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Moving from ‘Project-based’ to ‘Product-based’

“We’re spending a lot of time, money, and resources in these meetings” … “I don’t feel like this project is going anywhere” … “I can’t even remember why we’re doing this” … Have you ever asked yourself this question while on your 7th conference call of the day? We see companies invest in making the transformation to the interactive approach to project management and software development, Agile, but to no surprise still have the same angst as they did in their previous way of delivering solutions.

According to a recent Gartner study, 55% of organizations say they are moving from traditional project delivery to product-centric.1 Why are companies choosing to make this shift? By moving to a product-centric delivery model, companies are realizing quicker business outcomes, improved customer experiences, reduced organizational friction, and increased trust between impacted stakeholders.

In short: companies are delivering products that their customers love, all while being more efficient, more collaborative, and realizing short and long-term value along the way. The good news is that most companies already have the people and tools in place, and with a few adjustments to their operating models, can steer the ship toward a product-centric delivery model. To help identify where your company is on the spectrum between project- and product-, we will walk through the common challenges and pain points of a traditional project-focused delivery model, describe the benefits and ROI that can be achieved from shifting to a product-centric delivery model, and provide a foundational framework for how to begin this organizational shift.

Pain points of a ‘Project-based’ Operating Model

One of the most prevalent pitfalls of the traditional operating model is the disjointed application of both Waterfall and Agile delivery methodologies. The result of this half-measured application and its subsequent pain points is a lack of collaboration across business and IT, and the perception of technology projects being too expensive or taking too long.

The graphic below describes these pain points, and how they can serve as a barrier to an efficient operating model.

operating model of pain points

Benefits of a ‘Product-based’ Operating Model

By introducing a product-centric means of operating, companies can achieve a more collaborative culture, accelerate through ideas, and unlock speed-to-value by solving underlying organizational challenges and driving toward business results, faster.

The graphic below describes the benefits of an efficient, product-centric operating model:

operating model benefits

Accelerate ROI

There is an unspoken assumption that the development of products and features will result in added value to both your company and your customers. As such, companies seek to adopt Agile practices in order to build products and features faster, but this only adds more holes to a sinking ship; holes that are traced by committed product teams and punched by the sunk-cost fallacy attached to a feature that customers will not end up using.

The reality is that without proper end-user validation, product ideas and features are often hit-or-miss, and will not provide the ROI-driving dollars that many hope for when building a product roadmap. While there is incremental value in adopting an Agile methodology only, pairing Agile with a Product-Centric framework will increase overall ROI and decrease the time it takes to get there.

‘Product-based’ Framework

There are four fundamental areas that should be focused on when evaluating how to bring a Product-Centric operating model to your company. These areas are explained below:

The foundation of these four components provides a different approach for how an idea drives shared value across a company and its customers. By focusing on building a strong foundation based on these components, companies can begin to introduce a new approach to delivering products to customers, shortening the time-to-market and time-to-value.



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