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What is a Scrum Master - Everything You Need to Know

What is a Scrum Master?A deep understanding of Scrum roles is critical to implementing Scrum.Many times, this gets widely overlooked when organizations adopt Scrum for the first time. Even before Scrum can be useful for any team, a clear perception of “what is a Scrum Master” is important.Simply put, a Scrum Master is the coach and facilitator of a Scrum team. The Scrum guide describes Scrum Master as a person chiefly responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum. As rightly stated in the guide, a Scrum Master helps everyone understand the Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values. A converter of “doing Agile” to “being Agile” is what defines a Scrum Master. Essentially, a Scrum Master is a servant leader responsible for facilitating Scrum processes.That being said, a Scrum Master also helps people outside the Scrum team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum team are useful. This, in turn, helps the Scrum teams maximize the value created by them.According to Wikipedia, Scrum Master is a facilitator of the team responsible for removing the impediments to deliver the project target. The Scrum Master is not a traditional project manager and acts as a buffer between the team and any distracting influences.  What a Scrum master is “NOT”A better perception of “what is a Scrum Master” demands an understanding of “what a Scrum Master is not”. If you are in it for the long haul, this will help you become aware of the generic misconceptions around who a scrum master actually is.Well, a Scrum Master is not a:Project managerProduct OwnerA position (it is a role)Role above the teamIn this regard, it is also important to note that a Scrum Master is not an active participant in the daily scrum activities but only a moderator.So what is it that a scrum master does for real? Let us try to understand.What exactly does a Scrum Master do?Being a Scrum Master entails a lot more than the list of priority activities of a Scrum Master you come across nearly everywhere. In addition to moderating the team activities, a Scrum Master has to help teams live by Scrum values.A typical day in the life of a Scrum Master looks somewhat like below-Moderates team activitiesHelps organize meetingsKeeps scrum processes movingKeeps the team focused on current sprintEnsures a power balance among management, Product Owner, and the teamActively works with the PORemoves impedimentsHelps the team achieve sprint goalsMaintains transparency in processesHelps improve performanceEnsures quick delivery of the final productPromotes a constructive feedback cultureIdentifies hidden issues and helps prioritize and address themHelps build self-organizing teamsEncourages teams to learn from experienceWe shall discuss the roles and responsibilities of a Scrum Master in further details in the upcoming sections.What are the top qualities of the successful Scrum Masters?To be an effective Scrum Master, one has to be a Scrum enabler first. If you have had the chance to work with highly successful Scrum Masters, there a few patterns you must have observed. These are nothing but the key attributes seen in Scrum Masters of high-performing teams.Scrum Masters with these top qualities are found to lead their teams to success-1. Communication:Effective communication is one of the top skills for any role. A Scrum Master, however, should be adept in two-way communication. (S)he should be a good speaker and listener. An efficient Scrum Master should be able to listen, comprehend, repeat, summarize, energize, observe, write, simplify, critique, suggest, assert, chat, and present with equal ease.2. Responsibility and Ownership: Scrum Master is a representative of the Scrum team. As a Scrum Master, if you are capable of building and gaining trust among the team members, you should be able to represent them in their success or failure.3. Acknowledgment and appreciation: Genuine leadership entails valuing your colleague's efforts and enabling them to advance their performance. This is one of the top qualities of a Scrum Master, who happens to be a servant leader as well.4. Good leader, not a ruler A Scrum Master should not follow a command-and-control leadership. Instead, he should adhere to the principles of servant leadership, wherein decisions are made only after discussion with the team members instead of being directly imposed.5. Multitasker: As a Scrum Master, you should be able to juggle parallel tasks and manage important scrum events within defined timeframes. Assuming an ideal Scrum team of 6-9 members, you are responsible for managing today’s tasks and planning for tomorrow’s tasks along with arranging the Scrum events for the team members to resolve their queries, planning for the next Sprint, and release. Multitasking, in fact, is one of the top qualities of a Scrum Master.6. Resolve the obstacles and keep the team on track: The Scrum Master always focuses on keeping the team on track and resolving the obstacles that are blocking their way to deliver a quality product. These obstacles may include unwanted meetings, unwanted procedural complexity, work environment or any other challenge. He/She ensures that the team is away from the distractions that are hindering the project success.7. Encourage collaboration: A Scrum Master has to look into the daily activities of the team members. Also, the Scrum Master can share his/her experiences through seminars. conferences, and meetings with the team members. A good Scrum Master should encourage collaboration with the help of planning sessions, daily stand-ups, sprint planning, and sprint review meeting sessions.  8. Initiating latest technologies: A Scrum Master can use automated builds, simple designs, multi-level testing, automated development, and pair programming to reduce time and efforts while developing the project. He/she can also make use of the latest technologies and best practices that can help you in the early completion of the project.   9. Good coach for the team: A successful Scrum Master should understand the different phases that his/her team is undergoing and the importance of team building. The Scrum Master coaches the team members by building self-organizing teams, tracking the project, implementing simple methodology rules, and by creating project vision. Other than being a coach to the team to explain Scrum processes clearly and enforcing the practice for Agile, the Scrum Master should have basic technical and project management knowledge.10. Effective collaboration with the Product Owner: This is regarded as one of the key qualities of a Scrum Master. An effective Scrum Master should be able to collaborate with the Product Owner. While the role of a PO is to convey the user requirement to the Scrum team and push the team towards it, a Scrum Master facilitates a seamless execution of the processes. Together, the Scrum Master and Product Owner build a strong relationship with the team to provide the best results.11. Empathy: A Scrum Master develops many skills while working with team members. He/She builds his/her skills to develop emotions and to learn what the team members feel. This way, (s)he builds a strong connection with the team and understands their problems while also suggesting effective solutions.  12. A strong understanding of servant leadership and facilitation:The role of the Scrum Master is not to assign the tasks to the team, it is all about supporting the team members in achieving the project goals. Servant leadership, which is one of the fundamental qualities of a Scrum Master plays a key role here. By serving and encouraging the team in every way possible, a good scrum master always helps the team members attain their full potential. Needless to say, this has a direct positive impact on the business value they create as a team.13. A relentless approach to continuous delivery:A successful Scrum Master always tries to improve the way a team works. The best way to do this is to arrange the retrospective, where each team member identifies what went well and what went wrong in the initial Sprint. The team members learn from the mistakes and this leads to continuous improvement.14. A good relationship with the team:A Scrum Master may act as a team leader, but he/she doesn’t have the authority of a true manager. Eventually, a Scrum Master has to be cordial with the team members, if he/she wants to influence specific actions.15. Product, market, and domain knowledge:A Scrum Master need not have end-to-end technical knowledge and domain skills. However, a fundamental understanding of the product, markets, and software development processes, makes it easier for them to address challenges in project delivery.16. Encourage a self-organizing team:A scrum master should know when to express his views and should mostly allow the team to be self-organizing. That said, he should be actively listening to the team members’ inputs and learning points and guide the team to perform better in subsequent sprints.What are the essential skills of a Scrum Master?Though the Scrum Master role is complex and challenging, a diverse skill set allows them to become a great Scrum Master. Here are the Scrum Master competencies that help him/her succeed in the project:1. Organizing the teamKnowing the rules of the ScrumCommunicating internally and externallyReporting the status of the team membersCollecting the team members in the Sprint PlanningGuiding clearlyResolving the impedimentsEfficient facilitationImplementing collaborative engagement tools and techniques2. Improving the teamForming a good teamManaging the technical debtImproving team members’ activities by providing feedback and motivationImplemented continuous validated learningResponsible for making a change3. Establishing a self-organising teamDisplaying a servant leadershipExecuting the Scrum valuesDecide according to Agile methodologyOwing to the team members’ responsibilitiesInvolving every team member in planning4. Planning bigDiscussing with the team membersFinding and fixing the cross-team problemsImproving the cross-team technical practicesRoles and Responsibilities of a Scrum MasterThe Scrum Master’s role is pivotal to the success of a team. He/she is a process leader who helps the team understand Scrum values, principles, and practices. Some organizations practice rotation of Scrum Master roles among the team members; this is, once again, up to each Scrum Team.However, the roles of the Scrum Master include:The Agile framework custodian and process owner for the team.A facilitator and Servant Leader who never discourages but encourages and expects self-organization from the Agile development team.Build close collaboration across roles and functions in the organization, works on matters collectively and is not individualistic.Protect the team from distractions which include both external and internal.Remove impediments, so the team can focus on the development of work and tasks.Scrum Master is not typically a manager or lead, but he/she is an influential leader who does not do direct command and control.Scrum Master is a coach and advisor to the team and discussed issues encountered.Scrum Master should be equipped with basic technical and project management know-how, this is so that he/she understands the problems and is able to provide proper guidance and advice to the team.With Scrum gaining widespread attention in just about every sector, top industry majors like Microsoft, Honeywell, Ericsson, Bank of America, Cox Automotive, KPMG, etc. are focusing on the integration of Scrum into their existing frameworks. This trend has prompted more industries to invest in Agile and Scrum training.  Let’s see some more benefits of having a certified Scrum Master on a project.Why should you be interested in getting a Scrum Master Certification?Scrum has become the finest choice of organizations to deliver more value to the customers. In State of Scrum 2018 survey, 85 percent of the respondents say Scrum continues to improve the quality of work life. At the same time, 81% of Scrum Masters who received certification agreed that it has significantly helped improve their practice.Listed below are the reasons and benefits of having a Scrum Master certification (CSM).1. In-depth knowledge of Scrum:If you have not implemented Scrum before, earning the certification will help you to learn the Scrum skills effectively. With this certification, you can level-up your knowledge with the basics of Scrum and you will be able to:Make customers happy and satisfiedDeliver better quality product in less timeMaintain team collaborationLesser defectsFlexible working strategyTake a quick decision on an issue2. A number of companies moving to Agile:Nowadays, organizations are required to speed up their product development process to deliver fast according to the changing needs of the customers. This helps organizations to stay viable. Scrum produces in iterations and its self-organizing teams deliver products of maximum value. Due to this reason, a number of companies are shifting to Agile.      3. New career opportunities on the go:A CSM certification will bring more new career opportunities as more companies are migrating to the Agile approach and they need a professional who will guide a team to follow the Scrum approach. Being a certified Scrum Master, your chances of getting hired by the top employers with fair salary are more.    4. Increases collaboration:When it comes to working on a complex project, it needs collaboration among the team members. As a certified professional on a team, you can build and reinforce the basic understanding of Scrum to produce a value.  5. Switch to the Agile mindset:You need to develop an Agile mindset if you have to work with Agile methodologies. As a certified person on a team, you need to start thinking in an Agile way that will avoid differences in opinions and lead to successful projects with better team collaboration.    7. Organizations yield more:It is tough for any organization to accept new processes easily as it affects the complete structure of the organization. It affects processes, management, people, and clients. In this regard, you need a knowledgeable person in your team who will make the adoption a smooth process. Being a certified Scrum Master, you will be facilitating the tasks for the team members.  8. Enter the Scrum experts community:After taking a Certified ScrumMaster certification, an individual will get a chance to be a part of the Scrum experts community of Scrum Alliance. This community offers knowledge in a way to stay updated, find the events, and provide instructions to the certified members.Scrum Master vs. Project ManagerOnce we enter the industries, we often come across the term Project Manager along with the Scrum Master. These two roles are distinct from each other though they contribute to the projects. This creates confusion between the Scrum Master and Project Manager roles when an organization is undergoing an Agile transformation.A Scrum Master works on the Agile project associated with Scrum project management principles whereas a Project Manager’s work is based on the traditional disciplined project management principles. Let’s see the differences between a Scrum Master and Project Manager. Also, if you are serving as a Project Manager and willing to become a Scrum Master or vice versa, this information will help you to take a stand on this. Before going further, let's see the roles of the Scrum Master and Project Manager in brief.1. Scrum Master duties:Scrum Master responsibilities to the Product Owner (PO)-Helps the PO in managing the product backlogHelps the PO to convey the product requirement clearly to the team members  Facilitate Scrum events to the POScrum Master responsibilities towards the development team-Guiding and coaching the teams to follow Scrum rulesRemoves roadblocks that are inhibiting the project’s progressHelps to maintain team dynamics and high-value resultFacilitate the Scrum events and arrange Scrum meetingsDirecting the team in Scrum implementationMentor the team members who are new to Scrum adoption2. Project Manager roles:The Project Manager is responsible for:Delivering the product according to the project’s requirementsDefining the project scope and planning the project activities accordinglyEnsuring that the responsibilities assigned to team members are according to their skills and expertiseReporting the progress of the project to the stakeholdersTracking the project performance against the timelines and ensuring an effective project qualityMaking sure that the project documentation is properPlanning the tasks for the team members and ensuring that the team understands their roles in the projectPreparing a project budget and getting it approved from the senior managementManaging the StakeholdersMonitoring and controlling the risks in the projectDelivering the project on time with the project constraints like scope, the budget, time, and efficient resourcesLet’s figure out the major differences between a Scrum Master and Project ManagerScrum MasterAttributesProject ManagerMakes sure that the team members are well trained to follow Agile practices appropriately. Also, SM coaches the Scrum teams and mentions the timeline to finish the projectGoalsHas defined goals like-Completing the project on time, planned a budget, and scopeSM assures the quality and knows the importance of quality.Quality AssurancePM also knows the importance of quality, but doesn’t know how to achieve it. A consultant is usually hired to fix the errorsScrum Master always tries to keep things smaller. They like to work in small teams irrespective of budget.Team SizeProject Managers like to make things large. PM works with more people and a huge budget. In this way, they improve to Program ManagerThe average salary of a Certified ScrumMaster® is $116,659 per year.Average SalaryThe average salary of a Project Manager is $75,474 per yearCertified Scrum Master (CSM)®Advanced-Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM)®Certified Scrum Professional- Scrum Master (CSP-SM)®Professional Scrum Master (PSM I, PSM II, PSM III)Agile Scrum Master (ASM)Scrum Master Certified (SMC)SAFe® Scrum Master (SSM)SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master (SASM)CertificationsAgile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®Project Management Professional (PMP)®Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®Certified Project Manager (IAPM)CompTIA Project+Certified Scrum Master (CSM)- Scrum AllianceAdvanced-Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM)- Scrum AllianceCertified Scrum Professional- Scrum Master (CSP-SM)- Scrum AllianceProfessional Scrum Master (PSM I, PSM II, PSM III)- Scrum.orgAgile Scrum Master (ASM)- EXINScrum Master Certified (SMC)- SCRUMstudySAFe® Scrum Master (SSM)- Scaled Agile Inc (SAI)SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master (SASM)- Scaled Agile Inc (SAI)Accreditation bodiesAgile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®- PMIProject Management Professional (PMP)®- PMICertified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®- PMICertified Project Manager (IAPM)- International Association of Project ManagersCompTIA Project+- CompTIAEfficient Scrum Master = Great OrganizationThe role of a Scrum Master may vary from one project to another or one organization to another but the importance of Scrum Master in a team will always be the same. The role of the Scrum Master in general is very challenging. It goes without saying that hiring a Scrum Master is the wisest decision for an organization undergoing a real transition to Agile!Know more about what is a Scrum Master.

What is a Scrum Master - Everything You Need to Know

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What is a Scrum Master - Everything You Need to Know

What is a Scrum Master?

A deep understanding of Scrum roles is critical to implementing Scrum.Many times, this gets widely overlooked when organizations adopt Scrum for the first time. Even before Scrum can be useful for any team, a clear perception of “what is a Scrum Master” is important.

Simply put, a Scrum Master is the coach and facilitator of a Scrum team. The Scrum guide describes Scrum Master as a person chiefly responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum. As rightly stated in the guide, a Scrum Master helps everyone understand the Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values. A converter of “doing Agile” to “being Agile” is what defines a Scrum Master. Essentially, a Scrum Master is a servant leader responsible for facilitating Scrum processes.

That being said, a Scrum Master also helps people outside the Scrum team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum team are useful. This, in turn, helps the Scrum teams maximize the value created by them.

According to Wikipedia, Scrum Master is a facilitator of the team responsible for removing the impediments to deliver the project target. The Scrum Master is not a traditional project manager and acts as a buffer between the team and any distracting influences.  

What a Scrum master is “NOT”

A better perception of “what is a Scrum Master” demands an understanding of “what a Scrum Master is not”. If you are in it for the long haul, this will help you become aware of the generic misconceptions around who a scrum master actually is.

Well, a Scrum Master is not a:

  • Project manager
  • Product Owner
  • A position (it is a role)
  • Role above the team

In this regard, it is also important to note that a Scrum Master is not an active participant in the daily scrum activities but only a moderator.

So what is it that a scrum master does for real? Let us try to understand.

What exactly does a Scrum Master do?

Being a Scrum Master entails a lot more than the list of priority activities of a Scrum Master you come across nearly everywhere. In addition to moderating the team activities, a Scrum Master has to help teams live by Scrum values.

A typical day in the life of a Scrum Master looks somewhat like below-

  1. Moderates team activities
  2. Helps organize meetings
  3. Keeps scrum processes moving
  4. Keeps the team focused on current sprint
  5. Ensures a power balance among management, Product Owner, and the team
  6. Actively works with the PO
  7. Removes impediments
  8. Helps the team achieve sprint goals
  9. Maintains transparency in processes
  10. Helps improve performance
  11. Ensures quick delivery of the final product
  12. Promotes a constructive feedback culture
  13. Identifies hidden issues and helps prioritize and address them
  14. Helps build self-organizing teams
  15. Encourages teams to learn from experience

We shall discuss the roles and responsibilities of a Scrum Master in further details in the upcoming sections.

What are the top qualities of the successful Scrum Masters?

Top qualities of the successful Scrum Masters

To be an effective Scrum Master, one has to be a Scrum enabler first. If you have had the chance to work with highly successful Scrum Masters, there a few patterns you must have observed. These are nothing but the key attributes seen in Scrum Masters of high-performing teams.

Scrum Masters with these top qualities are found to lead their teams to success-

1. Communication:

Effective communication is one of the top skills for any role. A Scrum Master, however, should be adept in two-way communication. (S)he should be a good speaker and listener. An efficient Scrum Master should be able to listen, comprehend, repeat, summarize, energize, observe, write, simplify, critique, suggest, assert, chat, and present with equal ease.

2. Responsibility and Ownership: 

Scrum Master is a representative of the Scrum team. As a Scrum Master, if you are capable of building and gaining trust among the team members, you should be able to represent them in their success or failure.

3. Acknowledgment and appreciation: 

Genuine leadership entails valuing your colleague's efforts and enabling them to advance their performance. This is one of the top qualities of a Scrum Master, who happens to be a servant leader as well.

4. Good leader, not a ruler 

A Scrum Master should not follow a command-and-control leadership. Instead, he should adhere to the principles of servant leadership, wherein decisions are made only after discussion with the team members instead of being directly imposed.

5. Multitasker: 

As a Scrum Master, you should be able to juggle parallel tasks and manage important scrum events within defined timeframes. Assuming an ideal Scrum team of 6-9 members, you are responsible for managing today’s tasks and planning for tomorrow’s tasks along with arranging the Scrum events for the team members to resolve their queries, planning for the next Sprint, and release. Multitasking, in fact, is one of the top qualities of a Scrum Master.

6. Resolve the obstacles and keep the team on track: 

The Scrum Master always focuses on keeping the team on track and resolving the obstacles that are blocking their way to deliver a quality product. These obstacles may include unwanted meetings, unwanted procedural complexity, work environment or any other challenge. He/She ensures that the team is away from the distractions that are hindering the project success.

7. Encourage collaboration: 

A Scrum Master has to look into the daily activities of the team members. Also, the Scrum Master can share his/her experiences through seminars. conferences, and meetings with the team members. A good Scrum Master should encourage collaboration with the help of planning sessions, daily stand-ups, sprint planning, and sprint review meeting sessions.  

8. Initiating latest technologies: 

A Scrum Master can use automated builds, simple designs, multi-level testing, automated development, and pair programming to reduce time and efforts while developing the project. He/she can also make use of the latest technologies and best practices that can help you in the early completion of the project.   

9. Good coach for the team: 

A successful Scrum Master should understand the different phases that his/her team is undergoing and the importance of team building. The Scrum Master coaches the team members by building self-organizing teams, tracking the project, implementing simple methodology rules, and by creating project vision. Other than being a coach to the team to explain Scrum processes clearly and enforcing the practice for Agile, the Scrum Master should have basic technical and project management knowledge.

10. Effective collaboration with the Product Owner: 

This is regarded as one of the key qualities of a Scrum Master. An effective Scrum Master should be able to collaborate with the Product Owner. While the role of a PO is to convey the user requirement to the Scrum team and push the team towards it, a Scrum Master facilitates a seamless execution of the processes. Together, the Scrum Master and Product Owner build a strong relationship with the team to provide the best results.

11. Empathy: 

A Scrum Master develops many skills while working with team members. He/She builds his/her skills to develop emotions and to learn what the team members feel. This way, (s)he builds a strong connection with the team and understands their problems while also suggesting effective solutions.  

12. A strong understanding of servant leadership and facilitation:

The role of the Scrum Master is not to assign the tasks to the team, it is all about supporting the team members in achieving the project goals. Servant leadership, which is one of the fundamental qualities of a Scrum Master plays a key role here. By serving and encouraging the team in every way possible, a good scrum master always helps the team members attain their full potential. Needless to say, this has a direct positive impact on the business value they create as a team.

13. A relentless approach to continuous delivery:

A successful Scrum Master always tries to improve the way a team works. The best way to do this is to arrange the retrospective, where each team member identifies what went well and what went wrong in the initial Sprint. The team members learn from the mistakes and this leads to continuous improvement.

14. A good relationship with the team:

A Scrum Master may act as a team leader, but he/she doesn’t have the authority of a true manager. Eventually, a Scrum Master has to be cordial with the team members, if he/she wants to influence specific actions.

15. Product, market, and domain knowledge:

A Scrum Master need not have end-to-end technical knowledge and domain skills. However, a fundamental understanding of the product, markets, and software development processes, makes it easier for them to address challenges in project delivery.

16. Encourage a self-organizing team:

A scrum master should know when to express his views and should mostly allow the team to be self-organizing. That said, he should be actively listening to the team members’ inputs and learning points and guide the team to perform better in subsequent sprints.


What are the essential skills of a Scrum Master?

Scrum Master Skills Needed

Though the Scrum Master role is complex and challenging, a diverse skill set allows them to become a great Scrum Master. Here are the Scrum Master competencies that help him/her succeed in the project:

1. Organizing the team

  • Knowing the rules of the Scrum
  • Communicating internally and externally
  • Reporting the status of the team members
  • Collecting the team members in the Sprint Planning
  • Guiding clearly
  • Resolving the impediments
  • Efficient facilitation
  • Implementing collaborative engagement tools and techniques

2. Improving the team

  • Forming a good team
  • Managing the technical debt
  • Improving team members’ activities by providing feedback and motivation
  • Implemented continuous validated learning
  • Responsible for making a change

3. Establishing a self-organising team

  • Displaying a servant leadership
  • Executing the Scrum values
  • Decide according to Agile methodology
  • Owing to the team members’ responsibilities
  • Involving every team member in planning

4. Planning big

  • Discussing with the team members
  • Finding and fixing the cross-team problems
  • Improving the cross-team technical practices

Roles and Responsibilities of a Scrum Master

Roles and Responsibilities of a Scrum Master

The Scrum Master’s role is pivotal to the success of a team. He/she is a process leader who helps the team understand Scrum values, principles, and practices. Some organizations practice rotation of Scrum Master roles among the team members; this is, once again, up to each Scrum Team.

However, the roles of the Scrum Master include:

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

With Scrum gaining widespread attention in just about every sector, top industry majors like Microsoft, Honeywell, Ericsson, Bank of America, Cox Automotive, KPMG, etc. are focusing on the integration of Scrum into their existing frameworks. This trend has prompted more industries to invest in Agile and Scrum training.  Let’s see some more benefits of having a certified Scrum Master on a project.

Why should you be interested in getting a Scrum Master Certification?

Scrum has become the finest choice of organizations to deliver more value to the customers. In State of Scrum 2018 survey, 85 percent of the respondents say Scrum continues to improve the quality of work life. At the same time, 81% of Scrum Masters who received certification agreed that it has significantly helped improve their practice.

Listed below are the reasons and benefits of having a Scrum Master certification (CSM).

1. In-depth knowledge of Scrum:

If you have not implemented Scrum before, earning the certification will help you to learn the Scrum skills effectively. With this certification, you can level-up your knowledge with the basics of Scrum and you will be able to:

  • Make customers happy and satisfied
  • Deliver better quality product in less time
  • Maintain team collaboration
  • Lesser defects
  • Flexible working strategy
  • Take a quick decision on an issue

2. A number of companies moving to Agile:

Nowadays, organizations are required to speed up their product development process to deliver fast according to the changing needs of the customers. This helps organizations to stay viable. Scrum produces in iterations and its self-organizing teams deliver products of maximum value. Due to this reason, a number of companies are shifting to Agile.      

3. New career opportunities on the go:

A CSM certification will bring more new career opportunities as more companies are migrating to the Agile approach and they need a professional who will guide a team to follow the Scrum approach. Being a certified Scrum Master, your chances of getting hired by the top employers with fair salary are more.    

4. Increases collaboration:

When it comes to working on a complex project, it needs collaboration among the team members. As a certified professional on a team, you can build and reinforce the basic understanding of Scrum to produce a value.  

5. Switch to the Agile mindset:

You need to develop an Agile mindset if you have to work with Agile methodologies. As a certified person on a team, you need to start thinking in an Agile way that will avoid differences in opinions and lead to successful projects with better team collaboration.    

7. Organizations yield more:

It is tough for any organization to accept new processes easily as it affects the complete structure of the organization. It affects processes, management, people, and clients. In this regard, you need a knowledgeable person in your team who will make the adoption a smooth process. Being a certified Scrum Master, you will be facilitating the tasks for the team members.  

8. Enter the Scrum experts community:

After taking a Certified ScrumMaster certification, an individual will get a chance to be a part of the Scrum experts community of Scrum Alliance. This community offers knowledge in a way to stay updated, find the events, and provide instructions to the certified members.



Scrum Master vs. Project Manager

Once we enter the industries, we often come across the term Project Manager along with the Scrum Master. These two roles are distinct from each other though they contribute to the projects. This creates confusion between the Scrum Master and Project Manager roles when an organization is undergoing an Agile transformation.

A Scrum Master works on the Agile project associated with Scrum project management principles whereas a Project Manager’s work is based on the traditional disciplined project management principles. Let’s see the differences between a Scrum Master and Project Manager. Also, if you are serving as a Project Manager and willing to become a Scrum Master or vice versa, this information will help you to take a stand on this. Before going further, let's see the roles of the Scrum Master and Project Manager in brief.

1. Scrum Master duties:

Scrum Master responsibilities to the Product Owner (PO)-

  • Helps the PO in managing the product backlog
  • Helps the PO to convey the product requirement clearly to the team members  
  • Facilitate Scrum events to the PO

Scrum Master responsibilities towards the development team-

  • Guiding and coaching the teams to follow Scrum rules
  • Removes roadblocks that are inhibiting the project’s progress
  • Helps to maintain team dynamics and high-value result
  • Facilitate the Scrum events and arrange Scrum meetings
  • Directing the team in Scrum implementation
  • Mentor the team members who are new to Scrum adoption

2. Project Manager roles:

The Project Manager is responsible for:

  • Delivering the product according to the project’s requirements
  • Defining the project scope and planning the project activities accordingly
  • Ensuring that the responsibilities assigned to team members are according to their skills and expertise
  • Reporting the progress of the project to the stakeholders
  • Tracking the project performance against the timelines and ensuring an effective project quality
  • Making sure that the project documentation is proper
  • Planning the tasks for the team members and ensuring that the team understands their roles in the project
  • Preparing a project budget and getting it approved from the senior management
  • Managing the Stakeholders
  • Monitoring and controlling the risks in the project
  • Delivering the project on time with the project constraints like scope, the budget, time, and efficient resources

Let’s figure out the major differences between a Scrum Master and Project Manager

Scrum MasterAttributesProject Manager
Makes sure that the team members are well trained to follow Agile practices appropriately. Also, SM coaches the Scrum teams and mentions the timeline to finish the projectGoalsHas defined goals like-
Completing the project on time, planned a budget, and scope

SM assures the quality and knows the importance of quality.Quality AssurancePM also knows the importance of quality, but doesn’t know how to achieve it. A consultant is usually hired to fix the errors
Scrum Master always tries to keep things smaller. They like to work in small teams irrespective of budget.Team SizeProject Managers like to make things large. PM works with more people and a huge budget. In this way, they improve to Program Manager
The average salary of a Certified ScrumMaster® is $116,659 per year.Average SalaryThe average salary of a Project Manager is $75,474 per year
  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM)®
  • Advanced-Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM)®
  • Certified Scrum Professional- Scrum Master (CSP-SM)®
  • Professional Scrum Master (PSM I, PSM II, PSM III)
  • Agile Scrum Master (ASM)
  • Scrum Master Certified (SMC)
  • SAFe® Scrum Master (SSM)
  • SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master (SASM)
Certifications
  • Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)®
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®
  • Certified Project Manager (IAPM)
  • CompTIA Project+

  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM)- Scrum Alliance
  • Advanced-Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM)- Scrum Alliance
  • Certified Scrum Professional- Scrum Master (CSP-SM)- Scrum Alliance
  • Professional Scrum Master (PSM I, PSM II, PSM III)- Scrum.org
  • Agile Scrum Master (ASM)- EXIN
  • Scrum Master Certified (SMC)- SCRUMstudy
  • SAFe® Scrum Master (SSM)- Scaled Agile Inc (SAI)
  • SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master (SASM)- Scaled Agile Inc (SAI)
Accreditation bodies
  • Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®- PMI
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)®- PMI
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®- PMI
  • Certified Project Manager (IAPM)- International Association of Project Managers
  • CompTIA Project+- CompTIA

Efficient Scrum Master = Great Organization

The role of a Scrum Master may vary from one project to another or one organization to another but the importance of Scrum Master in a team will always be the same. The role of the Scrum Master in general is very challenging. It goes without saying that hiring a Scrum Master is the wisest decision for an organization undergoing a real transition to Agile!

Know more about what is a Scrum Master.

KnowledgeHut

KnowledgeHut

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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

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1 comments

Goutham Naidu 24 Jun 2019

In this article, I really liked the qualities and roles and responsibilities of the Scrum Masters, it was genuine information so I suggest everyone to read knowledgeHut blogs.

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Why and How to Pass the PSPO?

The role of the Product Owner is in high demand in the current market. It has consistently appeared among LinkedIN's most promising jobs. Agile and Scrum methodologies have overtaken the traditional methods of building software and managing projects, as they have been consistently proven to give better results than traditional project management methods. Most organizations who are transitioning to Agile are actively looking at recruiting Product Owners who can understand what the customer needs, can visualize the product, and most importantly can act as a bridge between the business and the development team.To be an effective Product Owner, the most critical skills are the capability of driving product value and knowledge of Agile and Scrum practices to increase the product value.  Certifications that reflect your skill and ability to be an effective Product Owner go a long way in helping you land lucrative Product Owner job roles.  In this article, you will learn about PSPO, among the most sought-after Product Owner certifications around the world.  PSPO stands for Professional Scrum Product Owner and this certification is offered by Scrum.org.  Before jumping into the details, let’s get to know about the accreditation body, that is Scrum.org, that offers the PSPO certification. Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum, who founded Scrum.org in 2009 as a global organization, has been dedicating himself to improving best practices in the world of Scrum. Unlike other training and certification organizations, Scrum.org is focused on improving professionalism in complex product delivery and that drives everything they do. For getting the Professional Scrum Product Owner certification, you would be required to demonstrate your familiarity, understanding and capability to apply Scrum fundamentals in the real world. All training materials are collaboratively maintained and improved by the community of Scrum experts and the founder Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum.Prove your Product Owner KnowledgePSPO is offered in 3 levels—I, II, and III. Before signing up for the training and certification for any of the three levels, Scrum.org gives you a chance to assess your readiness, and prove your knowledge, understanding and ability to apply Scrum in the real-world. This can be done with the free assessment offered by Scrum.org.  The assessments are available to anyone who wishes to validate their knowledge of the Scrum framework and ability to support value creation and delivery. Scrum.org has decoupled the certification assessments from the training. Although each Scrum.org training class includes a free attempt at a Scrum.org assessment, you would still need to prove your knowledge by passing the assessment test with a score of 85% or better to receive the associated Professional certification. Those who pass the assessment receive the industry recognized PSPO I, II and III Certification to demonstrate their mastery of the content. However, Scrum.org highly recommends that you should take a Professional Scrum Product Owner course. This is not mandatory, and participants can attempt any of the three certifications after self-study also.Prepare for the assessmentTo prepare for the certification assessment, you should be thorough with the multiple focus areas as defined by the Professional Scrum Competencies.Here are the Professional Scrum competencies and the key terms that you should learn:Understanding and Applying the Scrum FrameworkDeveloping People and TeamsManaging Products with AgilityDeveloping & Delivering Products ProfessionallyEvolving the Agile OrganizationEmpiricismScrum ValuesScrum TeamEventsArtifacts\DoneScalingSelf-Managing TeamsFacilitationLeadership StylesCoaching & MentoringTeachingForecasting & Release PlanningProduct VisionProduct ValueProduct Backlog ManagementBusiness StrategyStakeholders & CustomersEmergent Software DevelopmentManaging Technical RiskContinuous QualityContinuous IntegrationContinuous DeliveryOptimizing FlowOrganizational Design & CulturePortfolio PlanningEvidence Based ManagementDetails To navigate through the preparation, you should: Be very familiar with the Scrum Guide. Read it at least 4-5 times Understand the Product owner Learning path As the Product Owners work closely with Scrum masters, hence it is required for Product owners to understand the Scrum Master Learning Path Go through various blogs available here Read and understand at least 4-5 times:  Scrum Glossary Evidence Based Management Guide Evidence Based Management Nexus Guide is also a valuable resource You can take Open assessments as many times you wish. Find out why you got an answer wrong and read up on the answers in the Scrum Guide. My advice would be that you should not attempt the real assessment unless you have scored 100% at least three times in a row in the open assessments.CertificationLet’s understand the various levels of the PSPO certification. There are 3 levels:Details are available at.For this certification, there are steps and preparation that you should follow and this article will take you through all you need to be a PSPO.Exam Fee, Passing Score, Time limit, Number of Questions, Exam Format, Difficulty and LanguageExam FeePassing ScoreTime limit# of QuestionsExam formatDifficultyLanguagePSPO I Assessment$20085%1 hour80Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer and True/FalseIntermediateEnglishPSPO II Assessment$25085%1 hour40Multiple Choice, Multiple AnswerAdvancedEnglishPSPO III Assessment$50085%2 hours35Multiple Choice and essayExpertEnglishOnce you pay the exam fee for the respective assessment, you would receive the password for attempting the assessment in 1 business day. Assessment passwords do not expire and remain valid until used.  PSPO Subject Areas To clear PSPO certification, you should have thorough understanding of the Subject areas. The Subject areas for PSPO are: Agile Product Management: The role of a Product Owner in Agile Product Management is to maximize the value of the product developed by the implementation team. From the certification point of view, you should understand the importance of the role of Product owner, which is an internal facing role and requires gathering technical requirements, grooming the product backlog, and detailing user stories. Additionally, while reading you should keep focussing on how a product owner envisions a product’s life in an agile environment. You should also learn the techniques of building a Business Model Canvas, writing a business case and creating the value proposition. Eventually, that will help you in defining the customer segments, value proposition, and major activities that you should perform during the agile product lifecycle. You should also understand the core responsibilities carried out by the Product Owner in the Agile product management as part of Product Strategy-understanding the customer needs, creating the product roadmap, prioritizing the features, understanding customer experiences and measuring the product success.Value Driven Development The primary motto of Agile is to satisfy the customer needs through early and continuous delivery of software. The Product Owner should focus on delivering the maximum value at the earliest in Value driven development. You should have sound understanding about user stories and should follow the INVEST rule, that is user stories should be: I - Independent N - Negotiable V - Valuable E -Estimable S - Small T - Testable Each of the user stories should have a clear story point. You should also have an understanding of the business value so that Return of Investment can be calculated. The KPI i.e., Return of Investment helps the Product Owner to perform prioritization in the Value Driven Development.Scrum Theory and Empiricism The Scrum Values are the foundation for behaviour and practices in Scrum. They are closely related to the theory and first principles of Scrum and support teams in their work.  The Scrum Team can always fall back on these essentials.  The Product Owner should demonstrate following 5 attributes: Courage: Product Owner should help in encouraging the scrum team members to do the right thing and work on tough problems. Focus: Product Owner should ensure that scrum members focus on the work of the Sprint and goals of the Scrum team. Commitment: Product Owner should create the environment where Scrum team members should personally commit to achieve the goals of the Scrum team. Respect: Team members in the Scrum team should respect each other. Openness: Team members in the Scrum team and the stakeholders should be open about the work and associated challenges.Scrum Framework As a Product Owner, you should have a great understanding of the Scrum framework and the constituting team members--Developers and Scrum Master.  You should also understand about the artifacts used in the Scrum framework such as Product Backlog, Sprint backlog and Increments. Various events take place in Scrum like Sprint, Sprint planning, Daily scrum, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective meetings. An understanding of the entire framework is highly recommended for the prospective Product Owners and for this certification.Product Backlog Management You should have a decent understanding about product backlog management. While you prepare the backlog, you should keep the following in mind: Your backlog should be the single source for delivery of valuable items It should possess transparency to the scrum team and stakeholders It should follow the prioritization and should be ordered based on the value, dependencies, and risk You should always keep an eye on the estimates for the product backlog items Your product backlog should be a point for starting conversations with the team members Ensure that the items in your product backlog contain specifications, mock-ups, architecture models, user acceptance criteria etc Release Management Product Owners can follow different release strategies. The releases can be Major, Minor or functional releases.  A major release can contain many large changes. They should be infrequent as they are often aligned with the organization timelines. While a major release is in progress, other works should be frozen, as a major release incurs high customer absorption costs and high business risks. A minor release can contain broad changes. They should be pre-scheduled as they often align with the sprint boundaries. Minor release should contain bug fixes and patches. A functional release can contain individual functionalities. Functional releases offer immediate value to the stakeholders. They incur low customer absorption costs and have minimal or no business risks.Required Course There are various courses available online for undertaking product owner certifications. You should pick the course based on your needs and the level of expertise you expect to achieve.  Recommended Course: PSPO PSPO (Professional Scrum Product Owner) from Scrum.org is one of the recommended certification courses for Product Owners because it gives following benefits: PSPO assessment from Scrum.org requires you to have a good knowledge of Scrum and the passing score is high i.e., 85%, ensuring that your level of understanding is sound  It is not required to renew the certification once you have passed it, as it has a lifetime validity Once you have cleared the certification, your name would be added to the Scrum.org website and anyone can verify your credentialsWays to learn more to help you prepare Here are the tips that you can follow to clear the PSPO certification: 1. Ensure that you give equal importance to all the subject areas as questions would arise from all of them. However, the weightage varies roughly as below. Please note these are based on the inputs taken from various PSPO takers: Agile Product Management: 20% Value Driven Development: 20% Scrum Theory and Empiricism: 15% Scrum Framework: 15% Product Backlog Management: 15% Release Management: 10% Miscellaneous from Open Assessment in Scrum.org: 5% 2. Make sure you are alert and focused when you are taking the exam. Take the exam according to your convenience, at a time that suits you.  When you are taking the exam, move to a silent place so that you are uninterrupted. 3. Read the questions carefully and then answer. They may trick you by asking questions which contain ‘never’, ‘always’, ‘not’ or ‘which of the following cannot be available’ option. So, pay extra attention to the keywords in the questions. 4. There are multiple choice questions as well in the exam, make sure you have read all of the options and then answer. 5. Be very attentive about the questions related to specific subject areas. Conclusion   PSPO is among the more difficult certification exams for Product Owners. Ensure that you have given yourself sufficient time to prepare, around 4-6 weeks.  Remember, that PSPO is a very valuable certification in the Product Owner profession and as of January 2021, there are only 97,208 PSPO 1, 1906 PSPO II and 347 PSPO III certified holders around the globe. This certification can be a great way for you to be noticed by potential recruiters. Also, this is a great way to validate your skills and knowledge of Product Owner responsibilities and demonstrate your expertise to your employer.
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Why and How to Pass the PSPO?

The role of the Product Owner is in high demand ... Read More

What is an "integrated product team" ?

Product and process technology is quickly evolving, and competition with opponents is becoming tougher across the globe. Customers are emphasizing enhanced features and authenticity, but reduced defense spending requires stress on excellence and affordability. These changing and challenging circumstances require the implementation of integrated product development concepts to lessen development cycle time and strengthen product quality when delivered to the customer.Integrated Product Development (IPD) focuses on the integrated design of products and production and support processes. The design of the product and the process must be combined to ensure the optimal approach to manufacture and support the product. WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PRODUCT TEAM? The role of the Product team is to execute business strategy while also playing the purpose of market advocate. They confirm that ideas implemented are in association with the overall corporate strategy. Product team leads the company to deliver competitive products that are in line with market needs and help the company reach business goals.The following points characterize a good product team.The product team has a clear understanding of customers’ challenges and goals. As a team they share a strong purpose and vision and work tirelessly to solve the problem they are facing. The product team lists assumptions for each product or list feature idea and convert these to testable theories. They spend A LOT of time on researching and testing. The product team builds their roadmaps around hurdles that they would like to solve for the customers. The product team involves the whole team in resolving customer challenges. The entire team is employed in designing, prototyping and testing a solution. After the product teams delivers a new feature, they measure the success of it based on the insights of the initial customer discovery. Customer feedback and insights enable the team to learn tirelessly and they try out new approaches for solving their customers’ problems. They have an overall idea of the existing solutions that customers have. They assume what customers struggle with, and what the potentials for improvements could be. The product team is conscious that what is accomplished today might not be the best solution tomorrow. They continuously seek feedback from users, customers, and leads, and are conscious of where the market is moving. They update the customer pain points, personas, customer goals, and product expectations. The product team doesn’t work in isolation. They collude closely with sales, marketing, and support teams. They impart a lean approach for learning and responding to customer behavior all across an organization. The product team will understand the latest technology first and will adopt it only after experimenting with it and ensuring to achieve the solution that fits users' actual usage and expectations. They will contribute to building conceptual MVPs and testing product ideas, rather than wasting valuable time on perfecting technology before placing it in front of users. WHAT ARE INTEGRATED PRODUCT TEAMS?An integrated product team (IPT) is a multidisciplinary combination of people who are collectively accountable for delivering a designated product or process. The emphasis of the IPT is on the relationship of all stakeholders in a collaborative forum. IPTs were introduced to the U.S. in 1995 as part of the major acquisition reforms to the way goods and services were acquired. IPTs are used in complex development programs/projects for inspection and decision making. The emphasis of the IPT is on the involvement of all stakeholders in a collaborative forum. There are three types of IPTs that every procurement program will implement: Overarching IPTs: Concentrate on imperative guidance, program evaluation, and issue resolution Working-level IPTs: Recognize and resolve program issues, discover program situation, and examine opportunities for procurement reform Program-level IPTs: Focus on program accomplishment and may include representatives from both government and industry after contract award. Integrated Product and Process Development is the management method that simultaneously integrates all necessary procurement activities through the use of IPT to optimize design, manufacturing, and supportability methods. The remarkable success of the integrated product and process development (IPPD) at companies such as Boeing, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard has prompted many manufacturers to focus renewed importance on this critical aspect of concurrent engineering. Below are the principles of integrated product development Good consumer relationships, frequent interactions, and feedback practices lead to more solid understanding of customer’s/user’s needs. Customer association enhances the possibility of the product meeting the needs and being successful in the market. Integrate product development, R&D with the business strategy and business plans. Defines the influence on time-to-market, product development and competitive advantage. Quick implementation of Marketing/ program management, manufacturing, material, test, quality, and product support employees in product improvements reduces design renewals, repetition, and production obstacles. Authorized, self-directed teams have more refined control and are dedicated to development goals.   The manufacturing and product support methods should be integrated with the design of products in order to optimize the performance and have a seamless product life cycle process implemented.   Development team members should be associated with the plans and proposals for new products or programs to obtain their input and engagement. Manage non-recurring development expenses by effective planning; incremental, low-risk development; and by maintaining project scope.   Utilize the expertise of the specialists/ experts during product development and optimize product designs. Control schedule balance and welcome improvements/ suggestions by suppliers/experts to generate more reliable products at lower costs.   Quality Design, engineering, architecture, and reliable procedures give an efficient way to recognize the role and interaction of products. Implement lessons learned to avoid repeating past mistakes and conduct surveys to ensure all design problems and risks have been properly addressed.   Integration of CAM mechanisms helps to have design/definition with fewer errors, higher accuracy, and a drop-in lead time to production. Software re-usability with object-oriented design brings a high level of productivity to the software.    Modeling, interpretation, and simulation tools help to develop and refine both product and process design inexpensively. They also help to develop the design and decrease the number of time-consuming iterations for mock-ups and developmental prototypes.   Re-engineering the product design process, decreasing the activities which don't provide value, continuous integration of technical tools, design activities, and recommended methodologies will improve the process design. WHEN ARE INTEGRATED PRODUCT TEAMS CRUCIAL? IPTs organize development group to enable Concurrent Engineering, Integrated Product Development, or Lean Product Development. They are used for the purpose of developing and delivering a product or service to their customer(s). While collaboration and transparency across developments are important for the success of every project, it’s certainly dangerous for complex projects with a significant downstream impact. A quick research of IPTs will reveal that they are crucial as they are associated with defense projects. HOW TO FORM AN INTEGRATED PRODUCT TEAM Creating an IPT takes more than the individuals involved - it requires a well-thought-out framework.Use the following framework to start organizing your integrated product team:Plan DevelopmentCustomer focus decides the needs of customers, products that meet needs, and current capabilities. Perform a gap analysis on these factors. The organization must cater to the product in IPD, not the other way around. Set up a team and determine required resources like hardware, software, space, and outside contractors. Communication and TrainingTrain the team when required. Appoint a team leader who can manage individual team members on the IPD philosophy. Don’t scrimp on investment in training, and use it as an opportunity to cross-pollinate teams who earlier rarely interacted, like business strategy members and software developers.  Improvement of Development ProcessSuccessful product development begins with a tested, clear, and well-executed process. The plan should then follow a logical and disciplined sequence of development phases. Product Development helps to perfect the end-to-end process and this enables a development team to turn great ideas into highly successful products. Team Relationships and ResponsibilitiesTeam relationships unite design and engineering teams to create a friendly work relationship that transposes to intuitive products. Designers and engineers collaborate to support each other’s phases. This helps teams to create innovative and intuitive products.  Create MetricsDefine success and present metrics to different teams for significant comparison. Engineers handling timely delivery, responsiveness, etc are good common measures. Processes, Activities, and DecisionsIPTs must continuously develop. Divide the task to departmental leaders and team members for recording activity and decisions implemented.WHY INTEGRATED PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT FAILS TO TAKE HOLDThere are times when organizations fail to launch integrated product teams or they never do so, and there could be many reasons for this. Even with the most suitable management and employees, an integrated product team might be difficult, if not impossible, to be launched.  Here are some factors to be avoided:Overestimation The ideas or concepts may not too hard to understand, but embedding them in the right position requires knowledge of project management and coordination at all levels affiliated with IPD. If the management observes the IPD concept and rearranges the organizational chart without embracing the spirit of the methodology, it will never gain a foothold. A skilled approach and team of consultants might be essential to improve, set up, and mentor everyone in the team.  PrioritizationSetting up preferences is a talent expected from the experts working in the team and the results anticipated may not appear overnight. There may be too many cogs to get the engine active right away. If stakeholders notice a fad project management method and observe that results will not materialize easily, the integrated product team would fail. The required commitment of the team is the key to the success of any project.  Culture of OrganizationEvery organization’s culture is not set to seamlessly work with IPD principles. A developer workroom may follow Scrum, and a product design agency may acknowledge multi-org coordination. If an organization is resistant to changes, it might not be able to manage IPD.   Clarity of RolesIf there is no concrete direction as to who is accountable for what on a developer team, and who reports to whom, the project would be uncontrollable.  No Follow UpA vital part of the process is following-up and obtaining the progress reports from the team at regular intervals. If the management isn’t monitoring the process; the team might lose their motivation to work with full zeal.  Meager InvestmentA meager amount of money and no time to train the IPD practitioners results in negative improvement of the IPD team and they are bound to fail. A long-term investment would boost returns only when it is managed accurately. We attain proficiency not only in mitigating our errors at each iteration but also in enhancing working relationships among team members.  Team CoordinationThe team members must accept their responsibilities. IPD requires a higher-level of coordination on the part of employees. If team members neglect their roles, the project will collapse for e.g. interacting with vendors has been the purview of account managers, and planning out schedules was the precinct of project managers.  DisincentivesIt is essential to analyze, review and realign policies and incentive structures properly, else team members would not cooperate with other team members and this may delay delivery.KEY FACTORS TO MAKE IPD ADOPTION SUCCESSFUL Below are the key factors which, when followed efficiently, would make IPD adoption successful. All stakeholders and management should be aligned to a single objective. The owner should marshal the resources required for the project, else it can negatively impact their project by not providing the needed leadership.  Adopting a scientific strategy and its implementation depends on building the plan, implementation of the plan, and constant review of the implemented plan. Sharing the risk of scope and budget between parties helps in establishing the fine line required for the best project economization. Implementation of modern methods and technology within the organization framework helps in achieving the end results at high standards. Skilled manpower is another essential key factor and organizations should make investments in human capital. The customer is the central focus point of IPD. Constant feedback from the customer is essential for IPD to be a success. IPD is a suitable design approach that, when successfully implemented, can address all the concerns of modern organizations in the globalized world. PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOLS AND INTEGRATED PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT A product development roadmap template can help to sketch out the high-level concept of your product. However, there is a different way to enhance the process: using the right software tools.  Below are the benefits accrued when using the right product management software: Manage your resources more effectively Set a more realistic product development schedule Find the charts that work for you Use real-time reports for deeper insights Centralize communication and your product visionADVANTAGES OF INTEGRATED PRODUCT DEVELOPMENTWhat makes IPD so beneficial? Following are the advantages they yield for new product development.  Modernization and TechnologyProject innovations in development and manufacturing are needed to beat competitors in the market. Long-play investments in R&D for your current project may pay off in the future because the IPD formed will be working efficiently. Depreciates CostsIPD’s principle of continuous process improvement, MVP, and reducing redundancy and rework means that costs will decrease.  Overwhelms Risk of Product FailureReinforcing regular communication will result in mitigating design flaws or manufacturing errors. By including stakeholders early on and at all stages of the conversation, issues that could arise in the future can be predicted earlier.  If the team is working together well and sharing notes, product failure is unlikely to happen. Quality and InnovationProduct failure is reduced when the strongest minds of each discipline come together and collaborate, rather than non-practitioners delivering direction or partially-committed vendors just phoning in a one-time job.  Stakeholder ParticipationIPD’s true advantage is that it encourages participation from all stakeholder organizations. Customer perspectives are brought from research, and intellectual consent from all stakeholders is the only way forward. CONCLUSIONIntegrated product development theories are not exceptional and new in product development organizations and many of these methods have been used in the past. But as the size and complexity of companies increased, the industry lost many of these practices. The concepts of IPD are simple, but the implementation of these practices and the process of changing a company’s culture is challenging. Success can be achieved with a well-planned and managed effort. Management must understand not only the concepts of IPD but the process of managing change within the organization.  The purpose of IPD is to decrease later stage design changes, decrease project risks, and keep costs low. A company can accomplish the benefits of full life cycle design alongside the efficiency of multi-disciplinary teams by efficiently executing integrated product development processes. 
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What is an "integrated product team" ?

Product and process technology is quickly evolving... Read More

What is Value Stream Mapping and How Does it Help?

Todays’ corporate biosphere isn’t static, it is continuously evolving. In the race for being the best vendors to their clients, organizations are trying new ways (though old) to stay ahead. With Agile and Lean paving the way, the Value Stream is a powerful tool that can help teams in numerous ways. In this article we attempt to help you understand about value stream, its definition, benefits and how you can apply it in your work area.What is a value stream?A value stream is a set of events/actions needed to create a flow of value that can be realized by the customer and contains both value-added and non-value added activities. It contains all the steps from the start (of value creation) to the end (delivery to the client), where ‘Value’ is defined as the tangible or non-tangible benefit that the customer receives for return on investment.As per Scaled Agile Framework, “Value Streams represent the series of steps that an organization uses to implement Solutions that provide a continuous flow of value to a customer.”History of value stream mappingIt is difficult to trace down the history of value stream mapping and to know when it was invented but there's a reference of value stream mapping in several processes of Toyota. The book ‘Learning To See’, co-authored by John Shook and Mike Rother and published by the Lean Enterprise Institute, too talked about the material and information flow extensively reachable and relevant outside of Toyota. Though Toyota never used the term ‘Value Stream’, they did invest a lot in creating flow across processes.Over the last two decades, value stream mapping has evolved and refined its ways through the IT industry. The first introduction to the term “value stream” was done by the authors - James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos, in the book “The Machine That Changed the World”. In the present world, value stream mapping is linked with both Lean and Six Sigma methodologies as they highlight the removal of waste.What is the purpose of value streams?Value Stream helps in identifying each component in the flow by defining a visual that can represent the ‘Start – To – End’ pipeline delivering value to the customer. It helps to define the flow and its counterflow ensuring a complete safety net in deliverables. Value Streams are composed of stages where each stage has a set defined ‘value’ as a deliverable that gets accrued at the end. It is a great method to focus on the benefits that can be attained through efficient effort consumption. Value stream provides a great way of defining the ‘what’ and ‘how’ in delivering solutions to the end customers.Types of Value StreamsWhile defining a value stream, it is important to understand the ‘value’ that is to be delivered. With a clear understanding of the deliverable, it gets easy to define a value stream around it. There is no set standard to create a value stream and it is unique to each organization.There are two types of Value streams:Operational Value Stream - It consists of a series of steps used to deliver products and services to a client. It delivers end-client value or solutions created by the development value streams.Development Value Streams – It consists of steps or phases to build and deliver a solution to the Operational Value Stream and ensure its smooth execution.Value Stream KPIsValue Stream KPIs(Key Performance Indicators) are the measurable actions to assess the performance of a value stream. It helps to check if the Value stream is working in the way it was projected. The KPIs differ for each value stream and serve the individual purpose for every stream. The KPIs form different parameters depending upon the type of value being delivered. Each Value stream defines its own set of KPIs to evaluate the constant venture.How to identify a value streamWith smaller organizations, it is easy to define the value streams as the complexity is quite low as compared to large setups. While defining value streams for larger organizations, everyone involved must understand the ‘why’ or ‘the customer’s need’. Identifying a Value Stream requires an understanding of the flow and how to optimize it for consistent better delivery. As per the scaled agile framework, there are certain steps to identify a value stream:Identify the Operational Value Streams – In a large setup, identifying the Operational Value Stream is not an easy task. It involves an understanding of the business goals and an ability to visualize the value flow to the customer.Identify the Solutions the operational value streams use to provide to customers – With the identification of Operational Value Stream steps, the next action is to identify the solution that can be developed to support the stream and the customer.Identify the people who develop and support the solutions – At this step, the people needed in the stream are identified who will build the solution. The estimate is provided in terms of numbers and the location depending on the value stream type.Identify the Development Value Streams that build the solutions – This step is about identifying the development stream activities and the people involved in creating the solution.Add the people needed to build the full business solutionRealize development value streams into ARTs – The last step is to define the ARTs. There can be multiple smaller value streams running in a single Agile Release Train(ART).What is value stream mapping?A Value Stream Map is an easy yet powerful visual tool that assists in visualizing the flow. It allows generating a comprehensive visualization of all end-to-end steps in the process. A value stream map shows all the significant phases required to deliver value from raw to finished goods. It is a Lean tool that uses flowcharts with boxes, arrows, and process flows to represent the system. It not only provides a real-time update on the flow but also helps in removing the waste and optimizing the flow.How does value stream mapping help?For decades, Value Stream Mapping has been supporting industries to realize ‘value’ both ways. Let’s look at some of the points that make it a ‘go-getter’:Detect waste - Value-stream mapping intends to identify and eliminate "waste" which in turn grows the efficacy. There can be multiple types of wastes in the system such as Overproduction, Waiting, Transportation, excess stock, etc.Identify bottlenecks – One of the very obvious benefits of Value Stream Mapping is the identification of bottlenecks. With Visual flow, one can easily check for the blockages in the system. It helps the whole organization to realize where the bottlenecks are and their impact on the value being delivered to customers.Make processes efficient – Yet again, with visual help, one can know the current state just by looking at it. With reduced waste and bottlenecks, the organizations can perform better.Improve cross-functional collaboration – With both Operational and Development teams working closely, it enhances the overall high-level collaboration. But at the team level, value streams help in building a cross–functional collaborative environment which sets the tone for enterprise agility.Improve end-product qualityHow to map your first value stream of software development?Creating your very own first value stream can be an exciting task that requires understanding on the value, the need, and the result. Every organization or individual has their way of doing it. Here, I will just lay out a basic format that can help with initial value stream creation: Creating a Value Stream can be a simple task that includes:Identification of all the end-to-end steps in the entire process. Make sure that you cover all the activities and keep it simple. You can begin with scribbling whatever comes to your mind in regard to the process and can rearrange and refine. Data is the Key – Try to Gather data around each step, note the usual time it takes to complete a piece and the typical wait time between each step. Follow by a minimal flow chart that represents the “value add” times for each step and the “wait times” between each step.  Lastly, and most importantly, look for the major holdups in the flow and establish the reason for the delay. Once you have an understanding of the data, delays, and bottlenecks, etc. start creating a plan to decrease the wait.    Act on the plan you just created!Measuring the ResultsWith all the processes and mapping in place, it is all the more important to measure the ROI. Metrics help in continuous improvement. Like for others, Value Stream Mapping(VSM) also has a set of metrics that can be used to identify bottlenecks and waste in the system. Let us look at some of them:Process Time – Total time required by a single step within a process. In simple words, the time it takes to finish a single unit of work.Lead Time  – The elapsed time between the task creation and work completionCycle Time – The elapsed time between the moment the team starts its work till the completion. Work-in-Process  – Limiting the maximum amount of work that can be done in each status of a workflow. Flow Load – Total Number of work items with the state as active or waitingConclusionIn this article, we talked about value streams being the set of activities one needs to perform to deliver value to a customer. To sum up, value stream maps are an easy and efficient way to identify bottlenecks in any process flow. Being visual, they make it easy for everyone to understand and agree on the remediations. It is a significant tool for achieving continuous improvement with collaboration. 
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What is Value Stream Mapping and How Does it Help?

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