Home > Articles > Software Development & Management > Agile

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Big Picture: Program Level

Figure 2-3 summarizes the Program level of the Big Picture.

Figure 2-3

Figure 2-3 The Program level of the Big Picture

Here, we find additional organizational constructs, roles, processes, and requirements artifacts suited for building larger-scale systems, applications, products, and suites of products.

Releases and Potentially Shippable Increments

Although the goal of every iteration is to produce a shippable increment of software, teams (especially larger-scale enterprise teams) find that it may simply not be practical or appropriate to ship an increment at each iteration boundary. For example, during the course of a series of iterations, the team may accumulate some technical debt that needs to be addressed before shipment. Technical debt may include things such as defects to be resolved, minor code refactoring, deferred system-wide testing for performance, reliability, or standards compliance, or finalization of user documentation. Hardening iterations (indicated by an iteration with an empty backlog) are included in the Big Picture to provide the time necessary for these additional activities.

Moreover, there are legitimate business reasons why not every increment should be shipped to the customer. These include the following:

  • Potential interference with a customer's licensing and service agreements
  • Potential for customer overhead and business disruption for installation, user training, and so on
  • Potential for disrupting customer's existing operations with minor regressions or defects

For these and other reasons, most programs aggregate a series of iterations into a potentially shippable increment, which can be released, or not, based on the then-current business context.

Vision, Features, and the Program Backlog

Within the enterprise, the product management (or possibly program management or business analyst) function is primarily responsible for maintaining the Vision of the products, systems, or application in their domain of influence.

The Vision answers the big questions for the system, application, or product, including the following.

  • What problem does this particular solution solve?
  • What features and benefits does it provide?
  • For whom does it provide it?
  • What performance, reliability, and so on, does it deliver?
  • What platforms, standards, applications, and so on, will it support?

The Primary Content of the Vision Is a Set of Features

A Vision may be maintained in a document, in a backlog repository, or even in a simple briefing or presentation form. But no matter the form, the prime content of the Vision document is a prioritized set of features intended to deliver benefits to the users.

Nonfunctional Requirements

In addition, the Vision must also contain the various nonfunctional requirements, such as reliability, accuracy, performance, quality, compatibility standards, and so on, that are necessary for the system to meet its objectives.

Undelivered Features Fill the Program Backlog

In a manner similar to the team's backlog, which contains primarily stories, the program (or release) backlog contains the set of desired and prioritized features that have not yet been implemented. The program backlog may or may not also contain estimates for the features. However, any estimates at this scale are coarse-grained and imprecise, which prevents any temptation to over-invest in inventory of too-early feature elaboration and estimation.

Release Planning

In accordance with emerging agile enterprise practices, each release increment timebox has a kickoff release planning session that the enterprise uses to set the company context and to align the teams to common business objectives for the release. The input to the release planning session is the current Vision, along with a set of objectives and a desired, prioritized feature set for the upcoming release.

By breaking the features into stories and applying the agreed-to iteration cadence and knowledge of their velocity, the teams plan the release, typically in a group setting. During this process, the teams work out their interdependencies and design the release by laying stories into the iterations available within the PSI timebox. They also negotiate scope trade-offs with product management, using the physics of their known velocity and estimates for the new stories to determine what can and can't be done. In addition to the plan itself, another primary result of this process is a commitment to a set of release objectives, along with a prioritized feature set.

Thereafter, the teams endeavor to meet their commitment by satisfying the primary objectives of the release, even if it turns out that not every feature makes the deadline.

The Roadmap

The results of release planning are used to update the (product or solution) Roadmap, which provides a sense of how the enterprise hopes to deliver increasing value over time.

The Roadmap consists of a series of planned release dates, each of which has a theme, a set of objectives, and a prioritized feature set. The "next" release on the Roadmap is committed to the enterprise, based on the work done in the most recent release planning session. Releases beyond the next one are not committed, and their scope is fuzzy at best.

The Roadmap, then, represents the enterprise's current "plan of intent" for the next and future releases. However, it is subject to change—as development facts, business priorities, and customers need change—and therefore release plans beyond the next release should not generally be used to create any external commitments.

Product Management

In agile, there can be a challenge with the apparently overlapping responsibilities of the product manager and the product owner. For example, in Scrum, the product owner is responsible for the following:

  • representing the interests of everyone with a stake in the resulting project . . . achieves initial and ongoing funding by creating the initial requirements, return on investment objectives, and release plans.5

In some smaller organizational contexts, that definition works adequately, and one or two product owners are all that are needed to define and prioritize software requirements. However, in the larger software enterprise, the set of responsibilities imbued in the Scrum product owner is more typically a much broader set of responsibilities shared between team and technology-based product owners and market or program-based product managers, who carry out their traditional responsibilities of both defining the product and presenting the solution to the marketplace.

However, we also note that the title of the person who plays this role may vary by industry segment, as shown in Table 2-1.

Table 2-1. Product Manager Role May Have Different Titles

Industry Segment

Common Title for the Role

Information systems/information technology (IS/IT)

Business owner, business analyst, project or program manager

Embedded systems

Product, project, or program manager

Independent software vendor

Product manager

Responsibilities of the Agile Product Manager in the Enterprise

No matter the title (we'll continue to use product manager generically), when an agile transition is afoot, the person playing that role must fulfill the following primary responsibilities:

  • Own the Vision and program (release) backlog
  • Manage release content
  • Maintain the product Roadmap
  • Build an effective product manager/product owner team
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020