In my career I had the opportunity to work on projects and products, and it didn’t occur to me until now. My projects were someone else’s products.
What’s the difference between projects and products? There are quite a few, but the most important one is, that a project has a beginning and an end, with a clearly defined result. A product on the other hand is never finished and evolves over time.
It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Let’s say you work for a consulting company and have been contracted to build an app for your customer. Together you define the scope, the plan, and agree on a price (even if it’s just a range depending on the actual work). You get to work, you ship the app, the customer signs off. Your work is done. Your project is done. But for the app you’ve built it’s just the beginning.
The app will now be used like a product. Like a product, it will have issues and it will need support. Like a product, it will require monitoring and regular maintenance/updates. Like a product, once people start using it, they’ll have feedback: suggestions for improvement or new features. And it all will continue as long as people use the app.
And it’s not just apps. Intranets, business process automation, monitoring solutions are all products.
Yes, you’re in a project organization and are contracted by customers for specific projects. But your projects are their products. So the next time you’re working on a project, what if you approached it as if you’re building a product? How would it change the way you collaborate with your customer? What would it mean for your relationship? What opportunities would it give you?
Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash