Posts on Value

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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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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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.

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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.

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Value: The Lynchpin in Agile Product Management

Defining Value

You’d think the topic of value would be uncontroversial when it comes to agile product management and ownership. After all, early and continuous delivery of value is the first principle in the Agile Manifesto.

And yet, the idea is not always clear and consistent. Value is often not easily qualified or quantified, which makes the important task of conversing transparently about value difficult.

At the Agile Product Open last month, I proposed the topic “Value: The Whats, Whys, and Hows” in the morning marketplace of ideas.

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Focus on Value: 4 Factors Every Team Should Consider

1Most of our clients share the same goal: deliver value. Yet often we find that these same clients cannot define what value looks like for their companies, or determine how to use value to inform project decisions.

We’ve identified 4 key factors to help your team bring value into focus:

  • Involve the Right People
  • Define Value Transparently
  • Look Toward the Short Term
  • Have the Vision to Change

Involve the Right People

Defining a product’s desired result, before building it, is fundamental to that product’s success. To do this successfully, you need to identify all of the key stakeholders from the customer, business, and technology realms. These stakeholders need to work together, as collaborating product partners, to envision the product, define goals, and specify measurable objectives, thereby creating a high-level view of the desired product outcomes. Having these key markers will ensure that the team is always building the most valuable thing.

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Requirements to the Rescue: How the 7 Product Dimensions Saved our eBooks

d2dkindlepic“Fast, easy, free/cheap…” That’s what we heard about publishing an eBook edition of a paper book. After all, people said, how difficult can it be to take a PDF and make it digital? Quite difficult, actually.

Ellen Gottesdiener and I should have anticipated that publishing eBook editions of our paper book Discover To Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis would be a complex endeavor. In our careers, we have been involved in re-platforming software products (applications)–and we’ve rarely encountered a re-platforming project that is straightforward. Our eBook editions were no exception.

To eBook or Not to eBook

Even before we published the paperback version of Discover To Deliver, folks requested a digital version. We analyzed the profile of our primary readers. Challenges in converting the book’s visual language, illustrations, models and examples for a virtual reading audience worried us. Other concerns included the evolving eBook industry, its splintered standards, and the end-product usability issues driven by the increasing variations in devices (tablets, readers, smartphones) on which people access books. Weighing the value proposition of paper vs. digital, we decided to initially go paper.

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