4 Ways to Better Learn About Agile as a Part of Product Management

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post. If you’re interested in writing a piece for us, contact gaby@productschool.com

Agile product management is a basic, but often misunderstood concept in product design and management. In a usual setting, the product manager manages the scope, resources, and reporting processes. Through the Agile product management approach, the project manager acts like a leader. Instead of managing tasks and resources, they focus on maximizing the product’s value.     

Before we dive into the resources that help you learn Agile, let’s look into the way it’s connected to the classic product management process. 

In the simplest description of a product manager’s job, they “preside over one particular product, working with designers, engineers, marketing, and business analysts. They are essentially the glue that keeps the whole team working together.

teams working

This is a great explanation of the product management process, which roughly touches on the Agile approach. Most product managers misunderstand their position and start micromanaging tasks. Let’s see how you can change that when you learn Agile.

What’s the Agile Approach? What Does It Have to Do with Product Management?

The Agile product management concept was introduced by a group of software developers in 2001. Their goal was to develop a faster, adaptable team that would respond to issues during the product development process. 

The traditional “waterfall” approach consists of developing a program and overseeing the steps that lead to the result. The Agile product manager does things differently; they require feedback from clients and customers during all stages of the development. Then, the team adapts the product to respond to the changing requirements. 

For example, let’s say that the team is trying to develop a new period-tracking app. As they move throughout the process, the client sends them this cool new research that changes the perspective. Instead of keeping up with the plan, the Agile product management should inspire adjustments on the go. 

They will take the study, use a convert PDF to JPG Mac tool, and print out big visuals of the research findings to hang around the office. The team won’t have a classic meeting where everyone is expected to force ideas. They will brainstorm through conversations, and they will adjust the development process. If necessary, they will go a few steps back to make corrections before moving on. 

This is a much faster and more effective way to get to an effective final product. Instead of developing the entire product and then testing what works, the team listens to the clients and consumers along the process. When the final product is developed, it’s more likely to work.  

If this concept is completely new to you, it’s important to learn Agile through a good strategy. We’ll share a few methods that work.  

Top 4 Ways to Learn and Become an Agile Product Manager

1. Start with the Agile Manifesto

When you want to learn something in depth, go to its source. It’s a rule that never fails in practice. Sure; there are other Agile resources that may be more modern. But the document that started everything in 2001 is the original source of knowledge. 

It teaches you about the pillars of the Agile product management process:

  • Instead of prioritizing processes, focus on individuals and their needs.
  • Do not for an unbreakable bondage with the contract; engage with the customers and change the plan if necessary.
  • Don’t focus on creating comprehensive documentation for the client; create a working product instead!
  • Planning is good, but it has to be a flexible and evolving process. Observe the market and the customer’s reactions, and respond to those changes while you’re developing the product. 
Roadmap

2. Use the Agile Manifesto to Create Exercises for the Team

The Agile Manifesto outlines 12 simple principles, which you can translate into any project development process. You can use those principles to create assignments related to the product you’re trying to bring to life. 

The entire team should take part in these exercises. You will all discuss the principles and the way they can be introduced into this project. 

You might also be interested in: Agile Product Delivery with fmr Expedia PM

Here’s one simple exercise: draw a line on the board, dividing it in two sections. Write “We value” on the top of the left section, and “Over” on the top of the right half. “We value product over process.” That’s an Agile rule, but try to translate it into a more specific guideline for your project.

3. Shift Your Mindset: Focus on the Product

In an Agile product management process, the product is the centerpeace. It’s not about the project. It’s not about the plan. It’s not about the agreement you achieved with a client. 

Agile teams treat the project as something temporary. It goes through a few phases, it deals with a budget and a timeframe, and then it comes to an end. The product is what stays, and it has to last for as long as possible. That’s why you have to make it responsive to the needs of its future users. 

As long as you get the right product, it doesn’t matter how you’ll organize the process. Make a plan, but stay flexible about it.  

4. Read The Lean Startup

This book by Eric Ries is one of the most important learning Agile resources: The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. Yes; it’s related to general project management when you treat the business as a product. 

The book teaches you how successful business leaders build innovative brands from scratch. They have an idea, but they are not chained to it. They feel the pulse of the audience all the time, and they develop a brand that progresses in a rapidly changing environment.

You might also be interested in: The Lean Product Playbook with Dan Olsen

You’ll Be Glad You Spent Time Learning Agile

The Agile approach is designed to meet the two major needs of modern product development: adaptability and speed. 

When you try to learn about it from blog posts, you’ll be all over the place. The posts tend to be repetitive, since they are all geared towards beginner readers. It’s best to turn to elaborate sources of knowledge, such as the Agile Manifesto, books, and online courses. 

Yes; you have time for that. The changing product management trends require you to adapt, so making time is the first thing to do. See? You’re already making an Agile step.

Meet the Author

James Dorian

James Dorian is a technical copywriter. He is a tech geek who knows a lot about modern apps that will make your work more productive. James reads tons of online blogs on technology, business, and ways to become a real pro in our modern world of innovations.

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