prioritization into product/portfolio management.
Figure 1: Planning Onion shows possible multiple planning horizons
In an article in the Agile Journal [ii], Joe Krebs explains how Agile project management and Agile Portfolio Management practices enable organizations to define their corporate strategy by using a pyramid like the one shown in Figure 2. This pyramid is dysfunctional without close and continuous bi-directional collaboration between the portfolio managers and the actual project members so that the latter are able to execute projects that achieve strategic corporate objectives while providing detailed insight into the state of the projects. The direction of the two arrows in the pyramid shows the flow of information and feedback across the different units.
Figure 2: Agile Portfolio Management is build on agile software engineering and drives corporate strategy
We can derive a formal definition for agile portfolio planning from this pyramid:
Product/Portfolio planning is a key activity for the Agile Product Manager, which usually consists of planning and management of existing product sets, and defining new products for the portfolio.
Now, in order to define the portfolio, the product manager has to develop a product roadmap in collaboration with her stakeholders that consists of new upcoming products and existing product plan updates based on the their current status. The product roadmap thus enables identifying future release windows and drives planning for tactical development. The company referenced in this article is the 4 th largest publishing house in US, based out of NY whom we will refer as simply as the client company. At the client company, the team – working alongside the product owner and other business stakeholders – adopted an agile roadmapping model for building and sharing the digital strategy.
How did it start?
It all started with re-engineering of the existing consumer facing website of the client company. The primary goals of the new site were to simultaneously give a voice to the authors, outside of their books, as well as to provide a richer and more compelling user experience to both readers and authors. This was achieved through the use of multimedia, author- and user-generated content, social marketing, and content syndication. Conceptualized in-house, the project was outsourced for both design direction and development implementation.
When the site went live and was considered a success in the media industry, the business sponsors were eager to execute new projects while riding high on the waves of success. Within a short period of time, the project backlog grew longer than expected. Eventually, the development team was confronted with multiple backlogs prioritized by multiple stakeholders with little or no consolidated prioritization.
The main backlog was a long list of specialized new projects with multiple degrees of business impact. A second – and steadily expanding – backlog consisted of enhancements to the existing site. Finally, a third backlog consisted of ad-hoc multiple small projects with various goals and objectives. With the desire to satisfy all the various stakeholders, the teams started delivering products from all the backlogs with no overall product strategy in mind. All the stakeholders were equally involved in prioritization exercises, and soon realized that although the project teams involved were delivering releases in a timely manner, the business impact of those releases was hard to realize. This is when the team, the product owners, and the stakeholders decided to put agile product/portfolio management principles into practice to enable the definition (and subsequent execution) of a product roadmap.
Building a Product Roadmap
Building a product roadmap for the digital division of a large publishing firm is a strenuous process that is fraught with dangers. There are work