On May 30, 2018, Portland-based software development managers joined ProFocus Technology for the latest in our series of Leaders Lunches.
Moderated by John Boone, President of ProFocus, our May roundtable discussion focused on the topic of communication and relationship between development and product management.
Here are a few of the best practices, cautions, and resources our experienced attendees shared.
Best Practices for Successful Product Management
All the leaders in attendance had structured product management in different ways.
While every organization is different, here are a few of the insights anyone looking to build successful relationships between their product managers and development teams should consider:
Have a plan.
Investing time in proper product road mapping is essential.
Ensure you have good stories.
They need to be well-written so everyone on the development team knows what is needed. Carefully determine what is negotiable and what is not.
Implement Behavior-Driven Development.
Our experts highly recommended the Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) methodology as a great way to get the business needs for the software translated into the end product.
Dialogue drives better use cases.
The Product Manager, Development Manager, and Quality Manager should work as a team to develop use cases early in the process. This takes longer but you end up with better quality code and you save time in the end.
Have the same goals.
Blend the metrics of Product Management and Development teams. They should not each have a different set of KPIs.
Ensure you have a good product owner acceptance system.
Weekly demos give the Product Manager and Engineering Manager space for stakeholder feedback.
Look at development KPIs often.
You might even look at these intraday to see how things are going. Look for variance in velocity to identify problems. It can be helpful to normalize the velocity measurement to account for team members that are out of the office.
Product managers should attend sprint stand-ups.
Attending the daily scrum at least a few times a week helps ensure that the product manager understands what’s going on in the current sprint.
Cautions to Keep in Mind
Remember Conway’s Law.
Conway’s Law is an adage named for computer programmer Melvin Conway, who introduced the idea in 1967. It states that “organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.”
In other words, the organizational structure of your teams must match what you are intending to create or you will not be successful.
Stakeholders must attend the weekly demos.
They should not wait until the end of the development process to start attending!
Want to learn more about managing the relationship and communication between your development teams and product management? Here are some resources our attendees recommend:
- Decision-Making Models: What method should your team use to make decisions? This article from MIT shares has some helpful examples of decision-making models you might use.
- Learn about the Cucumber BDD model: Cucumber is an open-source tool that helps you run automated tests for Behavior-Driven Development. This blog post offers a good intro to this approach.
- The Phoenix Project: Set at a fictional company, this novel is both entertaining and enlightening for anyone looking to improve their own IT organizations.
While not discussed in the meeting, these articles are also relevant to the discussion:
- What It Takes to Become a Great Product Manager: This article from the Harvard Business Review addresses the core competencies and other considerations for Product Managers looking to build good relationships with development.
- How Product Managers Should Work with Agile Development Teams: ProductPlan looks at what it takes for Product Managers to successfully work with development teams.
Would You Like to Join Us?
If you are a leader in software development and engineering, and would like to be involved in future roundtable discussions like the one above, please send an email to [email protected] with a request to be invited to upcoming Leaders Lunches.
We hope to see you at our next one!