Ten essential skills for Agile product management in a changing landscape

· 12 min read
Ten essential skills for Agile product management in a changing landscape

A great product manager has the brain of an engineer, a designer’s heart, and a diplomat’s speech. – 

Deep Nishar, vice president of product at LinkedIn

The world is changing fast. So is the way we build products.

Technology has evolved a lot.

In today’s consumer-driven world, you can’t tell users what they want. You have to understand their needs, which is challenging. Only then can you create products that meet their specific requirements.

That’s where Agile product management comes in. Agile product management is the go-to approach for development teams. It helps them deliver products that meet changing customer needs.

But keeping up with the changes is not easy. You need specific Agile product management skills, which can help product managers excel at their jobs.

Let’s find out what those skills are. No jargon or complex theories here. Whether you’re a seasoned product manager or a beginner, join us.

What is Agile product management?

Agile product management is a way to develop products while being ready to change your mind. It’s like building something little by little, and after each part, you check if it’s good or if you want to improve it.

In Agile, you work in small time frames called sprints. You do a bit of work, then show it to customers to get their feedback. This helps you improve and stay prepared for any changes.

It’s a rapid cycle promoting continuous improvement. It includes:

  • Sprint planning
  • Daily Scrum
  • Sprint review
  • Sprint retrospective

Another approach is ‘Waterfall,’ which is more like making a big plan at the start and following it step by step. But, if something changes, it can be challenging to adjust.

The main difference is that Agile is excellent when you expect things to change. And Waterfall is better for projects that won’t change much.

You need to choose the right approach for your project. Choosing the right system depends on the project’s nature. Agile suits dynamic, evolving projects, while Waterfall is better for more static projects.  

Agile product management skills

Ben Horowitz calls the product manager “The CEO of the product.” He co-founded Andreessen Horowitz – a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. 

Agile product managers play a crucial part in Agile development. The role of a product manager is to:

  • Find out what customers want
  • Explain to the development team how to make the product
  • Make the product look good in the market

To be a great Agile product manager, you need many skills. Let’s talk about the top 10 Agile product management skills.

Agile methodologies

Mastering Agile concepts is non-negotiable for Agile product managers. That means getting familiar with the Agile Manifesto, Agile principles, and Agile frameworks

But why is this crucial? 

A technical product manager applies Agile methodology and practices to their work. This helps them stay ahead in a fast-changing market.

For example, a manager should know the jobs of the product owner, Scrum master, and Scrum team. This helps them better lead their team. 

  • A Scrum product owner handles the technical parts of building a product.
  • A Scrum master takes care of how the team uses Scrum. They make sure everyone knows Scrum’s rules and values.
  • A Scrum team is a group of people (usually 5 to 9) who work together to build features in short bursts called sprints.

A product manager should also learn to use Agile project management tools and understand the scaled Agile framework, which includes S@S, LeSS, and SAFe

These methodologies help when a whole organization wants to work Agile.

You can learn more about Agile from free learning resources like this.

Product roadmapping

“The most important thing is to be stubborn about your vision but flexible about details.”

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon

A roadmap is a plan that helps us know what to do. A product manager needs strong roadmap planning skills. 

Roadmaps serve different audiences – sellers, interested individuals, and users. They cater to those who sell the product, attract those interested, and guide those who use it.

For instance, a feature roadmap outlines our goals, what we want to create, and when to complete it. A status-oriented roadmap is like a report card. It provides interested parties with updates on the project’s progress.

You can make roadmaps in three ways:

  • Status-oriented (tells how things are going)
  • Theme-oriented (groups ideas by topics)
  • Outcome-oriented (focuses on the goals we want to achieve)

 Looking to get started with roadmaps? Check out these free templates.

Prioritization skills

An Agile product manager needs to be good at prioritizing.

Why? Because you can’t work on Agile product strategy development without prioritizing. 

Product prioritization in product strategy means picking the most important tasks first. It helps keep the product team focused on what matters most for the business. 

It also helps in adapting plans and delivering top-notch features to customers. Furthermore, it saves time and keeps everyone on track for customer satisfaction.

Product managers also need to focus on time and resources. That means ensuring the team works on the right things at the right time. And that they have the resources they need to complete the project on time.

Wanna learn more about different prioritization methods? Check out this guide.

When you’re ready to put your skills to work, start with this free prioritization template.

Communication & collaboration 

Communication is one of the most essential soft skills for a product manager.

An Agile product manager communicates with various groups. This includes less technical users and marketing teams. They explain the product’s vision, plans, and needs in a clear and non-technical manner.  

Hence, effective communication is the cornerstone of successful Agile management. It helps managers unite teams and work towards the product’s goals. If they can’t communicate well, leading an Agile team becomes tough. It makes teamwork and understanding tricky.

A product manager should also be skilled at building relationships and resolving conflicts. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page. 

You can enroll in this video course by SkillSoft to master the art of communication for managers.

Leadership and decision-making

A project manager needs strategic, solid thinking abilities to make choices. Agile leadership is among the most crucial skills. It helps in understanding situations, finding solutions, and making informed decisions.

Decisions in the Agile framework are quick and based on customer feedback. This helps the team learn quickly and steer product development in the right direction. Agile teams succeed by having strong leaders who make fast decisions. This dynamic duo allows them to handle changes, adapt, and lead the product to success. 

It doesn’t come easily, though. A product manager must be ready to be responsible and fair. 

Download this ebook by Intercom. Learn more about decision-making in a product management environment.

Technical skills

A product manager must have good technical skills and knowledge of their industry. Without this, it’s tough to create a product vision.

If you’re a product manager in a finance company, you should be good at finance. You’ll need skills like:

  • Accounting
  • Budget planning 
  • Forecasting

Without technical knowledge, it’s tricky to lead product development.

Check out these free resources for product managers by Product School and learn more about the latest trends in Agile. 

Problem-solving skills

Gaining problem-solving skills is a significant asset for Agile product managers. They have to deal with different problems on a day-to-day basis.

These skills foster collaboration within teams. Team members can share their ideas and solve problems as a group.

If something goes wrong in an Agile sprint, the product manager determines the issue and assesses how it might affect the team’s work.

They decide how important it is, adjust resources if needed, and talk to the team. Then, they ensure the problem gets solved without affecting the team’s plans. It helps keep everyone on track with their work.

Learn more about problem-solving skills. Check out this resource: The Ideal Problem Solver by John D. Bransford and Barry S. Stein. 

Data analysis

My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers.

Andrew Mason, Groupon CEO 

Data is like a secret weapon for making intelligent decisions. It helps us set goals, see how things are going, guess how much something will cost, and much more. 

Good product managers can look at data and understand it. They act as a business analyst to work with data. Here are some of those ways.

  • Descriptive analysis. It explains what happened in the past. It uses numbers and pictures to illustrate.
  • Exploratory analysis. It helps to find patterns and trends in data.
  • Diagnostic analysis. It helps to understand why something happened.
  • Predictive analysis. It predicts what might happen in the future. It uses math and intelligent guessing.
  • Prescriptive analysis. It tells what to do based on the data.

There are different methods to work with data. Here are a few examples.

  • Cluster analysis: groups similar data together, like sorting things into boxes
  • Time series analysis: looks at data collected over time to find patterns
  • Cohort analysis: groups data based on shared traits, like people in the same club
  • Thematic analysis: looks for repeating ideas in data
  • Critical path analysis: helps in completing the most important tasks first

Managers should know how to use tools like Microsoft Excel, Tableau, and Power BI. These help with data analysis.

You can learn more about data analysis. Read this research by Hamed Taherdoost, published by HAL Science.

Product marketing and positioning

In Agile software development, a product marketing manager adjusts the strategy based on customer feedback and market conditions. Product marketing and positioning are crucial here. They ensure that the product remains relevant and successful.

Product marketing involves preparing your product to go out into the world. It’s about figuring out what customers want. 

Then, there’s product positioning. This is where you show why your product is unique and better than what other people are selling. 

Product marketing and position help product managers to:

  • Understand customers better: you know what people want
  • Have a clear plan: you can see where your product is heading and make a roadmap
  • Tell everyone why your product is better: show people why they should buy it
  • Check if your product is doing well: measure how successful your product is and keep track of it

 Learn more about product marketing. Check out this guide to product marketing.

Customer service

The cost of acquiring a new customer in SaaS is four to five times more than the cost of retaining an existing customer.

Although a product manager isn’t directly responsible for managing customer experience, they still need to have good customer and user experience management skills.

It helps them empathize with customers and solve their problems. This allows a product to improve. 

Learn about customer experience management by checking out this guide by Dr. A. Nihat Tavsan, a faculty member at Yeditepe University.

These are the top 10 critical product management skills you need to get started.  

If you’re hungry for more, check out these courses below.

Best courses to learn Agile product management skills

It’s better to receive professional training before starting a product manager role. We picked the top 3 courses to learn Agile product management.

Agile product management by 280 Group

This is one of the most sought-after courses in Agile product management. It teaches you the basic concepts of Agile methodologies. 

What you will learn in the course:

  • The Agile manifesto and its principles
  • The different Agile methodologies
  • The role of the Agile product manager
  • How to create a product vision and roadmap
  • How to manage a product backlog
  • How to prioritize features and user stories
  • How to run effective Scrum meetings
  • How to measure and track product success

You can take the course in three ways:

  • Live online
  • Self-study
  • In-person

It’s perfect for beginners in Agile project management.

You get a one-year AIPMM Membership and Certification when you pass the test.

Price: $2,695

The Agile Certified Product Manager and Product Owner (ACPMPO) Certification

The ACPMPO (Agile Certified Product Manager/Product Owner) is a professional certification provided by the Association of International Product Marketing & Management (AIPMM). It teaches you to understand Agile ideas and methods. 

This certification covers lots of topics about Agile product management, such as:

  • Learning the values and principles of Agile
  • Understanding Agile ways of working, such as Scrum, Kanban, and Lean
  • Creating a vision and plan for a product
  • Managing and deciding what’s essential in the product’s tasks
  • Focusing on customers and using their feedback
  • Planning, estimating, and testing things in an Agile way
  • Dealing with changes and making adjustments in Agile settings
  • Using data and numbers to make decisions
  • Learning how to be a good leader, motivating, and helping Agile teams

You can take the certification test twice to become certified.

Price: $1,495

Agile Product Management by SAFe

This is an advanced-level Agile product management course. It teaches you about the famous SAFe Agile framework. You’ll learn how to use design thinking to build products that people like. You also figure out how to plan for the Agile Release Train (ART).

You take this course online in SAFe virtual classrooms. You will get a one-year membership to SAFe Studio to help you with the certification exam.

After the course, you can take a test to become a certified Agile product manager. 

This course is excellent for product managers who already know a lot and want to improve.

Price: $2,395

Want to explore more product management certifications? Check out this full list with more options.

Choose Agile product management to stay competitive

The Agile approach is the best for developing products with changing requirements. It provides you with the necessary agility to respond to the changes. It helps you create products that your customers love. 

Getting into Agile product management offers many chances to learn and grow. This helps you learn skills for challenging situations and work well with others. It also puts customers first to make products successful. 

You can make full use of Agile by learning Agile product management. Get your hands on the resources we shared above to help you get started. Happy learning!

Vartika Kashyap

Vartika Kashyap is the chief marketing officer at ProofHub, a powerful Asana alternative. She is a strong-headed woman who always puts her innovative inputs into project management, collaboration, balancing work and life with technology, and more.

All Posts - Website · LinkedIn

Canny is a user feedback tool. We help software companies track feedback to build better products.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
© Canny 2024
Privacy · Terms · Security