If you’re looking for a way to get quicker feedback in regards to building products, consider bringing in an agile product manager.
How does agile product management differ from just a typical product manager role or a product owner role? That is what we’ll take a look at in this article. I’ll also cover how to find and attract those with agile experience and provide suggestions of what to include in job descriptions, and anything else that you need in order to find the right agile product manager to add to your product team.
- Why Should You Hire An Agile Product Manager?
- What To Include In Your Agile Product Manager Job Description
- Job Description Example
- Where To Find Agile Product Managers
Why Should You Hire An Agile Product Manager?
It’s very common for things to change as a product gets developed. New stakeholders are discovered. New customer needs are discovered, resulting in new product requirements.
New user stories are added. Your product backlog continues to grow, and you will need to re-prioritize what you want to put in your product.
New market research creates new revelations that you didn’t consider in the equation.
All that upfront work, or taking more of that waterfall methodology can lead to plenty of work needing to be scrapped.
Finding an agile product manager will help the adaptation of agile methodologies in your development teams.
Over the past two decades, the agile framework has become one of the most common methodologies in software development. Waterfall development has been mostly phased out to take an approach that involves more iteration in the development process.
While what “agile” means will vary amongst organizations, here is what the agile manifesto was defined as back in February of 2001:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
The 12 agile principles are as follows:
- Satisfy Customers Through Early & Continuous Delivery
- Welcome Changing Requirements Even Late in the Project
- Deliver Value Frequently
- Break the Silos of Your Project
- Build Projects Around Motivated Individuals
- The Most Effective Way of Communication is Face-to-face
- Working Software is the Primary Measure of Progress
- Maintain a Sustainable Working Pace
- Continuous Excellence Enhances Agility
- Simplicity is Essential
- Self-organizing Teams Generate Most Value
- Regularly Reflect and Adjust Your Way of Work to Boost Effectiveness
It’s common for most organizations to have cross-functional teams with the product and development teams.
And while it’s important for product development to have an idea of where they want the product to go (being stubborn on the product vision, the business objectives of the product), they need to be flexible in the details.
This can clash with the agile environment that most development teams make use of. This is where having an agile product manager at your organization will lead to better work being done.
What To Include In Your Agile Product Manager Job Description
So you’ve decided to bring in an agile product manager.
What do you need to look for, and what do you need to convey to ensure you’re not just ending up with a product owner or a product manager?
What do you need to put in the job description in order to attract the right talent?
What kind of skills should you look for in regards to hiring an agile product manager?
While there is going to be plenty of overlap in what you look for in an agile product manager that you would with a standard product manager, there are still a few additions that you will want to focus on. Here are some of these skills:
- Experience working with cross-functional teams. For something that is less agile, it’s easy for teams to fall into more silo-like roles where one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. Those who have experience in working with cross-functional teams have a greater understanding of clear, constant communication across departments.
- Good presentation skills. You want an agile product manager to be able to communicate and present to both internal and external stakeholders. As it can be common for priorities to shift, an agile product manager must be able to communicate clearly with stakeholders on what they will be focusing on and why.
- An understanding and practical experience of common methodologies like scrum or kanban. As mentioned earlier, what “agile” means will vary depending on organization, but you’ll want to ensure that the agile product manager you’re looking for has made practical use of common methodologies with the agile framework.
One way to help filter down to find an agile product manager is the inclusion of looking for certifications to show that they have an understanding of agile.
Why is that the case?
As the concept of agile tends to vary across organizations, having the deep understanding that comes from the knowledge that a certification can provide is the best means of finding an agile product manager for your organization.
If someone has a deep understanding of agile teams and experience with agile methodologies like scrum, it’s likely they’ll have a certification in being a Scrummaster.
By including this in the job description and criteria, you’ll be able to filter down finding an agile product manager who understands how to work with an agile development approach.
What certifications should you be looking for?
- Certified Scrum Master (can be certified from Scrum Alliance)
- Scrum Master Certification (this is an equivalent of a certified scrum master seen above)
- Certified Scrum Product Owner
- Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) certification
- Lean Six Sigma
Note that it is up to you which one of these you want—whether you want a number of them, or just one.
For a more in-depth look into the above certifications, check out our article here.
Job Description Example
Here are some examples of what you can use for your agile product manager job description in regards to skills, requirements, and duties. Feel free to adjust as necessary for the role and your organization.
- Ability to be innovative, creative, and think "outside the box"
- Ability to present to both internal and external stakeholders
- Knowledge of agile development methodologies including Scrum and Kanban
- Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in cross-functional teams
- 3-5 years of hands-on experience working on a product team, preferably with direct experience as a product manager, product owner, or equivalent
- 5 years experience working in an agile development environment
- Leading SAFe (SA) certification or equivalent
- CSPO or equivalent (Certified Scrum Product Owner)
- Certified scrummaster or equivalent
- Manage the team's backlog and works to ensure that all stakeholders are aligned at each stage of the development lifecycle
- Assess business value and prioritizes all stories to ensure work focuses on those with maximum value that align with strategy
- Work with all stakeholders to make tradeoff decisions regarding competing priorities
- Collaborate with the product owners to continuously develop and communicate the vision for the scrum teams that are key to efficient and effective development.
- Collaborate cross-functionally with development team, customer success, and marketing
- Define the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the product performance
Where To Find Agile Product Managers
For finding agile product managers, you can post the opening on the usual job posting sites. This includes:
One overlooked approach to finding an agile product manager is to make use of Slack channels devoted to the field of product management. There are plenty of these available. Some will require payment to access.
Here are some product management-based slack channels to consider:
Now you have a better understanding about the value of taking a more agile approach to product management, and what to look for when you want to hire an agile product manager.
What’s next? If you’re not overly familiar with the certifications that you should look for when hiring an agile product manager, you should do some research. Here’s the list again:
- Certified ScrumMaster from ScrumAlliance
- Professional Scrum Master from Scrum.org
- Certified Scrum Product Owner
- Scaled Agile Framework
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Thanks for reading!