Agile product management is a modern approach to project management. It falls somewhere in between having a firm, immutable plan and having no plan in place at all. A plan is created, then as each milestone within that plan is accomplished, the team engages in a retrospective.
During each retrospective, the team looks at what's working and what isn't, what can be improved upon, what should be cut out, and how best to move forward. This allows the product to evolve effectively as it takes shape.
Generally, to ensure that key aspects of the vision aren't changed during agile development, certain requirements will be set in stone. Others, on the other hand, will be subject to change as time goes on.
One of the key benefits of agile product management is that it allows your team to learn constantly. Rather than statically creating a product and releasing it, the process of iterating on the product never really ends.
This gives your team a continuous opportunity to learn from the customer, uncover the strengths and weaknesses of the product, and come up with creative solutions to keep the product feeling fresh.
Agile product management also has the benefit of delivering value to the customer on a routine basis. As improvements are made and new features rolled out, the customer is constantly getting an even better version of the product they already love.
Not only can this improve customer loyalty, but it can build confidence in your product early on. This is because customers will know that the team behind the product is actively invested in its success and their opinions.
Lastly, agile product management has the benefit of keeping your team adaptable. In traditional development, it's not uncommon for a team to veer in the wrong direction.
But these traditional strategies don't always allow opportunities for course correction. Agile product management avoids this problem, reducing the chances of launching a lackluster product.
Here’s a very common challenge that occurs in agile product management: feature bloat. Feature bloat is when features begin to be tacked onto a product "just because" — without adding significant value to the project.
This can create a confusing and unwieldy final product. This problem can be especially detrimental when it comes to bringing in new users.
>> Get the most from agile working. Check out our guide to avoiding feature bloat here.
Another issue with agile product management is that it can be easy to lose sight of your original vision. As the product grows and changes, it can become harder to understand its purpose. Similar to feature bloat, this makes it difficult for new users to jump into the product and understand what it's for.
Lastly, agile product management can create challenges in your team's workflows. Since this method of work is less rigid than traditional methods, it can lead to different teams or segments of your team developing their own styles and workflows.
This can create disparate processes that make staying on the same page difficult. It can also lead to a product that is a bit scatterbrained.
>> Regular check-ins help keep an agile product management team together. Get your standups up and running with our handy guide.
There are a plethora of online courses available for learning agile product management.
Managers can also read books or attend in-person conferences to start learning the fundamentals of the agile approach.