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Projects versus products: why your business needs to take a product approach

With most businesses thinking about transformation, much of the conversation revolves around projects. Whether referring to the overall transformation journey or the individual steps along the way, organisations that constantly refer to projects could be setting themselves up for failure without even knowing it.

Why your business needs to take a product approach

For example, if your business wants to achieve a capability change, a new service line, or some other business enhancement, then you’re probably used to using the term project to refer to how you’ll achieve that.

But what if you turned that thinking around? What if, instead of thinking about projects, you thought in terms of products?

Projects have an end date

By their very nature, projects have a start date, achievement milestones along the way, and an end date. Once the project is complete, the business can move onto the next project. But what the project delivered may soon seem out of date, users stop using it, and it’s not relevant anymore.

However, if you think of those projects as products instead, it’s remarkable how differently the organisation will treat them.

For example, when you develop a product, you rarely do a first run then move onto something completely different. Instead, the product is continually refined and tweaked, going through various iterations as it becomes a more perfect version of itself.

Products are something that businesses continually invest in because they provide value. If a product isn’t performing according to your requirements or standards, then it may be time to discontinue it. Otherwise, you can continue to enhance and invest in it to achieve a return on that investment.

A note on financing and marketplaces

Many organisations prefer to finance business change as projects because they’re more easily capitalised. However, that’s a declining model of financial gymnastics that doesn’t let you continuously enhance the product, or deliver value earlier and more often.

For example, many government agencies right now are managing procurement through marketplaces. They demand that vendors put themselves in a marketplace so that the agency can consume the service more easily. Vendors have to qualify to get into the marketplace, satisfying the government’s rigorous procurement requirements. However, once they’re in, agencies can easily consume their products and services without going through an entire procurement process each time.

If you’re not able to productise whatever you’re offering, then you’ll find yourself locked out of such marketplaces.

This change is being driven by a fundamental switch in how IT products and services are being chosen by businesses. Instead of the old model whereby IT teams acted as gatekeepers, now, line of business managers and even individual users can fulfil their needs very quickly with a credit card and a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering. This is ideal for small, targeted solutions for tasks like videoconferencing or cloud storage. And, as time goes by, organisations are likely to demand a similar approach for traditionally-monolithic solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools.

This will see businesses look to buy the functionality they need as opposed to committing to an entire solution.

Continuous service evolution

A continuous service evolution (CSE) approach embraces this new way of managing projects (products) and consuming IT services. If your organisation is on a transformation journey, a product mindset can help you approach it differently.

If you think about your business as a series of products or services instead of the core components that you had before, you can create new value and new ways of working.

To find out how Empired can help you take a product approach to your transformation journey, contact us today.

Posted by: Chris Dury, Practice Manager, Digital Advisory | 12 June 2019

Tags: Project Management, Digital Transformation

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