5 Advantages of Agile Product Management
Product management is the process of building and maintaining a desirable product.
Agile product management accomplishes the same, but according to the agile philosophy.
What does that mean?
It means the product is delivered in small chunks over time. Every iteration is validated by testing a prototype which is built/designed based on customer requirements.
Let’s take a look at five ways in which an agile product management process will help you.
5 Benefits of Agile Product Management
Product management in agile adds flexibility to the entire product development process.
In traditional software development frameworks, after the requirements list is handed over to the developers, there would be no more changes. This, apart from delaying software delivery, increases the risks of failure due to the indirect communication between developers and users.
This necessitates a better methodology.
Below are five advantages you can look forward to by adopting agile product management processes.
1. Learn from customers throughout the product life cycle
A product becomes successful when the customers love it. The simplest way to achieve that is to build what they want.
Agile product management determines the features that are to be developed by constantly learning from the customers. There are two ways in which agile product management teams can do that:
- DIrect Feedback: Through forms, surveys, questionnaires, and interviews.
- Indirect feedback: By tracking product usage patterns and cohort analysis.
The feedback from the customers is captured in three different instances:
- During the ideation phase: This helps the product management team to ‘zero in’ on the solution.
- After the prototype is made: To understand how the customer actually feels about it by giving them a taste.
- After delivering the solution: This feedback lets the devs know whether they have hit the mark.
2. Continuously adjust the short-term roadmap to meet customer needs
Customer needs are constantly changing because of the following:
- New competitors join in all the time.
- The customer might not face the same problems anymore.
- Your solution has become obsolete due to new technology.
- Your customer’s expectations from your product have increased.
This is why you must continuously improve your product.
By continually iterating your product to retain or enhance its desirability, you can optimize your product lifecycle management with agile. To track and trace those changes, an agile product roadmap can be really handy.
An agile roadmap is a visual tool that helps record and redirect your product offerings with time.
Keep the following in mind while creating, updating, and using a roadmap as an agile product management tool:
- Focus on short-term goals: Long-term goals require a huge investment which is difficult as the features are delivered in iterations. If you increase the sprint duration, you risk losing your customers as your product could be perceived as ‘outdated’.
- Don’t update it too often: This will decrease the trust of team members on the roadmap as they will be confused about whether to start working on a feature or not.
- Themes are permanent: You can edit the feature requirements or the daily tasks underneath the theme. Changing the theme of the roadmap signifies that your product will be developed in a different direction which questions the legitimacy of your process.
- Share it with the relevant team members: The purpose of a roadmap is to increase transparency. Inform everyone including the stakeholders whenever you update the roadmap. Or better yet, add things to the roadmap after getting approval.
3. Deliver value to customers in an incremental way
We touched upon this in the previous section. Making huge modifications to your product and delivering them all at once has the following disadvantages:
1. Higher technical debt: To deliver the huge upgrades before the deadline, product teams take shortcuts. Ultimately, a lot of rework is needed (like updates and patches) to fix them. The cost of the rework is known as technical debt.
2. Dissatisfaction and churn: Your customers will be disappointed due to the following reasons leading to abandonment:
- Bugs and issues due to shortcuts adopted during the development process
- Difficulty to get used to the product as there are numerous changes
- Reduced usability due to lack of customer involvement during development
3. Loss of vision: As the product will fail to meet the customer’s expectations and can’t solve their problems, you can’t approach your organizational vision. Not to mention, it could make your product unprofitable in the long run.
4. Low motivation and team morale: This results when the team works hard against the deadlines only to fall short of the customer’s expectations.
A Kanban board, one of the most used agile product management frameworks (discussed below), can help you avoid all of that. You can easily address the immediate requirements of the customers by appropriately prioritizing maintenance tasks.
4. Respond quickly to new and changing requirements
Customers’ expectations are at an all-time high. When they have a need, they want it answered, immediately. This puts a lot of pressure on you as the product manager to deliver the necessary features to meet those needs.
Furthermore, this becomes more challenging when you take the constantly changing industry standards.
Adopting an agile product management framework can help you meet your customers’ expectations fast. Every new requirement, bug report, update requirement, etc., will make it into the product backlog which is time-boxed.
5. Collaborate better with the dev team to deliver features faster
Proper collaboration is paramount for the smooth execution of a better product management lifecycle, agile or not.
Implementing agile in product management creates cross-functional teams. Compared to the waterfall methodology, communication between various teams is faster as the flow of information isn’t unidirectional.
But how to integrate agile into your product management process?
Here are the four most popular agile management frameworks that you can adopt right away and make modifications to them to suit your needs.
The 4 Most Popular Agile Product Management Frameworks
Scum is a framework centered around the agile philosophy of continuous improvements that get things done. It starts with the assumption that the team still has to learn more and continue to evolve the product with time.
Agile product management with Scrum starts with a team meeting where the following two questions are answered:
- What needs to be done?
- How will it get done?
Team members collaborate and create the sprint backlog from the product backlog. However, tasks in these backlogs can be edited, added, or removed, if the situation demands so, giving product management teams the flexibility they need.
Kanban is a production framework that aids lean agile product management. It was developed by Toyota to improve manufacturing efficiency. It operates on the following six principles:
- Never pass defective products: If a feature isn’t performing as expected, don’t release it.
- Take only what’s needed: Create the features with the minimum resources possible.
- Produce the exact quantity required: Don’t overdo it and give your users what they want.
- Level the production: You can work as fast as the slowest team member.
- Fine-tune the production: Optimize elements like lead time, development costs, etc.
- Stabilize and rationalize: A profitable process is good only if it can be repeated.
3. Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
The SAFe agile product management framework consists of workflow and organizational patterns that help teams become agile.
Its core principles and values are:
1. Alignment: This value helps every team in the organization needs to understand three things:
- The current state of the business
- The goals (or desired state)
- The method to get there
2. Built-in quality: The quality of the product/features determines the satisfaction level of your customers. Hence, it should be protected at all costs. If it means you have to be a little less agile, it is welcomed.
3. Transparency: Team members need to communicate clearly. That’s when the underlying problems surface in a way that they can get solved. This is a good reason why you should consider having small teams that work in batches.
4. Program execution: It is the heart of this framework and everything depends on it. You must deliver desirable features (or products) to your customers.
5. Leadership: The scaled agile product management framework equips team leaders to create an environment where the above four principles can be true.
4. Lean Software Development (LSD)
As the name suggests, the Lean Software Development methodology focuses on minimizing risks, reducing waste, and saving resources during product management. Teams test their hypotheses by releasing minimum viable products (MVPs) and iterating based on the feedback.
Here are its seven core principles:
The two advantages of adopting this agile product management methodology are increased team involvement and judicious consumption of resources. However, the challenges are that its degree of adoption depends on the team, and is difficult to implement in large organizations.
Adopting agile methodology in product management has the following five benefits:
- Learning more about the customers through the product life cycle
- Adjusting the short-term roadmap to delight customers
- Delivering value to your customers through each iteration
- Responding quickly to new requirements
- Better collaboration between teams and members
Scrum, Kanban, Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), and Lean Software Development (LSD) are the four most popular agile product management frameworks you can choose from. No matter which one you choose, you can always modify it to fit your requirements.
One last thing.
To implement agile through and through, you need a tool that can keep up with you.
Zeda.io is a super app for agile product management teams. You can bring all your data, processes, workflows, and communications here through integrations. From roadmapping to tracking usage data, you can do everything in your agile product management lifecycle in one place.
- What is agile product management?
Agile product management is a process that delivers desirable products in small chunks to reduce costs where each iteration is validated by data. Product management in agile benefits organizations by minimizing risks and building solutions that are more likely to delight customers.
- What is the product manager's role in agile?
A product manager oversees all the steps of the agile product management process to ensure that they are adapting to the immediate requirements.
- Is product management part of agile?
Product management is a process that develops and manages the product through the entire lifecycle. Agile is a philosophy that makes product management efficient.
- What are the 3 stages of agile planning?
The three stages of agile planning are: survival, learning, and leading a self-sufficient agile team.
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