Product Manager

Intermediate

difficulty

Stage 2

Agile IQ® Level

Release Train

Roles

SAFe

Framework

Introduction

The SAFe Product Manager is responsible for delivery of value of the Agile Release Train (ART). They do this by defining and supporting the building of desirable, feasible, viable, and sustainable products that meet customer needs over the product-market lifecycle.

Accountabilities

The Product Owner is also accountable for effective Product Backlog management, which includes:

  • Developing and explicitly communicating the Product Goal.
  • Creating and clearly communicating Features.
  • Ordering Program Backlog items.
  • Ensuring that the Program Backlog is transparent, visible and understood.

For the Product Manager to succeed, the entire organisation must respect their decisions. These decisions are visible in:

  • The content and ordering of the Program Backlog.
  • The Program Board, showing planned Feature delivery over the Program Increment (PI).
  • Inspectable Increments at the Iteration Review.

EXPECTATIONS

Managing Delivery through Program Backlog

Release Planning, producing roadmaps, understanding milestones and deadlines are part of the Product Manager’s day-to-day work. 

While the ART is busy with delivery, the Product Manager is:

  • Engaging with stakeholders and customers.
  • Engaging with team Product Owners to understand feedback on delivery and emerging ideas and needs for new Features.
  • Examining product- and value-based metrics to understand the use of the ART’s output.
  • Adding Features to the Program Backlog for future PIs.
product-manager-and-product-owners-sm

Manage the budget

The teams on the ART are expected to be long-lived. This also means the ART has a fixed operational cost per Sprint and per PI. With this cost, the Product Manager must determine how best to spend their money and what is of value to deliver Sprint to Sprint, and PI to PI.

Myths about the role

The Product Manager is one person, not a committee. The Product Manager usually represents the needs of many business stakeholders and makes these transparent in the Program Backlog.

One person in this role results in clarity regarding priorities, the direction of the product, and what is of value to deliver Sprint to Sprint. When more than one person attempt to fulfil the role, delays in decision-making results, and confuses the team regarding what the priorities are.

Those wanting to change the Product Backlog can do so by engaging the Product Owner and helping the Product Owner understand the value and relative priority of what they need. 

Product Owners aren’t expected to:

  • Write all of the Product Backlog items. They are not the team’s “business analyst”.

Product Owners don’t necesarily come from the “business”:

  • In many product environments, business stakeholders have a customer role instead of being part of Scrum teams.
  • It takes a while for many organisations to move from a project management relationship with business to one where there is a shared, product management focus.
evolution-stakeholder-product-owner-safe-002

Download

Download the Product manager Checklist (PDF) to print and use in your ART design.

References

Ries, Eric. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. Crown Business, 2011.

Leffingwell, Dean. Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise. Addison-Wesley, 2011.

Scaled Agile, Inc. Product Management.

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