method or framework you're currently using, DA helps you to get better, without necessarily displacing it. We're not married to one approach. We help you get better than what you're doing, so there's a journey there. MODERATOR: Why should Agile team members build other skills, when they have in-depth knowledge in one specific area? FALGUNI: If the team is going for an Agile transformation, we are going to work in a small team and we are going to do an iterative delivery. That means that whatever we are going to deliver has to be production ready at the end of the iteration. To build this kind of a production-ready deliverable takes a lot of skills. At the same time, we must ensure that the team has a great collaboration in order to generate this kind of a deliverable. This requires multiple skills, and a change from I-shaped to T-shaped skillsets, to help the team in delivering the right results.Leveraging DA to navigate challenges in Agile transformationsSRINI: Scott, in your mind, what are some of the biggest challenges organizations face as they try to migrate to an Agile way of work? SCOTT: Organizations face a lot of complexities. Every organization is unique, and one size does not fit all. There's no easy path to becoming more Agile, other than hard work, and you know, investing in your people, and being prepared to choose their own way of working and learning how to improve. And I think that that can be frustrating for a lot of organizations. It takes time, and it takes investment. There are no easy answers. SRINI: So, there are no easy answers, and one size does not fit all. What are some of the unique aspects of Disciplined Agile which organizations can use to overcome these challenges?  SCOTT: Looking at the whole picture, we must be enterprise aware and observe what’s really going on. And that's the basis of what we've done in DA.  Instead of telling you what to do, we tell you what to think about, and then we give you options. We say if you have this issue, here are several ways you can solve that. Here are the tradeoffs of those options, so you choose the right way of working for you—because I don't know what situation you're in, and even if I did, it wouldn't matter. Your situation is changing anyways, so the new normal is to be constantly changing.  And as a result, you need to learn how to choose your own way of working. You need to learn how to get better at getting better, and that is what DA is all about. Your end goal is to become a learning organization that is able to constantly get better, while reacting to the changes in the marketplace, and overcoming the challenges that you face. And those are the skills that we teach in DA. MODERATOR: Generally, when organizations go for Agile transformation, leaders feel that they lose control and the value is reduced. What are your thoughts about this? AMOL: Agile is less about practices, but more about the culture change. And if the top leadership is not giving support and constant commitment, this is where the transformation will fail or succeed. They could lack clarity on why they are doing it, or have the fear of losing their job because the team is now self-empowered.  The fear factor needs to be addressed, and leaders should be sure of the benefit that they will bring to the teams. As a leader, instead of fearing that they will lose control, they should help to build trust within the team.Is Disciplined Agile better than traditional Agile? SCOTT: So where traditional methods and Agile frameworks focus on a specific thing, and often address it very well, there are gaping holes in all of these methods and frameworks. We chose a different path with DA.   We decided to address what you actually face, like the questions that sometimes are not all that attractive to some of the frameworks. Like how do you govern Agile teams? Where does architecture fit in? Where does testing fit in? The finance team might not want to work on time, materials, the approach to funding that you want. How do you still interact and be successful in those situations? We take on the harder problems that you actually face and we give you options to address them. MARK: It's not better, it's more robust, and it makes traditional Agile better. We teach you some of the things that you don't typically learn about in basic Agile certification. There is nothing inconsistent between DA and the Agile manifesto. There are gaps in the principles of the Agile manifesto. And in DA, we address these gaps and frame it in the form of the DA mindset - principles, promises, guidelines. For instance, we talked about the value of diversity and improving the system rather than trying to change individuals, that was never talked about 20 years ago when the Agile manifesto was written. So, we think we like to think that we have a more disciplined, robust, agnostic, pragmatic approach to Agile and lean.How is PMI ACP different from PMI DASSM? MARK: The ACP is one of the best certifications out there. It's a very, very good certification, and does require pretty comprehensive understanding of Agile before you can get certified. The certification is extremely rigorous. Now, having said that, the ACP basically requires a test and 8 months of experience. What you don’t learn in ACP is the toolkit, the 1600 practices. DA plugs into the journey and takes your knowledge to the next level. Stay tuned in the months to come on new ways that KnowledgeHut and PMI will empower project professionals and changemakers to turn all their biggest and boldest ideas into reality. Are you ready to apply the Disciplined Agile Toolkit to augment Your Way of Working? Get started with the DASM certification, or take a deep dive into DA with the DASSM certification. 
5629
How to Lead Teams to the Next Agile Awakening

Building and leading an Agile transformation calls... Read More

How Systems Thinking Can Be Applied To Agile Transformations

Systems thinking is a popular buzzword today. We hear about it a lot and in different contexts: Healthcare, business, coaching, transformation initiatives etc.In this article, we will try to understand the conceptual basics of system thinking and how it can be applied to the Agile transformation initiatives to get extraordinary results and the influence of system thinking on the agile practices. We will see the common problems that plague Agile transformation initiatives, and what could be an effective solution from systems thinking lens.Systems thinking has already been established as a key management competency of the 21st century. Therefore, it is very rewarding to become ‘System-aware’ and ‘System-wise’.Barry Richmond coined the term ’Systems Thinking’ in 1987. However, this became hugely popular through Peter Senge’s book: ‘The Fifth Discipline’.This discipline helps us to see how to change systems more effectively. Systems Thinking is the art and science of making reliable inferences about behavior by developing an increasingly deep understanding of underlying structure.System thinking examples includes ecosystems in which various elements such as air, water, movement, plants and animals work together to survive, whereas in organizations systems consists of people, structures and processes that work together to make an organization “healthy” or “unhealthy”.Whether we want it or not, we are a part of many systems and interact with them on a continuous basis. A family, a team, an organization, an automobile, a tax system etc are examples of some system we are part of and interact with.What is a system?But what exactly is a system and how do we know when we see it? How can we use this to manage our organizations and initiatives better by using this knowledge?A system can be defined as:A group of interacting, interrelated or interdependent parts that forms a unified whole and has a specific purpose.Let’s examine this definition closely and identify the characteristics of a system. These characteristics help in identifying the system:All systems have purposeAll parts of a system must be present for a system to carry out its purpose optimallyThe order in which the parts are arranged, affects the performance of a systemSystems attempt to maintain stability through feedbackWhole is more than the sum of its parts“Whole” and “Part” are relative abstractionsA system is always subject to redefinition by changing the perspectiveCollection or systemSometimes, we may tend to get confused between a system and a collection. When in doubt, always look for the interrelatedness, interdependence and purpose. If any of this is missing, you are more likely dealing with a collection, rather than a system. This may also change based on the assumptions we are making and the perspective of observation. The assumptions define the boundary of the system under consideration.Let’s take an example: multiple types of fruits kept together in a basket is obviously a collection, as there is no interrelation or interdependence between the fruits, neither is there a goal of the fruit basket. However, let us change the perspective  and look at the fruit basket at a microscopic level. In this case, it becomes a system, as certain fruits interact with each other at a molecular level. This intermolecular interaction either aggravates or slow down the decay of certain fruits kept together. This is an example of how a system is always subject to redefinition by changing the perspective.System diversity:To simplify our understanding of the system, the system can be classified based on two factors: Structure (capability to understand) and Behavior (Capability to predict). In terms of structure, a system can be either simple or complicated, and in terms of behavior, a system can be either ordered, complex or chaotic.We generally refer to the system as a combination of two factors, like Simple-Ordered, Simple-Complex, Complicated-ordered etc.An organization can typically be classified as a ‘Simple-Complex’ system. This means that while the structure of the organization can be easily understood (simple), yet its behavior is moderately difficult to predict, primarily because of the presence of human interaction (complex).System ThinkingThis picture summarizes what could go wrong if we are not system aware. When we focus on local optimization and ignore the global impact, we create more problems for the future.It is said that ‘today’s problems are yesterday’s solutions’. This is mainly the result of quick fixes, we create without considering the overall system.Reality can be seen through the following levels of perspectives: Events, patterns and systemic structures. This can be represented as an Iceberg to put the system in context.Events are occurrences we encounter on a day-to-day basis.Patterns are the accumulated memories of the event. When viewed together as a series over time, they reveal recurring trends.Systemic structures are the ways in which the part of the system are organized. The events and patterns are usually generated by these structures.We live in an event-oriented world and our language and actions are heavily rooted at the event level. Our decisions are majorly guided by events. In reality events are the results of deeper patterns and systemic structures. But these are not easily visible. Understanding where to act leads to a higher leverage action. A leverage point is a point where small change can yield large improvements in the system. As we go from events to patterns to systemic structures, the leverage increases.Why is systems thinking importantBetter decisions on the addition or modification of services, or the applications based on how they affect the overall system and business.Understand what is important to the business based on the system.Tools to constitute the interactionsSystem thinking uses some tools like feedback loops and behavior over time graphs to represent the interactions in the system. These can be thought of as the rules of grammar for the language.Application of systems thinking in Agile transformation can help us map the organization as a system using the reinforcing and balancing loops and identify the right leverage points to act. The following points should be considered:Take a systemic view→ draw the system diagramIdentify the central subject that needs attention. As a group, ideate on the different variables affecting the central theme or getting affected by it. Draw the causal loop diagram to identify whether it is a reinforcing loop or a balancing loop.Look out for leverage points→ an area where a small change can yield large improvement in the systemTypically a leverage point at a pattern level will be high in impact than at event level and the one at the systemic structure level will have greater impact, than at the pattern levelLook at the organization as a system and identify the system archetypeDrawing the systemic structure helps in identifying the system archetype. Since structure influences behavior therefore, this knowledge is key to understanding the system behavior and thus the right leverage points.Look for (and address) causes not the symptoms.Although we live in a event driven world, yet as system thinkers, our focus should be on identifying the patterns and systemic structures and act thereon. Today’s problems come from yesterday’s solutions hence localized solutions merely shift the problem from one part of the system to the otherThe following table gives a mapping between the level of perspective, and the action modes. The leverage decreases as we move from top to bottom in the table.Levels of perspectiveAction modeSystemic structuresCreativePatternsAdaptiveEventsReactivePrinciples of system thinking:A system is:Created by the nature or human beingsPhysical, abstract, or humanA whole separated from its environment by a borderAlways remember:The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back.Be sensitive towards the compensating feedback: When well-intentioned interventions result in responses from the system that offsets the benefits of the interventions.
1565
How Systems Thinking Can Be Applied To Agile Trans...

Systems thinking is a popular buzzword today. We h... Read More

Is SAFe® 4.5 Certification Worth The Price?

In this decade where traditional methods for Project Development are on the verge of being obsolete, organisations are in dire need of Agile. Call for Agile experts has expanded in the IT business and is spreading to multiple areas of businesses also. This request triggers the requirement for certifications which enlisting organisations can manage an account with.These certifications range from the entry level to the advanced levels and are benefiting the software professionals in more ways than one. In the recent times, there has also been a need to upgrade Agile practices in organisations, and this, exactly, has given rise to the demand for scaled Agile. This has spurred the software professionals to take up Leading SAFe® certifications to enhance their career.This article will discuss the top Leading SAFe® 4.5 certifications and their career benefits.Benefits of the certificationGenerally speaking, certification will help you to get the following benefits-Better foresightBetter salaryBetter integrityKeeping pace with the current market approachTop 6 SAFe® 4.5 certifications1. Leading SAFe® 4.5 training (SAFe® Agilist)SAFe® Agilist(SA) certification will help you to empower your organisation’s success. SA certification will allow you not only to execute and deliver value through Agile Release Trains but also to lead a Lean-Agile transformation in scaled organisations. This certification will also let you build a continuous delivery pipeline even in a DevOps culture. Also, the course exhibits the power of coordinating with the larger solutions and promoting a Lean portfolio culture within the enterprise.Learning Objectives:As a SAFe® Agilist (SA), you should be able to-Exhibit how the combination of Lean, Agile, and Product Development shapes the SAFe® foundation.Apply SAFe® principles to scale Lean and Agile development in the organizationFind out and apply a Lean-Agile Mindset and principles accordinglyConsistently discover, incorporate, deploy, and deliver valueEngage with a Lean portfolioHarmonising for the development of the larger solutionsImprove Lean-Agile leadership skillsBolster a Lean-Agile transfiguration in the enterpriseFinish the SA training and lead to the certification exam What will attendees get? 2-Day Instructor-Led Classroom Training16 PDUs and 16 SEUsCourseware authored by Scaled Agile, Inc One year membership with Scaled AgileFree downloadable reference materials from Scaled Agile FrameworkThe course is for:Executives and Leaders, Managers, Directors, CIOs, and VPsDevelopment, QA, and Infrastructure ManagementProgram and Project ManagersProduct and Product Line ManagementPortfolio Managers, PMO, and Process LeadsEnterprise, System, and Solution ArchitectsPrerequisites:The course is free for the desired attendees. But, following prerequisites are needed to attend the SAFe® Agilist (SA) exam-5+ years’ experience in software development, testing, business analysis, product, or project managementExperience in ScrumExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), commencement of the examNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 34 out of 45 (76% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Agilist certificate1-year membership with the SAFe® Community Platform, which includes access to the SA Community of PracticeA variety of learning resources to support you during your SAFe® journey2. SAFe 4.5 for teams (SP)Today, SAFe® 4.5 certified practitioners are in huge demand for their ability to scale the Agile methodology within the enterprise. This course makes the team aware of the Scrum principles, Lean thinking tools, roles, and processes. New teams or Scrum teams seeking for the Agile adoption and scaling within the organization, will find this course much helpful. Learning Objectives:As a SAFe® Practitioner (SP), you should be able to-Demonstrate SAFe® Agile principles to the teamManage Agile teams on Agile Release TrainPlan sprint iterationsImplement iterations and deliver valueDevelop your teamCoordinate with other teams on the trainWhat will attendees get?16 PDUs and 16 SEUsFreely downloadable e-book100 Days’ Free Access to Agile and Scrum e-training The course is for:Team members who want to apply Lean and Agile principlesAll team members of an Agile Release Train (ART) preparing for the launchPrerequisites:The course is free for all attendees. But, following prerequisites are needed to attend the SAFe® Practitioner (SP) exam-Familiar with Agile principlesAware of Scrum, Kanban, and XPExperience in software and hardware development processesExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 35 out of 45 (78% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Practitioner (SP) certificate3. SAFe 4.5 Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM)The SAFe® 4.5 POPM certification is intended to make Product Owners/Product Managers aware of the SAFe® principles, Lean-Agile tools, Agile development practices and SAFe® framework. Learning Objectives:As a SAFe® 4.5 (POPM), you should be able to-Implement SAFe® practices in the Lean enterpriseAttach SAFe® Lean-Agile principles and values to the PO/PM rolesCombine with Lean Portfolio ManagementImplement the Program Increment and deliver continuous valueCreate a PM/PM’s role action planWhat will attendees get? Training from a certified industry expertDownloadable courseware16 PDUs from PMI ® (PMI-ACP® / PMP® recertification)15 SEUs for CSPAttendee workbookMake you ready to attend the SAFe® 4 Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM) examOne-year membership to the SAFe® Community PlatformCourse completion certificateThe course is for:Product Managers, Product Line Managers, Product Owners, Business Owners, and Business AnalystsSolution Managers, Portfolio Managers, Program Managers, PMO personnel, and Process LeadsEnterprise, Solution, and System ArchitectsPrerequisites:The course is free to the desired attendees. But, following prerequisites are needed to attend the SAFe® 4.5 POPM exam.Leading SAFe® course attendeesWorking experience in the SAFe® environmentExperience with Lean, Agile, or other relevant methodsExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 35 out of 45 (78% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM) certificate4. SAFe® 4.5 Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) courseThe SAFe® 4.5 Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) certification equips the candidates with the skills that can be applied to lead high-performance Agile teams. Also, candidates will learn to apply DevOps practices and Kanban techniques and managing the interactions between the teams, stakeholders, and the Product Managers.Learning Objectives: As an SASM certified professional, you should be able to-Apply SAFe® principles in a multi-team environmentBuild a high-performing team and enable continuous improvementUnderstand Agile and Scrum anti-patternsFacilitate program planning, implementation, and value deliverySupport learning through participation in Communities of Practice and innovation cyclesWhat will attendees get? 16 PDUs and 16 SEUsFreely downloadable e-bookCourse completion certificateAttendee workbookOne-year membership to the SAFe® Community PlatformThe course is for:Existing Scrum MastersTeam leaders, project managers, and an Agile Team facilitator in a SAFe®Agile coachesEngineering and development managers executing AgileAgile Program ManagersProspective SAFe® Release Train EngineersPrerequisites:The course is free for the attendees. But, having at least one or more of the following certifications is recommended to attend the SAFe® 4.5 ASM exam-SAFe® 4 Scrum Master (SSM) certificationCertified Scrum Master (CSM) certificationProfessional Scrum Master (PSM) certificationExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 120 minutes, once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 60Passing Score: 42 out of 60 (70% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) certificate5. SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM certification trainingSAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master(SSM) certification will make you well-versed with the main components of the Scaled Agile Framework and allow you to lead high-performing Agile teams. This course will help you to improve quality of the products reducing time-to-market.Learning Objectives:As a SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM certification training, you should be able to-Discuss Scrum practices in a SAFe® implementing enterpriseFacilitate Scrum eventsFacilitate effective Iteration executionAssist DevOps implementationSupport effective Program Increment executionSupport continuous improvementTrain Agile teams to maximize business resultsAssist DevOps implementationWhat will attendees get?Prepare and support to clear the exam16 PDUs and 16 SEUs (under the category C)Course completion certificateThe course is for:New Scrum MastersPresent Scrum Masters, who wish to assume new roles in the SAFe® enterpriseTeam Leads who want to understand the Scrum Master roleSAFe® Release Train Engineers (RTEs) who want to coach for the role of the Scrum MastersPrerequisites:The course is free for the attendees. But, following prerequisites are a must to take the SAFe® 4.5 SSM exam-Familiarity with Agile principlesShould be aware of Scrum, Kanban, and eXtreme Programming (XP)Work experience in software and hardware development processesExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 33 out of 45 (73% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master (SSM) certificate6. SAFe® 4.5 Release Train Engineer (RTE) certification courseSAFe® 4.5 RTE course will educate you on building the high-performing ART and understanding the role of  the RTE in a Lean-Agile transformation. Also, the attendees will learn to mentor the Agile leaders, teams and the Scrum Masters and how to prepare, plan and execute a Program Increment (PI).Learning Objectives: As a SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM certification training, you should be able to-Apply Lean-Agile principles and tools to execute and deliver valueFostering continuous improvementConstruct a high-performing ART as a servant leader and coachPreparing an action plan to continue the learning journeyWhat will attendees get? Preparation and support for the SAFe® 4.5 Release Train Engineer (RTE) examCourse completion certificateOne-year membership to the SAFe® Community PlatformThe course is for:RTEs and Solution Train Engineers (STEs)Program and project managersScrum MastersLeaders and managersAgile coachesSAFe® Program Consultants (SPCs)Prerequisites:Following are the prerequisites required to attend the exam-Should have at least one current SAFe® certificationHave launched or participated in at least one ART and one PIExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 120 minutes to complete the examNumber of Questions: 60Passing Score: 40 out of 45 (67% passing score)Each retake attempt costs $250Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 RTE certificateNote:For all the courses, the registration fee includes the first exam attempt if the exam is taken within 30 days of course completion. Each retake attempt costs $50.After any of these SAFe® 4.5 certifications, you will get a Digital badge to promote your accomplishment online.Summing It UpToday, the SAFe® 4.5 certification is considered as a standard for Lean-Agile endeavours. Over 70% of the US Fortune 100 companies are utilising SAFe and the call for the SAFe® certified experts is rising at an exponential rate. The competitors that are searching for the more prominent vocation ahead, can go for the Leading SAFe® 4.5 certifications, as many employers seek candidates with credentials that convey their capability to work inside a SAFe® environment (verified through a SAFe® certification).
2449
Is SAFe® 4.5 Certification Worth The Price?

In this decade where traditional methods for Proje... Read More