In the spirit of just-in-time resources, here's a collection of the simple, yet powerful, techniques that you can use to be a more effective product person.
Acceptance criteria are the conditions that a solution must satisfy to be accepted by a user, a customer, or, in the case of system-level functionality, the consuming system. They are also a set of statements, each with a clear pass/fail result, that specify both functional and nonfunctional requirements and are applicable at a variety of levels (feature and user stories).
Action focused retrospectives are a way for your team to reflect on your past cycle of work, discuss what you’ve learned, identify specific action items to pursue, and follow through on those action items.
The business value model is a technique for making critical organizational decisions in an informed and timely manner. Teams using this tool identify the most critical decisions they face, determine when they need to make those decisions, and figure out which information they need to best make those decisions.
Collaborative modeling refers to the use of well-known requirements analysis and modeling techniques in a collaborative fashion to build and maintain a shared understanding of the problem space and the potential solution.
The commitment scale gauges a stakeholder’s commitment to a project, as well as what is needed to ensure the project’s success.
The constraints matrix is a quick way to show the relative importance of a set of constraints facing a project team. Each row represents a general constraint faced by most teams. The most common set to use are: Cost, Time, and Scope (ie the Iron Triangle). The columns represent the amount of change that can be accepted for each constraint when trying to deal with an overall project change.
The context diagram shows how your product interacts with outside people, organizations, and/or systems. The context diagram helps you to identify the interfaces you need to account for, helps you to identify scope, identify potential stakeholders, and build a better understanding of the context in which you are working.
The Context Leadership Model is a tool for determining the appropriate project leadership style given a product’s uncertainty and complexity.
Decision filters are simple questions that help organizations distribute decision making by sharing strategy with those who have to act to make them happen.
The definition of done is an agreement on the set of conditions that need to be true in order to consider a backlog item done and at a point where it can deliver value to stakeholders.
A definition of ready is an agreement on the set of conditions that need to be true in order to consider a backlog item ready to be included in an iteration for delivery.
A delivery board is a way for a team to visualize their process for delivering functionality in a sprint. The best delivery boards consist of a whiteboard or wall divided into columns that reflect the various steps a team takes to develop and test backlog items in a sprint. The backlog items are represented by sticky notes or cards that move across the board as the team gets closer to having functionality to deliver.
Discovery boards are ways for teams to visualize their backlog refinement process. The best discovery boards consist of a whiteboard or wall divided into columns that reflect the various steps a team takes to get product backlog items ready to be delivered (developed and tested) in an iteration. The backlog items are represented by sticky notes or cards that move across the board as the team builds a better understanding of the specifics of each story.
Example Mapping is a backlog refinement technique that helps you structure your team’s conversation around a backlog item. The conversation focuses on drawing out all of the relevant acceptance criteria (or rules), related scenarios and pertinent questions associated with the backlog item you are discussing.
Examples are concrete descriptions of the expected behavior of an aspect of a solution using real-life data. Examples are useful for describing a solution and providing guidance on ways to validate it.
Teams use impact mapping to discuss assumptions, align with organizational objectives and deliver only the things that lead directly to delivering outcomes.
The internal product opportunity assessment is based off questions in Inspired by Marty Cagan. They help product people determine if a product is worth it.
An internal product is software that your organization does not offer for sale to others, but uses to support its various business activities. Internal products generally satisfy the needs of users internal to your organization or enables your organization to satisfy the needs of its customers.
Outcome based metrics are a way to quantitatively tell whether you’ve delivered an outcome and to avoid measuring progress and success based on output.
A parking lot diagram is a way to visually communicate status of work on a product in the context of major blocks of functionality intended to deliver a specific outcome. The parking lot diagram uses boxes to indicate the relationship between the different levels in a product functionality hierarchy, and uses color to indicate the status of significant functionality.
When you’re starting to look forward to the next year, do a personal retrospective to identify the outcomes you seek and the habits you’ll start and stop.
A persona defines a typical user of a product. They help you understand the context in which people use the product to help guide your design decisions.
The problem statement is a structured set of statements that describe the purpose of an effort in terms of what problem it’s trying to solve.
A process model describes the flow of work or activities, usually in a graphic format, that contribute to accomplishing a specific goal. Process models are typically used to represent and analyze a series of activities that occur repeatedly and on a regular basis. Process models model the flow of work in or between people and departments in an organization, or the flow of activities in a computer system or application. The models have a clear beginning and end, intended outcome, order of activities, and different results based on the decisions that you make through the course of the process.
A product roadmap is a statement of intent for how you are going to implement your strategy. The product roadmap is a living thing that indicates your best understanding at the point that you last updated it and it also reflects whatever uncertainty you faced when you last put it together.
The Purpose Based Alignment Model, created by Niel Nickolaisen, is a method for aligning business decisions and process and feature designs around purpose.
The risk management game is a collaborative way for your team to identify risks that they face, categorize those risks based on impact and probability, and determine which risks to address first.
The six questions help you to understand your organization’s strategy by identifying its differentiating activities. This can then guide product decisions.
Socratic questioning applied to projects and product development relates to finding the real need by establishing a thesis of what your stakeholder thinks their need is (usually expressed as a solution). You then engage in a dialog structured as a series of questions in an attempt to refute or disprove the thesis and get to the actual need.
Sprint Reviews exist primarily to get feedback from your stakeholders when you can’t get feedback from them during the course of a sprint.
You can use a stakeholder map to understand who your stakeholders are, understand their key characteristics, and determine how to engage your stakeholders.
A story map is a visual representation of a backlog that provides additional context regarding how backlog items are related to each other and when the team is planning to deliver them. This context is typically presented in terms of the personas that will use specific features, and the particular user stories that are associated with the features.
Story splitting is the act of examining a large backlog item and splitting it into smaller backlog items that provide value and can be delivered in a short time frame.
You can consider story splitting to be a planning technique that helps you organize your backlog into manageable chunks. You can also think of it as an analysis technique that helps you understand a particular backlog item through the act of splitting it into smaller, valuable backlog items.
System documentation is information about an as-built solution and acts as a reference for future maintenance or update efforts. It is organized based on system functionality rather than when changes were made to the system, making it easier for people who maintain the solution to find the information they need quickly.
Usability testing is a way to test how intuitive the design, user flows and content is in your product, app or website. Usability testing consists of asking real people who are similar to potential users to perform various tasks on your product. You can use the information gained from this exercise to identify opportunities for improvement in your product’s design, user flows and content.
User modeling is a technique used to establish a commonly agreed-upon list of user roles for a product. This list of user roles and their descriptions provides helpful context for user stories and other backlog items. You can think of user modeling as one aspect of stakeholder analysis that is specifically focused on people interacting with a product or receiving value from it
Value-based decision making is a method for making critical organizational decisions in an informed and timely manner. Use this tool to identify the most critical decisions you face, determine when to decide, and ﬁgure out what information you need to best make those decisions.