Mastering the Product Retrospective

Author’s note:  This is an update of a post from 2009.

A regularly scheduled product retrospective is an important part of the product manager’s job. A product retrospective is similar to any other Agile retrospective, but focuses on product performance instead of team performance.

In an Agile environment, we recommend holding a product retrospective soon after each product launch or deployment to production – as soon as you have updated metrics to examine. If you’re not using Agile methods, we recommend holding a product retrospective quarterly (also known as a Quarterly Business Review).

What’s the best way to do it?  Some take a “rear-view-only” pragmatic approach: report on release delivery, revenue and units sold. Here are our best tips for a more strategic, forward-looking approach.
Product manager's job: retrospective and product planning

1. Review the four P’s for each product in your product line.  You’re looking for KPI variance to plan, but beyond that you’re looking for changes in the market and in competitive actions that point to new threats and opportunities.

2. Update your product strategy as needed for the next time period (year, half-year or quarter).  This is the forward-looking part – map the opportunities you uncovered in your KPI and 4P analysis, and build them into your product strategy.

3. Communicate the results to the product team and executives.  It’s a good idea to communicate your findings and recommendations and get any necessary executive approval or input on your plans before changing your execution plans.

If you’d like a more detailed set of guidelines for this process, download your own copy of “Pivotal PM’s Mastering the Product Retrospective.”

For deeper insight into the 4P’s and product strategy, join our next Agile Product Management Intensive™ course or bring us on-site for a workshop with your team.

Posted in Agile Product Management, For PM Executives, Managing Up & Across, Product Management Best Practices, Product management tools  |  Leave a comment

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