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Different Types of Product Teams

The product team is accountable for implementing different strategies for developing the roadmap and defining product features. The team would choose what to build, promote and what is new, and measure accomplishments of organizational roles within the company. A product team is typically composed of cross-functional teammates. They are accountable for product management, marketing, user experience, and analytics.The digitalization of businesses has had companies create more and more applications for their end-users and domestic needs. AI-powered chatbots are now replacing humans when it comes to addressing customer grievances. Many non-tech companies have started outsourcing their work to integral engineering teams with dedicated product owners, product managers, and business analysts, who deliver the product with full responsibility.The company requires a global visionary who can drive the team in the correct direction for product development. The rest depends on the shoulders of the outsourcing team. Startups and large companies benefit from having dedicated development teams.WHAT IS A PRODUCT TEAM?A product team structure is typically composed of cross-functional teammates. They are accountable for product management, product marketing, user experience, and product analytics. Product teams may be provided with assignments for marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. Individual product teamThe product team typically combines multiple roles throughout the organization, all of which have an impact on the product and strategic roadmap. This group includes individuals from engineering/development, sales, support, operations, and marketing; all of whom are led by a product manager. Organizational team structureThe product development team includes product managers, associate product managers, research analysts, and business analysts. All organizations are set up a bit differently and this team can also include technical PMs, UX team members, product marketers as well as other roles. Below are the roles and responsibilities of each function within a typical product organization:Functional Areas   Product management Responsibilities of management Set the product perception and approach Organize and deliver releases Assemble and curate unique ideas Create new product features Roles in management Product Director  Product manager Owner of the product Associate product manager Functional Areas  User design experience (UX) Responsibilities of UX User research Create user stories Creating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes Usability testing UX Roles Director UX product manager UX senior designer Designer UX  Functional Areas  Product AnalyticsResponsibilities in Analytics Data sources Integration  Market trends research User journeys User behavior and pain points Analytics Roles Director Manager Analytics Product senior analyst Business analystTHE PRODUCT CORE TEAMThe Core Product team is the one that builds and maintains the key features of the product that has been developed. For e.g., Key features of the Zoho (Project Management tool) are built and maintained by the core team, and this is the reason for its seamless and flawless management of different projects and teams. The better a product is built with outstanding features, the more it gets adopted by users and the more business value it generates.  The Core Product team is also responsible for solving customer problems and helping customers with their issues.  To achieve this, the team focuses on a range of activities as below: Distinguishing unmet needs, underserved audiences, or inadequately solved problems. Implementing solutions that adhere to the expectations of the customers; considering factors such as viability, feasibility, usability, and value. Giving solutions that are robust, fault-tolerant, and maintainable Operating, maintaining, and improving these solutions. THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A CORE PRODUCT MANAGERA product manager combines a business plan, design knowledge, and customer requirements in order to develop a product that is suitable, feasible, and valuable. PMs are focused on optimizing a product to accomplish the business goals and user necessities while maximizing return on investment. The product manager contrives all of the white space around the product. The product manager tackles everything that falls outside of the bounds of any of the three (business plan, design knowledge, and customer requirements) core groups. An API product manager and other product managers would have different customers. That means that the product manager needs to be much better at technical skills. As another example, a consumer product manager might be assisting millions of customers, and therefore needs to be extremely quantitative. A B2B product manager would serve a dozen total customers, and therefore needs to be highly skilled at change management, negotiations, and objection approach. Within the same company, we can see a diversity of product managers, because each product manager is managing fundamentally different problems as they are working with different kinds of customers, business stakeholders, and development teams. THE PLATFORM PRODUCT TEAMThe product platform team is responsible for developing the tools and building blocks that allow product developers to formulate relevant features instantly. Product Platform team builds and maintains the frameworks that encapsulate resolutions to regular problems.  Tools built by the platform team speed up iteration and debugging; for example, a tool allowing developers to spin up a fake sandbox instance in order to test new features. The product platform team cooperates with product developers in order to ensure that we are giving the best support. This includes: Giving out questionnaires to identify general improvement pain points and untapped potential for amendments to frameworks and tooling Product platform provides valuable suggestions and thoughts to the team which helps them work efficiently and seamlessly. As we progress, keeping stakeholders associated with regular meetings and updates in order to make sure we’re formulating the right thing. Product platform engineers often have some of the following specialized skills: Ability to complete large-scale codebase migrations. Provide expertise to establish appropriate ideas for the use cases. Efficiently managing the project and satisfying the demands of stakeholders with assorted interests.PLATFORM PRODUCT MANAGER RESPONSIBILITIESA product manager outlines consumer needs and business goals and translates them into viable, innovative products. They compose and execute the necessary steps to move new products through each stage of development i.e. from inception to product launch. Developing roadmaps to drive products, authorizing and communicating product requirements, supervising usability testing and prototype development, prioritizing features, writing improvements, and determining and tracking metrics are daily activities of the platform manager. The product platform manager is bound to meet milestones and deadlines for deliverables; formulating user stories, packaging and promoting, expediting cross-functional teams, and directing market research and competitive analysis. Platform managers working in a computer company focus on improving the overall performance of computer systems, while other platform managers focus on improving platforms upon which computer programs will run. All of these improvements should be done within budget and customer needs. At Yahoo!, the platform manager acts as an alliance between the platform development team and its customers. These managers are accountable for answering customer questions and also explaining customer concerns to the project development team. THE GROWTH TEAM’S GROWTHThe growth product manager ideally operates with a dedicated, cross-functional team, often referred to as a seed, of engineering, analyst, and design resources, joined with additional non-dedicated resources from teams directly impacted by the goal at hand. For example, if the purpose is to improve sales of Product A, the core product manager of that product will be involved in different activities such as implementing user friendly features, digital marketing etc. ‍In limited developed organizations, the growth PM may only have access to a dedicated, full-stack engineer or may have no committed resources at all. In this situation, the growth PM must establish a firm business case to gain access to a number of non-dedicated, cross-functional resources to support. Here are a few tips, if you are building a growth team:Discover Problem - Find a unique problem that could help drive growth. Typically, this is an abandoned area at the company. Product manager should not try to own all of the growth as this will demotivate the team. Development and no retaliation - Appreciate the culture and principles that made the company flourish. Develop these principles and don't re-write them. Failure - Explore quick wins but expect that the team could fail early and often. Give them enough opportunity to finish the task. Communicate and celebrate the success - Use success as a carrot and display how to approach problems.RESPONSIBILITIES OF GROWTH PRODUCT MANAGERGrowth product managers help to reduce obstacles that arise during the development of the product, which intimates that they enable customers and users to promptly find gain within the core product. In other words, growth product managers would be more fruitful when there is already an existing product that hasn’t yet been matured enough for its growth. Lots of organizations would ideally engage core product managers first and then would hire growth product managers as core product managers would facilitate new use cases in the product. The difference can be noticed between core product managers and growth product managers. Core product managers open new superpowers. Growth product managers expedite the pace at which users gain superpowers. Following are the key responsibilities of a growth product manager. Growth product managers are all about eliminating disagreement. Growth product managers instead of owning a specific set of product functionality are highly focused on metrics. Growth product managers are given specific direction to operate across many diverse product functionalities to optimize important metrics. They will be more focused on how to drive more value from existing products. Describing at a high level, growth product managers need to be both obsessively quantitative and creatively qualitative. SCRUM PRODUCT OWNER The product owner is a position on a product development team accountable for maintaining the product backlog in order to accomplish the desired consequence that a product development team attempts to achieve.   Important activities to accomplish in this role include: Clearly recognize and determine product backlog items in order to build a shared understanding of the problem and resolution with the product development team Advance decisions concerning priority of product backlog items in order to deliver maximum outcome with minimum output Discover whether a product backlog item was adequately addressed Guarantee transparency into the upcoming work of the product development team. The product owner role was designed as part of the Scrum framework in line to address hurdles that the product development teams had with various, conflicting direction, or no direction at all with respect to what to develop. Many assume that a product owner is someone who can spend a considerable amount of time with the product development team giving clarification on product backlog items and making decisions about which product backlog items to do. The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Development Team. The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it. However, the Product Owner remains accountable. The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the aspirations of a committee in the Product Backlog, but those desiring to change a Product Backlog item’s priority must address the Product Owner. For the Product Owner to succeed, the whole organization must appreciate his or her decisions. The Product Owner’s conclusions are evident in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog. No one can force the Development Team to operate from a different set of requirements. FEATURE OWNER AND COMPONENT OWNER A feature owner, in reverse, is focused on one or more specific and individual features. The feature owner’s liability is to guarantee that the features function well, for instance, that the drop-off amount of the checkout feature is low. On the other hand, a component owner takes care of one or more segments, such as, the user interface or data access layer. This person makes sure that the architectural component works as anticipated. To do so, the person needs to possess relevant and suitable technical skills.  The picture below illustrates the three different owner roles.Using feature and component owners is a scaling technique. It benefits to grow a product by dividing the product responsibilities. A familiar approach is to have one overall product owner who accomplishes the entire product and several feature and component owners who look after its different elements.PLATFORM OWNERSoftware platform is a collection of digital assets that are used by different products, and a platform owner maintains such a platform. The individual is accountable for maximizing the value of the platform, for example, reducing the time of launching of product to market that are developed and on top of it reducing development cost. A platform owner is similar to a product owner and should have in-depth technological expertise that they would need in order to communicate with the users of the product. The users may be development team members who build products that use that platform. When a platform matures, it may be necessary to share product ownership and propose new features. SAFe® PRODUCT OWNER The agile scaling framework SAFe handles its own product owner role, the SAFe product owner. Despite the similarity of the name, the role significantly deviates from the Scrum product owner. While the Scrum product owner owns a product in its totality, a SAFe product owner looks after the product features, describes user stories, operates on a subset of the product backlog, and communicates with one or more development teams.  The SAFe product owner is focused on the product tactics. The strategic product responsibilities are taken on by another role, the SAFe product manager.  The SAFe model divides the product ownership into two distinct roles:  SAFe product manager owns the strategic product decisions SAFe product owner is in charge of the tactics.  This is in contrast to the Scrum product owner who operates full-stack product ownership, from vision to the tactics, as the following picture shows.   PORTFOLIO OWNER A portfolio owner handles a group of products, and the role is also known as product portfolio manager. Example of a product portfolio is the owner who handles ecommerce, healthcare and publication products/services under one full portfolio. The job of a portfolio owner is to maximize the value that a product portfolio creates. This includes actively accomplishing the portfolio, cooperating with the product owners who look after the products within the portfolio, tuning with the individual product strategies and product roadmaps, aligning major releases, accomplishing dependencies, and creating and improving a common user experience across the various products.  The individual who has solid product management experience and skills and has successfully managed individual products would fit into this role. For a smaller product portfolio, the head of product would take on this role without any hiccups else a dedicated full-time portfolio owner will be expected. CONCLUSIONProduct teams require sound structure and well-defined roles. it starts with a clear strategy that describes what needs to be achieved. A clear product concept, vision and strategy helps teams to cooperate in a dynamic way — no matter how the team is structured. Many product teams rely on purpose-built software to determine and define strategies, manage ideas, formulate visual roadmaps, and examine results in a centralized location. 

Different Types of Product Teams

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Different Types of Product Teams

The product team is accountable for implementing different strategies for developing the roadmap and defining product features. The team would choose what to build, promote and what is new, and measure accomplishments of organizational roles within the company. A product team is typically composed of cross-functional teammates. They are accountable for product management, marketing, user experience, and analytics.

The digitalization of businesses has had companies create more and more applications for their end-users and domestic needs. AI-powered chatbots are now replacing humans when it comes to addressing customer grievances. Many non-tech companies have started outsourcing their work to integral engineering teams with dedicated product owners, product managers, and business analysts, who deliver the product with full responsibility.

The company requires a global visionary who can drive the team in the correct direction for product development. The rest depends on the shoulders of the outsourcing team. Startups and large companies benefit from having dedicated development teams.

WHAT IS A PRODUCT TEAM?

A product team structure is typically composed of cross-functional teammates. They are accountable for product management, product marketing, user experience, and product analytics. Product teams may be provided with assignments for marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. 

Individual product team

The product team typically combines multiple roles throughout the organization, all of which have an impact on the product and strategic roadmap. This group includes individuals from engineering/development, sales, support, operations, and marketing; all of whom are led by a product manager. 

Organizational team structure

The product development team includes product managers, associate product managers, research analysts, and business analysts. All organizations are set up a bit differently and this team can also include technical PMs, UX team members, product marketers as well as other roles. 

Below are the roles and responsibilities of each function within a typical product organization:

Functional Areas   

  • Product management 

Responsibilities of management 

  • Set the product perception and approach 
  • Organize and deliver releases 
  • Assemble and curate unique ideas 
  • Create new product features 

Roles in management 

  • Product Director  
  • Product manager 
  • Owner of the product 
  • Associate product manager 

Functional Areas  

  • User design experience (UX) 

Responsibilities of UX 

  • User research 
  • Create user stories 
  • Creating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes 
  • Usability testing 

UX Roles 

  • Director 
  • UX product manager 
  • UX senior designer 
  • Designer UX  

Functional Areas  

  • Product Analytics

Responsibilities in Analytics 

  • Data sources Integration  
  • Market trends research 
  • User journeys 
  • User behavior and pain points 

Analytics Roles 

  • Director 
  • Manager Analytics 
  • Product senior analyst 
  • Business analyst

THE PRODUCT CORE TEAMTHE PRODUCT CORE TEAM

The Core Product team is the one that builds and maintains the key features of the product that has been developed. For e.g., Key features of the Zoho (Project Management tool) are built and maintained by the core team, and this is the reason for its seamless and flawless management of different projects and teams. The better a product is built with outstanding features, the more it gets adopted by users and the more business value it generates.  

The Core Product team is also responsible for solving customer problems and helping customers with their issues.  To achieve this, the team focuses on a range of activities as below: 

  1. Distinguishing unmet needs, underserved audiences, or inadequately solved problems. 
  2. Implementing solutions that adhere to the expectations of the customers; considering factors such as viability, feasibility, usability, and value. 
  3. Giving solutions that are robust, fault-tolerant, and maintainable 
  4. Operating, maintaining, and improving these solutions. 

THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A CORE PRODUCT MANAGER

A product manager combines a business plan, design knowledge, and customer requirements in order to develop a product that is suitable, feasible, and valuable. PMs are focused on optimizing a product to accomplish the business goals and user necessities while maximizing return on investment. 

The product manager contrives all of the white space around the product. The product manager tackles everything that falls outside of the bounds of any of the three (business plan, design knowledge, and customer requirements) core groups. 

An API product manager and other product managers would have different customers. That means that the product manager needs to be much better at technical skills. 

As another example, a consumer product manager might be assisting millions of customers, and therefore needs to be extremely quantitative. A B2B product manager would serve a dozen total customers, and therefore needs to be highly skilled at change management, negotiations, and objection approach. 

Within the same company, we can see a diversity of product managers, because each product manager is managing fundamentally different problems as they are working with different kinds of customers, business stakeholders, and development teams. 

THE PLATFORM PRODUCT TEAM

The product platform team is responsible for developing the tools and building blocks that allow product developers to formulate relevant features instantly. 

  1. Product Platform team builds and maintains the frameworks that encapsulate resolutions to regular problems.  
  2. Tools built by the platform team speed up iteration and debugging; for example, a tool allowing developers to spin up a fake sandbox instance in order to test new features. 

The product platform team cooperates with product developers in order to ensure that we are giving the best support. This includes: 

  1. Giving out questionnaires to identify general improvement pain points and untapped potential for amendments to frameworks and tooling 
  2. Product platform provides valuable suggestions and thoughts to the team which helps them work efficiently and seamlessly. 
  3. As we progress, keeping stakeholders associated with regular meetings and updates in order to make sure we’re formulating the right thing. 

Product platform engineers often have some of the following specialized skills: 

  1. Ability to complete large-scale codebase migrations. 
  2. Provide expertise to establish appropriate ideas for the use cases. 
  3. Efficiently managing the project and satisfying the demands of stakeholders with assorted interests.

PLATFORM PRODUCT MANAGER RESPONSIBILITIES

A product manager outlines consumer needs and business goals and translates them into viable, innovative products. They compose and execute the necessary steps to move new products through each stage of development i.e. from inception to product launch. 

Developing roadmaps to drive products, authorizing and communicating product requirements, supervising usability testing and prototype development, prioritizing features, writing improvements, and determining and tracking metrics are daily activities of the platform manager. The product platform manager is bound to meet milestones and deadlines for deliverables; formulating user stories, packaging and promoting, expediting cross-functional teams, and directing market research and competitive analysis. 

Platform managers working in a computer company focus on improving the overall performance of computer systems, while other platform managers focus on improving platforms upon which computer programs will run. All of these improvements should be done within budget and customer needs. At Yahoo!, the platform manager acts as an alliance between the platform development team and its customers. These managers are accountable for answering customer questions and also explaining customer concerns to the project development team. 

THE GROWTH TEAM’S GROWTH

The growth product manager ideally operates with a dedicated, cross-functional team, often referred to as a seed, of engineering, analyst, and design resources, joined with additional non-dedicated resources from teams directly impacted by the goal at hand. For example, if the purpose is to improve sales of Product A, the core product manager of that product will be involved in different activities such as implementing user friendly features, digital marketing etc. 

In limited developed organizations, the growth PM may only have access to a dedicated, full-stack engineer or may have no committed resources at all. In this situation, the growth PM must establish a firm business case to gain access to a number of non-dedicated, cross-functional resources to support. 

Here are a few tips, if you are building a growth team:

  1. Discover Problem - Find a unique problem that could help drive growth. Typically, this is an abandoned area at the company. Product manager should not try to own all of the growth as this will demotivate the team. 
  2. Development and no retaliation - Appreciate the culture and principles that made the company flourish. Develop these principles and don't re-write them. 
  3. Failure - Explore quick wins but expect that the team could fail early and often. Give them enough opportunity to finish the task. 
  4. Communicate and celebrate the success - Use success as carrot and display how to approach problems.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF GROWTH PRODUCT MANAGER

Growth product managers help to reduce obstacles that arise during the development of the product, which intimates that they enable customers and users to promptly find gain within the core product. In other words, growth product managers would be more fruitful when there is already an existing product that hasn’t yet been matured enough for its growth. Lots of organizations would ideally engage core product managers first and then would hire growth product managers as core product managers would facilitate new use cases in the product. 

The difference can be noticed between core product managers and growth product managers. 

  1. Core product managers open new superpowers. 
  2. Growth product managers expedite the pace at which users gain superpowers. 

Following are the key responsibilities of a growth product manager. 

  1. Growth product managers are all about eliminating disagreement. Growth product managers instead of owning a specific set of product functionality are highly focused on metrics. 
  2. Growth product managers are given specific direction to operate across many diverse product functionalities to optimize important metrics. They will be more focused on how to drive more value from existing products. 

Describing at a high level, growth product managers need to be both obsessively quantitative and creatively qualitative. 

SCRUM PRODUCT OWNER 

SCRUM PRODUCT OWNER

The product owner is a position on a product development team accountable for maintaining the product backlog in order to accomplish the desired consequence that a product development team attempts to achieve.   

Important activities to accomplish in this role include: 

  1. Clearly recognize and determine product backlog items in order to build a shared understanding of the problem and resolution with the product development team 
  2. Advance decisions concerning priority of product backlog items in order to deliver maximum outcome with minimum output 
  3. Discover whether a product backlog item was adequately addressed 
  4. Guarantee transparency into the upcoming work of the product development team. 

The product owner role was designed as part of the Scrum framework in line to address hurdles that the product development teams had with various, conflicting direction, or no direction at all with respect to what to develop. 

Many assume that a product owner is someone who can spend a considerable amount of time with the product development team giving clarification on product backlog items and making decisions about which product backlog items to do. 

The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Development Team. The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it. However, the Product Owner remains accountable. 

The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the aspirations of a committee in the Product Backlog, but those desiring to change a Product Backlog item’s priority must address the Product Owner. 

For the Product Owner to succeed, the whole organization must appreciate his or her decisions. The Product Owner’s conclusions are evident in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog. No one can force the Development Team to operate from a different set of requirements. 

FEATURE OWNER AND COMPONENT OWNER 

A feature owner, in reverse, is focused on one or more specific and individual features. The feature owner’s liability is to guarantee that the features function well, for instance, that the drop-off amount of the checkout feature is low. On the other hand, a component owner takes care of one or more segments, such as, the user interface or data access layer. This person makes sure that the architectural component works as anticipated. To do so, the person needs to possess relevant and suitable technical skills.  

The picture below illustrates the three different owner roles.

Using feature and component owners is a scaling technique. It benefits to grow product by dividing the product responsibilities. A familiar approach is to have one overall product owner who accomplishes the entire product and several feature and component owners who look after its different elements.

PLATFORM OWNER

Software platform is a collection of digital assets that are used by different products, and a platform owner maintains such a platform. The individual is accountable for maximizing the value of the platform, for example, reducing the time of launching of product to market that are developed and on top of it reducing development cost. A platform owner is similar to a product owner and should have in-depth technological expertise that they would need in order to communicate with the users of the productThe users may be development team members who build products that use that platform. When a platform matures, it may be necessary to share product ownership and propose new features. 

SAFe® PRODUCT OWNER 

The agile scaling framework SAFe handles its own product owner role, the SAFe product owner. Despite the similarity of the name, the role significantly deviates from the Scrum product owner. While the Scrum product owner owns a product in its totality, a SAFe product owner looks after the product features, describes user stories, operates on a subset of the product backlog, and communicates with one or more development teams.  

The SAFe product owner is focused on the product tactics. The strategic product responsibilities are taken on by another role, the SAFe product manager.  

The SAFe model divides the product ownership into two distinct roles:  

  1. SAFe product manager owns the strategic product decisions 
  2. SAFe product owner is in charge of the tactics.  

This is in contrast to the Scrum product owner who operates full-stack product ownership, from vision to the tactics, as the following picture shows.  

 SAFe® PRODUCT OWNER

PORTFOLIO OWNER 

A portfolio owner handles a group of products, and the role is also known as product portfolio manager. Example of a product portfolio is the owner who handles ecommerce, healthcare and publication products/services under one full portfolio. 

The job of a portfolio owner is to maximize the value that a product portfolio creates. This includes actively accomplishing the portfolio, cooperating with the product owners who look after the products within the portfolio, tuning with the individual product strategies and product roadmaps, aligning major releases, accomplishing dependencies, and creating and improving common user experience across the various products.  

The individual who has solid product management experience and skills and has successfully managed individual products would fit into this role. For a smaller product portfolio, the head of product would take on this role without any hiccups else a dedicated full-time portfolio owner will be expected. 

CONCLUSION

Product teams require sound structure and well-defined roles. it starts with a clear strategy that describes what needs to be achieved. A clear product concept, vision and strategy helps teams to cooperate in a dynamic way — no matter how the team is structured. 

Many product teams rely on purpose-built software to determine and define strategies, manage ideas, formulate visual roadmaps, and examine results in a centralized location. Six Product Ownership roles

Rajesh

Rajesh Bhagia

Blog Author

Rajesh Bhagia is experienced campaigner in Lamp technologies and has 10 years of experience in Project Management. He has worked in Multinational companies and has handled small to very complex projects single-handedly. He started his career as Junior Programmer and has evolved in different positions including Project Manager of Projects in E-commerce Portals. Currently, he is handling one of the largest project in E-commerce Domain in MNC company which deals in nearly 9.5 million SKU's.

In his role as Project Manager at MNC company, Rajesh fosters an environment of teamwork and ensures that strategy is clearly defined while overseeing performance and maintaining morale. His strong communication and client service skills enhance his process-driven management philosophy.

Rajesh is a certified Zend Professional and has developed a flair for implementing PMP Knowledge Areas in daily work schedules. He has well understood the importance of these process and considers that using the knowledge Areas efficiently and correctly can turn projects to success. He also writes articles/blogs on Technology and Management

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Each feature is broken down into several user stories, as it is usually too big to be worked on directly. A user story is an informal, short description of a part of a software feature that is written from the user’s perspective and talks about how this particular bit of the feature will offer something of value.Why use features in Scrum and not only user stories?A feature is something that is sizeable enough to deliver measurable value to customers and creates a large chunk of functionality. Features are used to describe the functionality at a macro level, and they are required to create schedules and plan the high-level release of the product.Scrum works on the premise of short development cycles called Sprints, which usually last between 2 weeks and a month but not longer. One feature is typically completed over several sprints. In one sprint, only several user stories can be completed and not, perhaps, an entire feature.What’s the difference between features and epics in Agile?The product backlog is usually detailed into three levels of complexity with respect to tasks. Epics are large quantities of related work that can be broken down into features. A feature, as we have seen, is a service or function that delivers value to the end user. Each feature is broken down into a number of smaller and simpler tasks known as user stories. Do note that for a smaller project, with only around 8 to 10 people on the team, the product backlog may be divided into just features and user stories. Epics come into the picture for large projects with multiple teams who are working over a duration of several years.Who writes the features in Scrum, and what are the steps involved?The Scrum Guide, considered to be the Bible for all things Scrum, does not lay out any guidelines for the use of features.However, Scaled Agile, Inc. indicates that the Product Manager is the owner of the Features, which is to say, he or she finally decides what goes into the feature and what is its priority on the Backlog. The features are not necessarily written by the Product Manager, however, and this could be done by others on the team.On many teams, the Product Manager and the Product Owner are one and the same.There are several steps in the definition and writing of features. Define the WHY, or the benefit hypothesis: What is the functionality that the users gain from the feature? What are the benefits to be gained from implementing this feature? Calculate the business value: Keep in mind the number of users, how often each of them uses the feature, what is the timeframe within which the feature must be released for it to be useful, and how much effort goes into developing this feature. All these together will help to determine the ROI of the feature and ultimately whether it is worth the effort and cost. Features that bring in the most benefit at least cost will be prioritised. Describe the feature: What is the context and how will it be used? What is the need for the feature? Try to include technical details and any information that is important from the Product Manager’s point of view. Write down the acceptance criteria: What are the conditions under which the feature can be deemed to be done? This will help to reduce any ambiguity and mark work progress. How big should the product features be?While there is no hard and fast rule on this, and it is left largely to the convenience of project teams, it is generally agreed that it should be possible to complete a feature within a maximum of three months. When using SAFe, a feature is released in one single program increment. Teams that are working with investor funding and are getting the funds at regular cycles should be able to showcase a completed feature during each investment cycle, in order to demonstrate that they are progressing on track. What are feature points?Feature points represent the amount of the work complexity, effort taken, and knowledge required to complete one feature. They are the same as story points, but in the context of a feature rather than a user story.What are features called in different Agile Methodologies?A feature, while essentially having the same definition, could be called by different terms in different Agile methodologies. In Scrum, a feature is often referred to as a Backlog Item.   In XP, features are called Stories. DSDM terms a feature as a requirement. This could club together several system features. Agile UP defines features in the form of requirements and use cases.What are the characteristics of features?To be effective, a feature should always Offer measurable business value,   Contain enough information to allow for estimation of the work involved, Be small enough to be completed within a program increment or maximum of three months,   Be testable by the scrum team and the product management team.Feature breakdown structure (FBS)When getting into the nitty gritty of detailed planning, agile development uses a feature breakdown structure (FBS) approach that breaks down each feature into smaller, more manageable units of work. This allows easier communication between the customer and the development team, where both can understand each other well in a way that leaves no room for ambiguity. It also helps to track the progress of work against the value that is created. Over time and as the work progresses, the larger features can be broken into smaller features, instead of doing this breakdown all together in the beginning. This way, details are not fleshed out until the time when they are actually needed for design and delivery. Building an initial feature listAt the very start, before the release planning and iteration planning can happen, the team must sit together and list out as many potential features for the system as possible at this stage. Feature requests can come from many sources, and one person should be allocated to collate all these requests. While this could be the product manager, it could also be a customer proxy, a business analyst or someone who is responsible and accountable to the team. The team should refine these requirements, weeding out duplicate items, features that are not possible to implement, and requests that are very vague. As the features are identified, they are added to the list so that they can become a part of the planning processes. This initial feature list can be considered to be a preliminary outline that can be used as input to chart out the release and first iteration. It is not required to wait until all features are defined before getting started on the actual work, and it is also understood that the original list, descriptions, and priorities will evolve over time. Instead of waiting for everything to get detailed out at the outset, the team can get to work with the initial list without wasting any valuable time. As new features which could be critical get identified, they are simply added into the evolving release plan and will get delivered during a subsequent iteration. As the project progresses, the work adapts itself to accommodate new priorities, additional information from stakeholders, and the changing industry dynamics.Advantages of breaking down features into smaller user storiesUser stories, as we have learnt, represent smaller chunks of work while features represent fully formed functionalities of the product. There are many advantages to breaking down the features into functionalities, and the main ones are these: Stories narrow down the focus: Stories are small, doable portions of the work that do not overwhelm the developer. They represent an entire piece of functionality, however small it is, and so can measure incremental progress. Stories fit into a sprint: Features are too large to be completed within a sprint, but stories can be finished within this duration. This allows more efficient scheduling and planning of sprint tasks. Stories capture both intent and outcome: A product manager (who is not required to be technically fluent) can easily describe the outcome of a story to the developer, so that he or she can understand the intent. Stories mitigate the risk: As big stories come with a lot more complexity, they also involve more risk. When features are broken down into smaller stories, this risk is mitigated. Anny erroneous assumptions can be curtailed within a few days rather than several weeks into development. Feature vs. task planningFeatures come into play at a macro level of planning, and it is essential that at a later point they will need to be broken down into tasks and estimated. This is done during sprint planning and release planning.Feature planning and estimates help to schedule releases and iterations. Task planning and estimates help to allocate resources and plan the tasks within an iteration.Since the nature of agile project plans is always fluid and not very precise, feature estimates need not exactly map to a number of task estimates, but there should be a rough approximation between the two.
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How To Define Features in Agile Methodology?

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What Is a Safe Product Owner?

The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is, in the words of Dean Leffingwell, Creator of SAFe: “a knowledge base of proven, integrated principles, practices, and competencies for achieving business agility using Lean, Agile, and DevOps.”  © Scaled Agile, Inc. Using SAFe, the process of scaling Agile across a large-scale enterprise can be streamlined. SAFe details out organizational workflows that enhance productivity and employee engagement and ensure customer delight through quick deliveries of quality products.  A key role on a SAFe team is played by the Product Owner. In this blog, you will understand the role of a SAFe Product Owner, and how it relates to that of a Scrum Product Owner. You will also understand the SAFe Product Owner’s role with respect to that of a SAFe Product Manager.What is a SAFe Product Owner?The SAFe Product Owner is the member of the team who works as the voice of the customer. He or she liaises with Product Management and other POs, besides other stakeholders, to define and list out stories in the Team Backlog and order them as per priority.  In an ideal situation, the SAFe PO is in the same office as the rest of the team. However, with today’s distributed teams, this does not always happen. One PO can support up to two Agile teams, at the most. The SAFe PO works with the SAFe Product Manager, who maintains the overall product vision. Key Role & Responsibilities of a SAFe Product OwnerThe main responsibilities of the SAFe PO extend across the team, and even beyond that to participate in Product Management events, where he or she will help to plan and create the Program vision and refine the Program Backlog. The following are the main responsibilities of the SAFe PO: 1. PI PlanningThe PO plays a significant role as a member of the larger Product Management team and has to participate in the events during Program Increment (PI) planning. The activity of program backlog refinement also requires every PO’s participation and close involvement. Before the event, the PO will keep the team backlog updated and will contribute to creating the vision and charting out the roadmap.When the planning event is in progress, the PO should be at hand to give clarity wherever needed. The entire SAFe team will work to map out the team’s PI objectives for the upcoming PI.2. During the IterationDuring the iteration execution, the PO holds extremely critical responsibilities:The PO builds, updates and maintains the team backlog, with updates from all stakeholders and the team. Reviewing and ordering the team backlog as a precursor to the Iteration Planning event is the responsibility of the PO. For this, they may need to coordinate dependencies with other POs.During the Iteration Planning event, the PO gives clarity of user story details, and is around to ensure alignment and concurrence on a final iteration plan. While the team elaborates on the backlog items and creates stories, the PO keeps track of the flow and maintains priorities. POs work with the team to flesh out each story, adding acceptance criteria and acceptance tests, applying Behaviour-Driven Development (BDD) practices. As the work progresses, the PO will work closely with the team to agree on the completion of accepted stories. and see whether they meet the Definition of Done and quality standards that have been laid down. The PO does not need to be a technical expert but should be able to understand the scope of the work that is coming up. He or she should collaborate with the engineers to assist in making decisions and sequencing the technological infrastructures that will enable the business functionality. During team demos, the PO coordinates between the team and stakeholders who are present.   They also participate in events such as the Iteration Retrospective and the Agile Release Train’s Inspect & Adapt workshop, providing the customer’s perspective on the work progress.3. During the Program ExecutionDuring each PI, the PO will connect with other POs to check and coordinate other dependencies, ensuring smooth work progress without any hiccups. They will sync up typically during weekly events. Additionally, POs play a valuable role in creating the System Demo for all the stakeholders involved in the program value stream. 4. Inspection and AdaptationThe Inspect and Adapt (I&A) workshop is held to address any large impediments to smooth progress. During this event, the PO works across teams to see how best to improve processes and increase team velocity and quality. During the I&A workshop, the PO participates in and holds the PI system demo for program stakeholders.SAFe Product Owner vs Scrum Product OwnerBefore we get into the differences in the roles and responsibilities of a SAFe Product Owner and a Scrum Product Owner, we need to also understand a third and more prominent role on a SAFe team: that of the SAFe Product Manager. The SAFe Product Manager is someone who works with several SAFe teams, typically two to four, and owns the Program Backlog—which gives him or her an overall view of the entire project (or the big picture).  The table below talks about the differences in the roles played by a SAFe Product Owner and a Scrum Product Owner.SAFe Product OwnerScrum Product OwnerBacklog ItemsA SAFe Product Owner undertakes the responsibility for the Team Backlog. This lists all the requirements (Backlog items) for the team.A Scrum Product Owner undertakes the responsibility for the Product Backlog. This is a prioritised list of all the requirements for the product.Number of teams they supportA SAFe Product Owner can serve, at most, two teams.A Scrum Product Owner can work with two or more teams.Vision and roadmapA SAFe Product Manager, not the SAFe Product Owner, defines the features and owns the vision and roadmap. A SAFe Product Manager is someone who works with two to four SAFe Product Owners. He or she will have an overall view of the entire program. As such, the SAFe Product Owner exerts less authority than the Scrum Product Owner.Scrum Product Owner defines the features and owns the vision and roadmap. So, as we can see, the Scrum Product Owner undertakes responsibilities that combine those of the SAFe Product Owner and the SAFe Product Manager (but to a smaller scale as the project is typically smaller).Who has the final say on the product?A SAFe Product Owner does not have a final say on what must be done for a certain Product. This is done by the SAFe Product Manager, who is the final authority and owns the vision and roadmap on a SAFe project.It is the Scrum Product Manager who has the final say on what needs to be done for the product.SimilaritiesJust like the Scrum PO, the SAFe Product Owner is also a core member of the team.  He or she is the customer proxy on the team, ensuring that the vision is always kept in focus.They have the responsibility of the Backlog- the Team Backlog in the case of the SAFe PO, and the Product Backlog in the case of the Scrum PO.Both POs work on prioritising the tasks that the team will take up next, guiding them on the relative importance of the stories.Again, both the SAFe PO and the Scrum PO work toward maximizing the product value.They keep an eye on the goal for the next iteration.They participate in reflections and inspect and adapt during and after each iteration.The two roles take part in the Planning, Retrospective and Review of an Iteration in SAFe/ Sprint in Scrum in a similar way.Can one person do both roles in SAFe; that of the Product Owner and Product Manager?The PO and the PM roles are completely distinct in SAFe, and each comes with its own set of responsibilities.There is a different focus for each role: The PM’s role is cantered on the benefits to the customer and the organisation. He or she is also the person with whom the business owners and members of the ART (Agile Release Train) connect. POs always have the needs of their own Agile team in focus.  Product Owners and Product Managers work together collaboratively to understand the customer’s needs and work toward fulfilling them. The flow of information is from the customer to the PM, and then down to the POs and their team members. The POs and PMs meet up at all ART or PO planning and sync up events and stay aligned with the same set of overarching goals. As we have seen, one person cannot undertake the roles of the SAFe Product Owner and the SAFe Product Manager at the same time. POs and PMs must at all times be connected, and work in tandem to deliver a successful product; however, having one person playing both roles is a sure route to disaster!  The last word… The SAFe Product Owner plays a role that is at the core of SAFe, setting up the product strategy, getting deep into customer requirements, and prioritizing the features as per their importance. They hold the responsibility of ensuring customer delight, even as they keep a pulse on the economic value that is to be derived from the product.  In the end, SAFe is all about giving the larger enterprise a framework for scaling Agile — to build better products, respond to volatile markets, and keep in step with emerging technologies — and without the Product Owner’s expertise, all this will fall short. 
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What Is a Safe Product Owner?

The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is, in the... Read More

Scrum Software for the Ultimate Project Management

Technology has made our lives easier. The number of tools and devices we have at our disposal has made our lives more productive and our work more efficient. The Agile software development methodology has been adopted by several organizations to improve their adaptability, responsiveness, and productivity.  How can we improve the way we incorporate Agile Scrum into our projects? Scrum tools can be the answer. Just like the other gadgets in our lives, Scrum software and tools help improve the productivity of our teams, keep stakeholders happy and help us deliver better products. Before we jump into the use and needs of Scrum software and tools let us understand more about Scrum roles and how they work.Three essential roles for Scrum successThe Scrum Guide defines three pillars of a Scrum team, which include:The Scrum MasterThe Product OwnerThe Development TeamThe Scrum team is a small unit which is self-organised and works towards achieving the same goal; that is, the development and deployment of the product and customer satisfaction.The Scrum Product OwnerThe Scrum Product Owner is among the most essential roles in the Scrum team and acts as a bridge between the stakeholders and the development team. More involved with the business side of the software development process, the PO represents the customer and can be considered as their proxy.  The Product Owner defines the product vision, and, along with the Scrum Master and the development team works towards delivering a product that matches stakeholder needs.The Scrum MasterThe Scrum Master is the servant leader whose main responsibility is to ensure that the Scrum team can perform to the best of its abilities. They do this by overseeing the day-to-day activities of the Scrum team and removing any impediments that may hinder the productivity of the development team. The Scrum Master facilitates stakeholder collaboration along with the product owner and ensures that teams can handle complex environments and deliver projects successfully.The Scrum development teamThe development team generally consists of three to nine people, according to the Scrum Guide. These would include developers, testers, designers and more. The team is allowed to take decisions and decide the length of the sprint and how they will go about it. The development team collaborates to create a high-quality product increment at the end of each sprint that is as per the expectations of the stakeholders.Scrum ceremonies or eventsScrum has five formal events as defined by the Scrum Guide. These events help to validate the Scrum artifacts and implementing them helps enhance transparency. The events are also called ceremonies and are:Sprint PlanningDaily ScrumSprint ReviewSprint RetrospectiveThe SprintWhat Does A Scrum Tool Do?What would you need a good Scrum tool to do? Make your life easier by making processes more efficient and less cumbersome, help you deliver quality products without making a huge dent on your budget, right?  With Scrum topping the popularity charts for Agile project management methodologies, the need for efficient Scrum tools has risen. There are plenty of Scrum tools available that fit the bill and provide interfaces that help teams seamlessly follow Scrum processes and reap its benefits. These tools help:Increase productivityIn task management, daily scrum management  Increase team collaborationIn progress tracking and risk managementScrum Software for the Ultimate ProjectThere are several Scrum software tools that aid in project development using Scrum; not just in technical environments, but in non-technical sectors as well. Software like JIRA, Infinity, TargetProcess, QuickScrum, Wrike etc provide:User friendly GUICompetitive pricingProduct backlog managementTime tracking and calendar tools for schedulingScrum metrics and chartsSprint planning toolsThird party tools for integrationUser story mappingBurnup and Burndown chartsand many more features that will help Agile teams serve their customers better, improve return on investment, reduce costs, enhance collaboration and ensure stakeholder satisfaction. These tools help team uphold the values of Agile and make implementing the Scrum framework easier.Best Scrum ToolsHere are some of the best Scrum tools available in the market:1. JIRAJira is a popular tool used by large organizations to manage their Scrum projects. It has numerous features including customizable scrum boards, reporting features and more. Here’s how teams benefit from this toolCustomizable Scrum and Kanban boardsRoadmaps to communicate with team and with stakeholdersAccess to tools for Agile reportingView of code and deployment statusEnd to end DevOps visibilityEasy scalabilitySecure deploymentDeveloper tool integrationRich APIs to automate processes2. TargetProcessThis tool has been especially designed for teams that want to scale agile. It offers a number of customizable features that make it easy to work with scrum and agile.  Here’s how teams benefit from this tool(Source: Targetprocess Agile Portfolio and Work Management Tool)IdeationBuilt in reports to analyse data and uncover trendsGather ideas across sourcesCloud hosting and on-premise hostingEnterprise grade securityCollaborate across the enterprise  Collaborate with DevOps tools including GitLab, Azure DevOps, GitHub etc3. VivifyScrumThis tool is marketed as an all-in-one solution to manage projects, collaborate and track. Here’s how teams benefit from this tool (Source: Agile Project Management Software - VivifyScrum)Tools to manage agile projects—organize, manage, track and deliverCollaboration boards to effectively collaborate with team and stakeholdersCreate invoices to track and manage business and clientsManage teams and track tasks4. InfinityThis tool is among the most popular in Agile and Scrum organizations due to the many customizations and features it provides. Its various tools help reduce time to market, ensure better quality, improve collaboration and enable customer satisfaction.Here’s how teams benefit from this tool Source: Infinity | Customizable Work Management Platform (startinfinity.com)How Can Scrum Apps Benefit Your Team?The number of Scrum apps and software available in the market for Scrum projects is mind boggling. Which one you choose depends on the requirements of your team and project, and each comes with its own benefits. Some of these benefits include:They help teams, organizations and the product being createdThey ensure better quality by providing the right framework, support mechanism and the right processesAllow for continual improvement by putting in place a feedback loop and sprint reviews by stakeholdersHelp solve impediments and daily issues by incorporating daily testing and product owner feedback into the development processEnsure upfront documentation and help prioritise high value items in the product backlog, thus decreasing time to market.  Quick feedback also helps improve the product and thus helps in continuous improvement.The faster marketing of products increases return on investment, helps tap the market demand and ensures long term benefits for the customer and thus earns their trust for the organizationThe primary tenet of Agile is team collaboration. Scrum software tools help in high level collaboration between the Scrum Master, Product Owner and the development team. Teams can organise, review, plan and discuss everyday tasks, meetings, impediments and more.How to Pick the Best Tool for Your Team?With so many options available, choosing the right Scrum tool for your team can be a tricky task. What you need to do is go through the features of the best tools and see which one best fits your requirements. While the number of features you get will be directly proportional to the money you are ready to pay for the tool, there are some basic requirements your tool must satisfy.Backlog creation:  The very basic format of a Scrum project lies in the creation of a product backlog which sets the pace for the entire project. The backlog is primarily created by the Product Owner with assistance from the Scrum Master and the development team. The tool you choose should help you create the product backlog so that you can prioritise items, define the sprints and identify sprint goals.Implement feedback:  Scrum projects are based on the Agile values of continuous feedback. Your scrum tool should have features which will make your customer’s feedback and requirements easily accessible to you. This will help you implement these changes at the earliest. This continuous feedback loop will help keep customers happy.Sprint creation:  Scrum is iterative and adaptive and works by breaking down projects into small sized sprints. Your tool must aid you in the creation of sprints and burndown charts. These help you keep track of your progress on the project and are essential components of a Scrum project.The other things your tool should be able to do include:Plan and trackCustomise process templatesCustomise dashboards and reportsHelp in time managementHelp create epics and storiesProvide collab and reporting toolsProvide review toolsAnd just like you will create a product that is user friendly, the tool you use also needs to be user friendly for the team. If your team is happy using it, and it makes your life easier and your projects better, then you have the right tool!
Scrum Software for the Ultimate Project Management

Technology has made our lives easier. The number o... Read More