Hi, I’m Sam! I have been a product manager for years and now I work as an industry mentor for the product, strategy, and operations track at Pathrise, where I help people land their dream job. Check out my article where I compare Agile vs Scrum so you can know which is right for your projects.
Product managers usually wear a lot of hats and juggle various responsibilities. But, one task that all product managers do is lead the process of building products. There are a lot of different elements that go into this goal. One of the most important pieces to take into consideration is product management methodology.
There are 2 main schools of thought when it comes to product management: Agile and Scrum. Before you dive into your job search to become a product manager, we want to outline the two methodologies and compare Agile vs Scrum so you can figure out which one fits your style best.
- What is a product manager?
- What is Agile?
- What is Scrum?
- Similarities and differences: Agile vs Scrum
- Product management tools: Agile vs Scrum
What is a product manager?
In order to properly understand the methodologies that help product managers succeed in their roles, it is important to be able to answer the question, “What does a product manager do?”
While their jobs are varied depending on the type of company (enterprise vs startup), in general, product managers work at the intersection of design, engineering, and business. They help create a strategy, vision, and timeline for a specific product/project. In addition, product managers communicate with the various stakeholders in order to plan and execute the building of a successful project. Some of these people include users, customers, clients, engineers, designers, marketers, salespeople, and even executive team members.
In order to keep all of the pieces of project creation moving along, product managers need to be organized. In order to do this, they typically rely on management methodologies like Agile and Scrum to plan their team’s tasks, keep everyone on track, and manage feedback cycles.
What is Agile?
Started by software developers, the Agile method of project/product management makes the large task into a series of smaller tasks. Then, these small projects get owners and deadlines. These mini-projects are done in short sprints that encourage teamwork. Each person on the team – designer, developer, copywriter, product manager, etc – is aware of the work being done and providing rapid feedback and iterations to ensure it is being done correctly.
The biggest advantage of Agile product management is the flexibility. As the team works on their sprints, there is constant communication, which makes rapid changes possible. The product manager, though, is the leader of these conversations. They facilitate the teamwork and the iterations as they need to be made.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is actually a type of Agile methodology. Therefore, it has the same general idea: large projects are broken down. But, rather than breaking it down into smaller tasks that lead to the large project being finished at the end, Scrum breaks large projects down into small cycles of project creation. According to ScrumAlliance.org, “Scrum relies on cross-functional teams to deliver products and services in short cycles.”
So, what does that mean? At the beginning of a large project, the Scrum master comes up with the product vision and plans what each cross-functional team will accomplish during the sprints. These plans are very rigid, since each sprint works to create a mini-product. The Scrum master also leads daily standups or huddles in which the teams gather to go over progress, ask questions, and troubleshoot potential issues.
Similarities and differences: Agile vs Scrum
Since Scrum is a version of the Agile framework, comparing the two methodologies is important so you can understand where the similarities and differences lie.
- Agile and Scrum are product/project management methodologies that help break down large projects into smaller tasks that are done in short sprints.
- Both Agile and Scrum have leaders. The Agile leader is typically a project or product manager. The Scrum master can be a PM, but it can also be an experienced engineer, designer, or different team member based on the project.
- Teams are cross-functional in both methodologies
- Agile product/project management is more flexible. It allows for feedback and iteration cycles while building.
- Scrum has required daily standups or huddles. On the other hand, Agile is more natural with their communication, making it better for teams that are face-to-face.
- Sprints in the Scrum framework are meant to build mini-projects and they are more rigid in their tasks than Agile sprints.
Product management tools: Agile vs Scrum
In both Agile and Scrum methodologies, roadmapping is an important first step. Because product managers are working with so many different types of people, like designers, developers, project managers, and others, they need to coordinate the sprints in a transparent way. Luckily, there has been an increase in roadmapping and project/product management platforms that project leaders and Scrum masters can use to ensure organization and success in their sprints.
- Agile Manager by HP
- Active Collab
- Agile Bench
- Pivotal Tracker
- Vivify Scrum
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