Being the Product Owner in the Scrum process, where teams are required to work in the shortest iteration time possible, is a very challenging role for a Product Manager. At the start of every sprint, the Product Manager is expected to have the user stories available, the priorities all set, and the results of the prior sprint reviewed. The Scrum process goes beyond software development and requires the whole organization to adapt to it, not the other way around. And while the idea of change is daunting, it is actually a positive element of an organization.
It seems that this is the most logical action to take, with the whole organization adapting to Scrum. However, it is safe to say that this is easier said than done. Aversion to change is inevitable, with a lot of people thinking that there is nothing wrong in the process, so why change? At times, the resistance comes from not understanding the process. Regardless of the reason, there is no doubt that the most practical move is to adapt to Scrum.
Introducing an Intake Sprint
Having an intake sprint prior to the start of a development sprint is a good way to compromise. This sprint would only involve the stakeholders and the product owner and will last the same duration as a development sprint. While this sprint is structured like a software development sprint, the tasks are focused on producing information required by the software development sprint team. Commitment is required from all the members of the intake sprint for this to be effective. Introducing Scrum to the organization gradually through an intake sprint enables individuals who are part of other groups to have a higher stake in the process and consequently motivate others within the organization to provide greater participation. With this, the Product Manager’s load gets lighter thanks to the commitment from everyone within the organization.
Provide Assistance to the Product Manager
Additional assistance is particularly necessary for Product Managers who have responsibilities aside from those within product management. For these duties, other members of the organization may be assigned to execute certain tasks so the Product Manager can more effectively perform his or her role without constant interruption. This approach is also a great way to empower other individuals in the team, prepare them for career growth, and increase their respect and loyalty to the Product Manager and the organization.
A More Independent Sprint Team
The sprint team can become more independent, working closely with the customer and creating their own user stories. This approach enables them to be self-organized and agile in their problem solving and this helps to ensure that the sprint is completed. However, there might be a downside to this in that by working independently of the Product Manager, they might be missing the inputs of the most critical contributor in product development which might eventually lead to more iterations so they could achieve the product vision.
Regardless which approach is taken by an organization, it is important to note that the Scrum process is all about constant improvement and adaptability to changing situations. The challenge for the Product Manager lies in the fact that there is no guarantee of complete support when an organization decides to implement Scrum. There is no one approach that can be learned by attending a product management training course. The key is to come up with alternative solutions and keep moving forward.
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Michelle Rubio has been writing for SMEs across the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK for the last five years. She is a highly-experienced blogger and SEO copywriter, writing business blogs for various industries such as marketing, law, health and wellness, beauty, and education, particularly on product management training such as those offered by ProductSchool.com.