Why do agile experts recommend a transition from project management to product development?

01 May 2023

Long-term product focus.

One of the first elements of product management and product development is a shift from short-term project focus to long-term business objectives, customer objectives, and product objectives.

How many times have you seem people rush to hit a deadline and:

  • Sacrifice quality?
  • Sacrifice customer interests in favour of contract requirements?
  • Sacrifice long-term opportunity development in favour of short-term delivery deadlines?

Once the contractual obligations have been met, the project disintegrates, and people are shifted to the next project. There is seldom a focus on keeping the team together and building their capabilities and effectiveness over the long term.

It just becomes a matter of checking the boxes on a list as quickly and efficiently as you can.

It is a toxic approach to product development, and often the team that are assigned to maintain and sustain the product must work through technical debt, poor quality product development, and a host of other problems because the original development team were concerned primarily with hitting a deadline and completing the project within cost constraints.

  • Have you walked into one of these environments before?
  • Have you been saddled with a cancer-riddled beast to maintain and sustain?
  • Have you seen increased customer and stakeholder satisfaction in this scenario?

So, agile shifts our focus to building quality into the DNA of the product from the word go.

It encourages us to think about long-term sustainability, innovation, and product development from the start, and to work towards continuous improvement in both the context of the team as well as the product.

We want an environment where people thrive, where customers are delighted, and where each week the product is better than it was the week before.

  • Better quality of engineering.
  • Better application of the product.
  • Better quality of customer experience.
  • Improved customer satisfaction.
  • Improved employee satisfaction.
  • Improved value delivery from the team and organization.

Product Ownership over Project Management.

Scrum has the accountability of a product owner baked into the agile framework, but many other organizations have recognized the value of a dedicated product owner or product manager, and many of the benefits of having a skilled, deeply committed, long-term product manager/owner have been achieved by organizations shifting their focus from project to product.

You have a dedicated individual who is thinking about specific product goals, product objectives, a product vision, and a roadmap to success for the product development team.

A clear, prioritized path to success in the short-term, with the idea of learning, evolving, and improving with each iteration, each customer review, and each product release.

Continuous, focused improvement with the endgame of creating a product that truly delights customers and actively helps them achieve their goals and objectives. Actively helps them do the jobs that are most critical and valuable to them.

A project manager, traditionally, has an intense focus on driving outcomes and achieving deadlines. Sure, they care about quality and customer satisfaction, but the system within which they operate is primarily concerned with minimum standards or compliance to get the project signed off.

Hit these numbers, deliver within these dates, and operate within these time constraints. The long-term success of the product or the customer isn’t on their radar. A product manager or product owner has an entirely different focus. An entirely different agenda.

So, agile environments are laser-focused on value creation, capture, and delivery for customers. The short-term, iterative cycles ensure continuous delivery of value to customers and check all the customer requirement boxes without sacrificing the long-term objectives.

The long-term customer and business objectives.

An example of long-term product development.

Super glue was never originally intended to help DIY enthusiasts repair or create household items. It was originally intended as an emergency, first-aid product that could help save lives.

Over the years, super glue has become a staple in every household because the product development team continuously explored use applications for the product, and refined each iteration of product development to exploit new markets and new applications for the product.

Had their focus been exclusively on hitting the original project deadline, before shifting their focus to the next project, we would never have seen the ubiquitous use of super glue around the world.

There are thousands of examples like this, from eBay to 3M.

Having a long-term focus on product development and product management enables us to capture, create, and deliver as much value as possible for both customers and the organization.

Taking an idea from one industry and looking to apply it in another, completely different industry, is a hallmark of mature product development teams. We see their creativity, ingenuity, and collaborative cocreation with customers impact and disrupt industries all the time.

So, this is why agile experts encourage organizations and teams to shift from project management to product management, and product development. The product gets better with time, the team become more effective with time, and the organizations benefits a great deal more with each improvement and application of the product.

About Advanced Product Delivery

APD offer private, tailored training courses as well as business agility and coaching. Our public training courses are delivered by practicing Agilists: Product Owners, Scrum Masters and coaches who are expert trainers and facilitators.

Whether you are looking to become a #scrummaster or #agilecoach, we have a range of internationally certified and recognised #agiletraining courses that are perfect for you. Visit https://www.apd.coach/training-courses/ for more information.

If you are looking for professional, deeply experienced and skilled #agilecoaches and #agileconsultants to help you transition from traditional #projectmanagement to #agile #productdevelopment, we've got the ideal team to help you make that transition a success. Visit https://www.apd.coach/about-apd/ to find out more about us.

If you have identified Lean Agile Procurement as a great opportunity to enhance #agility within your organization, visit our Lean Agile Procurement page on https://www.apd.coach/training-courses/lean-agile-...

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