Agile Product and Project Management for Information Products and Services

Training Series

Course Objective

The past decade has seen a transformation in the way that information products and services are built with the shift to agile development methodologies. Agile approaches advocate incremental development driven by cross-functional, self-directed teams. Unlike more traditional waterfall methodologies, Agile allows teams to learn and adapt their approach along the way, validating that what they are building actually meets user needs. However, adopting agile does not mean doing away with planning all together and scaling agile to larger projects can be a challenge. Discipline and good practices are still required to ensure that resources are used wisely and overall project goals are met.

This training course is aimed at early-to-mid career professionals developing information products and services in the publishing, library technology and scholarly communications communities. Whether developing free, open-source services for the community or more traditional paid-for services, attendees will hear about key aspects of agile product development and project management for seasoned practitioners who have gained hard-won experience about what works and what doesn’t. 

By the end of the course, attendees will have a good understanding of:

  • The stages of agile product development

  • Techniques for planning, managing and tracking agile projects  

  • The distinct roles that make up an agile team

  • The key behaviors and processes which are important for success

Course Moderator

Chris Shillum, Principal, Swiss House Information, will be serving as course moderator. 

With more than 25 years of experience in product and platform development in scholarly communications and STM publishing, Chris Shillum is now helping industry groups formulate product and technology strategy in a time of rapidly changing business models, new technology, and increasing expectations from users and customers.

Chris previously held a number of leadership positions at Elsevier where he touched many parts of the organization. Early in his career, he was asked to join the launch team working on what became ScienceDirect, one of the industry’s leading online platforms. During subsequent years, he gained broad experience by leading change programs for most of the major components of digital information platforms, including content management, search, identity and access management, big-data and personalized recommendation systems.

Chris has also played a significant role in the broader STM industry and is a strong believer in the power of community-wide collaboration to solve tough problems and drive progress. He was a co-author of the original paper which led to the use of DOIs for reference linking, going on to spend 20 years working with Crossref, including 10 years as a board member. He was a founder member of the ORCID board, helping that organization grow from start-up to become a sustainable part of the scholarly infrastructure landscape. Chris was part of the committee which oversaw the NISO/NFAIS integration, and he continues to serve on the NISO Board. Over the past few years, Chris has devoted much time to solving the access problem in research information, co-chairing the RA21 project, and building a coalition of industry organizations to operationalize those recommendations as

Chris holds a Masters in Electronic Systems Engineering from the University of York in the UK. 

Course Duration and Dates

Thursday, May 14, 2020 – Thursday, July 2, 2020. The series consists of eight (8) segments, one per week and each lasting approximately 60-90 minutes. Each segment is intended to cover a Thursday lunch period (11:00am - 12:30pm, US. Eastern).

Guest lecturers will be featured in specific segments, as the course moderator deems appropriate. 

Each session will be recorded and links to that archived recording will be disseminated to course registrants within 2 business days of the close of the specific session. 

Bibliography of Resources

A bibliography is being developed throughout the course of the Spring 2020 Training Series, Agile Product and Project Management for Information Products and Services.  The course moderator of this series has been Chris Shillum of Swiss House Information who took on the responsibility of identifying and recruiting each of the guest lecturers featured in that training. Each guest lecturer has contributed a set of useful resources from which they believe other professionals in the field may benefit. 

Updates will be added periodically, so check back with us.

Event Sessions

Building An Agile Team (May 14)


Great News! You are a product manager and you’ve been handed responsibility for a product. What do you need to do to move that product or service forward? The first thing to do is to assemble a team. Who does what? Do you know? The initial segment in this NISO training series will begin by identifying the distinct roles and responsibilities of necessary participants on your team. How does the role of the product manager differ from that of the project manager? Do you need both? What are the responsibilities of developers, testers, and UX experts? This is where you begin. 

Defining a Minimum Viable Product (May 21)


So you’ve begun the product development process. But there’s more to consider as a product manager. How do you know when you’ve built something sufficient as the initial product launch? How can you manage to continually iterate improvements to that product, once it’s been launched?  Session Two addresses the challenge of delivering functionality with integrity!   

Understanding Needs and Setting Priorities (May 28)


You’ve got your team together now, but how do you know what to do? Product Management is all about understanding needs and solving problems - for your users, your customers and your organization? How do you understand those needs? How do you determine priorities? This program segment will provide clarity and help you to focus on your discovery process.

User Research (June 4)


You want to deliver a product or service that the user views as a “must-have”. How do you actually determine the scope of the user’s needs? How does one evaluate whether the solution designed satisfies those needs?  What are the distinct stages of user research, and when should a particular stage be applied to your particular project? 

Planning & Budgeting (June 11)


There is no bottomless well of resources available. Every project, every product is  created within the confines of a budget. This session addresses the critical question of how one builds a business case that draws support from those controlling available resources. If you’re working in the context of an agile process, how do you plan? How do you get the resources needed to succeed when you operate under cost constraints? Perhaps even more critical to know is what to do when a ‘pivot’ in development threatens to break the budget. 

Implementation and the Role of Architects (June 18)


You’re working on implementation. You need an architect, but how does that team member’s role support the activity? How do you decide what technology choices to make? What’s the right balance between SaaS and roll-your-own technology? Is the Cloud the answer? You’ve got to ensure sustainability, scalability and extensibility of the solution you’re offering to users? The complexity is real. How do you ensure that key elements don’t get lost? Six weeks into this training series, you’ll get input from the experts. 

Measuring Success (June 25)


What is a key performance indicator? How can you ensure that your KPIs and metrics align with your business objectives? As your product grows and matures, what techniques are available to you in stretching to meet new organizational goals? And, given the realities of the marketplace, when do you hit that point when it is time to retire that product?  

Crucial Conversations (July 2)


Deborah Boock

Director Program Management, Elsevier Health Markets

You started with a team and you continue to work with that team. But working with people requires listening, a balance in understanding the substance of what a team member says when they hold a different perspective of issues and workflow. How do you minimize the bumps and barriers that will arise? This final session will talk about the keys to success -- working with integrity, honesty and transparency.


Additional Information

If you have not received your Login Instruction e-mail by 12 Noon (U.S., Eastern) on the day before a scheduled Thursday segment of the series, please contact the NISO office at for immediate assistance.

  • Registration is per site (access for one computer) and includes access to the online recorded archive of the conference. You may have as many people as you like from the registrant's organization view the conference from that one connection. If you need additional connections, you will need to enter a separate registration for each connection needed.

  • If you are registering someone else from your organization, either use that person's e-mail address when registering or contact to provide alternate contact information.

  • Conference presentation slides and Q&A will be posted to this event webpage following the live conference.

  • Registrants will receive an e-mail message containing access information to the archived conference recording within 48 hours after the event. This recording access is only to be used by the registrant's organization.

For Online Events

  • You will need a computer for the presentation and Q&A.

  • Audio is available through the computer (broadcast) and by telephone. We recommend you have a set-up for telephone audio as back-up even if you plan to use the broadcast audio as the voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) isn't always 100% reliable.

Please check your system in advance to make sure it meets Zoom (US) requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure that your system is properly set up before each webinar begins.