This post is a part of a series discussing Agile Product Management responsibilities. Click here to start from the beginning.
Agile product managers are immersed in their development teams, but they also liaise with the rest of the organization as necessary. This can contribute to a significantly increased workload for Agile product managers, so in order to succeed, Agile Product Management groups require more resources. In addition, to harness complementary skills, Agile product managers must extend their network of collaborative partners.
The specific responsibilities of Agile product managers contribute cumulative extra hours each week. As their workload increases, requirements become more elaborate and need to be clarified. In addition, Agile product managers have to handle the creation of user interfaces, manage changing backlogs, anticipate and prepare release and iteration planning, update and explain roadmaps, overcome development roadblocks, and collaborate with customers.
An Agile Product Manager will need to develop new skills to match each new responsibility. In order to discuss the compromises that certain user stories might require, while also keeping in mind the larger perspective of overall company strategy and the customer’s end-goals, an Agile Product Manager has to have an expert handle on both the system and the market. Therefore, they will need the capacity to make wise financial decisions concerning their product so that it doesn’t go extravagantly over-budget or, at the other end of the scale, demand taxing technical work in future releases. Most product managers find that the need to explain and simplify requirements through notes and sketches, or more frequent requests for user interface design, can be very demanding.
Instead of presuming that Agile product managers will be able to perform every task by themselves, a more effective model is to form product duos or trios. By extending the core product team to add full-time Product Management and part- or full-time business requirements analysts, Agile product managers are freed up to scale and accomplish specific goals. New core product teams can perform their own required tasks while representing each other when required, all without causing any undue misunderstanding. As such, product managers can form closer working relationships so that each can represent the team’s overall strategy, priorities, and product goals.
Executives need to be made aware that Agile’s demonstrable success is the result of better and more comprehensive Agile Product Management inputs. This means that Agile teams benefit from faster product cycles, earlier market entry, higher customer satisfaction, and more end-product top-line revenue. The enhancement to developer effectiveness and efficiency far outweighs the relatively minimal expense of escalating the importance of the role of an Agile Product Manager (by complementing it with duos or trios of business analysts and program managers). Otherwise, Agile teams suffer a lack of Product Management and fail to implement Agile benefits. In order to succeed, it is imperative that sufficient staffing is supplied, adjustments are made to organizational design, and core product teams have ample time to harmonize.