The Role of Agile Methodology in Product Management

Nowadays, the online market has become increasingly competitive and saturated with various different businesses. In order for companies to succeed in such an environment, it’s of vital importance for them to grab and hold the attention of modern consumers.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done as consumer expectations constantly change and become more demanding as time goes by. That is precisely why traditional methods of developing, managing and releasing new products in the market is no longer viable.

Fortunately, the vast majority of companies began adopting Agile methodology in order to not just meet the ever-growing consumer expectations, but to remain competitive and relevant in the market as well.

Modern-day product managers often attend product management school in order to fully understand how to guide companies through the entire lifecycle of a product while focusing on consumers and the product itself. So with that in mind, let’s have a look at the role of Agile methodology in product management.

What is Agile methodology?

Agile methodology is a set of principles designed to provide an iterative and consumer-centric approach to developing software and other project as opposed to traditional methods that were proving to be unreliable.

Agile as a concept existed since 1957 when incremental approach to stoneware development was first discussed but it wasn’t until 2001 when the Agile Manifesto was introduced that this methodology began to gain traction and wider adoption.

Created as an alternative to traditional approach where an entire product is built in one iteration and tested afterwards, Agile introduced smaller iterations where working parts of product were build and tested only to be combined into a working product later on.

These small iterations are called sprints and unlike with traditional methods, customer or user feedback is is heavily involved in Agile practices as products are being developed for them, to begin with.

How does Agile benefit product management

As mentioned before, Agile is designed to guide companies throughout the entire lifecycle of a product from development to marketing, while maintaining a focus on the customer or consumer and the product itself. A product owner or product manager can assume the role of leading the project and focusing on leveraging Agile best practices for product management.

Therefore, the role of product manager is to focus on market projections, the scope of the product and the project, as well as on conveying their vision to the rest of the team. The value of the product is maximized through collaboration, teamwork, communication and task prioritization. There can be no rushed decisions or micromanagement as the team needs both the time and the right resources to get the job done correctly.

Moreover, Agile is not just a set of practices but also a mindset that allows companies to envision the best possible approach to develop new products, while frameworks, such as Scrum, for instance, provide the means to make such product development a reality.

Not only that but Agile focuses on delivering value through product, which is quite essential in today’s competitive environment. Companies often make a mistake of developing products so that they can churn faster time-to-market neglecting consumer needs and demands in the process, which often turns out to be a bad executive decision.

The challenges of adopting Agile product management approach

It’s no secret that product manager is a role that has originated for traditional methodologies. As such, these roles are based on specific mindset and responsibilities that made sense way back when.

However, traditional methodologies are no longer viable and are quite obsolete these days so product managers who adopted the traditional mindset can have difficulties adjusting to the Agile approach. The introduction of Agile methodology completely changed the landscape, especially since waterfall approaches were the only way to develop software or other products.

In other words, the roles itself as well as the responsibilities of product managers evolved over time. That said, the introduction of the role of product owner made things more seamless for product managers who were in the process of adjusting to new principles and practices.

A PO can focus on the development of the product and team coordination while PM can focus on market analysis and other aspects of the project, thus adjusting to Agile more seamlessly. The only situation when a product manager assumes the role of product owner is on very small project that have small scope of responsibilities.