If you're a seasoned coder, you're most likely ready to make the jump to project management. This means getting some training and certifications under your belt. But before you do, it's important to determine your framework and method of concentration. One that's worth checking out is Scrum, one of the more popular implementations of the Agile framework.
Whether the project is large or small, Scrum is a great way to achieve not only a better workflow but also better products. Perhaps one of the important things to note early on is that the Scrum methodology isn’t unique to software development. Like other Agile methodologies, Scrum applies to almost any industry.
The simplest way to explain the product backlog is to see it as a project's ultimate to-do list. It contains the preliminary, known, and priority requirements for the product's development. These include the necessary changes to features and infrastructure, bug fixes, and other product initiatives.
It's important to note that the product backlog is not written in stone. Changes in the listed items, also called user stories, are inevitable, whether these come from the client or are determined by the team. Either way, these changes generally have one goal: to create a product that will surpass the competition.
The Scrum development cycle is divided into "sprints." A sprint is a time-boxed iteration of one month or less, during which the team completes specific tasks. These tasks, which are selected from the product backlog, make up the sprint backlog.
Increments are more commonly referred to as "Done" tasks. And that pretty much sums up what these are. An increment is the sum of the completed tasks from the sprint backlog during a particular sprint. This means that whatever has been completed after a certain sprint is the increment. The product grows in functionality as the project moves from sprint to sprint.
The product owner answers the 'what' of the project. What are the general expectations for the project? What features or changes should be included? Which should be prioritized?
You might notice that all this is actually what's listed in the product backlog. And that's because that's the main turf of the product owner. They are responsible for evaluating the items in the product backlog. It is their role to answer questions like, What value do these items bring to the product? Which items are redundant or unnecessary? What's the best way to execute each item?
All of these are evaluated before the entire project starts and iteratively from one sprint to another. Note that the product owner is not the client. Rather, the product owner is the voice of the client, closely collaborating with the latter to gather demands, feedback, and goals.
The development team is a self-organizing and cross-functional group that does the nuts and bolts of product development. The team accomplishes the tasks set forth by the product owner to create a product increment.
A development team comprises three to nine people with each member wearing a different hat. Their roles range from software engineer, analyst, or programmer to designer or tester. Unlike other teams, it's possible not to have a leader in the development team. This is because most of the work requires a high degree of autonomy and all decisions are made collectively.
Contrary to what it sounds like, the ScrumMaster is not the "leader" of the entire operation. It's the opposite. The ScrumMaster serves the entire team by ensuring that the development process moves forward as seamlessly as possible.
The ScrumMaster ensures that the development team has a sound understanding of the project, as presented by the product owner. They also guide the development team to reach maximum productivity as quickly and efficiently as possible.
It's because of this that the ScrumMaster is regarded as the "protector" of the Scrum team. They watch on the sidelines and assists whenever necessary.
This ceremony sets the tone for an upcoming sprint. In this stage, the entire team meets to flesh out the listed items in the product backlog. By the end of the meeting, the team produces a sprint forecast. This contains the sprint backlog or the items that can be completed within the coming sprint. Included in the forecast are the time estimates for the completion of each item.
Sprint planning may last two to eight hours depending on the length of the sprint. For instance, a one-week sprint usually entails a two-hour sprint planning. A one-month sprint, in contrast, will need at most eight hours of planning.
The daily scrum is a 15-minute stand-up meeting conducted to know the progress of the development team. Its main purpose is to promote transparency by requiring each member to inform others of their progress.
The following questions are answered: What did you accomplish yesterday? What's on your agenda today? What, if any, is impeding you from completing your tasks? Answering these questions every day is a way to encourage the team to complete tasks as thoroughly yet quickly as possible.
The sprint review occurs every time a sprint backlog is completed. During this time, all the project stakeholders participate, including the client and other departments, for a demo of the working software. Each member presents his/her contributions, giving room for recognition, feedback, and notes for improvement.
The sprint review determines whether a completed functionality can be released or modified during the next sprint. Sprint reviews must be done thoroughly and hence last four hours, at most.
While the sprint review focuses on the product itself, the sprint retrospective focuses on the development process. It calls for reflection among the members. What strategies worked well during the sprint? What needs improvement? The team tailors its methods, time management, and collaborative efforts to better align with the sprint goal.
The sprint retrospective isn't a blame game. Every feedback and constructive criticism that’s given is collectively resolved by the team. This is where Scrum's principle of continuous improvement shines through. At the end of the meeting, the team must come out with stronger and more efficient strategies for the sprint to follow.
Because Scrum advances collaboration and customer satisfaction, it's become a popular method for project management. . Given this, knowing how to apply Scrum has become a valuable skill for project managers. Here's an overview of the steps you can take to become a bona fide Scrum practitioner.
If you read all the sections above, then you've pretty much got an idea of what and how Scrum is. However, it doesn't hurt to learn more about the overall Scrum framework.
To do so, start by reading the Scrum Guide , a manifesto written by Scrum creators Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber. The Scrum Guide fleshes out all the need-to-know in Scrum, including the team members, ceremonies, and artifacts (which we've summarized above).
After learning the basics, it's time to up the ante by taking on courses that explore the Scrum workflow. Luckily for you, the popularity of Scrum has resulted in countless learning modules. These can last from just a few days to several months.
Having technical proficiency isn't the end-all-be-all in Scrum. To incorporate Scrum practices, improving your ability to work with others is just as important. Below are the top career attributes you'd need to add to your skillset.
We've said it again and again: teamwork lies at the heart of Scrum. Being able to work collectively toward a common goal has a lot of benefits. For one, it expedites the development process. It also encourages a better flow of ideas among the members which, in turn, helps solve issues during the product development. As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one.
If your Scrum team members aren't open to criticism and suggestions, then you're already starting on the wrong foot. Alongside the ability to work in a team, you must be able to accept, reflect, and use criticism to improve.
Sprint cycles are filled with reviews and feedback, may these be from the client, relevant departments, or your members. You should be able to receive these without taking them personally. Rather, take feedback as an opportunity to improve the product.
As the Eisenhower Principle goes, "The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent." Important but not urgent tasks are the tasks that will really get you closer to your goals. The success of each is what will benefit your project in the long run.
This is why being able to determine which tasks must take precedence over others is crucial. Knowing how to do this allows the team to plan for sprints in advance. It compels the team to focus on tasks that "move the needle," so to speak.
Imagine attending a daily scrum and not having a single output to show for from yesterday's work. Being able to manage your time well isn't just a virtue. In the world of Scrum, it's a necessity. Sensitivity to time lets you accomplish more in less. It also helps the team complete each sprint as quickly as possible.
Certifications are the rule, not the exception, in project management. Having a certification demonstrates your capabilities as a project manager. This is why most project managers prepare for certification exams despite having already earned undergraduate and, sometimes, graduate degrees.
It goes without saying that certifications are also important if you aspire to be a Scrum practitioner. There are several professional Scrum certifications to choose from, each of which varies in cost, qualification, and window of validity.
Professional organizations granting certifications usually provide review and training classes for exam takers. These classes are intentionally designed to align with the exam's scope. So, enrollment in these is extremely beneficial.
If, however, these classes are not accessible for you, fret not. Numerous learning platforms provide training for whichever certification you choose. Just make sure that the course you take is taught by a certified Scrum trainer.
Software project management is one of the top careers around. However, you can wind up paying a pretty penny to get the training you need. Scrum training is no exception to this.
The upside? You can receive training from the comfort of your home. There's also the bonus of receiving a certification of completion for every course you finish. Below are our top picks to get you started on your Scrum training.
Udemy: The Complete Agile Scrum Fundamentals CourseDuration: 13.5 hours of on-demand video
Cost: $129.99 (subject to change)
Comprising 92 lectures and 81 downloadable resources, this is the perfect course for Scrum beginners. For over 13 hours, you'll learn the Scrum fundamentals from A to Z. Topics include the Scrum pillars, concepts, and artifacts. You'll also learn how to use Jira and Zoom, which are essential tools for managing Scrum projects.
Want to learn more? Check out Udemy's list of Scrum courses. Udemy has years of experience teaching all kinds of technical subjects, so you know you’re in good hands. Best of all, you’ll get to work on real-life projects and put your skills to the test as you go. It’s a great way to get the skills you need.
Scrum Inc: Scrum Master TrainingDuration: Two days
You might be wondering, "Why would I spend nearly two grand for a two-day course?" The short answer: the program was developed by Jeff Sutherland, the founder of Scrum Inc and co-creator of Scrum himself. The fee also pays for Scrum Inc's ScrumMaster exam.
This course is specifically designed to make you into a high-performing ScrumMaster. You'll learn how to incorporate Scrum in the workplace and identify the techniques ScrumMasters use for improving team performance.
Learning materials range from lectures to hands-on exercises and real-world case studies across industries. There are no prerequisites to the course and everyone may sign up regardless of Scrum experience.
Simplilearn: Certified ScrumMaster Certification Training CourseDuration: Two days
As the name suggests, this program prepares you for one of the most sought-after Scrum certifications. While there are no prerequisites, applicants are expected to have some experience working in Scrum teams.
In two days, you'll be exposed to high-level Scrum training via a thorough discussion of the elements that make up the method. The training fee also covers the certification and evaluation fees, including the cost of the learning aids.
LinkedIn: Scrum Master (Cert Prep)Duration: 1 hour, 26 minutes of on-demand video
Level: Beginner to Advanced
You might not think of LinkedIn as a training destination, but you’d be amazed at the sort of free courses the site offers. You can take advantage of this program to get trained up and ready to pass certification exams. You'll learn a range of Scrum concepts, including burn-up charts, norming sessions, and product backlog items.
You won’t need any prior experience to get going. The lectures and study materials are all free to use for a month after you sign up. Give it a shot, and save a bundle. Visit this page for more of LinkedIn's Scrum courses.
edX: Applied Scrum for Agile Project ManagementDuration: Four weeks
This course is a joint offering by the University of Maryland and the University System of Maryland. The curriculum gives light to the "key management processes, roles, mechanics, and philosophies behind Scrum."
What sets it apart from other Agile methodologies, such as Kanban, XP, and Lean? How does it fit into the world of work? By the end of the course, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of how Scrum looks at scale
Although the course is free, you can receive a verified certificate of completion for $199. You can also earn 10 professional development units (PDUs). PDUs come in handy when maintaining certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP).
The Scrum Alliance was founded in 2002 by Mike Cohn, Esther Derby, and Ken Schwaber, the other half of the Scrum creators. With its establishment came the Certified ScrumMaster certification, one of the top qualifications a Scrum practitioner can hold.
To qualify for the CSM exam, you must fulfill the following prerequisites:
Renewal of the certification entails $100 plus 20 Scrum education units.
The A-CSM is meant for holders of the CSM certification with at least a year of experience working in Scrum teams. The certification demonstrates that you've enhanced your Scrum practices implementation skills.
This includes advancing to the facilitation of dialogue, increased engagement, and coaching. Renewal of the certification must be done every two years for $175 and with 30 Scrum education units.
Ken Schwaber founded Scrum.org in 2009 after leaving Scrum Alliance to "continue developing and sustaining the Scrum Developer program." The organization later unveiled its entry-level certification, the PSM I.
The PSM I certification shows one's fundamental mastery of Scrum. Unlike other certifications, taking a course before the PSM I exam is not necessary. The catch: you must possess a high level of understanding of the Scrum principles as well as some working experience to pass.
Takers of the exam must correctly answer 68 out of 80 questions in an hour. PSM certifications carry a lifetime validity.
PSM II is Scrum.org's intermediate-level certification that represents one's ability to apply Scrum principles in complex situations. Like the PSM I certification, attending a course is recommended but is "neither necessary nor sufficient for the certification."
Scrum.org outlines that its PSM assessments are rigorous and thus take more than reading the Scrum Guide or attending a training course. Rather, the assessments require a balance of theory and practice. To demonstrate, the questions involve the interpretation of the Scrum Guide, application of Scrum concepts, and integration of your working experience.
PSM III certification holders are those who demonstrate "a distinguished level of Scrum mastery." This means going beyond understanding and applying Scrum practices, and moving into coaching and mentoring Scrum teams.
Takers must cross the 85 percent line to pass. The assessment consists of 30 multiple choice and essay questions and must be completed within 120 minutes.
The SSM goes beyond team-level Scrum and explores the role of the ScrumMaster at the enterprise level. The key areas of competency developed from the training include coaching Agile teams, facilitation of Scrum ceremonies, and DevOps implementation.
To sit the exam, it's highly recommended that you have the following:
Renewal of the certification must be done annually. The process costs $100 and requires at least 10 continuing education hours.
That’s the deal, folks. Are you a coder wanting to make a career change? Or perhaps a project manager planning on picking up some extra training? Either way, getting an education in Scrum is essential for your success.
The Scrum process is an ingenious system that relies on cross-functional, and self-organizing teams to create high-quality products. Our guide to Scrum and the learning opportunities around today shows you which path might be right for you.