Our new Webservices Engine has been out on the market for a few months now. Leading the team that built it was the first time that I acted as product owner in a Scrum team – a really talented Scrum team, by the way. I’d like to share some lessons about Agile that I learned from this project:
#1- Agile means working as a team
You are part of a team – sure, as product owner you have a certain role and responsibility but that doesn’t mean that you are the boss of the team. You are responsible for what has to be done but not for how it will be implemented. If your background as a developer looks anything like mine, then this advice is sometimes hard to follow. But trust me – it pays off.
All team members will experience moments of uncertainty due to a lack of information, especially at the beginning of a project. You need to give everybody the same amount of time to get to real velocity – this is advice that you also need to follow yourself.
#2- Have the courage to change
Agility means you can and you will change your product. If you and your team find out that something doesn’t work or is hard to use and understand, change it. Cater your project to change – don’t be afraid. We had to change parts of our product quite often in the beginning until we reached a point at which everything worked the way we wanted it to.
And guess what? We will change things again to support new features in future releases.
#3 Use the power of iterations
Instead of being paralyzed by the scope of project, start small. Split your product into user stories and try to find an intelligent order together with the rest of the team. Do the riskiest parts first. They will give you and your team an idea of which user stories to implement and how to do it.
Remember that you don’t have to specify everything in the beginning with the same level of detail as the first stories – some of them will become clearer as you start learning more, while some of them will even become obsolete as they are either no longer necessary or have already been handled.
Don’t forget about #1 and #2 – listen to your team and make the changes you need to make.
#4 Get feedback as often as possible
At Tricentis, we always recommend that testing teams “test early and often.” In agile projects, this takes the form of frequent feedback. As soon as something is ready, show it to others. Ask for internal and external customers to give you honest feedback. This will help you perfect an approach that creates a product your customer will love. One week, I noticed that I spent more than 50% of my time showing and discussing our current status with others. This was, without a doubt, time well spent. Feedback is crucial to keeping your product on track so that you take the right action at the right time.