Posts on Product Backlog

Streamline Your Agile Requirements by Avoiding Bloated Backlogs

Moving from traditional requirements to user stories seems like a simple task. Identify a user, then get them to tell you what they want and why. No problem, right?

When I first started writing user stories, I really enjoyed the simplicity of the format. It wasn’t until I attended some product workshops that I had a most profound learning moment: We often unintentionally waste brainpower creating bloated backlogs.

Continue reading

7 Ways of Creating and Sustaining an Agile Product Roadmap

A product roadmap visually depicts how your product will evolve over time to realize your product vision and achieve continual value for your customers and business. (I define the term product to refer to a software application, system, device, service, or a combination that provides value to customers and business partners.)

A product roadmap should be designed to adapt continually, guide decisions, and promote action.

Continue reading

Structured Conversations to Discover Your MVP

Many product development teams talk about the wisdom of producing great products by iteratively exposing potential customers to small, cohesive product increments. [1] The concept of focusing effort on minimum viable product (MVP) delivery has gained momentum particularly in the agile world. MVPs deliver customer value through successive delivery of small product slices and drives teams to make smarter choices about their product’s future development.

Continue reading

Slicing User Stories, Delivering Value

Are you on one of the many agile teams struggling with backlogs and user stories? Don’t give up. I teamed up with Jeff Sutherland, CEO of Scrum Inc., to deliver a webinar called “Slicing User Stories”. We focused on helping teams manage their backlogs, improve sprints and release planning, and increase delivered value using practices Mary Gorman and I wrote about in Discover to Deliver.

Here’s a summary of what we discussed. And stay tuned; I’ll go deeper into this in an upcoming webinar with the Scrum Alliance on March 15th.

Continue reading

Five Ways a Product Owner Can Build Trust

For project teams to work together effectively, team members and stakeholders need trust. Each team member (product managers and owners, leaders, subject matter experts, and technical staff) have different roles and different interests.

As a product owner responsible for defining (and refining) the product backlog, you are expected to juggle a variety of issues including: choosing the most valuable work, meeting deadlines, controlling costs, incorporating bug fixes, addressing technical debt, ensuring quality, and communicating the changes to your users. If that trust breaks down, your product and process will, too. The result may be hidden agendas, rumors, gossip, no shows to standups, whining, or even subversive behavior.

Continue reading

Factors for Making Value-Based Product Decisions

Value

Making value-based decisions on what to deliver and when it needs to be delivered is one of the most important responsibilities of product ownership. What exactly is value? Value is fair return in goods, services, money, or some other benefit in exchange for something.

Value is what you get in exchange for what you give. In software development, we tend to identify value in terms of features. They are related to be sure, but quite different. Features as cohesive bundles of functionality that align with business goals and objectives. Features can come in various formats and levels of granularity, including user stories, minimum marketable features, minimum viable product, epics, and so on.

Continue reading

A Visual Nutshell for Amplifying Product Discovery

Defining Value

We were recently planning a discovery workshop for a large initiative with the Chief Product Owner (CPO). She is part of a growing, global community utilizing the techniques in our book Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis. This community is doing the vital work of product visioning and backlog definition and refinement. Discover to Deliver™ techniques are woven into collaborative product discovery and planning workshops. Such facilitated workshops quickly produce agile product roadmaps and release plans.

The CPO needed a succinct way to prepare the customers and subject matter experts who would be participating in the discovery session. She asked us, “What can I use to share the essence of our discovery work?” We showed her a visual spread we call “DtoD in a Nutshell” spread from our book.

Continue reading

Backlog Refinement Takes You from Vision to Value

Backlog refinement prepares your backlog for development. Investing in doing this well helps you deliver visiontovaluegraphicvalue sooner, can double your productivity, and builds strong collaboration—the backbone of high performance teams. We find that Product Owners and development teams need advanced skills and training in backlog refinement. With a keen focus on value and conducting Structured Conversations using the 7 Product Dimensions, you greatly improve your ability to go from vision to value.

Continue reading

Decide How to Decide: Empowering Product Ownership

Common Decision Rules

As the product owner, you are responsible for the product’s vision, and ultimately, the value of your product. You “own” the backlog. If your responsibilities include upstream product management—what I refer to as strategic product ownership—then you also shepherd your product through its entire lifecycle.

Bottom line, your prime responsibility is deciding what to build and when to build it. Your decisions guide not just the health and well being of your product, but also all the people engaged in product discovery and delivery.

Yet a common product ownership struggle I see in agile teams—regardless of industry and product type—is determining how to make decisions. As an agile coach, I use a pattern I call “Decide How to Decide.” It’s a simple technique to help people make transparent, participatory, and trusted decisions.

Continue reading

Agile 2014: Two Requirements-Focused Sessions You Don’t Want to Miss

IM_A_SPEAKER_AT-300pxAre you headed to Agile 2014 this year? We are—and we are eager to introduce audiences there to our unique approach to agile requirements.

You’ll find EBG’s Nanette Brown and me speaking in the Working with Customers track, as we explore ways to discover a product’s quality attributes—things like performance, usability, robustness, and more. EBG’s VP of Quality and Delivery Mary Gorman is co-presenting with Terry Weigmann in the Testing and Quality Assurance track on the topic of test analysis and how it enables teams to strengthen and produce higher quality requirements on agile projects.

In this blog post, we want to offer you a sneak peak into these sessions, both in terms of how crucial they are for success with agile and also in regard to why they were chosen for this year’s program. Oh, and if you can’t make it to Orlando, we’ll be tweeting throughout the conference, so follow us (@ellengott, @mbgorman, @nanettebrwn) the week of July 28th!

Continue reading

EBG Product Agility Newsletter

Get tips, stories and news on product discovery & delivery

Join our community and receive periodic tips, stories, and news on agile product management, product ownership, backlog and value management, collaboration, teamwork, and more.

Sign up Here