This post is a part of a series discussing Agile Product Management responsibilities. Click here to start from the beginning.
My prior post talked about the barriers to creating a good MRD/BRD; now I want to get into how to actually create one. There are three principles that guide an Agile product manager’s description of a market, its requirements, and various solutions:
- Setting out information in terms of the time horizon it influences in as clear and comprehensive a manner as possible suited precisely to the audience meant to consume it;
- Observing and including information at the level of detail needed to effect change and take action and working with other sources when information more detailed than currently available is required;
- Managing and recognizing the difference between handling more and less stable information (keeping market requirements and detailed feature specifications in step).
Think of how these concepts overlap in the diagram above. Higher levels are directed towards larger issues, whereas lower levels correspond and collaborate more intensely with core/extended product teams. Considering all the possible problems that we have identified, the solution is actually rather simple. Instead of using one document to satisfy all of these demands, Agile product managers employ five key artifacts:
1. The Business Plan
This document is a summary of product vision, product goals, and how a product factors into overall strategy. The business plan includes market research results, financial summaries, and go-to-market and operational issues, as appropriate.
2. The Financial Model
This model explains how the product should perform financially over time, given the variables of sales performance, pricing, and costs.
3. The Roadmap
This document is a visual representation of how the product is intended to progress in order to meet the demands of the target markets described in the business plan.
4. The Release Plans
These are designed to communicate which capabilities and features will be delivered and when.
5. The Backlog
The backlog is made up of a product’s total set of big ideas, use cases, features, user stories, architectural work, etc. that may affect the product or be approached by the product over the course of its entire lifecycle. The backlog may list all of the work that needs to be accomplished, but these items will probably need more thorough communication during release and sprint planning. The development team should be prepared to ask any detailed questions needed to address backlog requests.
Agile product managers should be able to offer enough detail about the requirements of user stories scheduled for upcoming sprints. This means that they must work with the development team to determine the acceptance criteria for each user story. Agile product managers have a comprehensive set of artifacts and communication tools that they can employ to match every audience, taking into account various product uses and longevity of planning. This will lead to the creation of lo-fi prototypes and sketches, flowcharts and customer journey maps, wikis, and even sticky notes on whiteboards.