Death of Product Managers and Business Analysts?

M. Twain stampLe sigh!

This past Sunday, I had an interesting debate with a friend of my mine whom I’ll refer to as “Peter” in this article. Mainly because that is his real name.

Peter is the VP of R&D for a cloud-software company in southern California.

He told me (and I’m paraphrasing):

Product Managers and Business Analysts are dying roles, because with Agile/Scrum there is no need for these roles any more. Soon these roles will be eliminated from most of the software companies.”

This statement annoyed the heck out of me. Hence the sigh at the beginning of this post.

Peter and I had a lively (but short) debate, we had to cut it short because we both have day jobs – which seep into weekends! I told him I will make a couple of blog posts to explain my take on this.

So, here is the first one for you, Peter! As I explained in this post, Agile is a “development” process – i.e. a process used by developers, to develop software.

As you know, Product Managers are *NOT* developers! Neither are Business Analysts! PMs and BAs play a different role – mainly focused on understanding customer needs, and translating those needs into clear requirements. These requirements are then used by developers to build the product – using agile, waterfall, spiral, or whatever software development process suits their fancy needs!

When I asked you who will define the details of what needs to be built, once PMs and BAs are history – you said something along the lines of:

Product Owner or whoever. If no one is available, my developers can do it themselves as they are well-trained in Scrum.”

Please see this post for my take on how PMs are different from Product Owners.

And, I’d say about 80-90% of the developers I’ve worked with (whether Scrum-trained or not) have neither the interest nor the skill set to play PM and BA roles. If you ask developers to do it, I think:

  1. Most of them will do a bad job – due to lack of interest and skill set, not lack of IQ.
  2. And, they will be unhappy about having to do something completely unrelated to programming.

Anyways, I will stop here for now – as I’m running late on a bunch of tasks related to my day job, which includes building software for the “dying” roles of product managers and business analysts! Until next time…

Editor’s Note:
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Michael Shrivathsan

I'm your author, Michael Shrivathsan, an expert in product management with successful experience at several innovative companies in Silicon Valley, USA over the past two decades. I'm also a USPTO patent recipient. For my day job, I'm the VP of Product Management at Accompa, we make the popular requirements management software used by Product Management, Business Analysis, and related teams.

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