Projects vs Products

Projects Vs Products

In my latest chapter of Delivering Value, I’ve tackled the topic of Projects vs Products. To many this might not seem significant, but this has a profound cultural affect on organisations creating digital products. So much so in fact, organisations are loosing tens of millions of pounds far too often. Unlike projects, digital products are living things and should be treated as such. The traditional business and delivery model no longer applies to digital products.

Digital products are often born at the point where a project ends. Ironically this is where we begin to learn most about our customers needs.Ironically, it’s common at this point that projects are measured successful or not by time and cost of development, and businesses start their transition from delivery to Business As Usual (BAU). 

Let me ask you something, when was the last time you purchased a digital product and thought this was a one off transaction? I’m pretty confident that many if not all of you reading this, expect almost all your digital purchases to be updated regularly, provisioned and aligned to new operating systems being released and provide on going confidence through frequent releases from the vendor that security is always maintained.

We no longer make transactions in the singular sense, we buy relationships with companies through digital products to satisfy our needs as customers. Behind the scenes however, many companies fund and structure their digital products through the temporary notion of projects. This change from transaction to a relationship, coupled with the ever advance of technology means that the whole game has changed. Companies who are slow to realise this, will be left behind or find themselves in decline as new competitors emerge.

Thinking of projects differently to support the living entities which are digital products, requires organisations to drastically change their culture. I’m not just referring to product teams adopting Agile, but entire organisations needing to change. Would you assemble a team to build a ship then launch it into the sea without a crew to navigate it. Of course not! However that is what we often do with projects in organisations when launching digital products. Digital products are alive and capable to provide incredible insights to customer needs and emerging trends. They are not temporary.

To follow the ongoing discussion of changing the way we think about projects and products, I would encourage you to create and follow the conversation using #noprojects, where there are interesting discussions and learnings being shared.

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