Interested in Agile product management?
If you’re used to traditional product management, you analyze industry trends, develop a product, and then finally release it onto the market. Sure, you may interact with customers initially to get a basic idea of what they want. But that’s about it.
However, customer demands can change down the line.
It could be anything from a feature addition to changing the overall product!
Fortunately, Agile product management can help you here with its adaptive approach to product planning and management.
In this article, you’ll learn everything about Agile product management.
Let’s dive right in.
What Is Agile Product Management?
Agile product management involves applying the Agile methodology to manage various stages in the product life cycle.
Teams develop the product in short cycles (sprints), including customer feedback after each sprint and making the necessary changes during the next sprint. 🏃
As you involve the customer at every stage of the process, you can adjust the product plan based on their constant feedback.
This helps you avoid worrying about: what if the customers don’t like the final product?!
Besides increased product quality and customer satisfaction, Agile offers several benefits like:
- Early and predictable product delivery
- Enhanced project control
- Improved transparency
- Better team efficiency
- Increased collaboration and ownership
Wait… how do you get started with Agile?
While you can always read the Agile Manifesto (it describes the Agile principles and values), it’s a lot to take in one go! 😩
Instead, check out our guide on the Agile methodology to see how you can embrace the Agile method with ease. 💪
Can non-software product teams use Agile?
Most people think Agile = software development.
Sure, the Agile process was developed with software engineering in mind.
However, that isn’t the case anymore.
For example, you can use Agile to develop a revolutionary showerhead in no time, including customer inputs regularly.
You don’t want to create something that literally forces people out of the shower (Seinfeld, anyone?)
Other examples of Agile’s application in a non-software context include:
- Agile marketing helps teams create adaptive and iterative marketing campaigns
- Financial planning services can break up financial years into sprints for better management
- Sales teams can use Agile techniques to be more receptive to customer feedback
The Agile Product Management Team
In a traditional product team, you’ll have rigid structures where decision-making requires multiple approvals. There’ll also be an overall product manager and department-specific teams for product development, marketing, sales, and more.
Not only does this slow down the process, but when several teams brainstorm together, your product planning sessions could turn into a warzone.
We aren’t kidding! ⚔
On the other hand, an Agile team is a small team of members with different, complementary skill sets. Members are empowered to make decisions on their own, making the process quick and efficient.
And while an Agile team doesn’t have a specific hierarchy, the Agile Manifesto defines specific roles and responsibilities for organized chaos… we mean, smooth functioning. 😅
Here’s a quick look into the key roles in an Agile product team:
And what better way to explain it than with the Avengers.
Despite their differences, our superheroes worked together towards their Endgame.
A. Product manager
The product manager is your team’s Nick Fury, who makes strategic decisions regarding the product. They’re often referred to as the ‘product expert’ in an Agile product team.
Some of the key responsibilities of an Agile product manager include:
- Interacting with customers
- Creating the product vision and strategy
- Defining user stories
- Developing the product roadmap
- Recruiting people into the Avengers Initiative 😎
B. Product owner
The product owner is like Tony Stark, striking a great balance between business intelligence and technical know-how.
They are more tactical and communicate business decisions to the development team. That’s why most product owners often start as a business analyst before taking on a product ownership role.
A product owner’s role includes:
- Communicating with all stakeholders
- Creating and managing the product backlog
- Participating in Agile meetings like the daily Scrum
- Having a great sense of humor (you gotta motivate the team, right?)
However, in some Agile teams, especially in smaller businesses, a product owner can double-up as an Agile product manager.
Sorta like how Iron Man led the Avengers when Nick Fury disappeared.
C. Scrum master
A Scrum master helps navigate the team through the Scrum and Agile practice and complete the project. While they won’t be the most technical person on the team, they’ll always be ready to help any member.
That’s why we think Captain America would make an excellent Scrum master.
He’s ready to help Tony when needed, even if they don’t always see eye to eye.
The rest of the Avengers form the other members of the product team.
The Agile Product Management Process
We know what you’re thinking… how do you actually go about Agile product management?
The overall traditional product management process remains the same when you’re using Agile.
However, with the Agile superhero mix added to each stage, you have slight variations.
So here’s how traditional product management evolves with Agile coming in:
A. Understand customer needs
In traditional product management, you usually interact with customers in two instances:
- Before creating the product to understand initial requirements
- On delivering the product to check if the product meets their needs
But what if the customer is unhappy during the delivery stage?
Well, this sums up your situation:
To avoid that nightmare, Agile development involves the customer throughout the process.
So while it’s essential to understand customer needs at the start, you have to stay close to them at every stage to recognize exactly what they need.
How do you do that?
Create beautiful Forms based on your business needs and just share it with your customers or stakeholders. Choose from multiple field options to get the answers you need. 📝
You can even create tasks out of the submissions to act on them immediately.
Perfect for ensuring you don’t forget any customer request!
B. Define the product strategy and roadmap
In a traditional approach like Waterfall, you predict what could happen later and create the product strategy and roadmap around those “long term visions.”
However, we aren’t Dr. Strange and can’t predict the future!
So when something unforeseen happens, it becomes too hard to adjust the whole process. From causing unexpected delays to even derailing the project, there are “countless possibilities.”
On the other hand, Agile’s sprint-approach helps you adapt to changing requirements with ease.
Wait… does that mean you don’t need a product roadmap or strategy in an Agile environment?
Instead, an Agile product strategy and roadmap only provide high-level overviews of the process. They don’t define what you’re going to build or when.
Here’s a quick rundown of how an Agile roadmap is different from their traditional counterpart:
- An Agile roadmap only communicates the desired outcomes and not a concrete plan
- It conveys the uncertainty regarding any particular part of the strategy
- It’s highly dynamic and should be updated regularly
Fortunately, ClickUp makes managing an Agile product strategy and roadmap super easy.
ClickUp lets you:
- Use Mind Maps to connect the dots and shape up your product strategy
- Collaborate with stakeholders and create strategy documents with Docs
- Use the Notepad to jot down out-of-the-box ideas on the fly
- Build your product roadmap with Custom Fields and Gantt Charts
- Set Goals and Milestones to stay on track with your roadmap
With ClickUp, you don’t need Dr. Strange’s visions to create amazing products!
C. Create the product backlog and prioritize features
In traditional product management, you create a requirements document during product planning. The entire project will be based on that single static document.
Not ideal when customer demands change like the weather, right? 🌩️
However, in Agile product management, the Scrum product owner creates a product backlog to keep track of changing requirements. It’s an ordered list of product tasks that’s updated the minute any requirement changes.
Let’s take the showerhead example we discussed earlier.
Say the customer wants the shower to save water too.
You can then add the new requirement to the backlog and ensure the engineers tackle it during development.
Additionally, product owners (and managers) work closely with the Scrum team to determine which backlog tasks to complete in each sprint. Members prioritize features accordingly and decide on a rough delivery plan.
Remember, no Agile development plan is set in stone.
It becomes more defined as you work through each sprint, experimenting with ideas to explore innovation, sorta like a fun science experiment.
To help you manage backlogs and workflows efficiently, ClickUp gives you a host of powerful features.
Use Lists to split each backlog item into smaller tasks and just check them off as you progress.
Add Task Priorities to tackle tasks that demand your attention.
You can even add Agile points to a List to better estimate when you’ll be able to complete it.
D. Release increments and measure success
In the Waterfall approach, the customers get the product only after the entire development process is over.
So if they want to change anything, even if it’s something minor, you’ll probably have to overhaul the entire product!
However, in the Agile approach, you deliver semi-developed products (increments) to the customers after each sprint.
For example, in the case of the revolutionary showerhead, you’ll deliver a basic model after the first sprint. The customer then reviews the product and shares their feedback, helping you give them a better customer experience.
Additionally, measuring product success in Agile is a continuous process.
After each sprint, you’ll conduct review and retrospective meetings to evaluate customer success and team performance. This way, you can regularly analyze important KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and see how close you’re to achieving your goals.
Fortunately, ClickUp’s Dashboards is the only tool you need to track KPIs and team performance accurately.
You can also use Permissions to bring stakeholders into your project space to see how the Agile project progresses in real-time.
Don’t worry. You get to decide exactly what they can see in your ClickUp project space!
2 Tips For Successful Agile Product Management
Here are two practical tips to help you ace Agile product management:
1. Explore innovation but listen to user feedback
One of the best ways to survive in a competitive product market is to create innovative yet useful products.
Let’s take ClickUp, for example.
ClickUp is a project management and productivity app. One of the thousands of such software available today.
So what makes ClickUp a successful product in the crowded software market?
For starters, we go by the “ship it and see what happens” philosophy, which is essentially what Agile is all about.
Take risks, think out-of-the-box, and explore innovation.
Continuous exploration fuels innovation, so go on an adventure with your product team!
Sure, users may not be 100% happy with certain features, but that’s a given.
Just remember to ask for their feedback regularly, as we do with our feature request page. Besides asking users what features they want in ClickUp, we also take feedback on integration needs, software bugs, and language support!
Once you have an efficient feedback loop in place, combine user feedback with your product vision, and you’ll be able to make it big in a competitive market.
2. Be dolphins, not submarines
What’s the difference between a dolphin and a submarine?
Unlike a submarine, a dolphin remains visible. 🐬
While they go underwater for a short time, dolphins come back to the surface.
And that’s exactly how an Agile product team should be.
Don’t deep dive into product development (like a submarine).
You may feel like if you spend a lot of time on the product, you’ll be able to perfect it.
However, most of that “perfection” will be based on your assumptions.
But instead, if you release increments and get customer feedback early and you’ll be able to know what exactly needs to be done, helping you maximize product value quickly.
And visibility isn’t just for customers.
Workflows, communication, milestones, and everything in your Agile process must be visible to each team member. This helps keep everyone on the same page regarding how the Agile project is progressing.
Get More Agile!
Agile product management helps product teams create user-centric products within short timeframes.
However, there’s no denying that a lot goes into creating and managing the Agile process.
You have various roles, responsibilities, meetings, and more to keep in mind.
That’s why you need ClickUp!
With a wide variety of Agile features, from product planning to tracking team performance, ClickUp helps you adapt to Agile needs with ease.
Get ClickUp for free today and redefine the way you plan, develop, and manage products! 🚀
Greg is a Content Strategist at ClickUp, where he crafts copy and content for the most productive people in the world. When he’s not living in ClickUp Docs, he’s spending quarantine somewhere in San Diego, drinking wine, reading his Kindle, watching documentaries, or eating shit on his surfboard.