Throughout the development cycle, Agile product managers must keep customers informed to make certain that their products are progressing according to expectations. An Agile Product Manager uses a number of mechanisms in order to gather useful information, involving the whole team and using different communication vehicles to convey rich customer information.
Market research and voice-of-the- customer input are essential to getting a new product green-lighted and integrated into the overall product strategy. This kind of information can be gathered from departments within many organizations that are already working to the same end: marketing, sales, customer service, and field services all liaise with customers and conduct market research of their own on a regular basis. It is up to an Agile Product Manager to compile this information.
Aside from this wider gathering of organizational information, an Agile Product Manager must also collaborate directly with customers to make certain that their product stays on target over the course of the development cycle. An Agile Product Manager must forge and maintain links with the customer throughout the course of the release.
These links occur naturally in the opening stages of the project through customer gatherings that include user groups, training sessions, and technical briefings. Agile product managers can use these meetings to communicate with customers about the vision and goals for the upcoming release, or they may even schedule individual meetings with lead customers. In either scenario, certain artifacts are of particular importance in order to effectively communicate features. A Product Manager can use wireframes or storyboards of new features, offer descriptions of release goals, and prioritize a backlog of use cases, features, bug fixes, and enhancements.
My next post will discuss the benefits of customer input to Agile Product Managers.