Agile Product Management with SCRUM – Best Practices

In the recent years, the process of agile product management with SCRUM created a great impression on the business world, especially in the field of the IT development. While there are different approaches to agile development, one of the most famous processes in this area is called SCRUM. Because of it, many software developers have begun incorporating this process and also began envisioning the workflow of product creation in a different manner.

But, at the same time, its introduction generated a ripple effect that impacted things like product management, product ownership and also the customer relations. All of these have taken a hit from SCRUM because they are mostly still based on the set practices of the previous development models. The same failed to adapt quickly enough to the approaching tidal wave brought on by the appearance of agile product management and this lead to several important managerial aspects.

In parallel, there is no denying it that the new approach to development generates great results and that the task of the management structures is to find a way to consolidate their dealings with the SCRUM potential. Through experience, several important ideas have developed which can be the power to change this situation and allow SCRUM and management departments to produce excellent results. Here are the main points of this process of realignment of these crucial aspects of the development field.

SCRUM Impacts on Product Management

When it first emerged, the practice of agile development was mostly confined to the departments where the software development actually took place. But then, several years ago, SCRUM began emerging as a new force that encompassed not only the software aspects but also many other departments in a company. This expansion of the same system left product managers unsure how to approach the new working environment. Initially, agile product management with SCRUM included things like peer development, unit-based testing, builds on a daily basis and a continuous process of integration.

These offered a new breathing space for the software developers, but things like the life-cycle of the product, transparency of the organizational process and the expectations of the customers were not imported. But then, when agile development expanded into SCRUM, it became apparent that product managers and product owners needed to be included in the process as a single unit. This created the very upheaval, but also opened space for its resolution.

Agile Product Management With SCRUM

Much of the issues revolving around SCRUM best practices that collide with the product management are the result of an unclear understanding of their mutual interactions. SCRUM is based upon the idea of generating results just in time, not simply optimizing them. While the agile process is also interested in building only those things that are needed, SCRUM goes even further and lowers the amount of work to the minimal necessary amount that is then rapidly implemented, sometimes called the “sprint”.

On the other side of the development chain lies the product owner or product manager who needs to keep on track the backlog of the product, manage priorities based upon stakeholders and their feedback or on customer expectations and do similar processes. Many of these processes were already a part of any product management department’s regular duties and jobs, but now, when the idea of product management with SCRUM bursted on the scene, the key element was and still is the right timing.

SCRUM as Short and Fast Approach

Teams that work on the SCRUM principle operate in an effective manner, where iterations are short and continuous. The same is true for their products, where it is believed that the shortest and most regular software releases keep on track its quality. This is why at the beginning of every sprint the objectives are reviewed, user feedback is examined and the effects of the sprint that took place before this one are taken into considerations.

Here is where product management often fails in the process of becoming a part of the agile management using SCRUM. Instead of leaving the engineers to go at it alone, the representatives of the management department need to be present in the sprint cycles, even if they include the longer, two-week period.

There is no doubt that many managers feel a lack of time and energy for them to be included in the SCRUM process, but without them on board, the short and fast approach will ultimately fail the company in some phase, simply because the best practices are worthless is the project hits a wall between the sprint cycles. The same notion is completely true for product owners, even if they are not the part of the direct product management department of a company.

While they might know very little about the actual software development process, they need to know the timelines, fallback plans, and many other ideas that will most definitely be utilized by the development teams they are facilitating.

SCRUM and Management Collaborations

SCRUM is not only a small structural change in the software development. Instead, it demands thorough organizational change that will allow product management with SCRUM to redefine the possibilities of a company. This means making changes in the way how printers are set and how the product itself is released. This way, any change or unforeseen circumstance can become a valuable asset and not a catastrophic problem. The merge of the management with the SCRUM process manes more transparency and a simpler task of identifying weaknesses and structural problems. At the same time, the company’s development teams are better tuned to the needs of the management, while the management can help the development process if this is required.

Conclusion

No one can guarantee that SCRUM will lead to improvements in every business organization and in every circumstance. But, it is also important to realize that having SCRUM and not implementing it to its fullest extent is a lot bigger problem than not to have it at all. Because of this, software development teams and product management have to work together with the same process to give it a chance to really become a huge ally for any company.

This demands work and tough changes from all parties involved, but the potential outcomes it worth everything that is invested in it, even if this demands moths of reorganization and deep structural changes. But, once the agile product management with SCRUM is fully integrated and accepted by all departments in a company, it can really present itself as one of the truly essential advances in the field of IT management of the recent decades.

Mark Silver
Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.
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