Organizations are constantly struggling with complex development projects and are in search for a few, straightforward, and easy to learn methods to help deal with their problems. For this reason, more and more software companies are rapidly turning to Agile development to cope with fast changing markets, unknown or changing product requirements, borderless competition, and to solve complex problems. Yet little has been written to guide product managers through the transition in working with Agile teams and the numerous benefits that it affords.
"Agile Excellence for Product Managers" is a plain speaking guide on how to work with Agile development teams to achieve phenomenal product success. It covers the why and how of agile development (including Scrum, XP, and Lean,) the role of product management, release planning, release management, road mapping, creating and prioritizing a product backlog, documentation, product launches, organizational implications and more. It is a must read for product managers making the switch to Agile development as well as product owners and project managers looking for better ways to organize and lead in their companies.
Review By: Bill Simpson 07/06/2011Agile Excellence is a good primer for product managers who are transitioning to agile but are not yet familiar with its primary principles. It is geared toward the novice product manager, and experienced agilists will find nothing new in this text. It answers the basic questions a product manager might have regarding his initial responsibilities to the team when moving to agile. If you're looking for a primer on Scrum that is slanted toward the product manager without going into too much detail, this is an excellent choice that can easily be read on a cross-country plane ride.
You can read each chapter alone, but together they form a relatively cohesive picture of generic agile processes. I found the lack of examples to be limiting, and I could easily see this book being twice as long if it presented more real-world information. This book would be an excellent primer for a product manager who has an accomplished ScrumMaster at hand as a guide, but I don't believe it provides sufficient information to drive a product manager alone to agile excellence.
There are two nuggets in this book that would be particularly helpful to the development team. The author does an excellent job of explaining the value of unit testing. He makes very clear that it is a strategic advantage for the product manager, who should insist upon it. In addition, the recipe for working across iterations to accomplish different objectives for different stakeholders gives an excellent view into what an effective product manager should attempt to accomplish. If you're having a hard time getting your team to transition, have the product owner read pages 105-106 and create a process-cycle efficiency chart. While none of this is new information, it’s packed together well and will give food for thought to a new product manager.
This book is relevant to today’s product managers and would be a good addition to their reading list. I would recommend that this, along with one or two of the other main works on agile, would prepare a product manager for life on an agile team. I plan to recommend this book to all of the product managers in our organization to augment what they've already learned. It is an easy read and worth the investment.