Note: In the post Enterprise Agility: The Big Picture, we introduced an overview graphic intended to capture the essence of enterprise agility in a single slide. In prior posts, we’ve discussed Teams, Iterations , the Agile Product Owner, Backlog, User Stories and the Iteration Backlog the Release , Vision and Release Backlog and The Roadmap. In this post, we’ll discuss the Agile Product Manager, [callout 9] below.
I’ve blogged off and on the “agile product manager vs. agile product owner” roles over the last few months so this is not a new topic and I won’t repeat it all here. Many of these posts are categorized under the Product owner/Product Manager category on this blog. We have also touched on the Product Manager in the Big Picture post on the Agile Product Owner and the follow on post. In addition, I described some of the basic Product Manager responsibilities in this article a few years back.
Based on blog hits and search criteria, this topic is pretty relevant right now so it’s a good time to elaborate further on the responsibilities of this role within the context of the Big Picture.
Product Manager/Business Owner/Business Analyst?
Throughout this series, I’ve used the term “Product Manager” instead of Business Owner or Business Analyst, even though those terms may be more familiar in some enterprises. Regardless of organizational structure or title, an effective business owner must exist and they must drive the vision either directly, or through the product management/business analyst organization. An effective Business Owner/Product Manager should exist for each major domain of the solution or the agile teams will be filling in the gaps, possibly with mixed results, depending on their expertise in the various domains. For consistency, we’ll continue to use the term “Product Manager” from here forward, but the reader may wish to translate that into the terms of their enterprise.
Responsibilities of the Product Manager
Agile or not, the Product Manager must fulfill the following responsibilities:
- Stay abreast of the latest industry trends
- Understand the changing needs of the market and the customer base
- Maintain a solid understanding of the current solution
Using this data, the Product Manager’s primary responsibility is to then
- Articulate a clear direction for addressing gaps and opportunities
The Agile Product Manager
Like most every other role in the software enterprise, the Product Manager’s role evolves as the company transitions to agile development methods. The first decision is whether or not the Product Manager assumes the role of the agile Product Owner and thereby takes on the additional responsibilities for iteration planning, story elaboration and prioritization, demo and acceptance. As we’ve noted before, that is probably not practical within the enterprise (see Responsibilities of the Agile Product Owner vs. Enterprise Product Manager and Role of the Product manager ). The differing responsibilities for the two roles are then as highlighted in the following table.
Agile Product Manager in the Big Picture
As can be seen in the table and as is implied in the Big Picture, we see that the Product Manager owns the Vision and Release (Feature) Backlog and as its implementation in the Release and the
Roadmap. The Product Owner is a charter member of the Agile Team, and owns the User Stories and Iteration (story) Backlog and the implementation via Iterations. Working together, the Product Manager and Product Owner steer the agile enterprise.
To fulfill these responsibilities, the Agile Product Manager:
Owns the Vision – in collaboration with the business owners and the Product Owners, the Product Manager sets the Vision and the prioritized feature set which further describe how the Vision may be fulfilled in the implementation.
Drives the Release Objectives and Priorities through Release Planning – The Product Manager plays a key role in the Release Planning process as well, whereby they have routine and periodic, face-to-face opportunities to communicate objectives directly to the agile teams.
Updates and Maintains the Roadmap – One result of this process is the Product Roadmap, which serves as the plan of record for coupling the Vision to Implementation Timelines. The Product Manager uses the Roadmap to communicate the Product Managers “big picture” to the stakeholders inside and outside the enterprise.
That’s it for the Agile Product Manager. In the next post in the Big Picture Series, we’ll get back to the execution model and describe the role that the Release Management Team plays in helping assure the successful implementation of all that Vision.
Note: A Special thanks to Mauricio Zamora of CSG systems, who contributed some content and insight for this post.