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The Elephant in the Room by Beata Kovacs "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs 28 April 2021 True Agile, Agile Development, dual track agile, Legacy, Legacy Product, Product Discovery, Team Alignment, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 445 Product Management 1.78
· 2 minute read

The Elephant in the Room by Beata Kovacs

Summary: Apply the same discovery processes to legacy products that you would if you were starting from scratch. Pocket-sized principles can guide the way your team works and the way you deliver value to your users.

Legacy Products are Like Elephants – They’re not Very Agile

There are lots of opportunities to have an impact when working with tools that have come from a different time, but you need to consider how best to handle right at the start. This is especially true if they need to integrated with more agile ways of working or systems.

Don’t Forget to Discover

As legacy products have existed in the real world, people get used to using them. There are established expectations, known functionality and a particular value to be realised. As such, when working with them, we often forget to run through our discovery processes. Then, when it comes to delivery, no matter how effective your team and working practices, if you haven’t worked out the right thing to be building you’re going to be in trouble.

Dual-Track Agile for the win

With dual track, you run a delivery and a discovery sprint at the same time. This allows you to find out the right things to build and get them shipped at the same speed. This can be particularly useful when working with legacy products.

Find Your List of Problems to Solve

Once you’ve found a way to get the discovery process up and running, you need to detail the outcomes you’re looking to achieve. These should drive and steer every decision that’s made throughout the delivery process. Even on large legacy platforms, these are more effective than a feature list or requirement documentation as they allow for flexibility.

Pocket-Sized Principles Drive Quality

If as a team, you decide how you want to work before getting on with it, then everything will be easier moving forward.

One example of this might be to be collaborative by default. Beata and her team have found that by running workshops on even the most technical aspects of their products, they foresee problems long before they actually arise, whilst getting buy in from all the teams involved.

These principles don’t need to be extensive, just enough to help others know how you work best and to hold yourselves to account. These principles can also focus on the way that you will build your product.

Another example from Beata’s team was the idea of providing “actionable feedback”. If there is a problem with the product, then its users need to know what they should do about it and how to fix it.

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