I soon realized in my first week in my new role as product manager that there was plenty of scope to improve a number of aspects of the product development process. We are currently using a hybrid of Scrum and waterfall (the logic behind this will form the basis of a later blog post). I waited for all the team members’ to return from their holidays before holding a team meeting that I tagged “meet the product manager”.
I introduced myself as a product manager who ‘eats their own dog food’ – in other words I’m an active user of online tools, blogging platforms, social media and networking sites.
I also took the opportunity to let them know the things (from a professional perspective) that I’m passionate about:
- All things to do with Product Management/Marketing.
- Working with engineering/development teams and cross functional teams.
- Agile software development particularly, scrum.
- Creating strategy and visions and driving them through all the stages to completion.
I followed this with a case study: comparing two redesign projects that I was the product manager for. One using waterfall which had a shared test resource and the other using scrum with a dedicated test resource. The results were alarming. The waterfall project took +60% more man hours and went live with 100 plus small and medium bugs, whilst the redesign, that was developed using scrum, went live with 4 known minor bugs. I used this experience not only to demonstrate my active involvement in scrum but to illustrate the type of transformational product development we can achieve if we work closely together and use the scrum frame work wisely.
I highlighted that as the scrum product owner I would initially be spending a lot of my time and energy over the next 4 to 8 weeks, developing: in conjunction with the business owners, commercial owners and other senior stakeholders, the product strategy, product roadmap and release plan - the end result being a backlog with at least 6 to 18 months worth of work in it. Naturally the backlog would need constant grooming as coarse grain items become high priority. I would also naturally be on hand on a day to day basis to support the team and work with the scrum master to remove impediments
I then handed out post-it notes and ask the team to write on each note their likes and dislikes and also to introduce themselves e.g. where they've previously worked, what they’re passionate about, hobbies and interests…
One of the key messages message that the scrum training drummed home to me when I was first trained on the scrum framework was that scrum does not solve problems it only identifies them. However scrum, if practiced appropriately, will make change and tracking and tracking the results of change much easier. Here are the top three likes and dislikes the developers highlighted.
- No dedicated full time test analyst, not using automated test tools; the team failing to carry out unit testing and code reviews.
- Changing requirements /scope creep causing work to be either wasted or having to be reworked.
- Opinions of the team not always being embraced when it comes to decisions on functionality.
- Knowledge sharing among the team – experience and ideas are traded freely.
- The fact that we use scrum/agile – the team liked all aspects of scrum especially the ability to select tasks on a daily basis.
- Product Manager being part of the team as opposed to being absent (note complement was aimed at the interim contract product manager cum technical team leader).
I said to at the beginning of this blog post that the first thing was to review the situation and give the team the opportunity to share their thoughts – the second thing I’ll do (and publish the results in a future blog post) is to survey the team to see how mature they are with regards to practicing scrum.