According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), a project is defined as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a complete product or service. The definition explicitly mentions that a project mindset is a temporary approach to launching a product and moving on to the next, thus leading towards losing the continuity of thought.
My philosophy is that everything starts with a great product…
Well, it’s not me who stresses upon a product mindset. Instead, it’s a linchpin of Steve Job’s business strategy that helped him shape Apple’s digital innovation, thus moving away from project-based episodic delivery. Not just Apple, other big brands like Tesla and Netflix focus on no “launch and move on” mentality, too, thereby emerging as a continually evolving brand, aiming to build lovable products.
Apart from these big names, 55% of organizations surveyed by Gartner are moving towards full adoption of the product-centric application model by defining new architectures and tools (39%), investing in DevOps software development methodologies (35%) and hiring workers with new skills (32%), to name a few.
Why are Businesses Choosing Product Mindset Over Project Mindset
Projects progress with the silo approach. On the other hand, product-centric businesses witness quicker business outcomes, improved customer experiences, reduced friction within the organization, and more flexibility.
32% of the businesses identified in the Gartner survey claim that ‘a need to deliver more quickly’ is their primary driver of adoption of a product-centric application approach.
The heightened focus on product mindset has paved the way for opportunities for businesses to enhance how they conduct software engineering, resulting in faster time-to-market, lower cost, and elevated code quality.
1. Increased Software Delivery Velocity
Agile and DevOps is a best-in-class practice integrated mostly to Agile Development projects in order to increase software delivery velocity, improve service reliability, and build shared ownership among software stakeholders. Organizations implementing the DevOps solutions release new software 63% more frequently.
2. Drive and Enable the Ideation Process
With the market insights, product managers get empowered to drive and enable the ideation process and to assess ideas for their market fit. Enabling this during the ideation phase results in earlier participation of IT professionals such as architects, engineers, data scientists, and UX designers, leading to an increased IT ownership of business-enabling ideas.
3. Improved Customer Experience
A product-centered organization recognizes the customer at the core of the product, with a perception that a good customer experience develops and maintains the product. The product manager understands and meets the customer needs through the product management toolset: market and competitor research, customer segmentation and personas, and focus group testing of products.
Steps to Become an Organization with Product-Mindset
The project-centric businesses cannot accommodate the uncertainty, flexibility, and speed needed to steer innovation in products, services, and customer experiences in today’s dynamic marketplace. Thus, the shift towards becoming a product-centric organization should focus on areas, discussed in this section, where there is scope to drive digital initiatives.
66% of leaders think that they are digitally transforming their business; only 11% of CEOs are actually doing so.
1. Synergize the Business-IT Partnership
Unlike the project mindset, which focuses on application delivery, the product mindset works best when IT and business work in synergy to understand business priorities and build solutions iteratively by adopting Agile and DevOps methodology of working.
Over 70% of CFOs are getting more involved in their company’s IT agenda over the last few years.
Identify product-centric roles in your organization: capability leader, product manager, Agile coach, and DevOps architect.
- Capability leaders and product managers typically come from business lines
- Agile coach and DevOps architect come from IT lines
Bringing capability leaders and product managers on the table from the business is the foremost step to initiate continuous collaboration.
2. Agile Product Funding
An organization with a product mindset starts to fund products incrementally and iteratively. It provides flexibility that enables experimentation and allows the team to adapt to changes in business priorities. The built-team ensures that the organization is allocating funding responsibly to steer the agility and innovation to achieve strategic objectives.
Instead of prolonged approval processes that stretch the time to market, which is a routine in case of a project-centric approach, you can shift funding and balance capacity across initiatives through providing visibility into performance, connecting strategy to delivery.
3. The Shift from Focusing on Data
In today’s dynamic and ever-evolving digital world, where the usage of data is increasing daily, the role of chief data officer (CDO) should be to shift their focus from data and analytics projects to steering a product-centric organization. This new CDO with the new role of driving product-mindest of an organization can be called CDO 4.0, as advised by the Gartner research report.
- CDO 1.0: The main focus was on data management
- CDO 2.0: The main focus was on analytics
- CDO 3.0: The main focus was on digital transformation
The CDO 4.0 focuses on products, and on managing, profit and loss instead of just being responsible for driving data and analytics projects and programs.
The digital business carries a broader scope than constructing sophisticated façades around existing monolithic applications while perhaps modernizing the existing technology infrastructure, traditional processes, and the technologies of yesteryear.
Rather, it requires holistic organizational change management resulting in an organizational mindset that reflects a culture of valuing end-user experience and customer delight. Instilling a product-centric approach helps align IT organizational structure with product-centric roles and fortify the business partnership, thereby creating new business models with innovative products and services and expanding business through more significant digital opportunities.