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Top 10 Agile Tools for Product Management

We’re constantly hearing how agile can be inserted into any department or team, but proper implementation doesn’t just come from mindsets. It comes from Agile Management Tools.

What Is Agile Product Management?

Agile product management is an adaptive approach to product strategy planning and implementation where teams work in alignment to achieve product goals. It centers around prioritizing:

  • Faster feedback;
  • Product improvements and iterations; 
  • Improved sales. 

The idea is to set product strategy and create product roadmaps in an Agile environment, encouraging an adaptive approach to product planning and implementation so organizations can quickly respond to feedback and build products that customers love. It focuses on the principles of Agile, allowing teams to be more collaborative, responsive, productive, and, most excitingly from a design angle, more creative.

The Benefits of Agile Product Management

As mentioned, Agile provides a more flexible approach than traditional software planning and development, as products are built in short increments, allowing product managers to adjust the plan along the way. 

The key benefits of Agile product management can be broken down into three categories:

  • Having an MVP Mindset
  • Improved Features
  • Enhanced Life Cycle Understanding

How does Agile Management Answer Product Development Challenges?

As Agile practices have become more widely adopted, the processes used to develop products have significantly changed; for instance, product and development teams now tend to collaborate much more closely, while Dev teams have become cross-functional, consisting of UX designers, architects, programmers, and testers amongst their ranks.

An increasing number of organizations have moved away from organizing around projects and have started to embrace an Agile product-led approach as it offers solutions to the following challenges: 

Reducing time-to-market: 

Requirements are no longer detailed before development begins and are allowed to emerge. Frequent customer feedback helps validate ideas and update plans accordingly, increasing the chances of creating a product with the right features. 

New products and features are released more quickly, enabling a closer, ongoing collaboration with a cross-functional development team.

Improving adaptability:

Products improve through the application of Agile development practices like emergent design, test-driven development, and continuous integration, enabling quicker product adaptability.

Better requirements: Product teams are no longer solely responsible for creating the correct requirements. Dev team members also actively participate in the product backlog refinement work, helping to identify the necessary changes and capture new product backlog items. This leverages the team members’ creativity and expertise, creating a shared understanding, fosters collective ownership, improves the quality of the requirements, and ultimately results in better products. 

Improving transparency in development progress: Development progresses more clearly, and corrections are made earlier when required. Progress is based on working software rather than a project plan, mitigating the risk of discovering late that some features of a product were implemented incorrectly.

Enhancing alignment: Stakeholders and development teams are better aligned through regular collaborative workshops like sprint reviews. This creates a shared understanding and leads to greater commitment. When we ask people for their unique perspectives and incorporate them into our decision-making, we show those individuals that their opinions and viewpoints matter.

Getting more motivated productive teams: Self-organizing development teams tend to be more motivated and effective compared to traditional ones, as they can determine for themselves how much work can be done in a given period, decide who carries out a specific piece of work, and agree on how the team members collaborate. The key here is less micro-management.

Getting Started

The business world has already accepted Agile as the most cost-effective solution to manage teams and deliveries. It dethroned Waterfall as managers’ preferred method of executing projects, and during the pandemic, it became the most effective way to manage remote teams. Now, it’s taking over product management.

We have a case study that shows how we doubled the productivity of a team using agile methods in just 28 days.

If you’re interested in adopting an agile approach for your product management, but just don’t know where to start, why not reach out to one of our consultants?

But this is all just the precursor. You came here to find the top 10 Agile tools for product managers, and I promise this isn’t clickbait. The good news is that we’ve prepared a sleek and easy-to-follow top 10 list: check it out.

10 Crucial Agile Tools for Product Managers

1. Scrum

Scrum is perhaps the most widely-used Agile framework.

It is a team-centric framework, built on firmly defined team roles. Scrum can help team members stay on the same page while providing them with clear responsibilities and communication paths.

2. Guilds, Tribes & Chapters

Guilds, Tribes, and Chapters are a tricky but effective way to split up departments into teams.

It’s a more horizontal way of establishing proficiencies within an organization. This is especially effective within a technical department and can be used to great effect when dealing with complex work. The idea is almost like a pyramid structure, where tribes have several guilds, and guilds have several chapters. 

3. Kanban

Kanban is similar to Scrum, in that its goal is to support teams working together efficiently. 

It focuses on the workflow aspect of projects, streamlining and prioritizing things in progress to avoid bottlenecks in productivity. Kanban usually involves the use of a Kanban board or flowchart, making it a more visual way of organizing activities and deliveries. 

4. Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

DSDM aims for regular value delivery and clear communication with stakeholders, like XP and FDD, respectively.

This is an excellent choice for teams that are working on projects with limited time and budget constraints. It also complements other Agile approaches, such as Scrum, very effectively.

5. Crystal

Crystal dedicates a high level of focus to project teams. It places a lot of value on team members’ ability to make key decisions toward project success. 

It is a great option for smaller teams who prefer a more “lightweight” approach – less documentation, reporting, and micro-management. This is best implemented in teams with very horizontal structures and independent workflows.

6. Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD)

Disciplined Agile Delivery is a people-first, learning-oriented hybrid agile approach to IT solution delivery. 

DAD addresses all aspects of the full delivery life cycle, supporting multiple ways of working that can be tailored to a variety of contexts. It encompasses all aspects of agile software development in a robust, pragmatic, and easy-to-govern approach.

7. Value Engineering

Value engineering is a systematic, organized approach to providing necessary functions in a project at the lowest possible cost. 

Value engineering promotes the substitution of materials and methods with less expensive alternatives, without sacrificing any functionality. It focuses on the functions of various components and materials, rather than their physical attributes. It is an excellent way to ensure the viability of a new feature.

8. Lean’s Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping is a lean manufacturing technique that analyzes, designs, and manages the flow of materials and information required to take a product to market.

It uses a system of standard symbols to depict various work streams and information flows (similar to a flow chart). Items are labeled as adding or not adding value from the customer’s standpoint, with the purpose of rooting out items that don’t. It’s perfect for prioritizing the requisites for a new feature.

9. Feature-Driven Development (FDD)

Feature-Driven Development is mostly used when building complex features for programs and apps. It also delivers value regularly throughout the lifecycle of a project.

This particular framework is client-centric, paying particular attention to stakeholder engagement. It is particularly effective when designing features for already established programs since getting your hands on client feedback is a must.

10. PDCA Cycles

The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is an iterative model for carrying out changes within a department. It is an essential part of the lean manufacturing philosophy and a key prerequisite for the continuous improvement of people and processes.

PDCA is a simple four-stage method that enables teams to avoid recurring mistakes and makes it easy for team members to understand what went wrong, and how to fix it for the next cycle.