Sunday, September 4, 2011

Agile Product Management with Scrum

Author:        Roman Pichler
Published:    2010
Publisher:    Addison-Wesley Professional
Paperback: 160 pages

A Product Owner (PO)  is one of the key roles in Scrum framework. POs  are responsible for maximizing the value of the product being developed and the work of the development team. Clearly the role of a PO is a very challenging one. This book is a much needed guide for the POs to excel in their roles and to ensure the launch of products that the customers will be delighted to have.
This book consists of six chapters.

Chapter 1 Understanding the Product Owner Role - explains the roles, responsibilities and the authority of a PO.
Chapter 2 Envisioning the Product - discusses how a PO can create  a shared vision of the product being developed.
Chapter 3 Working with the Product Backlog - discusses the techniques for effectively maintaining a Product Backlog. It also provides suggestions for handling nonfunctional requirements and scaling the Product Backlog for large projects.
Chapter 4 Planning the Release - discusses the essential concepts and techniques of release planning.
Chapter 5 Collaborating in the Sprint Meetings - provides tips for effectively collaborating with the rest of the Scrum team during Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum,  Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective meetings.
Chapter 6 Transitioning into a Product Owner Role - provides guidance for people moving into Product Owner roles from more conventional roles like that of a project manager or a product manager.

The book is very concise, highly readable and contains lots of real life examples to illustrate the points made by the author.
Each chapter has a section called "Common Mistakes" which highlights the pitfalls  that  Product Owners need to avoid.
Another important section in every chapter is "Reflection". This section poses a set of "moment of truth" questions to the Product Owners and other managers in an organization. These questions will enable them to objectively asses their current practices and situation and serve as prompts  to improve them.

There is no denying the fact this is an extremely useful book for Product Owners. However the title of the book "Agile Product Management with Scrum" sets a much higher expectation among the prospective readers. The book is written only from a Product Owner's perspective. Other aspects of product management are not dealt with. A more apt title of this book could have been something like "How to be an Effective Product Owner in a Scrum Project" or "A Guidebook for Product Owners".

There may not be much new in this book for a highly experienced and effective Product Owner who may be already aware of and even following many of the useful techniques discussed in this book. 
But for a novice Product Owner, other members of  the Scrum Team, and the management of an organization taking baby steps towards implementation of Scrum, this book should be a mandatory read.


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