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You’re probably familiar with the term “agile.” In product management, agile portfolio management is really an adaptive approach to product planning and implementation. With an agile framework, companies can respond to consumer feedback quicker, leading to fewer disruptions in sales numbers. A scaled framework also allows new team members to step into their roles quickly because their responsibilities are clearly defined.

The agile method has been around for decades, and we can see its success in major tech companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft. But as the world has become more computer savvy, agile software has increasingly gained traction in other product sectors. Many companies are now turning to agile product portfolio management to help them work at top efficiency and get results.

What Is Agile Product Portfolio Management?

Agile product portfolio management helps your company organize and prioritize your products and projects. And if you implement a framework like scrum or lean portfolio management into your agile development, you can also help your team better define their roles and responsibilities.

Most Important Elements Of Agile Product Portfolio Management

If you’re considering implementing agile software to help with your portfolio planning and product management, you’ll want to ensure you cover these elements in your planning:

  • Outline a project’s goals and set a strategy
  • Identify and help your team understand the customer’s needs
  • Create an outline and assign tasks to each department involved in the project
  • Recognize problems with your product or service that can be fixed, thus improving the product life cycle

Why Is Agile Better Than Traditional Methods?

One of the biggest differences in agile portfolio management versus traditional methods is flexibility. Agile is just that: agile! It’s difficult in many traditional methods to make changes during the life of a project. But if you use an Agile portfolio method and software, you can accommodate client requests or inventory adjustments throughout each project.

Additionally, agile makes it easy for your team to communicate across multiple departments. If you’re using a traditional method, your employees might have to string together emails or phone conversations to keep track of project updates. But an agile portfolio management system keeps everyone current on each project’s status, from the design phase through project management and completion.

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Principles Of Agile Product Portfolio Management

Your business needs the best portfolio management tools to consistently deliver excellent results and stay ahead of the competition. But before you implement agile product portfolio management into your business, you need to understand the principles:

  1. Test, learn, and adapt: To keep moving forward, your company needs to constantly seek innovation. Whether it’s creating new products or improving current processes, Agile methodology stresses the need to test ideas, learn from mistakes, and make adaptations. 
  2. Scale transparency: Transparency is a vital Agile principle, because problems can’t be fixed if they aren’t being communicated. It is especially important for a scaled Agile framework like Scrum or lean portfolio management, where many small teams need to report honestly to the project or portfolio manager.
  3. Continuous experimentation: Continuous experimentation monitors and tests product elements throughout the project’s life cycle. By integrating this practice into your Agile portfolio management, you can quickly identify and adjust for potential issues before they occur, ensuring successful product delivery.

Goals Of Agile Product Portfolio Management

Although goals change a bit depending on your industry and your unique company, your main goal is most likely to deliver quality results to keep your clients happy and grow your business.

Agile portfolio management has the same main goal! When you successfully implement the Agile methodology, your team can take on increasingly difficult and complex projects—and provide your clients with stellar products.

Increase Efficiency

Your product portfolio grows every time you take on a new customer or create a new product. And your team needs to stay organized and communicative so they can deliver results and satisfy your clients. Agile portfolio management increases efficiency starting from the very beginning: identifying your team’s roles and responsibilities.

Sometimes employees can become confused about what tasks they need to complete for a particular project. What are the responsibilities of a product owner compared to a product manager? Who is organizing the inventory or supply chain logistics? And how is everyone kept updated on client communications and changes? Agile portfolio management answers all these questions before they’re even asked.

Reduce Risk

Developing new products is probably one of your strategic objectives. But new products come with risks. It’s just part of doing business and expanding your product portfolio.

Agile product portfolio management can help reduce your risks by managing your costs and even identifying market demand. In other words, Agile doesn’t just help grow your business; it helps protect it too!

Ensure Delivery Capacity

Since agile portfolio management divides each project into a series of tasks, it makes each project more predictable. You can closely monitor your deliverables throughout each project. This helps you ensure that your deliverables are predictable. You’ll know how much inventory you have incoming and outgoing and be alerted if the client’s delivery requirements change.

How To Implement Agile Product Portfolio Management In Your Organization?

Your organization deserves the very best tools to help you succeed. Your project team members are the experts in their fields. So help them excel by providing them with a way to easily communicate, organize, and delegate. In other words, provide them with agile!

But how do you implement Agile product portfolio management? How do you prepare your team for the change, and what pitfalls should you avoid? Fortunately, the answers are easier than you might think.

Decide Whether To Buy Or Build Your Framework

Scrum and scaled agile framework are two examples of prescribed project management frameworks. That is, all the structuring has been done for you. It’s ready to use when you buy the software. By contrast, you can also choose to build your own custom framework.

There’s no easy answer to which one is better. Ultimately, that will depend on your business and its unique needs. However, there are some factors to take into consideration, such as how much time and money you have to implement it. A custom framework will require less initial work to set up, but it will take time and money to evolve and add features. However, it offers more flexibility if you don’t know yet exactly what features you’ll need.

Create An Implementation Strategy

Once you’ve chosen a portfolio management framework, you have to outline how you’ll integrate it into your current business model. How long do you expect it to take? Which employees will you switch to the new model first, and how will they work with your traditional teams? This also includes anticipating where agile might struggle and coming up with a plan to prevent or solve those problems. 

The agile approach already promotes flexibility and transparency, so talk with your team about what challenges they anticipate. Make sure there is clear and organized communication about how the integration will take place. It’s best to plan only one project to start with, to avoid overwhelming yourself and your team with work. Agile is all about flexibility and organization—so start being flexible and organized before you even implement it.

Prepare Your Organization For New Processes

Even with transparent communication, it may take time for your company to buy into the agile methodology. It’s a culture shift, and everyone in your organization—from the executives to the project team—needs to be excited about this change in order for it to work.

Be sure to motivate your team throughout the implementation process and even during the first couple of projects. Working within a new system isn’t always easy, and growing pains can be expected. So be patient and supportive if your employees get frustrated. Once they get used to the new framework, their lives will be much easier.

Succeed With Agile Portfolio Management

When you plan your agile implementation, the biggest things to avoid are unanswered questions. You want to approach the implementation with deliverables and clear expectations. Here are a few tips:

  • Outline your goals and objectives.
  • Establish a timeline for the implementation.
  • Collaborate with key employees to find out what questions and concerns they have—and then find answers and solutions.
  • Delegate tasks to your team to ensure the project is successfully completed.

Implementing agile portfolio management can do great things for your company. You just have to make sure you do it the right way.

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Related Read: What Is An Agile Epic? Best Practices, Template & Example

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By The Product Manager Team