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Qualities You Need to Succeed in a Product Manager Role

Product Manager Role

Qualities You Need to Succeed in a Product Manager Role

Becoming a product manager isn't for everyone. Learn what qualities you need to naturally have in order to succeed in a product manager role.

Keyword(s): product manager role

According to a survey, one out of five products doesn’t meet customer needs.

In a crowded market, such a slip up can spell a firm's death. How well a product satisfies your client base is a direct responsibility of the product manager (PM). Thus you need to understand the qualities that make for a strong PM if you are to excel in your organization.

Here are five do-or-die skills you must possess to shine in a product manager role.

What Is a Product Manager?

A product manager is charged with discovering a valuable and useful product for users in a viable manner.

PMs stand at the intersection of technology, business, and user experience.

As a business executive, a PM needs to uncover ways to extricate value from a product to maximize the return on investment (ROI). From a technology perspective, a PM needs deep insight into how the product gets built.

Sure, as a PM, you don’t necessarily need to know how to code (it’s useful but not a must).

However, you do need to understand the technology stack in play and the effort it will take to put a viable product together.

As a PM utilizing agile project management methodologies, it’s even more critical that you have a firm grasp on the technology in play. A majority of your time will be spent with the development team.

User experience is another critical core role you’ll handle as a PM. Essentially, you are meant to be the user’s voice within the business.

You champion the things that matter to users for the product to have sustainable customer value. While a reliable PM doesn’t need to be deeply conversant in all three, they need an in-depth domain experience in at least one of these areas.

On top of that, a good PM must be passionate about all three areas while being familiar with professionals who opera in these three areas.

What Qualities Can Help You Excel in a Product Manager Role?

A PM’s day-to-day job features many moving pieces. Thus, you need several skills that can help you balance everything optimally.

Let’s look at some of these vital skills.

1. Relationship Management

Being adept at positively managing relationships is arguably the most critical skill a PM can't do without.

Internally, relationship management is vital in gaining the team's buy-in to deliver compelling results. If you don't know how to rally a team behind a project or problem successfully, your productivity will tank.

A PM is continually walking the fine line between clients, hitting the firm’s revenue targets, and having limited resources on the engineering team.

To maintain this delicate balance, you need to excel at forming and nurturing relationships.

Externally, relationship management helps you navigate customer-facing problems. If you need a stealth test, you can galvanize users to try out your product while in beta.

2. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (popularly denoted as EQ) is vital in today’s organizational landscape. Statistics show that over 70% of hiring managers value EQ or intellect.

Why is EQ so valuable to you as a PM?

It can help you excel in one of the most crucial roles: customer relations.

When you are talking to customers to get more insight, for example, EQ helps you empathize with them. You can listen to what is being said and also pay attention to the unsaid.

Body language and indirectly expressed emotions are mission-critical in accurately identifying pain points customers face.

The better you can relate to users and draw their thoughts out, the more effectively your solutions can meet their needs.

Aside from that, EQ also helps you relate better with your coworkers and leaders. That is useful as there are many internal hurdles to jump over when you want to ship a product.

3. Intrinsic Motivation

A PM’s job is full of stress. Your team will have demands you need to meet, the CEO will lean on you to achieve set targets, and customers have issues they ended you to solve.

Without the ability to intrinsically motivate yourself, it’s easy to fall behind crucial deadlines. You need to have the grit to push hard on what you know is urgent without making others panic.

Learning how to switch contexts quickly is also critical as that helps you move from one task to another seamlessly.

4. Strategic Thinking

At a macro level, a PM’s job mirrors that of a CEO to a degree. You need to understand your product strategy and tie it to the overarching company strategy.

When it comes to product vision, you need to figure out ways to give users value. But that’s not all.

Your product vision needs to generate value for customers in a differentiated manner from the competition. A strategic understanding of this convergence is essential as it helps galvanize your team behind a product.

Once the product team can draw an arc between what they are making, how it fulfills customer desires and helps the firm win, they will be motivated to deliver.

Once you ship a successful product as the PM, you need to factor in long term survival.

That calls for strategic thinking in terms of how user behavior may change, dynamic technology trends, and how the competition will respond.

5. Effective Problem Solving

A PM will always face two categories of problems when building and shipping a product.

The first type of problem is figuring out your customers’ pain points. If you get this wrong, you commit the firm’s precious resources to a product that won't meet user needs and, therefore, flop.

The second category of problems PMs anticipate is barriers that make it hard for the team to build the solution you need to ship.

You need to be adept at continually solving these two problems, time and again.

Remember that you can't get too caught up in either one. If you focus too much on customer pain points, you may miss out on feasible ways to meet these needs with your product.

On the other hand, if you focus too much on what you’re building, you lose sight of the ‘why’ behind the building and therefore ship a dud.

Do You Have What It Takes to Excel in a Product Manager Role?

Being a PM is rewarding as well as stressful. As a critical component that shapes how well the product performs, you will need to juggle several balls. Thus, as you eye a product manager role, you need to identify the traits that can help you execute your job and deliver stellar results.

Agile Center offers consultancy services on Lean-Agile Transformation, Agile Program/Portfolio Management, and Agile Strategy audit.

Talk to us for training and insights that help unlock valuable efficiencies for your business.

Understand the Role of a Scrum Master Before Choosing This Career Path

Role of a Scrum Master

Understand the Role of a Scrum Master Before Choosing This Career Path

If you're thinking about getting certified as a scrum master, you need to understand what it entails. Learn all about the role of a scrum master.

Keyword(s): role of a scrum master

Project management works when good quality work finishes on time. However, that's easier said than done.

In order to help combat classic project woes, scrum was born.

Scrum is an agile project management philosophy that improves team efficiency. Under the role of a scrum master, projects are administered through sprints.

A sprint is word scrum masters use to describe a period of time—typically two to four weeks. The methodology is understandably popular due to its team efficiency benefits.

By the end of each sprint, team members need to complete their projects. Scrum masters are the leaders who plan and organize these sprints.

If that sounds exciting to you, keep reading. We'll discuss the what scrum master is and how to become one.

What Is a Scrum Master?

A scrum master coordinates projects by planning sprints and hosting check-ins with team members. They use an agile-based approach that relies on communication and collaboration.

Scrum masters help compartmentalize projects into manageable tasks for their team.

With daily updates from the team, scrum masters gain a better understanding of project progress. This helps them quickly pivot when roadblocks come up. Constant communication allows scrum masters to plan sprints effectively.

Other roles on the scrum team include the product owner and team members. The product owner is usually a manager overseeing the entire team, while the scrum master oversees the team members.

Part of the scrum master's job to implement the product owner's ideas and vision. All three roles work harmoniously together to deliver their projects.

What Does the Role of a Scrum Master Entail?

A scrum master has two main expectations alongside their other daily tasks:

Creates and Maintains Sprints

Scrum masters are responsible for structuring sprints for team members. This involves using a scrum software for transparency and hosting a weekly scrum meeting.

Within the tool, scrum masters assign tasks for each team member and set a deadline, which is usually the end of the sprint. The scrum meeting exists to answer team member questions and discuss the sprint.

Hosts Team Meetings

Scrum masters host multiple meetings outside the weekly scrum meeting.

The number of meetings vary between each master—some meet daily or weekly. These are known as daily scrums or check-ins. The scrum master uses this time to connect with team members about the sprint.

During scrum meetings, team members discuss potential missed deadlines or project confusion. The scrum master mediates these issues. Part of a scrum master's job is to predict a team member's capabilities and bandwidth before a sprint begins.

Scrum masters may also have separate sprint planning meetings with managers to plan future sprints. Scrum masters may also hold review meetings. These meetings cover the sprint retrospectively.

Reflecting on past sprints help scrum masters and managers streamline processes.

The Differences Between Scrum Masters and Project Managers

Both scrum masters and project managers organize teams and projects. However, there are differences between the two roles.

The role of a scrum master involves upholding agile-based methodologies when planning and assigning projects. They rely on their methodologies to work as expected and collaborate with team members when issues arise.

Issues resolve over time by streamlining the scrum process with the team. Streamlining can involve extending deadlines or adjusting the sprint's length.

Project managers use a non-agile methodology. They facilitate projects and expectations with a more controlled, report-based approach. This is because they are responsible for the entire scope of each project.

Each team member is assigned a project, and a deadline is assigned based on the scope of the project. Project managers ensure team members meet deadlines. One on one meetings with team members help mediate roadblocks.

Both scrum masters and project managers are responsible for mediating project issues and preventing deadline blockers. However, scrum masters are more flexible and use issues as a learning lesson for future sprints.

How to Become a Scrum Master

Before becoming a scrum master, you need to get certified.

The scrum master career path is ideal for those who have project management or product owner experience. However, anyone can learn the principles of scrum and pave their way toward a rewarding scrum master career.

Regardless of experience, it's essential to learn scrum principles before diving into certification.

After preparing, it's time to begin the official scrum master course. The CSM (Certified scrum master) course is available online or in-person and cover the fundamentals of the scrum and agile framework.

The last step involves an official exam. Upon passing, you're ready to start applying for scrum master roles.

Once you land your career as a scrum master, there are ways to continue educating and improve your expertise. Scrum masters interested in a more significant leadership role may want to consider getting certified in Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

In this two day course, you learn about implementing a lean-agile framework into an enterprise environment. This is a perfect route for scrum masters who are eager to plan and execute the scrum methodology on a larger scale.

Professional scrum master (PSM) courses are more advanced routes you can take to advance your scrum proficiency.

This course and exam are ideal for scrum masters who are in the middle of their career and want advancement options. The process is more difficult than the CSM course, but it's worth it if you want a higher-level certification.

The Next Steps

Scrum is an ideal methodology for collaborative departments that often experience project pivoting. Thanks to its proven efficiency, the agile-based project management process is a decision that will pay off in the long run. In fact, 85% of people feel scrum improved their work lives.

More companies are implementing this strategy, making now the best time to start the role of a scrum master. If you're ready to implement a scrum strategy for your workplace, contact us today.

How an Agile/Scrum Environment Can Help You and Your Employees

How to Form a Truly Agile Business

How an Agile/Scrum Environment Can Help You and Your Employees

An agile/scrum environment in your company could very well be your key to success. Learn more with some actionable tips and advice from our experts.

Keyword(s): agile/scrum environment

A wise man once said the only constant is change, and this is true in business as well. And with an agile work environment, you and your team members can respond to change quickly. You can’t risk falling behind your competition.

Don’t worry if you’re not really sure what an agile/scrum environment is, we’re going to give you all the information you need to keep up with the changing market. Keep reading to learn how you can use this key process can improve your productivity and efficiency.

What Is an Agile Work Environment?

As the world becomes more digital, more companies are adopting agile than not, especially here in the UK. Your company needs to be able to adjust to quickly changing markets and trends, by using agile techniques you can ensure your ability to keep up.

But what is agile? Simply put, creating an agile environment can mean more of a culture and mindset change than anything else.

By adopting an agile work environment you can ensure that your team is able to respond in an agile manner.

Everyone from the CEO down needs to buy into the idea of working together, seeing the need for change, and adapting quickly. This ideology was first introduced by software developers almost two decades ago.

An agile work environment is more of a philosophy of values and principles over a set framework you must follow.

When your team knows your values and principles clearly, they can make decisions about how to do their work. This will allow you to free up time spent micromanaging your team.

Many businesses have spent years developing their business plan. Then they spend years trying to follow this plan, even if it means not adjusting to the market or demands of their customers. When you can respond to change and collaborate with your customers, your business will officially be agile.

It doesn’t have as much to do with creating user stories or insisting on daily stand up meetings, these can be great tools to enable your agile environment but they are not the agile definition. These come up as you create your Scrum framework.

What Is the Scrum Framework?

Used in conjunction with the values from the agile manifesto, the Scrum framework is the how-to manual for creating your workflow. If you’re struggling with successful project management and stagnant productivity then the scrum process can help you scale your results for improved productivity.

First, in the Scrum work process, everyone knows their role and how they can contribute to the overall goals and objectives. Whether your company sets official goals, KPIs, or OKRs, the acronym doesn’t matter. What matters is that everyone on your team can articulate what they are and how they can help accomplish them.

Second, as you’re creating your scrum workflow you will need to define your time box. Will you work in sprints or use a Kanban-style time frame. Again, this doesn’t matter as much as keeping everyone on the same page and working at the same pace. Many software companies adopt two-week sprints with daily stand up meetings to build in accountability.

Finally, after the sprint is done, everyone needs to participate in a sprint review of both the final shippable product as well as their work process. Changes are made based on what the team learns throughout their sprint and in the review process.

Benefits of Building This Agile/Scrum Environment for Your Team

Whether you work in a small business or a large corporation, creating a solid team and incorporating team bonding is vital to growing a successful agile business.

Some benefits include:

  • Respond more quickly to change
  • More accurately plan and track your activity
  • Establish your priorities
  • Ensure everyone is on the same page

An agile work environment that uses the scrum method gives your group of employees more control and ownership over their daily activities. One of the biggest complaints of workers today is that they aren’t given clear direction and not receiving constructive criticism.

For you to avoid these types of complaints, allow your team members to have a say in the key objectives within your business. Then allow them to choose the projects that resonate the most with them. Use your daily scrum meetings to offer suggestions and encouragement as they work towards the companies objectives.

Learn from your work sprints and allow your team members to take control of their own goals and sprints. Everyone benefits from a collaborative and agile work environment.

Your Key to Success for You and Your Employees

As you can see, many businesses in many industries are adopting the agile/scrum environment for their culture and workflow. For both the agile mindset and scrum workflow to be successful, they will require buy-in and ownership from everyone in the organization. Without this full buy-in, you won’t see the culture change you need to be successful.

Don’t let the simplicity of these two systems fool you into thinking they’re easy to implement or master. No longer are businesses spending months and months creating long business plans written in stone. Instead, startups are creating philosophies by which everyone can make their decisions while they are developing and working on the shippable product.

If you want to learn more about developing your own agile/scrum environment for your work team, contact us today. We specialize in transforming your planning process improving your productivity and execution cycles.

Renewing Your SAFe® Certification

Renewing Your SAFe Certification

If you have SAFe® Certification and you wonder how to renew your certification, you should check this blog post.

Keyword(s): renewing SAFe certification

What is SAFe®?

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) is an entire methodology for large-scale Agile project teams to hold out an Agile transformation seamlessly. SAFe is an agile framework designed to offer a structure for software development and enhancement in a predictable and steady manner. It offers a simple and light-weight experience for development group allowing them to embed their agile work practices into a framework which could be scaled to an enterprise level.

By attending SAFe training programs you will acquire an understanding of the Lean-Agile mindset and how to apply the ideas and practices of SAFe to assist Agile teams, programs, program portfolio management, and to coordinate massive Value Streams. SAFe encompasses roles, practices and steering for the adoption of the framework for an IT project. In simple words, the ultimate objective of SAFe is to simply allow multiple agile development teams to offer what business wants, when it wants, with regular and frequent releases. SAFe® is essentially the most extensively adopted enterprise Agile approach according to most survey data, with 33% using it.

As increasingly more organizations look to scale Agile, be one of many select group of professionals who've a SAFe certification to back-up their hands-on experience. Now for presenting your Agile skills and experience, one highly recommended certification is the SAFe or Scaled Agile Framework.

SAFe® Exam Details

The Scaled Agile Framework offer several certifications. To acquire these certifications you should attend the exam. The exam format is Multiple Choice, Multiple Select and examinees have to answer 45 questions for a duration of 90 minutes (1.5 hours). There is no break once you start with the exam.

Candidates can access the exam only within the SAFe Community Platform. The exam is strictly web-based, single browser with no outside assistance allowed. The format of SAFe exam for all certifications is the same, the only difference being in the passing percentage and prerequisites. Passing score for each certification is different and it ranges from 73%-77%, i.e. to get SAFe certification you should answer 33 to 35 questions accurately based on the SAFe examination you are taking. Language of the exam is English only.

Below are the certifications offered by the Scaled Agile Framework.

  • Implementing SAFe
  • Leading SAFe
  • SAFe for Teams
  • SAFe Scrum Master
  • SAFe Advanced Scrum Master
  • SAFe Release Train Engineer
  • SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager
  • SAFe DevOps
  • SAFe for Government
  • Agile Software Engineering
  • SAFe for Architects
  • Lean Portfolio Management
  • Agile Product Management

Renewing SAFe® certifications

Please keep in mind that all SAFe® certifications are only valid for one year. When your renewal time comes, you'll get an official e-mail from Scaled Agile to renew the certificates. You will have to renew your SAFe certifications after one year, by paying the renewal fee. If you want to renew your certification, you need to renew your membership at one of three tiers, two of which will include a bundle renewal of all your SAFe certifications. If you don’t need or want to include renewal of your certifications, you have the option to simply renew your membership to continue access to all the assets, tools, and resources to help you grow as a SAFe professional.

The three Membership tiers are:

SAFe Program Consultant Membership ($895/year) - For members who currently hold SPC or SPCT certifications. Renews all certifications, provides access to all SAFe content and enables SPCs/SPCTs to train others to lead a Lean-Agile transformation.

Certified SAFe Membership ($295/year) - For members who currently hold one or more certifications, and who may benefit from a bundled pricing approach. Renews all certifications except SPC and/or SPCT, provides access to basic and some advanced content and continued access to course learnings and assets.

Individual SAFe Membership ($195/year) - For those who don’t seek certification but still benefit from the valuable content on the SAFe Community Platform. No certification renewals included.

You can know more about the cost and benefits of renewing the certifications here.

If you need help or more information about how to renew your certification, please contact us. As Agile Center, we are silver training partner of Scaled Agile Inc (SAI).

How to Form a Truly Agile Business

How to Form a Truly Agile Business

How to Form a Truly Agile Business

An agile business is one that can properly embrace the agile methodology, rather than just loosely imitate it. Learn the difference here.

Keyword(s): agile business

Modern business is all about doing things faster. This includes finding trends sooner, making decisions quickly, getting your products to market faster, and even making mistakes more often.

However, it’s impossible to become a more agile and faster organisation just by wanting to. There are specific actions you must take to prepare you and your team for this transformation.

If you want to create an agile business, it takes time, effort, and an understanding of the process. To become truly agile, be sure to use the tips and information found here.

Achieve a Better Balance

It is essential to balance the act of running a business and changing it to deliver value and sustain growth. As your business develops and grows, you may see it struggle with capacity, with less time available for improvement and innovation.

It’s up to you to ensure a balance is maintained between daily activities and making time for ongoing development and improvement throughout the organisation.

With agile business, you embrace change and have a methodology to help manage it. Being agile is accepting that changes will occur.

Plans are implemented in a flexible manner to respond to changes occurring and to allow for ongoing improvement. The agile mindset will embrace change and a potential and opportunity for growth and learning.

Be Willing to Delegate

To gain agility across all business functions, you must delegate operational control to frontline workers. It also means you must invest in ongoing training for these individuals to ensure they can continue to do a good job.

You can’t control how your business is functioning from backstage and expect to achieve agility. If you want your teams to evolve and become agile, you (the leader) must create an environment where agility will thrive.

Create Focus

It’s easy to become distracted by a seemingly never-ending list of priorities. Also, with the everyday distractions and emergencies that pop up, remaining focused is a real challenge.

You can create this focus by narrowing down your priorities to a list that consists of just three to four things that have to get done. When you complete something, add another task to the list.

Give Yourself Some Room to Grow

Remember that agile is a learning-based method. It builds continuous improvement into your daily workflow. Be sure to add slack time for you to improve and respond to any changing circumstances.

With agile, you should have time to think, experiment, and reflect in your process. It also gives you the structure necessary to make small yet iterative improvements. With agile, you have a process that integrates change regularly, regardless of if external or internal forces drive it.

Agile offers you a method to manage, analyse, and support your current practices in your business. It helps you make time to review existing approaches and to identify the bottlenecks, issues, and blocks that may limit your business. With this, your team can optimise and improve working practices through reflection and learning.

Engage Your Team

If you want to implement an agile workforce successfully, you must ensure your team is on-board. Many initiatives fail simply because they don’t engage the people who are expected to change.

People won’t take part in a project if they have no reason to change. Change isn’t hard if you know what is expected and why it is so important.

If you need help convincing your team to embrace this change, there are several strategies you can implement.

Pathbreakers

Use this method for exploring uncharted territories. If you want to become a thought leader who is the first to do something in a new way, you must ensure your team can relate to and aspire to your reasoning for the approach you have chosen.

David vs. Goliath

This strategy is useful if you want to overtake your main competition and become the undisputed leader in the market segment. If your field is dominated by one or several leaders, this is a smart method to use.

Burning Platform

Is the existence of your business threatened? If you fail to change, will you be a distant memory? This method of communication works well when there is imminent danger, and you need to encourage your employees to care about survival.

Implement Methods of Continuous Innovation

If your business doesn’t continue to innovate, it will be left behind – quickly. Rather than only rolling out new and innovative services and products from time to time, make this a continuous process.

When you do this, your customers and the bottom line will benefit.

Think Big and Act Small

If you want to be agile, it means you must test and validate your solutions early. Releasing viable solutions for your feedback offers vital information to help develop and evolve the idea into a solution that meets new needs and demands.

Agile works to make sure the right thing is created, and that thing is built through tested development.

Are You Creating an Agile Business?

As you can see, there are some clear and necessary steps you must follow as you create an agile business. While the process takes time and effort, it is a process you must get your entire team on board with.

If you need more information or help to create an agile business, contact us. Our team is focused on helping businesses of all types and sizes achieve the agile goals they have and continue meeting the evolving needs of their new agile business.

Agile Center

Agile Center provides consultancy and training services in the following areas: Lean-Agile Transformation, Agile Strategy audit & implementation and Agile Program/Portfolio management.

Agile Center is a brand of Advised Skills Ltd.

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