If you’re already a product manager and stepping in to take over an existing product (or parachuting in as a consultant), you need to find your feet quickly. Here’s my checklist for that first week, and the first month.
While our functional/departmental co-workers are stuck in the issue-of-the-day or this week’s sprint backlog or customer escalation #847, there’s a need for someone (often a product manager) to look a few months ahead. To do scenario planning. To apply previous experience. To take the long view.
Recent conversations at several clients highlight an often-repeated set of magical thinking: beliefs by internal clients that development resources are infinite, and beliefs by product managers that prioritization can convince anyone otherwise. Both are wrong, but seductive. Here goes… The starting point for this conversation is the typical product roadmap: crammed full of prioritized work and heavily negotiated with the development team. Almost every optional item has been postponed, and there’s still some risk of delay. This is a product plan with no “white space,” no large chunks of unallocated engineering capacity, no slop or slush funds or hidden treasure.
Short review of Mario Moriera’s new book, “Adapting Configuration Management for Agile Teams.” Mario structures a strong case that good Configuration Management (CM) is a strong enabler and requirement for highly productive Agile development teams. In particular, he counters the oft-repeated (but untrue) assertion that Agile teams don’t need process, structure, tools or architecture to succeed. To the contrary, thoughtful and planful application of CM principles is important to professional Agile software teams.
The ‘poop’ on product management: being a product champion is a lot like being a parent. We love our products, make multi-year commitments to their development, hide their shortcomings, and look out for their best long-term interests while other organizations live in the moment.