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Top 5 Agile Trends to Take You Safe Through 2019 and Beyond

In recent times, Agile has proved to be more than just a buzzword in the IT industry.The amazing results of Agile project management have widened its scope for implementation in other than IT industry also; therefore, we often come across the terms like “being Agile” and “doing Agile”.More and more organizations and enterprises irrespective of size and business niche are adopting Agile with an eye on commitment, delivery values, profitability, customer’s satisfaction etc. Because of continuous Agile evolvement, you need to align Agile practices with the latest trends to compete with excellence in 2018 and beyond. Following are the top five Agile trends that will help you plan and sail safe through the competitive marketing environment.1) Short-Term Activities Oriented Agile Training:Organizing the short-term activities oriented intensive workshop/training, planned to train the participants for implementation of specific skill in real projects, is a new emerging trend in Agile organizations. The long and exhaustive classroom training of 4 or 5 days are no longer a preference. The short–term Agile workshops/training leave the Agile team members with new ideas and cohesive understanding of the Agile roadmap. The improved capability to execute short iterations supports to market the product early. In addition, Agile workshops are helping the organizations to develop multi-disciplinary Agile specialists to maximize overall performance.2) Rapid Feedback:Predictions are good to plan but the ever-changing working conditions, new demands, and altered quality standards etc deviate the results. The biggest trend in Agile management for 2018, I noticed recently, is to focus more on rapid feedbacks of developments rather than depending on the predicted outcome. Rapid feedback is vital for Agile teams to understand the way project development is going. Creating a friendly environment allowing every team member to comment and even seek the feedback saves considerable time besides giving a true picture of progress. Continuous Integration (CI) is the best tool to maximize the benefits of rapid feedback.3. Embracing Agile Spirit:  Over the years, a number of organizations twisted & curled Agile methodology to meet their interests and suitability; as a result, some of these tasted just the semi-success. The new trend shows that organizations are embracing the Agile spirit as a part of organizational culture. Organizations are conducting short-period objective oriented trainings to strengthen the Agile mindset of team members.The application of modern Agile principles leads the organizations to deliver more values with satisfactory profit. There are four core characteristics of Agile mindset - value matters, small cycles matters, ecosystem in entire organization matters and culture matters. Agile Spirit embracement can be improved by following the five simple tactics- be transparent, be disciplined, ensure participation, get everyone aligned and set up collaboration as an Agile tool.  4) Cloud-Based Solutions:More Agile teams are adopting cloud-based solutions to find new ways for envision (prediction), coding, testing and deployment faster than they are/were doing now with the intention to have an edge over their competitors. Server-less computing has become the favorite of Agile teams; as, it reduces the need of ‘always on’ traditional server infrastructure, in addition to reducing the infrastructure and operational costing. The organizations that follow cloud-based Agile methodology have enormous competitive advantages supporting for higher quality, greater agility, faster market responsiveness, reducing costing, improving client’s experience etc. It can be said that Cloud technology is going to be an Agile accelerator.5) More Focus on ‘Business Value’ of User Stories:“If you can’t measure the results, you can’t improve the process” fine fits to modern Agile culture. Today, Agile organizations are more focused on measuring the lagging indicators like ROI of new products/ features, Net Promoter Score (NPS) of team members & customers, cycle time and operational stability etc. Using three-dimensional metrics, encompassing complexity, ROI and business value, is the new approach to measure the business value of a user story. Identifying business values before writing a user story rather than writing a user story and then evaluating the business values is a significant shift in modern Agile practice.Summary:Agile culture adoption is growing fast in organizations around the world. Internal Agile coaches, consistent Agile practices, and implementation of a common tool across Agile teams are the top three factors encouraging businesses to continue their Agile journey. According to ‘12th annual State of Agile report’, the top five Agile benefits reported by the organizations are –Better project visibility – through- rapid feedbackFaster delivery – through – cloud-based solutionEnhanced productivity – through – activities oriented learning workshopsImproved ability to manage the changing priorities – through – deep focus on business value of a user storyBetter IT alignment – through – Agile spirit embracementKnowledgeHut provides objective-oriented customized Agile training that helps the organizations match the steps with the latest trends in Agile methodology.

Top 5 Agile Trends to Take You Safe Through 2019 and Beyond

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Top 5 Agile Trends to Take You Safe Through 2019 and Beyond

In recent times, Agile has proved to be more than just a buzzword in the IT industry.

The amazing results of Agile project management have widened its scope for implementation in other than IT industry also; therefore, we often come across the terms like “being Agile” and “doing Agile”.
Difference between Doing & Being AgileMore and more organizations and enterprises irrespective of size and business niche are adopting Agile with an eye on commitment, delivery values, profitability, customer’s satisfaction etc. Because of continuous Agile evolvement, you need to align Agile practices with the latest trends to compete with excellence in 2018 and beyond. Following are the top five Agile trends that will help you plan and sail safe through the competitive marketing environment.

1) Short-Term Activities Oriented Agile Training:
Short-Term Activities Oriented Agile TrainingOrganizing the short-term activities oriented intensive workshop/training, planned to train the participants for implementation of specific skill in real projects, is a new emerging trend in Agile organizations. The long and exhaustive classroom training of 4 or 5 days are no longer a preference. The short–term Agile workshops/training leave the Agile team members with new ideas and cohesive understanding of the Agile roadmap. The improved capability to execute short iterations supports to market the product early. In addition, Agile workshops are helping the organizations to develop multi-disciplinary Agile specialists to maximize overall performance.

2) Rapid Feedback:
Rapid Feedback definitionPredictions are good to plan but the ever-changing working conditions, new demands, and altered quality standards etc deviate the results. The biggest trend in Agile management for 2018, I noticed recently, is to focus more on rapid feedbacks of developments rather than depending on the predicted outcome. Rapid feedback is vital for Agile teams to understand the way project development is going. Creating a friendly environment allowing every team member to comment and even seek the feedback saves considerable time besides giving a true picture of progress. Continuous Integration (CI) is the best tool to maximize the benefits of rapid feedback.

3. Embracing Agile Spirit:  
Embracing Agile SpiritOver the years, a number of organizations twisted & curled Agile methodology to meet their interests and suitability; as a result, some of these tasted just the semi-success. The new trend shows that organizations are embracing the Agile spirit as a part of organizational culture. Organizations are conducting short-period objective oriented trainings to strengthen the Agile mindset of team members.

The application of modern Agile principles leads the organizations to deliver more values with satisfactory profit. There are four core characteristics of Agile mindset - value matters, small cycles matters, ecosystem in entire organization matters and culture matters. Agile Spirit embracement can be improved by following the five simple tactics- be transparent, be disciplined, ensure participation, get everyone aligned and set up collaboration as an Agile tool.  

4) Cloud-Based Solutions:
Cloud-Based SolutionsMore Agile teams are adopting cloud-based solutions to find new ways for envision (prediction), coding, testing and deployment faster than they are/were doing now with the intention to have an edge over their competitors. Server-less computing has become the favorite of Agile teams; as, it reduces the need of ‘always on’ traditional server infrastructure, in addition to reducing the infrastructure and operational costing. The organizations that follow cloud-based Agile methodology have enormous competitive advantages supporting for higher quality, greater agility, faster market responsiveness, reducing costing, improving client’s experience etc. It can be said that Cloud technology is going to be an Agile accelerator.

5) More Focus on ‘Business Value’ of User Stories:
‘Business Value’ of User Stories“If you can’t measure the results, you can’t improve the process” fine fits to modern Agile culture. Today, Agile organizations are more focused on measuring the lagging indicators like ROI of new products/ features, Net Promoter Score (NPS) of team members & customers, cycle time and operational stability etc. Using three-dimensional metrics, encompassing complexity, ROI and business value, is the new approach to measure the business value of a user story. Identifying business values before writing a user story rather than writing a user story and then evaluating the business values is a significant shift in modern Agile practice.

Summary:

Agile culture adoption is growing fast in organizations around the world. Internal Agile coaches, consistent Agile practices, and implementation of a common tool across Agile teams are the top three factors encouraging businesses to continue their Agile journey. According to ‘12th annual State of Agile report’, the top five Agile benefits reported by the organizations are –

  • Better project visibility – through- rapid feedback
  • Faster delivery – through – cloud-based solution
  • Enhanced productivity – through – activities oriented learning workshops
  • Improved ability to manage the changing priorities – through – deep focus on business value of a user story
  • Better IT alignment – through – Agile spirit embracement

KnowledgeHut provides objective-oriented customized Agile training that helps the organizations match the steps with the latest trends in Agile methodology.

Shubhranshu

Shubhranshu Agarwal

Freelance content writer

Shubhranshu Agarwal is a technical writer with special interest in business management and project management subjects. Over the 15 years of freelance content writing, he has written a lot to help the industries, businesses and project managers to achieve the sustainable growth by implementing strategic critical management methodologies.
 

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Roles And Responsibilities Of A Product Owner You Should Be Aware Of

A question I’m asked in many of my training sessions is about the difference between a Product Owner and a Business Analyst. Are they different names for the same role in different project management styles? Is a Business Analyst the person accountable for the project requirements when the software is developed using waterfall methodology; and is a Product Owner the person accountable for project requirements when the project is carried out using the Agile methodology?  This article attempts to help you understand about the warrior in Agile projects called the Product Owner. Is he / she the person in charge of software requirements? Or is he / she from the business side who will coordinate with the Business Analyst who in fact is a member of the development team? There is also an added confusion if this role belongs to the Product Management area.Who is a Product Owner?A Product Owner is an integral part of a product development or Scrum team. They are responsible for supervising the product backlog by making sure that it is up to date in terms of priorities and aligned with the vision of the product. The Product Owner represents the business or user, and is accountable for collaborating with the consumer to define what features will be present in the product release  Scrum Framework was developed in the early 2000s and since then there have been many different definitions floating around in the industry on who is a Product Owner. So, one day I decided to do some good old internet surfing on the topic “who is a Product Owner”.  I got the following answers from the Internet.Definition 1: A product owner is similar to a Business Analyst. He / she gathers software requirements from the various stakeholders and gives it to the development team. The development team goes to the Product Owner in case of any queries.Definition 2: The Product Owner is a part of the product management or development team. He / she creates the product backlog and prioritizes it. He / she will ensure that the development team is doing their job properly and are working on items that the Product Owner has prioritized.Now which of the above definitions is correct? What I have realized over the last few years as a Scrum trainer is that there is no globally accepted standard definition of a Product Owner role. The Scrum Guide does chalk out a few responsibilities of the Product Owner role, but different companies have different interpretations of this.  In some companies this role is a strategic role that involves collaborating with various stakeholders on the project and coming up with the software vision. The Product Owner then makes sure that the product vision is percolated down to the development team. And the development team develops the product exactly as per the Product Owner’s vision of the Product.In some companies this role is a very tactical or a hands-on role. The Product Owner is a very task-oriented person. He / she will write down software requirements, test the product developed by the development team, participate in the sprint review and make sure user stories are completed one after the other.What do Product Owners do?Ever since I embraced agile, I got to work with several Product Owners and mind you, this role is really critical as it collaborates with both the development team and the stakeholders. On the one hand, the Product Owner works with the stakeholders to get the right requirements or devise the requirements which they might not see or comprehend at that point. This not only improves the relationship with our customers but also helps to build trust. And on the other hand, the Product Owner helps the delivery team/development team understand the vision and the requirements. Hence, this role is similar to a bridge between the two ends that effectively paves the way for smooth communication.Deep dive into the Product Owner’s role:According to Roman Pichler, a leading Agile expert and the author of “How to Lead in Product Management”, the ultimate responsibility of a product owner is to ensure that the product creates value for its customers and users, as well as for the company. Think of the product owner as the person who champions the product, who facilitates the product decisions, and who has the final say about the product.” Pichler also says. “This includes if and how feedback is actioned, and which features are released.”The roles and responsibilities of a Product Owner include making sure that they understand the core of the product as well as how to facilitate collaboration at a 360-degree level, being both a liaison and the face of the user.At the most rudimentary level, as defined by the Scrum Guide, the Product Owner is responsible for maximising the value of work done by the development team. Let’s chalk out a few of the Product Owner’s responsibilities.1. Defining the vision: The purpose of the product is defined in the product vision. It is the Product Owner who creates this vision, manages it for the entire life of the product and owns the same. The Product Owner has the responsibility of creating a vision so that the development team clearly visualizes the expected outcome by the user. It is the Product Owner who interacts and collaborates with the users to understand their requirements, so that it can be effectively communicated with the team. Also, it is equally significant to communicate to the stakeholders the vision and goals so that they have a clear-cut understanding of the outcome.  The Product Owner has to be very passionate about this product vision. The product vision is not developed at one go but rather over many iterations, and improves over a period of time. The Product Owner makes sure that this product vision is in line with the vision of the company. He / she also creates a product roadmap for this product vision. Roadmap is a visual summary of the vision spread across a period of time. The vision will define the future state of the product and the motivations that the product tries to fulfil.2.  Managing the product backlogThe primary responsibility of the role of a Product Owner is managing the product backlog. Today’s market is really dynamic and every customer wants to stay on the top of the latest trends in the industry. This product backlog is derived from the roadmap created by the Product Owner. Even the items in the product backlog might require some movement due to changing priorities. It is the Product Owner’s responsibility to build up a stack of items in the backlog and prioritize them as per the business goals and the global approach. The product backlog is a dynamic list of items and as we call it in agile, it is a ‘live document’ that should be frequently updated, based on changing project requirements, all the way through to development. The Product Backlog exists as long as there is a Scrum team that works on the product.3. Prioritizing and Ordering Items in the Product Backlog: Another area where the product owner focusses on is to prioritize the needs of the stakeholders. A product owner should be able to determine the priority of product backlog items in order to deliver the maximum outcome. The Product Owners are constantly in touch with the stakeholders and understand the environment in which the product operates. When the needs and market conditions for the product change, the Product Owner will change the priorities in the Product backlog. He / she may add new items in the Product Backlog and remove the ones which are now obsolete due to new stakeholder needs. This means that the Product Owner must order the items in the Product Backlog to best achieve goals and missions. There are many tools to help Product Owners do this. The Product Owner is required to have the Backlog sequenced prior to the Sprint Planning Meeting. This means that each user story must be ordered by relative importance. The Product Owner will determine what needs to be developed in each iteration and how the product element will be developed over the life of the product.4. Overseeing development stagesOnce we have the basic entities in place – vision, product backlog, and the prioritization, the product owner has to make sure that he/she is participating in the overall development stages of the product. The team might need their Product Owner to get the clarity on a few queries or they might need to demo the committed item. The Product Owner will participate in the ceremonies with the team. In some ceremonies, this role can be active such as planning or backlog grooming but can also be passive or inactive such as in the daily Scrum.5. Anticipating client needs  In today's competitive environment, it is really important for someone in the role of a Product Owner, to understand the client/customer’s needs. The product owner should understand the market, the competition, and the users’ pain points. With those valuable pieces of information, the product owner can determine what features should be implemented, and in what order, with respect to time and importance. Sometimes the Product Owner can help the customers in configuring and penning down the items which they want but are not able to comprehend. And here communication plays a big role.6. Acting as primary liaison  As we have talked about at the start of our discussion, a product owner role involves acting as a primary liaison between the teams and the customers. The person in this role has to make sure the information flow is quick and clear so that there is no misinterpretation. The Product Owner has to make sure that the goal and the vision are correctly aligned with the work items on the product backlog. The Product Owner also acts as a liaison for business stakeholders and end-users, determining whether each story meets their shared expectations. When we say stakeholders, we mean the end users, or their representatives; they could be sponsors (who are paying for the product) or stakeholders who are also a part of the company's management. A stakeholder could be anyone with an interest in or an influence on the product. A Product Owner understands these stakeholders' needs and builds a vision that will drive the development team to develop the vision. Good product owners ensure that development teams can communicate directly with stakeholders, as long as they work on the priorities as chosen by the product owner.7. Evaluating product progress at each iteration   In every iteration, a product increment is created by the development team. The product owner inspects this product increment and decides if this is developed as per the vision created for the product. If it not as per the vision he / she may direct the development team to revise it in later sprints. Work that is either not complete or un-done needs to be re-prioritized or sequenced. The Product Owner makes sure that the development delivers the expected outcomes from the stories they worked upon and accepts it.  Thus, a Product Owner wears multiple hats throughout the product development effort.8. Participating in daily Scrum, Sprint Planning Meetings, and Sprint Reviews and RetrospectivesScrum ceremonies give a chance for the Product Owner to inspect and adapt. And as a result, being present at these ceremonies is identical to success. It is important for the product owner to join the Scrum meetings as it not only keeps the development team up to date with the priorities, but also helps the product owner understand the perspective of the team if there are any impediments.9. Terminating a Sprint if it is determined that a drastic change in direction is requiredIf the Sprint goal has no meaning (will not deliver business value) because of the extreme change, the product owner can terminate the sprint. The termination is most frequently the outcome of an intense change in business priorities; something previously considered important is no longer needed, or something even more significant is learned.How to become a Product Owner?Becoming a product owner requires a thorough understanding of the product as well as analytical and strategic skills. The person who wants to deep dive and become a good product owner needs to understand the market and the stakeholders. He/she should be able to create a vision and know when to juggle with the items in the product backlog so that the bucket is always prioritized.You can opt for some good certification programs provided by different authorities and gain a confidence in this area. As per my experience, I would recommend you to select a domain and master it!How to be a Good Product Owner | Product Owner Best PracticesWhat is A Certified Product Owner?As defined by the Scrum Alliance, a Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO®) is someone who has been trained by a Certified Scrum Trainer in Scrum terminology, practices, and principles that will enable them to fulfill the role of Scrum Product Owner.Is the Product Owner the Project Manager?Both a project manager and a product owner watch over teams who work to carry developments across the finish line together. But the path to that finish line deviates entirely from the start. The Product Owners are product driven and customer focused. They need to be actively engaged with the team because they are the ones responsible for deciding what features will go into the final product.Also, there is a confusion between a Product Owner and Product Manager. Let us understand the difference between the two.A Product Manager is a high-level role that has responsibilities for the entire product lifecycle. The role starts by focusing on customer discovery to product delivery. The product manager will drive the overall product strategy. This is a multidisciplinary role and is very strategic in nature.  The product owner works primarily with the production team to ensure that the development team develops a product that is aligned with the product roadmap.To summarize, the product manager decides on what products to build next, and the product owner coordinates with the development team to build these products.What are the challenges a Product Owner comes across?Below are the major challenges a Product Owner is more likely to come across:1. Missing product road map2. High-level acceptance criteria3. Spending too much time dealing with product support instead of grooming the backlog4. Changing priority while sprint is in progressProduct Owners can escape these usual snares by working around the product road map, centering on high-value backlog items, defining crisp acceptance criteria, concentrating on grooming quality backlog item, and avoiding disturbing sprints.What is the learning path for a Product Owner role?Are you a business analyst who is now unable to figure out his / her new duties as Product Owner? Are you looking to venture into a Product Owner role? Or are you looking to clear your understanding of Scrum Framework and understand the Product Owner role? Then embark on this journey with us in becoming a great Product Owner.Why should you go for a CSPO certification?  Every high-functioning Agile team has a well-trained Product Owner making critical product decisions. 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. The globally recognized CSPO certification, therefore, is a career-defining credential for anybody willing to take up the challenging role of a Product Owner on a Scrum team in an organization.Increasing Demand for CSPO® Certified Professionals The industry today is ripe with endless opportunities for Product Owners. With 90% of modern teams using Scrum, the demand for Certified Scrum Product Owners has seen a steep rise. Their presence on an Agile team is guaranteed to ensure early ROI while maximizing business value.Scrum Alliance  underlines the importance of Product Owners as follows:38% of the Product Owners act as an intermediary and are responsible for maintaining relationships with the Stakeholders.24% of the Product Owners set project business priorities and work directly with the customers.15% of the Product Owner work directly with the Scrum team.The Future of a Product OwnerA Product Owner is indispensable for the Scrum teams. This role can be compared to that of a deeply rooted tree which has a firm foundation on the product side and provides vision, approach, and planned execution on the outer side. The product owners carry the ownership of the product in terms of quality and delivery as per the expectations set with the stakeholder.A Product Owner needs to have an all-inclusive view of the product along with all the other factors like business understanding, go to Market, organizational readiness, and product capabilities. All of these should be collectively managed, coordinated and aligned to drive product success.Product Owner Training:  Be an efficient Product Owner to raise product value & manage product backlog effectively!  Get trained by Scrum Alliance approved Certified Scrum Trainers® (CSTs)  Get certified from the globally acclaimed accreditation body, Scrum Alliance  Earn 16 PDUs and SEUs in just 2 days  Excel in addressing challenges through Scrum as an effective Product Owner  Advance your knowledge with an experiential learning format  Get Free E-learning Access to 100+ courses  The Scrum Product Owner Certification from the globally renowned Scrum Alliance endorses and validates your Scrum expertise while enabling you to take on the Product Owner role and responsibilities with dexterity, as you lead successful projects and ensure high-velocity releases of marketable products. 
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Scaled Agile Framework: Understand Safe and Its Core Values

According to the Agile Alliance, Agile is the “ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of dealing with, and ultimately succeeding in, an uncertain and turbulent environment. Ultimately, Agile is a mindset informed by the Agile Manifesto’s values and principles.” We can think of it as a way of getting work done.However, Agile was initially developed for small teams. As Agile – or its most popular variant Scrum - grew to the enterprise, companies began to adopt Scrum of Scrums which is a technique to scale Scrum consisting of dividing the groups into Agile teams of 5-10 people.But over time, more formalized methods of scaling Agile began to develop. In 2011, Scaled Agile Framework, Inc. was co-founded by entrepreneur and software development methodologist Dean Leffingwell. Starting at its first release in 2011, five major versions have been released, the latest edition, version 5.0, being released in January 2020. According to SA Inc., no major releases are planned as of this writing.This article will attempt to explain what the Scaled Agile Framework is, why it is important and what its core values are.What Is the Scaled Agile Framework®?  SAFe® for Lean Enterprises is a knowledge base of proven, integrated principles, practices, and competencies for achieving business agility using Lean, Agile, and DevOps.We’ve discussed Agile above. According to the Lean Enterprise Institute, a lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal is to provide value to the customer through a value creation process that has zero waste.*And DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops). It aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality. Image sourceSAFe® FoundationThe SAFe® Foundation refers to the supporting principles, values, mindset, implementation guidance, and leadership roles needed to deliver value successfully at scale.  What is the Importance of Scaled Agile Framework®?It allows organizations to scale Agile to the enterprise and enables Business Agility. Business Agility is the ability to compete and thrive in the digital age by quickly responding to market changes and emerging opportunities with innovative, digitally enabled business solutions. Key terms in SAFe® The first is Value Stream. Value Streams represent the series of steps that an organization uses to implement Solutions that provide a continuous flow of value to a customer. They can be measured using Key Performance Indicators. The next term is the Agile Release Train (ART). The ART is a long-lived team of Agile teams, which, along with other stakeholders, incrementally develops, delivers, and where applicable operates, one or more solutions in a value stream. A Program Increment (PI) is a timebox during which an Agile Release Train (ART) delivers incremental value in the form of working, tested software and systems. PIs are typically 8 – 12 weeks long. The most common pattern for a PI is four development Iterations, followed by one Innovation and Planning (IP) Iteration. Lastly is Program Increment Planning (PI). It is a cadence-based, face-to-face event that serves as the heartbeat of the Agile Release Train (ART), aligning all the teams on the ART to a shared mission and vision. Typically, this is a two-day event bringing together all the Agile teams. Note that that there are four possible SAFe® configurations depending on the increasing complexity of the environment.  SAFe® configurationsEssential SAFe®- contains the minimal set of roles, events, and artifacts required to continuously deliver business solutions via an Agile Release Train (ART) as a Team of Agile Teams. It is the simplest starting point for implementation. Large Solution SAFe® - for developing the largest and most complex solutions that typically require multiple Agile release trains and suppliers but not necessarily portfolio considerations. Portfolio SAFe® - helps align portfolio execution to enterprise strategy by organizing Agile development around the flow of value, through one or more value streams.  Full SAFe® - supports enterprises that build and maintain large integrated solutions which require hundreds of people or more. Multiple instances of various SAFe® configurations may be required.  The SAFe® Core ValuesThere are four core values of SAFe®. They are alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution. It is crucial to understand these.Alignment Scaled Agile uses the example of a car not functioning correctly if it is misaligned. Alignment occurs when everyone is working toward a common direction. It enables empowerment, autonomy, and decentralized decision-making, allowing those who implement value to make better local decisions. Alignment starts with the strategy and investment decisions at the Portfolio level which in turn inform the vision, roadmap, and backlogs. Built-in Quality  Ensures that every element and every increment of the solution reflects quality standards throughout the development lifecycle. Quality is not added later, it is built-in or planned in. (This is a tenet of modern quality thinking, not just SAFe®.) SAFe® Built-in Quality organizes quality thinking around five specific aspects—Flow, Architecture and Design Quality, Code Quality, System Quality and Release Quality. Transparency Transparency – along with inspection and adaptation – is one of the three pillars of Agile. It means that an organization provides open access to the unbiased information and adaptation.  It inspects its work and adjusts it based on empirical evidence. Stakeholders have visibility into the program backlogs, and they have a clear understanding of the PI Objectives for each Agile Release Train. ARTs also have visibility into the team’s backlogs, as well as other Program Backlogs.Program Execution SAFe® places an intense focus on working systems and business outcomes. With alignment, transparency, and built-in quality on the team’s side, the teams can focus on execution.Key areas of competencyAs of this writing, the current version of SAFe® is 5.0. It is comprised of seven areas of competency, all under the heading of Business AgilityEnterprise Solution Delivery Describes how to apply Lean-Agile principles and practices to the specification, development, deployment, operation, and evolution of the world’s largest and most sophisticated software applications, networks, and cyber-physical systems. Large enterprise-wide systems require the full understanding of the system from requirements analysis to deployment.Agile Product Delivery A customer-centric approach to defining, building, and releasing a continuous flow of valuable products and services to customers and users. The key here is customer-centricity. The organization must have the ability to understand the customer’s needs and release on demand.Team and Technical Agility The Team and Technical Agility competency describes the critical skills and Lean-Agile principles and practices that high-performing Agile teams and Teams of Agile teams use to create high-quality solutions for their customers. Lean-Agile Leadership The Lean-Agile Leadership competency describes how Lean-Agile Leaders drive and sustain organizational change and operational excellence by empowering individuals and teams to reach their highest potential. Leaders must lead by example, lead change, and embrace the Lean-Agile mindset. Continuous Learning Culture The Continuous Learning Culture competency describes a set of values and practices that encourage individuals—and the enterprise as a whole—to continually increase knowledge, competence, performance, and innovation. This is achieved by becoming a learning organization, committing to relentless improvement, and promoting a culture of innovation.Organizational Agility The Organizational Agility competency describes how Lean-thinking people and Agile teams optimize their business processes, evolve strategy with clear and decisive new commitments, and quickly adapt the organization as needed to capitalize on new opportunities. Key to this is the ‘dual operating system.’ This is not a computer model but a business model, leveraging the traditional management hierarchy with a Lean/Agile leadership approach.Image SourceLean Portfolio Management The Lean Portfolio Management competency aligns strategy and execution by applying Lean and systems thinking approaches to strategy and investment funding, Agile portfolio operations, and governance.Achieving the Core Values of SAFe® Achieving Alignment   Alignment can be achieved by providing the relevant briefings and participating in PI planning, helping with backlog visibility and value stream organization and coordination. Also, by communicating the mission, vision, and strategy at every opportunity.  Achieving Transparency Transparency can be achieved by openness and visualizing all relevant work, taking ownership for errors, and supporting others who acknowledge and learn from their mistakes. Achieving Built-in Quality Built-in quality is achieved by refusing to accept or ship low-quality work, by supporting investments in capacity planning and by ensuring that architecture, operations, security, and compliance are part of the flow of work.  Achieving Program Execution Program execution is achieved by participating as an active business owner in PI execution, celebrating high quality and predictably delivered program increments and by aggressively removing impediments.ConclusionBusiness Agility is the ability to compete and thrive in the digital age by quickly responding to market changes and emerging opportunities with innovative, digitally enabled business solutions In today’s world, organizations must be customer-centric and must adopt a Lean-Agile mindset to provide continuous integration and continuous delivery. The Scaled Agile Framework establishes a way not only of doing so, but also the flexibility of scaling up to whatever level of adoption (basic to full, complex solution) is required.Lean waste types are Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Unused Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Extra Processing. 
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Why CSPO Certification Is Important For Your Career

This article looks at how and why the CSPO® Certification is increasingly becoming important for today’s Product Owner (PO). The article briefly discusses on the responsibilities of the PO, how the role is becoming mandatory within the organization in today's Agile landscape, what makes a great PO and about the CSPO Certification.Who is a Product OwnerThe Product Owner is a member of the Product Management / Business team who works closely with and is a part of the Agile team throughout the Sprints/Iterations. The responsibilities of a Product Owner(PO) spans across the aspects of People, Product and Process.PeopleThe PO is a conduit between Business and Engineering teams, acting as the “Voice of the Customer” and “Voice of the Business” to the teams,Is one of the members to create the Product vision and constantly communicates the same to the teams, and Is able to interact and communicate well with all stakeholders (Customer, Engineering , Sales, Marketing, Support etc.)ProductDefines and maintains the team’s Product backlog, Can answer “Why” a requirement has found a place in the product backlog, “Why” it is prioritized and “Why” the Customer wants the features, Can provide insights into what customer problem the requirements aim to resolve, Can provide Customer Journey Maps, User Personas and Real Life Examples, and Can determine the value that the product delivers to stakeholders and identify which product backlog items would deliver the most value.ProcessPrioritizes the product backlog and is able to provide the reasons and justification of prioritization to the teams, Is part of the regular Product Backlog refinements to refine User stories and Acceptance Criteria, Is available to the team throughout the iteration and provides continuous feedback, Seeks continuous feedback from Customers, and Is able to review the features and approve User Stories once they are completed.Significance of the PO roleTraditionally the Business/Product Management teams have suffered with constant shortage of time and conflicting priorities between dedicating time for Engineering teams and Customer facing responsibilities. Usually, the Customer facing responsibilities understandably end up as the higher priority,   leaving very little time for the teams.Earlier, the time dedicated by the Product Manager to Engineering teams was very little and elusive, sometimes limited to only email interactions. The Business teams were located at the customer sites and used to visit the Engineering teams occasionally, interacting with them through email or phone calls. As a result, the product and productivity suffered immensely.With the advent of Scaled Agile Frameworks and industry wide adoption of Agile, the role of the Product Owner has been laid out as a mandate and demands the increase of manpower in Business teams. Dedicated Product Owners are becoming increasingly indispensable and significant within teams. The role of the Product Owner role has come as a big relief for Engineering teams, because they are constantly in touch with the Business stakeholders as well as the team, and can smoothen and streamline communication channels.POs are often co-located with the Engineering teams, attending Daily (Stand up) Meetings, Refinement meetings, Sprint Review, Demos etc. in person with the team. They are also available anytime for quick feedback and queries doing away with time-zone difference and delays. The POs closely work with their Customer facing counterparts in the various customer locations, serving as the liaison between Business Teams and Engineering teams.The PO ‘s role is key for the success of the Agile way of working. It has become a “Must Have” role within the Agile landscape rather than a “Good to have” role. This has created a good demand for the PO role in the Software Industry. With the surging demand for POs in the industry, there are many professionals taking up the discipline of Product Management.  There are professionals from other functions like QA/Project Management/ Development etc. moving into the Product Management discipline as well.Who makes a “Great” PO?Although a PO satisfies all the roles and responsibilities required of his/her role, there are some traits and characteristics that set apart a great PO from the crowd.A great PO has conviction in the Product Vision and knows the priorities of the Business very well, and is able to articulate the same to the Engineering teams. Shows commitment in completing the team’s goals by providing early and timely feedback. A great PO is excellent in communication, able to understand the nuances of the various stakeholders and speaks in each one’s language (Customer, Engineering, Sales, Marketing, Support etc.) Does not take sides but does what is right for the given situation and for the Customers. Is able to say “No” and has the reasons for it.Is not a task master who dictates to the team but a great Influencer who has the answers to “what has to be done” and “why it has to be done”.   Trusts the team to know best on “How” things will be implemented. Negotiates well with the team for the Business but is fair in all interactions with the team winning the team’s trust. Is always curious in terms of the product implementation but does not interfere in the team’s approach of building the product.To really excel at the job, the PO has to constantly upskill and sharpen the tools he/she has to offer. The PO is required to have keen knowledge of the various practices and techniques that are being used by his/her peers in the industry, in order to stay ahead of the competition. The PO needs to be part of a “Community of Practice”, grow his/her network outside the organization and be clued into all the relevant trends in the industry.CSPO CertificationWith the growing demand for the PO role in the market, the Industry naturally creates ways to benchmark standards, uphold quality and nourish promising talent. The CSPO Certification is one such mark of standard and quality. It equips the Product Owner to become better at the job and helps certified individuals to stand out in the crowd. The CSPO course and the CSPO community offers the right environment for the Product Owner to excel in his/her job. The curriculum of the CSPO course is outlined below for your reference.ContentsScrum Basics Understand the Scrum Framework and workflow so that the PO   Agile Principles and Scrum Values Roles and Responsibilities Product Owner role in detail Scrum Master role at high level Team role at high level Product Vision Importance of Product Vision Creating the Product Vision Just enough preparations before creating the Product Vision Qualities of Product Vision Relationship between Product Vision and Product Road Map Estimation Estimation Levels and Techniques Accuracy is more desirable than Precision in Agile Estimation What can go wrong with Estimation   Difference between Estimating and Committing Product Backlog   Understand what Product Backlog is and is not Product Backlog Grooming Prioritization Importance and Benefits of Prioritizing Product Backlog Why everything cannot be Mandatory or Highest Priority Who should Prioritize Prioritization based on Multiple Factors Applying formal approaches to Prioritization   Giving leeway to teams to sequence work after prioritization Release Management Goal Iterative and collaborative Release Planning Quality and Technical Debt Releasing Software early and frequently Measuring velocity and Release Burndown chart Forecasting future releases Sprints Product Owner’s role in Scrum Meetings Collaboration between PO and Scrum Team, between PO and Scrum Master Team Commitment Understand why Sprints are Timeboxed and Protected from other distractions Concept of sustainable paceCareer Prospects and GrowthExisting POsFor people who are already wearing the Product Owner’s hat, the CSPO certification is like one more feather in their resume. Going through this course and certification will fine-tune their skills and help add multiple tools in their toolbox.Aspiring POsIn certain organizations, there might be team members exhibiting and playing the roles and responsibilities of a Product Owner without the role title. They would have acquired all the necessary skill-sets but not the formal official title yet. By attending the CSPO course and earning the CSPO certification they convey their readiness to play the role; and this gives the thrust necessary for their formal recognition into a Product owner’s role.Salary AspectsThe CSPO certification has global recognition and so will result in an increase in the pay package for a certified professional PO.What next for an accomplished CSPO?An accomplished CSPO can further his/her career prospects by taking up the Advanced CSPO course and certification. It will set the stage for the product owner to progress in their career path and play the role in a wider scope. Depending on the Organization type and structure it could be the role of a Product Manager, Product Portfolio Owner/Manager— and for the more adventurous, even the CEO of a startup! Some Product owners might choose to diversify into a Business Analyst role as well.In conclusion, the CSPO has become a benchmark certification for Product Owners in the Software Industry. It will definitely help existing and aspiring POs to sharpen and upgrade their skillsets. It is also a badge of accomplishment and achievement for a Product Owner, not only to set them as a class apart in their own organization, but also in their wider Product Management community.
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