I’m back from a week of product management workshops and seminars in Sweden, including a Product Leadership event hosted by Tolpagorni’s Magnus Billgren. In a half-dozen discussions with the heads of product management groups, I was struck by how familiar their concerns are. We could have been in Sunnyvale rather than in Stockholm. Topics that came up repeatedly: What metrics do we use for evaluating product managers, and how can we tell if they are doing a good job? Are there PM KPIs*? Our agile development teams tell us that roadmaps are no longer needed, but our customers and sales teams still demand firm commitments.
On March 5th, Shreyas Doshi had the SVPMA podium for a talk on “How To Get That Next PM Job” This was an astonishingly wonderful talk: crisp, funny, and relentlessly on-point. When I wasn’t applauding and smacking my forehead, I was jealous.
Until recently, most of the discussion around Agile has been strictly limited to software development teams. We focused on building and testing and shipping software more effectively, with PMs/POs managing backlogs and user stories. As software companies mature in their adoption of agile, though, it’s becoming clear that agile uncovers inefficiencies throughout the company. It also creates opportunities for executives to drive improvement in market-facing groups such as Support, Marketing, Professional Services, and Channel Sales.
Lately, there’s been lots of discussion about whether Agile is strictly a software development methodology, without major impact on the outbound parts of a software company, or whether it’s driving broad changes in how companies deliver value to their markets. At Enthiosys, we’re seeing the move to business agility: applying agile techniques beyond software development as a source of tangible company benefits.
As more of our clients have moved to agile software development, we’ve seen a growing need for business agility: getting non-engineering functions involved earlier and more collaboratively, so that companies deliver better revenue results as well as better software. Let’s make this more concrete by mapping it to the restaurant business. Our first thoughts about restaurants are usually about the food. It’s important to remember, though, that restaurants are businesses first-and-foremost: if they don’t make money, they close their doors. A well-functioning restaurant profitably coordinates the chefs with its front-of-house staff and sales/marketing. Translating this to the software world, agile software development teams (engineering, QA, tech docs, tech ops) are our chefs: creating the most visible part of what we…