Before getting into the meat of the six Agile Product Management responsibilities, I want to quickly recap key themes and terminology of Agile. Agile planning methods mean that the feedback system is an automatic process from the very start of a project, allowing for speedy re-planning and readjustment as necessary. Whether your project needs to adjust in regards to team innovations affecting the end product or the technology involved, or even if there are externally imposed advancements, Agile planning keeps you up-to-date.
By means of continual product modifications, Agile allows you to keep pace and reduce risk, as well as providing early user validation by increasing the regular delivery of smaller work elements. By organizing your development around sprints, each stage of your project focuses on product quality by delivering potentially shippable features incrementally. Features, requirements, and use cases are deconstructed into more manageable user stories, the aim being to address each story in its own sprint. The development cycle allows for more hands-on participation from customers; with reviews of working versions taking place in development itself rather than just during beta testing.
The backlog is comprised of work items. Each item is assigned a priority and teams provide observable increments of project progress for a customer by tackling backlog work items in order. In release and sprint planning meetings, the entire team makes estimations of the workload each backlog item will require. The team benefits from its shared wisdom as a group, more accurately estimating tasks and backlog items and building on their prior experience. As such, estimation skills improve for the whole team.
Self-organization of teams means that they can identify project obstacles or roadblocks and address them in short, daily stand-up meetings. The team can take responsibility for problem solving, reallocating resources naturally to meet goals, and attend to increasingly problematic issues. This self-reliance means that teams become more efficient and more effective as a project progresses. The inclusion of a Product Manager can significantly improve a company’s ability to exploit the competitive advantage of Agile methods, and he or she owns the six responsibilities I’m about to discuss.