posted Sep 22, 2011, 8:09 PM by Cindy Solomon
updated Sep 23, 2011, 9:52 PM by CindyF Solomon
Please retweet: 9/19
Recap: Managing the Backlog During Initial Development in B2B ISVs w/@JohnPeltier http://bit.ly/ow3uYr #prodmgmttalk
At our most recent, Sept 19,
2011 Global Product Management Talk on Twitter, John Peltier @johnpeltier led us in a discussion of Managing the Backlog
during initial product development in
business to business independent software vendors. Following is an edited
recap of the tweets. Host Cindy F. Solomon @cindyfsolomon was joined by Roger Cauvin
@rcauvin as co-host. Use this as a jumping off point to blog your insights
John says, "I find Roger’s blog to be one of the best-written on the
topic of product management, with particular emphasis on agile approaches to
the subject, and I look forward to his participation in the talk. Cindy
and I have spoken about focusing the topic of our talk around backlog
management during development of the initial release of a product, as that is
an area I’ve uncovered (and..caused!) some controversy.."
SUGGESTED PRE-TALK READING:
MENTIONED DURING TALK:
POSTINGS AFTER TALK
- rcauvin In the old days, #agile dev
teams were co-located w/ customers & could more easily manage the product
- johnpeltier The challenge: Product
managers must represent a market segment, not just a single customer. How to do
while in the dev room?
- rcauvin Now we have B2B and B2C software
product teams doing #agile & experiencing challenges
representing the customer effectively.
- johnpeltier If the product management and
product owner roles are split, will the same product quality result?
- rcauvin And if the #prodmgmt &
product owner roles are NOT split, will product quality suffer?
- gander2112 I think that it might be part
of the level of skills in the product owner role, at my company, the PO is a
very junior role. (Of course I am both
PO and PM), so I get the full picture. I mean, so junior that they pretty
much have to ask permission to go to the loo
- johnpeltier Geoffrey, I am both also -
One element is if the PO has exposure to customer research...
- saeedwkhan Need to distinguish between
Prod. Mgr (role),Prod Owner (role) & #prodmgmt function
& goals. Then it's not an issue. :-)
- gander2112 @saeedwkhan Agreed,
but often not done.
Is it even practical for a PO to effectively serve the needs of the team AND
the market on their own?
- gander2112 Yes, if they have enuf skills
- liz_blink Not sure. I do both and isn't
- johnpeltier @liz_blink I
didn't say it was easy! I've done both at once. The challenge is keeping a PM / PO on one product.
- jbrett @gander2112 I'm
not sure its a question of skills as much as one of capacity. Thoughts?
- saeedwkhan @jbrett is
correct.... but it's a question of skills, capacity & overall scalability.
That's why roles need to be separate.
- gander2112 Actually, If the product owner
role is pigeonholed into a dev interface role only, they will never learn mkt
and other skills. I believe that the PO needs to
be at some level of participation in the outbound market research
- johnpeltier Isn't backlog management
intended to meet market needs? If so, that person must get great deal of user
- jbrett @saeedwkhan We've
done it both ways at my company. Separating roles seems to be yielding
- saeedwkhan PO
should be part of the #prodmgmt team, but with a focus on working
with Eng. They don't need to live there though. I call it friends with benefits, and not marriage. :-) daily interaction yes. hourly interaction. Not a requirement.
- jbrett @saeedwkhan #prodmgmttalk but
isn't that the function of the PO? To sit with the team as a customer
- gander2112 There has to be more than just
drive by pushing of priorities and requirements from PM to PO. Can be separate,
- gander2112 Don't get me wrong, I would
love to get away from the Backlog, but it is hard to get the right balance. And
right person too… I just fear that the temptation to take @saeedwkhan's
input from daily to once per sprint would be too great.
- saeedwkhan @gander2112 Hi,
I didn't say once per sprint. Where did you see that? :-)
- gander2112 @saeedwkhan YOu
didn't, but once a day, to, "I'm busy, bug me in three weeks" is a
slippery slope, and one that is tempting
- johnpeltier @gander2112 @saeedwkhan Team
/ PO will move on if PM doesn't reply fast enough.
Q1 Is it easier to involve customers during construction of
custom software products than it is for B2B or Enterprise products?
gander2112 A1: Naturally. You are
building it for one customer, so that makes it easier to involve them
johnpeltier @saeedwkhan Well,
that *sounds* easy!
Ycnt_ibdonlyjen A1: am curious... how
many people are building custom sftw for one client instead of mkt?
- johnpeltier @saeedwkhan @jbrett If
PM is out visiting clients / being in the market, PM on multiple products, r
they available enough?
gander2112 FOr me balancing different
customers in different segments for input is hard.
"available enough?" in prior Tweet = "available enough to the
liz_blink @gander2112 PO
needs to be participate in the outbound mrkt research #prodmgmttalk agreed
otherwise it just propagates inside out approach.
liz_blink @johnpeltier @jbrett If
PM is out visiting clients market, r they available enough? #prodmgmttalk
good Q. What is enough? To get job done?
gander2112 @liz_blink I
like to call that "Breathing our own exhaust"
saeedwkhan @gander2112 If
a PO goes the once per sprint route, they are not doing their job.
Communication shd be as needed.
liz_blink Or is the team lacking some
proactiveness to call out to you?
gander2112 @saeedwkhan Not
the PO, but the PM becoming less accessible. I have plenty on my plate to keep
me away from the daily PO mtg
saeedwkhan @gander2112 In
every PM job I've had, the MINIMUM comm interval was weekly. With email/phone
etc, it is many times/wk.
johnpeltier @saeedwkhan @gander2112 Can't
imagine 1 per week being adequate in any context
liz_blink @saeedwkhan must
be mine that need a lot of love! Or the combo of no PO that increases the
Q2 Which role is most suited to getting customer input on a
sprint-by-sprint basis: product owner, user experience, or product manager?
- rcauvin Key related question here is the
granularity of the backlog. Does it truly contain stories, or are tasks?
- johnpeltier A2: Strong UX team member can
help bridge the gap, IMO.
- ProdMgmtTalk @rcauvin describing
the "granularity" of the backlog as a distinction for how much
communication is required
- saeedwkhan @rcauvin Good
point. Stories take time to implement. This is different than tasks.
- ErikaLAndersen Tasks = features? Stories
= ??? Stories = how user interacts with products, reducing amount PM must
do? Still trying to figure this out. Stories come with personas.
Developers understand stories, goals, make better decisions
- rcauvin User story stands for a
relatively end-to-end user interaction that achieves a goal. Nice when dev team
can run with these
- johnpeltier Design personas help
- ErikaLAndersen If developers understand
stories, don't need as much input from PM (or is it PO?)
- jbrett @johnpeltier @gander2112 @saeedwkhan If
the PM is also a customer seems like a pretty scary idea. (moving on without
- rcauvin @ErikaLAndersen If
the backlog contains user stories instead of tasks, it is generally easier to
- saeedwkhan @liz_blink One
of my team is in India. They're not crying and they do great work.
- Brioneja @ProdMgmtTalk I
would think that the right role depends on the type of project and the level of
- johnpeltier If the stories are well
written and capture intent fully, PO job is easier @jbrett
Q3 What are the benefits and risks of letting
customers see unfinished work vs. using
vaporware mock-up to gather current-state feedback? Q4 How can product managers
balance ambiguity of frequent customer input with stable product vision and
meeting tight deadlines?
- Brioneja @ProdMgmtTalk I
am a big proponent of quickly creating prototypes. But prototypes can also be
non functional screens
- ProdMgmtTalk @johnpeltier A3: unfinish is front end
prototype – mockup to me is clickable wireframes / Flash / static HTML
- Brioneja @ProdMgmtTalk IDEO
has a wonderful example of VOC where they gathered info on an airplane cockpit
design using Post-It Notes
- ProdMgmtTalk Correction: "Unfinished
work" is actual product in progress vs. vaporware has not been developed
- rcauvin A3: I've found clickable
wireframes can be very helpful, but they require careful expectation
- ErikaLAndersen A3: If lots of work
already completed, more psych/financially difficult to make changes based on
- saeedwkhan Vaporware is product that is
claimed to exist that doesn't really exist. i.e. it's a false statement.
- johnpeltier @saeedwkhan Perhaps
"vaporware" wasn't the right word for the question :)
- ProdMgmtTalk @rcauvin says
to tie all major user stories into 1 end-end epic & demo epic which is
incrementally fleshed out
- Brioneja @saeedwkhan I
think there is another difference. Vaporware is not even an ongoing project.
- ErikaLAndersen Should we use
"prototype" instead? RT@saeedwkhan:
Vaporware is product that is claimed to exist that doesnt really
- saeedwkhan @Brioneja True.
It's a question of intent IMHO. If the intent is to deceive, it's definitely
- johnpeltier @ErikaLAndersen @saeedwkhan Yes,
that's a better word. People, focus! Get over that
- saeedwkhan @liz_blink Mature
teams know how to communicate effectively. Immature ones need constant feeding.
- liz_blink Agree.@Brioneja: @ProdMgmtTalk I
would think that the right role depends on the type of project and the level of
- Brioneja @ProdMgmtTalk One
approach is to talk to the customer's customers and to other suppliers to the
- ErikaLAndersen A5: Are customers
commenting/designing specific elements, or whether product meets goals/ needs? Not new question; just a clarification
- johnpeltier @ErikaLAndersen They'd
comment on both, I'm assuming, but what's important is whether root problems
are being addressed
- johnpeltier @liz_blink @Brioneja @ProdMgmtTalk "Level
of uncertainty" is an important element.
- Brioneja @ProdMgmtTalk The
more you move downstream on the value chain, the more "stable" the
signal/ noise ratio
- rcauvin A4: to address the challenges of
ambiguous customer input, ask "why" & "what problem does it
- Brioneja @johnpeltier @liz_blink @ProdMgmtTalk I
am a proponent of classifying projects by level of uncertainty. Need dif mgmt
- saeedwkhan A4 That's why #prodmgmt is
tough. Need 2 B a good info aggregator & make decisions based on clear
goals for product/bizness
- rcauvin A4: Focus customer input on the
problems they face; group problems & customers into segments. Choose
your problem and customer segments on which to focus. Grouping ultimately
coalesces around a chosen position
- johnpeltier @rcauvin For
rev1 of a product, aim at a small number of segments
- Brioneja @rcauvin The
Kano model is a somewhat rigorous way to do that http://bit.ly/qZDmtq
- saeedwkhan @rcauvin "Nail
it, then Scale it" is my motto on this topic. start small & focused,
get it right, then expand
- ProdMgmtTalk @cindyfsolomon asked @rcauvin about
what tool he used to identify grouping of data - he created visual diagram of
- Artifacture Communication &
facilitation are key. Try to steer strategic at begin of process edging toward
details at end
- johnpeltier Root cause analysis is the
answer to the old Bud Dry ad: "Why ask why?"
- johnpeltier RT @ProdMgmtTalk: @rcauvin says
always focus on 1 segment: intersection of people w/ problems youre addressing=
Today's stats: 210 tweets generated 223,214 impressions, reaching
audience of 22,677 followers
Thank you John Peltier @johnpeltier for
speaking and Roger Cauvin @rcauvin for co-hosting today! Everyone's
- Join us next week: Sept 26: Everything you need to know about Web Privacy, but were afraid to ask w/ @ShaunDakin
Please retweet: 9/19 Recap: Managing the Backlog During Initial Development in B2B ISVs w/@JohnPeltier http://bit.ly/ow3uYr #prodmgmttalk @prodmgmttalk
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