Posts on Product Backlog

What Is Your Product?

“So, what is your product?” That was the key question I posed in my Agile Cincinnati keynote recently.

In my product coaching work, I have come to realize that many organizations don’t have a clear and consistent answer to this fundamental question. This has serious consequences. A poorly defined product impacts your ability to respond to changing customer and market needs. It results in less than satisfying product outcomes. It causes organizational and communication woes. It thwarts organizations efforts to scale agile product development.

Everyone in your product development ecosystem should have a shared, consistent, and coherent answer to the fundamental question, “What is your product?”

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Using the Product Canvas to Define Your Product’s Core Requirements

The Product Canvas can help address a number of challenges as you transition to a product-centric organization. You may want to take a step back to rethink your product strategy. Perhaps you realize you’re not organized for optimal product development and need to redesign your organization so its structure follows product. Or maybe you need to improve your product management practices.

For all these scenarios, defining your product is your starting point.

The Product Canvas has two parts. In my last blog, “Using the Product Canvas to Define Your Product: Getting Started”, you learned about the strategic and positioning benefits of the Product Canvas Part 1. Product Canvas Part 2, the subject of this blog, helps you define the essence of your product by defining its compositional requirements.

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Using the Product Canvas to Define Your Product: Getting Started

I usually find a diversity of opinion when I ask anyone within an organization what their products are. This is true for product companies whose primary source of revenue is their product and for companies who use products internally to run their business.

This comes from a lack of shared understanding.

Not having agreement on “what is our product” is particularly problematic in large enterprises that have built complex organizational structures. It also surfaces in organizations attempting to modernize their product development practices. Many organizations recognize the need to take an outside-in approach to their business in order to focus on their customers. Even when organizations shift from project thinking and embrace product thinking, the problem remains the same. We don’t agree on what our products are and what our products are not.

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Product Discovery Frameworks for the Virtual and Scaled Enterprise

For a number of years, I’ve heard: “I really like the frameworks for product discovery that you shared in Discover to Deliver. How can we facilitate collaborative discovery with distributed teams or for large-scale products?”

My answer—until now—is to suggest things that colleagues, EBG readers, and I have done over the years to leverage existing technologies available to hack a way to collaborate. For example, have concurrent teams working on their Discovery Boards with live video cameras in different locations. Or use Google docs, slides, Trello or real-time boards for shared space ‘wall work’. Even resort to asynchronous iterations of photos of wall work.

Until now.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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