In agile software development, product management is about guiding a product through multiple iterations. Since agile programs are more fluid than traditional approaches, agile product management is a more flexible approach.
One of the core concepts in agile is that the scope of a project is fluid, while resources stay the same. As such, in agile product management the team spends less time defining the product before hand, and is open to changes along the way. The product comes together one iteration at a time, allowing for customer data and team retrospectives to drive the next stage. As such, agile product management is more about guiding the dev team through cycles, while maintaining the product vision and integrating customer insight along the way.
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Agile product managers are thus more integrated into technology teams than business teams. At Atlassian, our PMs sit squarely in the engineering organization and advocate for the development teams first and foremost. This is critical for Atlassian’s agile approach. The PMs are supported by management teams and PMMs (Product Marketing Managers) to round out the product discipline and ground their practice in market data and business objectives. This organization works well for Atlassian, but it is not a catch-all. Many teams may find success doing the exact opposite.
Envisioning the future of product management
Product management is a multidisciplinary pursuit that is as elusive as it is dead simple. Product managers gain empathy for the customer, and communicate their needs to the broader organization. They work most closely with development teams, but also need to get buy in from marketing, design, and management. Their special sauce is the ability to understand and communicate with a wide variety of people who speak different languages.
My hope for the future of product management is to have fewer product managers who are better at their jobs. As soon as agile product management became en vogue all of a sudden every product needed a PM, and every PM needed a PO who needed a PMM who were all managed by a CPO. This proliferation has created mushy, overlapping roles and added more process than they have progress.
In reality, the future of product management is up to the product managers. You can use these articles to gain inspiration, but we hope you’ll take these lessons and make them your own. Onward!