Extreme Remote: Product Management - How can they know what I want from the other side of the earth?

Agile development promotes having the product owner deeply integrated into the development process.   That may mean having the product owner easily accessible for questions or to review incremental progress.  Ideally, it means having the product owner actually sitting within a few footsteps of the development team.

With an Extreme Remote team, a product owner is going to be several million steps away from some members of the development team.  Further, the working hours of the product manager and the remote team members do not naturally overlap.  So, how do you achieve the goal of having the product owner deeply integrated into the development process?

You will need to seek the optimal arrangement by being creative and using some key techniques. 

Having excellent requirements is essential.  No, we are not promoting a major requirements gathering phase that results in a massive and meticulously detailed requirements document.  The requirements should be developed iteratively, in step with the development process.  Yet, developing the ability to write clear, meaningful requirements will help offset the gap between the product owner and the most remote members of your development team.  At Amplified Development, we are huge enthusiasts for Gherkin style requirements (aka Cucumber, SpecFlow, Behave, Behat, etc.).  Written properly, the Gherkin requirements are lucid and verifiable by the product owner, while also mapping unambiguously to automated tests.  Such requirements go a long way towards ensuring that the right features are being developed.

There are, however, always issues that need to be discussed.  And, even with excellent requirements, the developers’ understanding of the feature will often differ from the product owner.  So, you need to create as much interaction between the product owner and the remote team members as possible.  The following posts will consider some possible ways to do this:

  • Daily meetings

  • Iteration meetings

  • Online project conversation