Written by Kevin Heisey
on May 10, 2022

Organizations across the commercial and public sectors are becoming Product-centric and transitioning away from traditional Project Management practices. Why? Product Management is inherently driven by customers and business value rather than stringent timelines or fixed scope. Product-focused teams study customer objectives, motivations and pain points to define the problems that new Products should address. Then they embark on an incremental Product Development process, driven by user feedback, which leads to rapid improvement and Products that successfully meet customer needs.

A Product approach ensures that optimal products are developed, streamlines Product Development, reduces go-to-market time and delivers value quickly. The first step in becoming Product-centric requires setting a transformation vision by sharing a clear strategy, empowering your teams, changing your organizational structure to support being Product-centric and starting with small iterations to quickly deliver value, demonstrate success and build momentum to increases buy-in for the change.

Share a Clear Strategy

A clear strategy unites Stakeholders behind a shared purpose while also establishing a strategic direction to guide your resources and efforts. Clear, strategic goals ensure that you create Products that deliver the best value. Once strategy is set, you have direction to create a Lean Roadmap, which is an outcome-based document stating how you will achieve your desired outcome. The Lean Roadmap should guide you toward the outcome but not prescribe a specific process or timeframe, which gives you agility to adapt to changing needs or market conditions.

Empower Teams

A Product approach features wider autonomy and works best with self-organized teams that are closest to the problem and customers, allowing them to operate and react with agility. Empowered teams drive transformation by keeping everyone motivated and involved with the agility to quickly address problems that arise throughout the Product Life Cycle. Trusting your teams to make decisions and own their work reinforces the customer-focus that is the driving feature of a Product Mindset. Teams are directly guided by what works best for the customer rather than having to wait on approvals and direction from elsewhere in the organization.

Change Organizational Structures

Autonomous Product teams don’t work well in traditional hierarchical organizational structures. Longer chains of command bring additional layers of approval required to get things done which reduces team flexibility and takes focus away from the customer. Product transformation requires a holistic view of an organization’s ecosystems. An ecosystem needs optimization of the entire system – not just a part – to implement new ways of working. Often, organizations restrict the focus of transformation to only technology functions. Technology functions, however, do not exist in silos and depend on multiple entities within the organization to deliver value. Functions such as Marketing, Legal, Contracting, Business, Security, etc. need to transform in a way that facilitates adoption of enterprise-wide agility. Alignment between enterprise and function objectives is necessary to achieve the larger, big picture business outcomes.

Start Small and Deliver Value Early

Iterative delivery of value in smaller chunks is a great way to increase buy-in. Early successes demonstrate the effectiveness of the new ways of working and build momentum for the overall transformation. The shorter work cycles that come with small iterations help teams deliver value early and often. Decompose larger Products into smaller chunks and deliver iteratively, starting with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that is both immediately useful to customers and provides teams with insights into how customers are using the Product. Working this way also helps mitigate risk by providing opportunities to identify issues and course correct, integrate emerging technologies and address evolving user needs.

Download the Set a Transformation Vision infographic that is part of our Become a Product-centric Organization series for tips on how to get started on your organization’s Product journey.