Custom Software: Products vs Projects: Making a shift in technology projects and teams that focus on products rather that projects can be a seismic shift.
Stop thinking in terms of technology projects and begin the shift towards product thinking.
Many companies kick off individual projects with specific goals, timelines, budgets and resources. These teams are tasked with a singular focus – clear the backlog and finish the project. They rely heavily on the Product Owner to work with the stakeholders to determine features and priority. They trust that the Product Owner is making the right decisions, and why should they ever question the Product Owner? Scrum indicates that the Product Owner is responsible for the backlog and that the team is responsible or the execution.
Sometimes this is referred to as: Product Owner controls the ‘What’ and the Team controls the ‘How’.
A project is a planned set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations.
This thinking is quickly becoming a limiting factor of organizations that are in highly competitive markets or industries. Companies are finding that thinking in terms of a bunch of horizontal projects instead of vertical products is hindering their ability to adjust to ever shifting customer demands and to drive innovation.
Individual project teams are normally chartered to work set of deliverables. Often these teams work in a limited vacuum blissfully unaware of other projects or company objectives. This approach creates silos that makes it difficult to track and coordinate dependencies. These silos generate gaps in knowledge, skills, and architecture platforms across the organization making it difficult for companies to shift project between teams without huge retooling costs.
The business dictionary has an interesting definition for product under it’s marketing category:
A product is a good or service that most closely meets the requirements of a particular market and yields enough profit to justify its continued existence.
Building a product focused company required a shift in strategic and tactical thinking across the organization. Companies must begin to empower teams to build products and services that meet current customer demand. Teams must be allowed to shift priorities and to begin to innovate to drive customer retention and acquisition.
software that allows them to identify what customer really want, and will retain and attract new customers, what they are will they will pay for.
Allowing a team to become Product focused required change in team dynamics. The Team and Product Owner must begin to develop tools and approaches to developing software that allows them to identify what customer really want, and will retain and attract new customers, what they are will they will pay for. Only when a company makes a shift in this thinking can they start to leverage the software to build a completive advantage.
Benefits to product focus:
- Focus on Customer
- System Scalability – efficiency of scale (services, web components, hardware…)
- Modern software development practice
- Building a better, more innovative product
- Understand the customer – likes and dislikes, needs, wants, what they are willing to pay for, nice to haves, must haves…