Path to Self -Discovery in Agile!

Guidance for the lost souls in Agile “Product” Management

Sushmi VR
Sushmi VR
May 16 · 4 min read
Photo by Mike Kononov on Unsplash

There is a specific class of people in an Agile Product environment, who frequently ask themselves, the following questions at least once in their career:

  • Who Am I?
  • What is my Role?
  • What is the Outcome of my role?

Any guesses on who they are, who tread this path to self-discovery, while simultaneously perfecting the product? No brownie points for guessing it correctly :)

Yes, they are the Business analysts (BA), Product Owners (PO) and Product Managers (PM). For the sake of convenience, I am going to collectively call them as the “Agile Business-Product People” and would refer them this way going forward.

These three titles are often loosely thrown around without a clear definition and segregation on their roles and responsibilities. Sometimes there is an overlap on their duties. However, seldom there is clarity on the core competencies that are to be associated with these roles.

Fret not, here we go with an illustration that throws some light upon this, aiming to resolve the confusion.

The following infographic depicts a 10,000 ft. view of the key responsibilities of a Product Manager, Product Owner and Business Analyst, in an Agile - Scrum Platform.

An Infographic that depics the key characterists of PM, PO and BA in Agile (Scrum)
An Infographic that depics the key characterists of PM, PO and BA in Agile (Scrum)
Product Manager (PM) Vs Product Owner (PO) Vs Business Analyst (BA) Infographic created by Sushmi VR using Canva.com

Now it is time to deep dive for more clarity.

First and foremost, it is important to understand the similarities between the three roles — they are business facing. They serve the business needs and in the process add value to the end users. The core directions on what needs to be done by the Engineering and QA teams, to cater to the business needs, comes from these ‘Agile Business-Product People’.

Here is a “f(p)unny” way of representing the roles and responsibilities of each of these Agile Business-Product People

Story 1

As a Product Manager,

My Responsibilities in an end to end Product Lifecycle include:

  • Creating Product Vision.
  • Implementing the Vision and product idea using a clear strategy.
  • Communicating with the Stakeholders on the Vision and Strategy.
  • Co-Ordinate with Engineering lead and Present the Business with the feature prioritization.
  • Guide the Product Owner in terms of prioritization.
  • Align the product planning within available budget.
  • Demo and Launch the product to end users.
  • In a nutshell, my favorite definition: “Be a CEO Of the Product, but without any authority”.

So that I am able to add the following values

  • Identify the right problem and provide a meaningful solution.
  • A meaningful solution is launched within the stipulated time.
  • Solve problems faced by end users.
  • Add value to the Business by solving end user problems.
  • Improve overall organization’s market presence and revenue.
  • Stay ahead of competition.

Story 2

As a Product Owner,

My Responsibilities in an Agile Product management include:

  • Receiving and Understanding the Product Vision and Strategy from the PM.
  • Creation of Product Backlog and User stories.
  • Prioritize the feature delivery into Sprints and Releases.
  • Co-ordinate with Business Analyst on the User stories and Definition of Done.
  • Co-ordinate with Scrum Master on delivery timelines.
  • Frequently update the overall product progress to the Product Manager and Business Teams.

So that I am able to add the following values:

  • Assist the PM in incorporating Product Vision using a well-defined strategy.
  • Identify and fill any gaps in the product feature.
  • Establish a clarity on the scope and schedule of the product delivery.
  • Clearly identify any issues or risks in advance and mitigate accordingly.

Story 3

As a Business Analyst,

My Responsibilities in an Agile Scrum Project include:

  • Clearly defining the user stories and acceptance criteria.
  • Walkthrough the user stories with the engineering and QA team.
  • Provide guidance for User acceptance testing.
  • Take part in all Scrum Ceremonies and perform relevant activities.
  • Identify any risks / lags in delivery and report it to the PO and PM accordingly.
  • Demonstrate the incremental deliverables to PO and key stakeholders.

So that I am able to add the following values:

  • Act as a Pseudo Product Owner while closely working with the Scrum Team.
  • Help implement the product vision in the said priority.
  • Guide the team towards providing quality deliverables.
  • Ensure seamless sprint and project release.
  • Identify and implement incremental improvements in deliverable methodology and product.
  • Adhere to timelines there by ensuring the solution reaches the market in a timely manner.

In a nutshell, this is a high-level collection of my own self-discovery as a Product Person in an Agile world! I have executed most of the responsibilities mentioned above at some point, but not necessarily in the respective roles ;)

How about you?

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