This is the second in a series of guest posts by Brad Barton, Mark Ferraro, and Si Alhir, three transformation consultants with almost 75 years of combined experience coaching organizations with enterprise agility.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) describes a project as “a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service or result”. So, projects are a temporary endeavor and simply a means to an end; but to what end and who is responsible for shaping and communicating this end?
Many organizations — including those not typically viewed as “product” organizations — have discovered the valuable role product management can play in bringing focus to their temporary endeavors. By shaping the vision for the product under development, product managers shift the emphasis away from temporary endeavors towards the long-term value they deliver to customers and markets. In support of this vision, a roadmap sets the focus for the multiple and often concurrent projects that must be executed to reach the (hopefully ever-evolving) target end state. But the work doesn’t stop there…
Once work is underway, product managers are often left with the challenge of orchestrating all of these efforts to ensure they come together in a meaningful way for customers. Without the proper tools for organizing work and providing visibility — balancing the many perspectives of product managers, project managers, other team members, and contributors that intersect around short-term efforts and the context of long-term results — success is jeopardized!
What is the role of product managers in an Agile organization?
Historically, there has been much debate if product managers take on Scrum‘s Product Owner role or if product managers interact with product analysts (sometimes called business or system analysts) who take on Scrum’s Product Owner role. In 2007, Ken Schwaber, co-creator of Scrum with Jeff Sutherland, settled the debate in his book “The Enterprise and Scrum“: “Product managers and customers are now Product Owners.”
Most product managers will tell you that they do whatever they can to prevent anyone around them from ever thinking there is anything temporary about the product they champion. Don’t let the project perspective distract from the big picture… Customers fall in love with great products, not well-executed projects!
Have your own thoughts on the topic? Feel free to leave your comments, or visit Si’s blog to continue reading on the topic.Si Alhir