Product managers are responsible for presenting the best possible products to their executive and finance teams for approval. The best products will align with the company goals and have the right features to satisfy market demands. These decisions require strategy, research, and a team of great players working together. As many manufacturing companies shift from the traditional stage-gate process to an agile product development process, three key players are essential team members who support the product manager and the product teams: the product owner, the scrum master, and the lead developer.
What Is a Product Owner?
The product owner is the link between the product manager and their teams. The product owner must collaborate closely with the product manager by taking the product strategy and ensuring the product team focuses on features that support the strategy. They might do this by creating a product backlog to build the envisioned product. A product owner has numerous responsibilities to both the customer and the product teams.
Connect the Voice of the Customer With the Product
Throughout the development process, the product owner will conduct research to ensure the product features align with customer needs. This involves presenting the product to the customer during various stages in the development process through a prototype or MVP. A product owner needs to be acutely aware of the customer's pain points to ensure the needs of the customer are met. These needs must be communicated clearly to the product teams to stay on course with the overarching strategy.
Prioritize Backlog Items
Product owners must prioritize the backlog to ensure the correct features are developed and carefully manage dependencies with other departments so production stays on track.
Collaborate With the Product Manager
Throughout the development process, the product owner must report to the product manager and keep them apprised of their progress. Clear communication through product roadmaps is key, and regular meetings are essential to keep the product owner notified of any proposed changes to the product and to inform the product manager of any delays or disruptions to the process.
The Ideal Skills For a Product Owner
A product owner must be knowledgeable about the market and have the skills to put a strategic plan into place. It also helps if they are good communicators who can clearly articulate the product goals to the stakeholders. They should also be approachable, empathetic and be able to work well with their team members, encouraging and motivating them to reach their potential.
What Is a Scrum Master?
A scrum master is a member of the development team responsible for enhancing and streamlining the processes through which their team can achieve their goals.
Provide Assistance to Their Teams
A scrum master works directly with their product teams to ensure they have everything they need to do their job. They deal with any challenges and impediments to workflow and help teams stay on task to meet the assigned timelines. They will use product management tools to update their activities so that other stakeholders, including the product manager and the product owner, are aware of the team's progress.
Arrange Stand-Up Meetings
Stand-up meetings are shorter meetings that are held at a higher frequency. They tend to have a very focused agenda where the scrum master will review tasks that have been completed, assess tasks in progress and discuss tasks that are about to be started.
Stand-up meetings provide the following opportunities:
- Provide an opportunity to keep track of what everyone is doing
- Keep the development teams aligned and focused on the goals
- Help to promote better teamwork and collaboration
Stand-up meetings are vital for teams currently using or transitioning to agile practices where communication and consistent updates are essential.
The Essential Character Traits of a Scrum Master
A scrum master should be knowledgeable, responsible, resourceful, collaborative, and communicate well with their teams to make agile development possible. To be a successful scrum master, you need to have soft skills to coach effectively and mentor members of your team.
The Lead Developer
The lead developer is also known as the development lead or technical lead. They collaborate closely with the product manager and provide guidance, address challenges, and provide solutions to create a suitable product. Once the product vision is established, the lead developer guides the design of the product and gives technical direction to engineering teams who develop different parts of the product.
Collaborates With the Scrum Master
Once the product is designed, the lead developer must liaise and collaborate with the Scrum Master to ensure that the development team prioritizes the right features. Continued collaboration with the product manager, the scrum master, and the product owner is crucial to ensure that the right features are developed for the market and that market changes that require adaptations are addressed.
Key Skills of a Lead Developer
A lead developer must possess the knowledge and technical skills to meet the engineering requirements of the business. They must stay ahead of the latest technology and continue to develop their skills to innovate and provide relevant support to their product teams. A lead developer must have good communication skills and communicate well with executives and other stakeholders. They must also be empathetic listeners who can manage and motivate their team members.
How These Key Players Work Together to Promote Agile Practices
While the product manager and the lead developer create the product concept and define the product they wish to build, the Product Owner is in charge of developing and sharing their overall strategy and creating the product backlog. The scrum master follows the backlog and ensures that the development team is on board with the vision and works towards making it a reality.
Product Management Tools To Support Agile Processes
These three key players are steady in their roles and work best for small, focused teams. To scale your teams, you will need new strategies and an enterprise-level approach. If you are interested in finding out how product management tools can help to support an agile approach to manufacturing, book your free demo with Gocious today.