...rants by Asheesh Mehdiratta on Coaching, Transformation and Change

Category: product owner

Product Manager – version 2.0 @ Scrum India Dec 2011

The Scrum India Dec 2011 NCR meetup at Xebia, offered me a perfect opportunity to rant about my expectations from today’s Product Managers in the agile world today, as we go about our daily (product development) chores. This post was takeoff from my earlier post sometime back on bringing the business dashboard closer to the workforce on the ground and linking the agile world with the overall business objectives. Feel free to comment on my digs and leave your feedback in the comments.

Ofcourse my presentation was in the Pecha Kucha style (my first one) and think i did ok :-),but you can watch my presentation video recording at the WizIQ channel.

Overall it was interesting to hear Amit Somani (MakeMyTrip) and their struggles to get the product managers, with some controversial points by Rajat Bhalla (Vinsol). You can watch all the video recordings at the WizIQ channel (video recording sponsors).

Product Manager – version 2.0 

Is your Agile dashboard == Business dashboard?

Agile dashboards include Burn down charts (productreleaseiteration), team velocity charts, backlog items (productiteration) = Agile denominators

Business dashboards have managers measuring the schedule, resources, quality.. ; CXO’s measuring the ROI ROCE… ; and the business analysts have the Quick Ratios quarterly stock price EPS expectations to ponder = Business (Economic) denominators

But do we measure and communicate the relationship between the agile denominators and the economic denominators? Can you say that if my project agile denominators are high (low), my organization economic denominators are high (low)?

Or is the agile denominator dashboard only for the masses (teams executing projects) and the ‘sacred’ economic denominator dashboard for the management?

It appears that most organization dashboards have not evolved yet to measure both the agile denominators and their relationship to the economic denominators. Very few companies have the P&L visibility at the team execution level and this is what makes it difficult to derive or even see the above relationship (forget measuring the relationship) ! Though a limited organization set may be measuring both the indicators but in my view most organizations cannot think of sharing these financial numbers, citing trust or confidentiality as the primary reasons. Did someone say self organizing teams with responsibility?

In my view this missing linkage, offers an excellent opportunity for the agile community, to break the tradition, and challenge the latent organizational mindset. The right choice appears to be the Product owners who can (need to) step up to the plate and make this linkage visible; since they know both sides of the story and can communicate both up and down the organization streams.

Product owners talk about user stories and themes but rarely bring the project cost structure (salarysoftwarehardwaresupport team’s costs) and how the agile process is impacting the economic denominators. I feel they need to act as THE Glue and assert their voice by providing a bidirectional business dashboard for the ‘masses’ with the ROI / development costs, along with the team vision and vice versa for the business audience. This information flow to all stakeholders would allow an opportunity to question and debate while increasing the sphere of influence for everyone in the organization.

Until the above linkage is established, the various functions in the software industry are all sub-optimizing the system each sub-system meeting it’s benchmark, while reducing the overall system throughput. This surely is against the Lean principle of “optimize the whole”

Product Owners : are you listening ?

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