Roles | The Product Owner

HA #38: AMA session with Roman Pichler: The Product Owner | 58 minutes
Age Of Product | Feb 08, 2022

Stefan Wolpers’ Hands-on Agile #38: AMA w/ Roman Pichler: The Product Owner | 58 minutes

Stefan Wolpers’ AMA session with Roman Pichler on the role of the Product Owner.
Speaker: Roman Pichler | Host: Stefan Wolpers

My Notes:

Product Owner = Accountable for maximizing the value of the product
(Scrum Guide 2020)

What is a Product? An asset that creates value for
The users and customers
The company developing & providing it
(Searching for a product online = feature, not product)

What does it mean to own a product? It means
Being empowered to make strategic and tactical product decisions (own a product holistically, cf. Full Stack ownership)
Being responsible for achieving product success

Ownership Depth
Vision = what we want to achieve
Strategy = approach to get there
Tactics = information in the product backlog
Scrum Product Owner = Full stack ownership Vision/Strategy/Tactics
Product Manager in an Agile Context or Agile Product Manager
Compare w/ Partial Ownership
(SAFe = example) Product Owner = more a tactical role => product backlog, more inward facing, close to the Dev Team => Only partial ownership
(SAFe = example) Product Manager = for the Vision & strategic role

3 Scaling options
How to make it work? Get together and discuss it

About the Business Analyst

Characteristics of a great Product Owner
Professional PO (=> focus on the role of PO)
Committed to the Product, to the People, to the Process

About the Right Leadership

Backlog Management
Product Goal => only items that serve the product goal
Not too big, not too fast
Tie product backlog to product roadmap
Sometimes easier to start from scratch than try to make sense of a too large backlog (like thousand+ items)

Big products => Cascading goals
Mission statement
Challenge = Formulate the right goals & connect them in a meaningful way

Authors = Roman Pichler & Stefan Wolpers


Roles | 10 Steps to Becoming a Great Agile Coach

The 10 Steps to Becoming a Great Agile Coach | 58 minutes
LeadingAgile | April 2020 (TriAgile 2020)

The 10 Steps to Becoming a Great Agile Coach | 58 minutes

In this remote talk from TriAgile 2020, LeadingAgile CEO Mike Cottmeyer uncovers the 10 steps you can take to become the great Agile coach you always wanted to be, along with the four primary skill areas that make a great coach and the hard skills you’ll need to develop to get there.

Primary Skill Areas That Make a Great Coach
#1 Developing Hard Skills
#2 Getting The Right Experiences
#3 Fitting In To Your Company Culture
#4 Being A Good Community Citizen
#5 Recognizing Your Belief System
#6 Understanding Your Default Behaviors
#7 Developing Emotional Intelligence
#8 Learning To Think Fast On Your Feet
#9 Working Through Solutions
#10 Pattern Recognition, Systems Thinking, and Planning
Coaching Roles at LeadingAgile

Author = Mike Cottmeyer


Agile | Agile VS Waterfall

Advantages of Agile Product Methodology for Fast Growing Startups & Enterprises
B2C Business2Community | 19 April 2021

What is Agile Product Methodology?
Agile product methodology is a practice which promotes continuous development and testing of a software or product throughout the product development lifecycle. In this approach, both the development and testing activities remain concurrent.
Agile approach is known to be one of the most effective and simplest processes to turn a vision for a product into software solutions.

Agile Development Statistics:
85.9% of software developers around the world use Agile product methodology
Companies that use Agile approach for software development gain 60% more profits than those who don’t.
Agile success rates are more than 1.5x higher than those of Waterfall projects
According to Agile adoption statistics, plenty of Fortune 500 companies have adopted Agile

Agile Product Methodology Vs Waterfall Model
Waterfall Approach

  1. In the Waterfall approach, product development flows sequentially from one point to another; just like a Waterfall filling the next reservoir.
  2. Using Waterfall development means customers will see the product only at the end of the project
    Waterfall method is considered to be more secure because it is plan oriented.
  3. In the Waterfall method, errors are tested only when the whole product is ready. So, if changes are to be made, the product development has to start from the beginning.
  4. In the Waterfall method, product developers and testers work separately.
  5. All features of a software or product are delivered at once, at the end of the project, and after the long implementation phase.
    Agile Approach
  6. Agile method follows incremental approach to product development.
  7. Agile method promotes early launch of products. Customers get early and frequent chances to use the product. This helps product development teams in making decisions and do necessary changes to the product.
  8. Agile method is comparatively unstructured as compared to the Waterfall method.
  9. Agile allows product development teams to fix errors in the middle of the project. Within this method, teams continue to test products throughout the product life cycle and gain useful feedback from the customer.
    In the Agile method, both testers and product developers work together.
  10. In Agile product development mode, core features of a product are delivered to users, and new features are added over time.

Agile Methodology Advantages
Put simply, Agile is:
Iterative – involves regular rhythms of work
Incremental – requires product development teams to present product increment
Faster: It ensures faster reach to the market
Cost-Efficient: Agile reduces cost of development by allowing product development at the same time teams gather requirements and information
Responsive: product teams can respond immediately if there’s an unpredictable scenario and revamp the product accordingly.

How to Use Agile Methodology in Product Development
Agile teams follow these steps to create products:

  1. Project Initiation
  2. Create Backlogs
  3. Establish Sprints for Software Development
  4. Product Development
  5. Production and Deployment

Agile Product Development Processes (Framework)

  1. Scrum
  2. Kanban
  3. Extreme Programming (XP)

Case Study of Agile Methodology

Author = Chanakya Kyatham


Roles | Project Manager

Does a Project Manager fit into an Agile Framework?
Praecipio Consulting | Sep 18, 2020

Project Managers have a wide range of responsibilities when working on a project: they oversee planning the project, create a schedule and timeline, execute each phase, manage budgets, serve as the liaison among all stakeholders, and also troubleshoot and maintenance, plus whatever other tasks that get added to their plate. As such, a Project Manager (PM) must be very organized and detail oriented. They also need to have great people skills because at the end of the day, this person is responsible for leading the team and communicating with all involved parties.

The Project Management Institute describes the role of a project manager as someone who acts as an agent of change. Someone who “makes project goals their own and uses their skills and expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within the project team.”

PMs serve as leaders. Aside from ensuring the project is delivered on time and within the agreed-upon budget, they also encourage their teams and inspire their clients. They need to solve problems as they arise with strong critical-thinking capabilities while also possessing strong communication skills to ensure everyone remains informed, motivated, and onboard.

A good PM delivers a final product on time, on budget while meeting or exceeding client expectations. Tracing projects back to business goals is becoming increasingly necessary for project managers.

(…) The Agile framework focuses on self-organization and team empowerment rather than defining specific roles, which is why there is no need for a Project Manager in the traditional sense; the role is pretty much covered between all the existing roles.

(…) An Agile organization can- and does- function well without a Project Manager. However, there is a huge potential for a PM skill set to add value to an organization, specifically on large projects. I have worked in QA Testing across various complex projects for the past five years, and it is clear to me that a PM can greatly impact both the journey and outcome of the project in regard to budget and risk management, as well as coordination between multiple scrum teams.

In an Agile environment, a Project Manager can add value by managing key aspects of every project, overseeing budgets, risks, etc., especially on large scale projects for enterprise organizations. Having a Project Manager also frees up the Scrum Master to focus solely on his or her core functions.

Take, for example, the below chart from Ken Rubin and his article “What Happens to the Project Manager when Doing Agile Development with Scrum?”: While the PM role no longer exists in a traditional sense, you can see how the tasks and roles normally assigned to them still exist within the system, but are spread out throughout the team. As a result, the person who would normally act as the PM, can work very well as the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, or on the Development Team, depending on his or her background and specific skillset.

Agile Scrum & Project Manager | Ken Rubin
Ken Rubin “What Happens to the Project Manager when Doing Agile Development with Scrum?”

Author = Marcelo Garza | Sep 18, 2020


Roles | Agile Project Manager VS Scrum Master

Why an Agile Project Manager is Not a Scrum Master
DZone | Mar 03, 2013

Interesting rant from the past (2013!). Excerpts:

(…) It’s not Scrum for these reasons:
The project manager and product owner start the release planning and ask the team if the release planning is ok. The team does not generate the initial draft of release planning itself. In Scrum, the team is supposed to generate all of the planning itself.

The checkin is different from the Scrum standup and the objectives of the checkin are different. I did suggest to the teams that if you want to create a cross-functional team where the functions are separated, if you ask people how they are working together, you might help them work together. Sometimes those questions work, and sometimes they don’t. It depends on the team and whether the people want to work together.

(…) The real difference is the difference between a Scrum Master and an Agile Project Manager. A Scrum Master is not a project manager. A scrum master does not manage risk by him or herself. A project manager will take on the risk management responsibility without asking the team.

A Scrum Master has only allegiance to the team. A project manager has responsibility to the team and to the organization. That means that the project manager might feel torn when the organization pressures the project manager to do something stupid.

(…) Agile makes it easy to protect the team. The question is this: does the Scrum Master have other responsibilities in addition to protecting the team or is the Scrum Master full time? An agile project manager tends to be full time on a geographically distributed team. Even on a geographically distributed team, a Scrum Master is not seen as a full time position. Bless their tiny little hearts, managers don’t seem to understand that transitioning to agile, especially for silo’d distributed teams with different cultural norms is non-trivial. They will make room for a project manager, but a Scrum Master? Oh no. Makes me nuts.

(…) I have nothing against Scrum Masters. Some of my good friends are CSTs (Certified Scrum Trainers). However, they are not all project managers, and have not been project managers, and have not studied the field of project management. Some have been. And, the real issue is this: In a two or three day workshop, they cannot convey to a person who may or may not have been a practicing project manager all of their project knowledge.

(…) I respect Ken and Jeff’s work too much to call it Scrum when it’s not.

Author = Johanna Rothman


Remote | Revisiting Agile Teams after an abrupt shift to Remote

Revisiting Agile Teams after an abrupt shift to Remote
McKinsey Insights | April 2020

Agile teams traditionally excel when their members are co-located. Here’s how to ensure they’re effective now that COVID-19 has forced them to work remotely.

Sustaining the people and culture of a remote agile team
– Revisit the norms and ground rules for interaction
– Cultivate bonding and morale
– Adapt coaching and development

Recalibrating remote agile processes
– Remote agile ceremonies come with unique challenges

Chart w/Scrum Ceremonies : Objectives, challenges for remote teams, solutions

– Establish a single source of truth
– Adjust to asynchronous collaboration
– Keep teams engaged during long ceremonies
– Adapting leadership approach
– Various approaches can help teams engage customers and external stakeholders

Chart w/Challenges ; Engaging purposefully, providing transparency, effective collaboration

Note: Article recommended by Bob Schatz, one my Scrum instructors.

Authors = Santiago Comella-Dorda, Lavkesh Garg, Suman Thareja, & Belkis Vasquez-McCall (McKinsey Insights, McKinsey & Company)

Roles | Project Manager in Agile

Role of a Project Manager in Managing Agile Projects
Journal of Business & Financial Affairs | Aug 12, 2016

Always interesting to read about how Agile & Scrum are perceived out of the IT world. This dates from 2016 and is a good read. Excerpts:

(…) Project manager in agile project
According to Turbit et al., a project manager is a way to connect to the steering committee [10]. The responsibilities of a project manager include the following:
• Managing people in an unpredictable and stressful environment – In agile projects, project timelines are critical. Project Manager ensures the sprint of the project is completed on time.
• Motivating everyone to remain focused on reaching the goal. In a large agile project, challenges and issues create frustration among team members. Project manager motivates his team members to avoid any issues that degrade employees’ performance.
• Modifying work-pressure and timelines to keep the pace – The project is divided among several segments which need to be completed phase wise in a specific timeline. The project manager assigns tasks to individual and balances the workload.
• Managing issues and escalating to the right authorities – Project manager informs the right person at the right time to resolve the issue.
• Communicating changes to the stakeholders – Project manager informs all the stakeholders about the status of the project.
• Fighting for the proper resource – Project manager manages approvals for required resources from the authorized people.
• Preparing project plans and making changes if necessary – Project manager helps to prepare project plans and ensure the project plan is being followed. If any changes required, he ensures changes are updated in the project plan and communicated to all.
• Developing risk management plans – Project manager identifies risks and develops risk management plans.
• Resolving issues to keep the project moving – Project manager ensures any interpersonal conflict, political issues, technical skill scarcity, shortage of the budget should not harm the project. He takes preventive actions to avoid risks.

(…) Project manager as a scrum master
As a scrum master, a successful project manager attains a daily meeting with the team members. This helps the project manager to identify any issues that the team members have faced or shared the update among all the team members [11]. As a scrum master, the project manager is responsible for sharing status reporting, communicating changes, risks, project plans and to identify any missing roles. Contrary to waterfall method, roles are distributed among all the team members. The key people in an agile method are the team members, scrum master, and the client.

(…) Findings: How role of a scrum master differs from a PM
According to Frederico et al., the role of a project manager and a scrum master differs from each other [12]. In an agile project environment, the roles of a project manager and a scrum master are as follows:
• A project manager manages the project – scope, cost, timeline and the overall quality of the project. A scrum master manages each scrum to reach the project goals.
• A project manager might manage multiple projects at a time. A scrum master usually focused on a specific project team.
• A project manager manages the budget and the risks of the project. A scrum master motivates the team members, facilitates sprint planning and scrum meetings.
• A project manager focuses on processes and allocates tasks to the team members. A scrum master helps to improve team dynamics and acts as a servant leader if required by the project.
• A project manager is a communicator between the management team and the team members. A scrum master is the facilitator and trains the product owner.
• A project manager informs the management about the project progress and coordinates with other teams. A scrum master motivates the team members and increases the team bonding.

Author = Soumita Banerjee


Remote | ZDNet Special Feature: Working from Home: The Future of Business is Remote

ZDNet Special Feature: Working from Home: The Future of Business is Remote
ZDNet | Undated

(…) From Fortune 500 enterprises to very small businesses, every organization has been thrust into the future faster than prognosticators dared dream. What factors will determine failure or success in this brave new world of work?

A variety of topics related to “Working from home: the new normal”. Each topic has its article with interesting ideas and perspectives, tools & tips. List of topics:

  • Work from home 101: Essential tools for telecommuting
  • What does the new normal look like post COVID-19? 15 CXOs answer
  • Everything you need to reopen your business
  • How remote working forced us to look beyond the traditional PC
  • Survey: Most US employees are uncomfortable returning to the workplace as restrictions ease
  • How the young workforce is responding to COVID-19 pandemic
  • Your Zoom meetings will be safe and secure if you do these 10 things
  • ZDNet Recommends: The best products for every office
  • Remote-working checklist: 10 top challenges you’ll face
  • Survey: CFOs looking to make remote work, telecommuting more permanent
  • Windows 10 alert: Zoom client can leak your network login credentials
  • I’ve been working from home for 13 years and I’m beginning to hate it
  • 9 remote work best practices from Verizon’s HR chief
  • Working from home on a laptop? Check out these external monitors
  • How one team switched 4,000 staff to remote working in just a week
  • Could COVID-19 change the look of the office as we know it?
  • With everyone working from home, VPN security is now paramount
  • Best video conferencing software for business
  • Coronavirus updates: How COVID-19 is accelerating the future of work
  • 64 expert tips for staying healthy, happy, and productive
  • Build a super-functional home office for $1,000
  • Slow Wi-Fi? 8 ways to speed up your home office network
  • Managing telecommuters? Here are 8 management tips
  • Hardware dilemma: Desktop or laptop with docking station?
  • Working from home? Switch off Amazon’s Alexa (say lawyers)
  • Your home Wi-Fi network is going to be exposed by telecommuting
  • Build a budget home office for under $300
  • Working from home: Cybersecurity tips for remote workers

Author = ZDNet

Remote | Remote Work VS Distributed Work

The crucial difference between remote work and distributed work
Work In Progress Dropbox Blog | April 03, 2020

Remote work is a discipline for the individual worker, but distributed work is a discipline for the entire organization.

Distributed work needs different tools
Distributed work needs a new social contract
Distributed work needs a more agile org chart
Distributed work needs a smart workspace

Author = Anthony Wing Kosner

Inside the Story of How H-E-B Planned for the Pandemic

Inside the Story of How H-E-B Planned for the Pandemic
Texas Monthly | March 26, 2020

(…) The grocer started communicating with Chinese counterparts in January and was running tabletop simulations a few weeks later. (But nothing prepared it for the rush on toilet paper.)

A fantastic read on how a company – H-E-B, based in San Antonio, TX – proactively prepared for the COVID-19 crisis, learning from past experience and focusing on best possible practices at all levels.

Before the Outbreak
Preparing Employees
Command Central
Trying to Keep Up
The Great Unknowns
Lessons Learned

Authors = Dan Solomon & Paula Forbes (Texas Monthly)