The PSPO I certification is issued by Scrum.org. It is one of the two officially recognized certifications for Product Owners (the other one is issued by Scrum Alliance). To get the PSPO I certification, you need to pass an online exam but you do not need to take part in any official training. You can do all the preparation on your own. These are some notes from when I passed my PSPO I certification. I hope they are useful to you!
All the information in the first section of the article comes from the Scrum Guide. You can download it by clicking here.
The Scrum Guide is the main source of information to pass a Scrum certification. In the case of the Product Owner certification, it is also advisable to study the EBM guide. More on that later.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is “a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value”.
As stated on the Scrum Guide, Scrum has been used to:
1. Research and identify viable markets, technologies, and product capabilities;
2. Develop products and enhancements;
3. Release products and enhancements, as frequently as many times per day;
4. Develop and sustain Cloud (online, secure, on-demand) and other operational environments for product use; and,
5. Sustain and renew products.
“Scrum is founded on empirical process control theory, or empiricism. (…) Three pillars uphold every implementation of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.
“Those performing the work and those inspecting the resulting increment must share a common definition of ‘Done’”
“The inspection should not be so frequent that inspection gets in the way of the work”
“Scrum prescribes four formal events for inspection and adaptation”, detailed below, in the Scrum Events section.
The Scrum Team
“Scrum Teams are self-organizing and cross-functional. The team model in Scrum is designed to optimize flexibility, creativity, and productivity.”
Scrum teams are composed of: Product Owner, Development Team, Scrum Master.
- Responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Development Team
- The sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog
- The entire organization must respect his or her decisions.
The Development Team
- The professionals who do the work of delivering a potentially releasable Increment of “Done” product at the end of each Sprint.
- Scrum recognizes no titles for Development Team members, regardless of the work being performed by the person.
- The Development Team should be composed of 3 to 9 members.
- Responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide.
- The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team.
“Prescribed events are used in Scrum to create regularity and to minimize the need for meetings not defined in Scrum. All events are time-boxed events, such that every event has a maximum duration.”
Scrum has four events, all of which occur inside a Sprint: Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.
According to the Scrum Guide, the Sprint is “the heart of Scrum”
- It has a duration of one month or less
- At the end of the Sprint, a “Done”, releasable product Increment is created
- A new Sprint begins immediately after the conclusion of the previous Sprint
- No changes are made that could endanger the Sprint Goal
- Quality goals do not decrease during the Spring
- Scope may be clarified and re-negotiated between the Product Owner and the Development team as more is learned
- Only the Product Owner has the authority to cancel the Sprint — although this is very rare
- Time-box: maximum of 8 hours for a one-month Sprint
- Attendees: Development Team, Product Owner, Scrum Master
- It answers two questions: What will be done during the Sprint? How will it be done?
- It should establish the Sprint Goal (an objective for the Sprint to be met through the implementation of the Product Backlog)
- Time-box: 15 minutes
- Attendees: Development Team
- It always happens at the same place, to reduce complexity
- The Development Team plans the work for the next 24 hours
- Scrum Master ensures the Development Team has the meeting but the Development Team conducts the Daily Scrum
- Time-box: 4 hours for a one-month Sprint
- Attendees: Scrum Team and key stakeholders invited by the Product Owner
- Review of what was done during the Sprint
- Product Owner explains what Product Backlog items have been “Done” and what has not been “Done”
- The Development Team demonstrates the work that it has “Done” and answers questions about the Increment
- The entire group collaborates on what to do next, so that the Sprint Review provides valuable input to subsequent Sprint Planning
- Time-box: 3 hours for a one-month Sprint
- Attendees: Scrum Team
- The attendees inspect how the last Sprint went with regards to people, relationships, process, and tools
- The Scrum Team should identify improvements that it will implement in the next Sprint
“Scrum’s artifacts represent work or value to provide transparency and opportunities for inspection and adaptation. Artifacts defined by Scrum are specifically designed to maximize transparency of key information so that everybody has the same understanding of the artifact.”
There are three Scrum Artifacts: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, and Product Increment.
- Ordered list of everything that is known to be needed in the product
- Never complete
- It exists as long as the product exists
- The Product Owner is the sole responsible for the Product Backlog
- Product Backlog refinement: “act of adding detail, estimates, and order to the items on the Product Backlog”
- The items on the top of the Product Backlog are clearer and more detailed
- “Set of Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint, plus a plan for delivering the Product Increment and realizing the Sprint Goal”
- Only the Development Team can change the Sprint Backlog during the Sprint
- “The Increment is the sum of all the Product Backlog items completed during a Sprint and the value of the increments of all previous Sprints.”
- “At the end of a Sprint, the new Increment must be “Done,” which means it must be in useable condition and meet the Scrum Team’s definition of ‘Done’”
Definition of Done
“If ‘Done’ for an increment is not a convention of the development organization, the Development Team of the Scrum Team must define a definition of ‘Done’ appropriate for the product. If there are multiple Scrum Teams working on the system or product release, the Development Teams on all the Scrum Teams must mutually define the definition of ‘Done’.”
The PSPO I certification exam does not include questions based only on the Scrum Guide. Another important font of information is the Evidence-Based Management Guide (EBM Guide) that you can download here.
“EBM is an empirical approach that provides organizations with the ability to measure the value they deliver to customers and the means by which they deliver that value, and to use those measures to guide improvements in both.”
EBM consists of four Key Value Areas (KVAs):
Current Value (CV)
- It considers only the value that exists right now, not what might exist in the future
- Goal: maximize the value that an organization delivers to its customers
- Factors that improve CV: improving usability, improving customer or user outcomes
- Expresses the organization’s ability to quickly deliver new capabilities, services, or products
- Goal: minimize the amount of time it takes for the organization to deliver value
- Factors that reduce T2M: removing internal communication bottlenecks, improving delivery pipeline automation, removing technical debt
Ability to Innovate (A2I)
- Expresses the ability of a product development organization to deliver new capabilities that might better meet customer needs
- Goal: maximize the organization’s ability to deliver new capabilities and innovative solutions.
- Factors that stop A2I: time spent on reducing technical debt, maintain multiple code branches, poor code management practices, for example.
Unrealized Value (UV)
- Suggests the potential future value that could be realized if the organization could perfectly meet the needs of all potential customers
- Goal: maximize the value that the organization realizes from the product over time
These notes are just the foundation on which you should build your knowledge. If you want a structured plan on how you should study for your exam, you can read my article on how I prepared and succeed on the first try.