The Product Manager represents the Product Owner and the End-User/Customer – they are responsible for defining and scheduling the delivery of high quality output in line with business requirements and priorities.
The Product Manager and the Product Owner define the ‘What’, The Scrum Team define the ‘How’ and they work together to agree the ‘When’.
The Product Manager is on hand during the course of the Sprint for questions and confirmation of progress in the ‘right direction’. For example, the Scrum Team may approach the Product Manager mid-Sprint with an “is this what you were after” or “I could either do this or that… which would you prefer?”
The Product Manager works with Stakeholders and the Product Owner to set Product Strategy and will often be responsible for managing the Product P&L – they seek to identify and define the highest value deliverables Just In Time for each Sprint Planning Session.
The Product Manager tracks progress across sprints in the form of a Release Plan, Release Burndown and/or Agile Epic Board to ensure that delivery stays on track and remains alligned with the overall programme/business strategy and objectives.
It’s important to note that this role will vary slightly different from one organisation to another. The main contentious issue seems to be whether it falls to the Product Owner or the Product Manager to own the communication of new product requirements to the team.
Best practice dictates that this communication should be owned by the Product Owner. With that said, as the number of Product Owners increases, it can become less efficient to run things this way.
In order to keep planning sessions to a minimum and to reduce the points of contact for the Team, a Product Manager may become empowered to take responsibility for more of the direct communication. In order to ensure the Product Owner has buy-in and remains in the loop, they attend the Sprint Review sessions and or Daily Scrum plus other sessions where appropriate. It’s not ideal to have this extra degree of separation but it does seem to work alright nevertheless.
Key Responsibilities of the Product Manager (Scrum Meetings):
Pre-Requirements Workshop (and Ongoing)
- Meet with business stakeholders to discuss, define and capture requirements – User Research
- Consider Market conditions – Market Research e.g. SWOT analysis , Marketing Mix - Product, Price, Promotion, Place
- Manage the Product Management documentation- Product Backlog(s), Release Plan(s), Product Roadmap(s), Release Notes and any other Requirements-level notes/sketches
- Communicate and capture requirements in a way that people can understand them e.g. Themes, Epics,User Stories, Test Cases, UI sketches, Conditions of Satisfaction etc.
- Presentation of new user stories/requirements (this may also be done by the Product Owner)
- Document feedback from the development team (e.g. viability of stories and top-level effort estimates)
- Re-prioritise, expand and more clearly define the product backlog
- Add/remove user stories and conditions of satisfaction as necessary
- Introduction of user stories and agreed conditions of satisfaction to the development team
- Document level of effort estimated to deliver each user story – use these to drive prioritisation and release planning
- Re-prioritise Product Backlog – Ensure that the product backlog is prioritised in a way that minimises risk, maximises Business Value and end-user satisfaction in advance of the Requirements Workshop
- Add/remove user stories and conditions of satisfaction as necessary so to ensure that each sprint is value-packed
- Present the highest priority User Stories – and suggest the proposed scope of iteration (this may be done by the Product Owner)
- Negotiate top-level Sprint scope and ensure that requirements are fully understood
- Agree Sprint Objectives with development team – this is a collaborative process
- Remain on hand for questioning whilst the Scrum Team defines their Sprint Delivery Strategy (if required)
- Update release plan further to the meeting and ensure that the Product Owner (and Key Stakeholders where appropriate) are aware of the Sprint scope
- May attend the Daily Scrum to receive update on Sprint progress, but is not allowed to actively contribute – they are an observer
- May be alerted to impediments, that they can help to clear
- Circulates Sprint Review invitation to relevant key stakeholders
- Receives a presentation of the work completed during the course of the sprint
- The Product Manager and Product Owner(s) decides whether the Sprint Objectives have been achieved (or not).
- Define, schedule and monitor progress against a top-level product Release Plan, Release Burndown and/or Agile Epic Board
- The Product Manager is an optional attendee to this session, however I recommend they attend so to promote transparency, trust and collaboration between them and the Scrum Team
- The focus of this session is to review what went well in the previous sprint, what didn’t go so well and what the team can/will do together and individually in order to improve performance in the next sprint.
Read more about Roles & Responsibilities
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- The Scrum Team - Roles and Responsibilities (agile101)
- Scrum Meetings – Schedules, Agendas and Tips (agile101)
- Presentation on the Agile PM Framework(allaboutproductmanagement.blogspot)