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Product Planning Process

by StarAgile

April 06, 2020
Category Agile and Scrum


Getting mentally prepared is the first step towards any successful work. Preparation requires knowledge. Do you need to know what needs to be done? There is nothing possible without understanding the basics. First, know your role and then comprehend how others contribute before you make any plan. Finally, make a plan and start executing. 

Let us now understand this in an agile view. Every scrum framework goes through different stages which we are aware and 3 stakeholders drive the entire system. But, on what do they all focus upon? The central focus of the entire organization is the product.

What is it? 

The product is the output expected by the customer. They define their need to the PO and there starts the entire task. As the name implies, the PO is the owner of the product. He/she will become the internal customer to make the team understand the requirement for developing a product. 

What is product planning? 

It is not product planning but the process or the steps taken to achieve the outcomes. Yes, planning how to get the desired product is called product planning. When you plan there will always be some steps involved and that we call as a process. The sequence of steps needs to be followed to arrive at the result. 

Product Planning Process 

This sequence will remain the same irrespective of the product and that is what we will see in the coming section. How to plan, who will do it, why it is required to plan and finally the detailed steps involved. 

How to? 

The product planning process as mentioned is a stepwise process. So how to plan has got an answer. GO stepwise. 

1. Understand the need 

Knowing what is required is the key to successful planning. So first understand from the customer about their need. Explain to them what you understood to make sure you are on the right track. 

2. Identify the bottlenecks 

Brainstorm with the business to find any bottlenecks. This is important because your company must align its goal with the product; the team must be capable enough as well as required funding must be available. Check all this and then confirm it to the customer. 

3. Know the team strength and weakness 

Sit with the team and discuss the solution. It is good to involve them before you prioritize the work. 

4. Divide the task

Then divide the work among the team and ensure they have understood their responsibilities so they travel in the right direction. 

5. Allocate time 

Fix a time for each task so that the work in progress will provide some confidence to the business. 

However, there could still be real-time issues when the team starts working. Hence keep the plan open for modification. 

Who owns the product planning process?

In the software industry, either a product manager or a product owner will own this process. They are the key people who interact with the end-user and hence they will plan the entire process. A successful product in charge will behave like an internal customer. This means they will reflect the thought of the external customer. Yes, planning will be accurate when the owner formulates it and thus this product person will own the product to convert the client's need in reality. 

Steps involved in scrum product planning process 

 In general, the planning process for any product development involves certain steps that are in common. However, in a scrum process, there is a few difference which we will discuss in the below section. This being an iterative process you need to know how the scrum product planning process differs from others. 

Scrum process is a continuous process and hence the planning also is dynamic. The PO is the chief contributor and decision-maker in the entire process. 

He creates the vision, prioritizes the backlogs, and prepares a roadmap. Yes, the extension of product strategy is this step and the PO additionally includes visualizing the client expectation about the product and creates a vision.  

Vision 

The vision must be organization-wide to make a new idea. Every product vision made by the PO will briefly explain the required future state to be accomplished by progressing and making a deployable product. Keep it simple and provide a logical direction to let the team understand it. 

Backlog 

The primary task of the PO is to understand the product's needs and create backlogs. Prioritizing comes next, however on a high level first there needs to the identification of the backlogs. Most of the time every PO does this individually with minimal input from the team. They create epics in this stage. Epic means larger user stories and they will make sure to align this with the vision. Expertise is required here and we suggest you attend a certified scrum product owner training to know what exactly as a PO you need to deliver to your organization. 

Roadmap 

Followed by the above two steps creating a roadmap begins. This is a blueprint that will help the team to make a marketable product feature. Therefore the PO should exercise caution to design a roadmap that is visible, accessible and understandable. 

Every incremental release must focus on the product feature that is marketable at the given point in time. Having a proper release goal will help achieve an ideal roadmap. 

Advantages of the product planning process 

  1. The quality of the product is the key to successful development. Therefore proper planning will allow the team to focus on making the right product as expected by the end-user.
  2. Proper planning will prevent rework and hence saves cost. 
  3. The satisfied customer becomes the brand ambassador and will fetch more business. Hence plan to deliver the right product at the planned time. 
  4. It will be easy to market the product that is developed after proper planning which enhances its market value. 
  5. Prioritizing the product backlog will become easy for a PO once they understand an effective planning process. 
  6. The overall time consumed in development can be predicted with proper planning in place. 

In short, the scrum product planning process will enhance the product features and will give a clear idea about the time box and increment. Precise planning will help the team align with the timelines and deliver an expected outcome. Customers can review the development and provide suggestions to improvise the planning process. Having a clear roadmap will allow feature enhancement and thus even in a dynamic environment lot of time is saved. The best-featured product is released to the market. 


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