#Agile Product Management vs. #Agile Project Management

I think the time has come where the Agile proponents (myself included) need to be very clear on whether they are speaking from an Agile Product Management or Agile Project Management point of view. Some of the more controversial posts on Agile Practices seem to be aligned very well with Agile Product Management, but perhaps somewhat less so with Agile Project Management.

How do I define the two?

Agile Product Management : Typically the project team is producing a product. A product can be defined as a solution that either is being sold to multiple clients or has the potential to be sold to multiple clients. The time horizon for the work and decisions are more future thinking and longer term as value is always based on increasing the potential for multiple sales.

Key indicators: Stakeholders include end clients and product company team members that are not part of the development team. There may not be a formal contract or Statement of Work.

Agile Project Management : Typically the project team is producing a solution to address a specified business need and address a business case. Many of the decision may need to be tempered to ensure the project team can make current commitments. Focus is less on future thinking and more on current commitments. (although not totally ignoring the requirement to have the solution to flexible in the future)

Key indicators: Stakeholders include end clients and project team members. There is a formal contract or Statement of Work.

Agile Product Practices

The practices that are somewhat more aligned more with Agile Product Management than Agile Project Management are:

  • Minimal documentation outside of User Stories and executable Test Cases
  • Absence of formally defined  scope
  • Absence of estimation of scope

Although these practices can be minimized or eliminated for Agile Product Management, it is not realistic to expect the same for Agile Project Management. When working with clients on Agile projects, there are certain constraints that clients operate under that may not allow for these Agile Product Practices to be used.

I believe we need to start separating our Agile Practices into the two camps to start to discuss which practices work best in each. If we don’t do this we risk having Agile Product Management that isn’t as Agile as possible, and Agile Project Management which takes on excessive risk by trying to apply practices that may not be the best fit.

My perspective is always more on the Agile Project Management style as that is the circumstance I encounter the most in the engagements I have.