The Complete Guide

Project to Product The Move For Every Successful Executive Leader

  

Introduction

Embarking on the project to product movement, organizations are navigating a transformative journey from traditional, project-based models towards a more adaptive, product-centric paradigm, especially pertinent in the context of evolving market dynamics and technological advancements.

A century ago, the inception of the industrial era sculpted companies with a manufacturing-centric lens, where the organizational architecture was meticulously crafted to optimize production, invariably pivoting towards cost reduction as a paramount objective.

The essence was to manufacture voluminously and economically, aligning every facet of the company towards this singular goal, thereby creating entities that were fundamentally optimized for cost-efficiency.

Contrastingly, the digital era heralds a paradigmatic shift in organizational construction and purpose. Modern companies are being sculpted not for mere cost optimization but are being intricately designed for speed and adaptability. In this digitally-dominated landscape, the emphasis is on swiftly introducing products to the market, harnessing feedback, and iteratively enhancing them to align with evolving customer needs and preferences.

The organizational ethos has pivoted from a static, cost-centric model to one that champions dynamism, continuous improvement, and speed to market, embodying the essence of the "project to product" movement, which seeks to navigate through the complexities and opportunities of the contemporary, digital age.

  

What is the project to product movement?

The project to product movement is a method of turning projects into products, allowing organizations to deliver value to customers more quickly and efficiently.

Instead of just finishing individual projects, the project to product movement aims to create organizations that are built to deliver products and to continuously improve the method of transforming concepts into worthwhile goods.

Organizations are constantly searching for ways to streamline their processes and increase efficiency in the fast-paced and fiercely competitive business environment of today.

This method’s objective is to get rid of waste and inefficiencies so that resources and time may be used to concentrate on producing a high-quality product, which is what counts most.

  

Major Differences

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The dichotomy between a project and a product mindset is not merely a semantic distinction but underscores a fundamental divergence in approach, objectives, and methodologies, you can find 15 major differences between these two paradigms

  
Difference I

Project To Product Funding

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Traditional budgeting, often employed by project organizations, involves a meticulous, often annual, planning process where every expense is anticipated, justified, and allocated before the commencement of the fiscal year.

This method, while providing a structured financial framework, can be rigid and potentially stifle rapid response to emerging opportunities or challenges.

Conversely, lean budgeting, commonly adopted by product organizations, embraces agility and flexibility. It allocates resources to value streams or pools instead of specific projects, thereby enabling teams to pivot and reallocate funds swiftly in response to changing market demands, customer needs, or strategic shifts.

This approach facilitates a more adaptive, customer-centric strategy, allowing organizations to innovate and adjust their course as needed to continuously deliver value and maintain a competitive edge in the volatile business landscape if you want to know more about this topic just follow this complete article: Project To Product Funding For Executive Leaders.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company applying Lean Budgeting? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference II

Project To Product Success

Project-to-Product-Ind2

Project organizations traditionally emphasize outputs, which are tangible deliverables or artifacts produced by the conclusion of a project, adhering to predefined scopes, timelines, and budgets. The success of a project is often gauged by its adherence to these parameters and the quality of the produced deliverables.

On the other hand, product companies pivot towards outcomes, which are the results or impacts derived from utilizing a product. The spotlight here is on delivering continuous value and impact to the customer and the business, often through iterative cycles and perpetual enhancements to the product.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company defining success by the way it solves customers' problems? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference III

Project To Product Requirements

Project-to-Product-Ind3

In a project-oriented framework, there is often a pronounced emphasis on fixed requirements, where the scope, objectives, and deliverables are defined upfront and alterations are typically minimized to control timelines and budgets.

This approach, while providing clear direction and predictability, may lack the flexibility to adapt to evolving market demands or customer expectations.

In contrast, product companies tend to embody a more adaptive and customer-centric philosophy, where the ongoing and changing needs of the customer are paramount.

This approach prioritizes flexibility and responsiveness, enabling the company to pivot and refine the product iteratively, ensuring it remains relevant, valuable, and aligned with customer expectations and market trends.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company adapting to changing needs? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference IV

Project To Product Teams

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Project organizations often tend to 'ramp up' teams, scaling resources to meet the demands of a particular project, and subsequently 'ramp down' upon its completion.

This modus operandi, while efficient from a resource-allocation perspective, can sometimes neglect the cultivation of long-term team synergy and expertise.

In contrast, product companies typically invest in building stable, enduring teams, nurturing expertise, cohesion, and a deep understanding of the product and customer over time.

This approach not only fosters a robust, collaborative environment but also ensures that the accumulated knowledge and skills are retained and refined, thereby enhancing the product’s evolution and adaptation to the market.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company building dedicated long-lived teams? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference V

Project To Product Leadership

Project-to-Product-Ind5In project organizations, a project manager takes the helm, steering the team towards the successful delivery of a predefined output, within stipulated timeframes and budget constraints.

Their role is often deeply intertwined with planning, executing, monitoring, and closing projects, ensuring that the objectives are met while adhering to the defined scope and quality standards.

Conversely, in product companies, a product manager assumes a pivotal role, acting as an advocate for the product throughout its entire lifecycle. Their focus extends beyond delivery, encompassing the ongoing adaptation and evolution of the product to meet changing market demands and customer needs.

The product manager often navigates between various stakeholders, including customers, development teams, and business leaders, ensuring the product’s continuous alignment with business goals and customer satisfaction.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company assigning a Product Manager to lead the Product? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference VI

Project To Product Lifecycle

Project-to-Product-Ind6In the realm of project organizations, endeavors are typically encapsulated within defined boundaries, having a clear beginning and end. Projects are initiated, planned, executed, and subsequently closed upon achieving the predetermined objectives, often within a specified time frame and budget.

This finite nature necessitates a focus on adherence to scope, timelines, and cost constraints, ensuring the delivery of specified outputs.

In stark contrast, product companies embrace a more enduring, continuous perspective, wherein products are developed, launched, and perpetually evolved over a much longer lifetime.

The focus here transcends initial launch, delving into ongoing enhancement, adaptation, and potentially, eventual obsolescence or transformation, always to perpetually deliver and optimize value to the customer and the business.

So the question that I have for you is:

Does your company understand Product has a long lifecycle? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference VII

Project To Product Value Delivery 

Project-to-Product-Ind7Project organizations, with their defined beginnings and ends, sometimes face challenges in delivering standalone value purely from the confines of a single project.

The value is often tied to the successful delivery of the project’s outputs, which may or may not directly translate to tangible benefits or impacts for the end users or the business without subsequent initiatives or deployments.

In contrast, product companies, with their enduring, customer-centric focus, inherently strive to deliver standalone value through the products they develop and manage.

The value is embedded in the product itself, which is continuously nurtured and evolved to meet, and ideally exceed, customer needs and expectations over time. This intrinsic value is not only tangible but is also perpetually optimized, ensuring that the product remains relevant, competitive, and valuable throughout its lifecycle.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company delivering stand-alone value with your product? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference VIII

Project To Product Change Management

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Project organizations often utilize a "Change Management Control" approach, wherein any alteration to the predefined scope, timeline, or resources is meticulously managed and typically minimized to ensure the project adheres to its original objectives and constraints.

This structured, somewhat rigid approach aims to mitigate risks and maintain control over the project’s trajectory, ensuring delivery as per the initial plan.

Conversely, product organizations tend to embrace evolving needs as a fundamental aspect of their operation. Recognizing that customer requirements, market dynamics, and technological landscapes are perpetually in flux, product organizations prioritize adaptability and continuous improvement.

They inherently build mechanisms to iteratively refine and evolve the product, ensuring it consistently aligns with and ideally anticipates, emerging needs and opportunities.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company adapting fast and delivering relevant solutions to solving customer needs? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference IX

Project To Product Value Delivery Timeline

Project-to-Product-Ind9Project organizations typically operate on a model where value is predominantly delivered at the end of the project. This means that the culmination of efforts, resources, and time invested is realized once the project reaches its completion, and the final deliverable or solution is handed over.

The emphasis here is on meeting the predefined objectives within the stipulated time frame and budget.

In contrast, product organizations champion an "Incremental Value Delivery" approach. Here, value is not just a singular endgame but is continuously and iteratively delivered throughout the product's lifecycle.

As products evolve, adapt, and improve in response to feedback, market changes, or technological advancements, they consistently offer new features, enhancements, or solutions, ensuring that stakeholders and customers receive benefits at regular intervals.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company delivering value incrementally? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference X

Project To Product Customer

Project-to-Product-Ind10In a typical project organization, once a project is completed, the deliverables or outputs are usually handed over to a business owner or a similar internal stakeholder.

This entity then becomes responsible for implementing, maintaining, or deriving value from the project outcomes within the operational business environment. The project team’s involvement commonly diminishes post-handover, and their focus shifts to subsequent projects.

In contrast, product organizations adopt a customer-centric delivery model, where products are developed, refined, and delivered directly to the end customer. The product team remains integrally involved throughout the product’s lifecycle, ensuring continuous alignment with customer needs, feedback, and market dynamics.

This ongoing engagement allows for iterative enhancements and adaptations, ensuring sustained value delivery and alignment with evolving customer expectations.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company continuously delivering value to your customers? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference XI

Project To Product Improvement

Project-to-Product-Ind11In project organizations, learning is often formalized and encapsulated in a "lessons learned" phase, typically conducted at the end of the project. This retrospective approach seeks to capture insights, challenges, and successes experienced throughout the project to inform and enhance future initiatives.

While valuable, this post-completion learning can sometimes miss the opportunity to implement insights and improvements in real time.

Conversely, product organizations embed a philosophy of continuous learning throughout the product development lifecycle. Learning is not deferred to a concluding phase but is an ongoing, integral component of the product management and development process.

Through regular feedback loops, iterative development, and continuous deployment, insights are perpetually garnered and immediately applied, ensuring the product not only evolves in real time but also that the team consistently refines its practices and solutions.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company continuously learning and applying retrospectives at all levels of the organisation? Are you ready to make the transformation from project to product?

  
Difference XII

Project To Product Metrics

Project-to-Product-Ind12In project organizations, reporting is often meticulously aligned with the delivery of predefined deliverables, adherence to timelines, and management of budgets.

The success metrics are predominantly tethered to the project’s ability to produce specified outputs within the agreed-upon constraints, and reporting thus revolves around tracking and communicating progress, variances, and risks relative to these parameters.

Conversely, product organizations tend to orient their reporting around impact. The spotlight here is not merely on delivering features or adhering to schedules but on the tangible and sustained impact that the product imparts to its users and the business.

Metrics such as user engagement, customer satisfaction, revenue generation, and market penetration become pivotal, providing a lens through which the product’s success and trajectory are evaluated and communicated, if you want to know more about this topic check this article: "Project To Product Metrics The Guide For Leaders".

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company reporting business impact? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference XIII

Project To Product Data

Project-to-Product-Ind13Project organizations, traditionally, may not heavily leverage customer data in their operations, as their primary objective is often to deliver a predefined output, adhering to stipulated requirements, timelines, and budgets. The success metrics here are largely internal, revolving around adherence to project parameters and the quality of deliverables.

In stark contrast, product companies embed a robust data strategy at the core of their operations to intricately understand how customers interact with their products. This involves analyzing user behaviors, preferences, pain points, and journeys to inform continuous product development and enhancement.

The insights derived from customer data not only shape the product’s features and functionalities but also inform marketing strategies, customer support, and overall user experience, ensuring alignment with customer needs and maximizing value delivery.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company implementing a Data Strategy? Are you ready to make the transformation from project to product?

  
Difference XIV

Project To Product Marketing

Project-to-Product-Ind14Project organizations, particularly those adhering to traditional models, might employ conventional marketing strategies which could be characterized by linear approaches, such as direct sales, print advertising, and trade shows, focusing on showcasing the capabilities and results of their projects to potential clients or stakeholders.

These strategies, while potentially effective in certain contexts, might not fully leverage the capabilities of modern, digital marketing practices.

On the other hand, product companies often immerse themselves in the dynamic world of digital marketing, utilizing comprehensive strategies that encompass various content-rich funnels to engage, nurture, and convert leads. By leveraging SEO, content marketing, social media, email campaigns, and data analytics, product companies are able to create a continuous, interactive, and personalized journey for their prospects.

This approach not only facilitates a deeper understanding and connection with their audience but also allows for agile adaptations to changing customer needs and market trends.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company designing a complete Digital Marketing strategy to acquire new customers? Are you ready to make the transformation from project to product?

  
Difference XV

Project To Product Organisation

Project-to-Product-Ind15Project organizations traditionally structure themselves around functional departments, where teams are grouped based on their specialized skills and expertise, such as engineering, marketing, or finance.

Projects might traverse through these departments, each contributing its piece to the puzzle, often in a sequential and compartmentalized manner. This structure, while facilitating deep functional expertise, might sometimes create silos and hinder cross-functional collaboration.

In contrast, product companies often orient themselves around value streams, ensuring that all the skills and resources necessary to deliver continuous value to the customer are embedded within a singular, cross-functional team.

This team, often led by a product manager, collaborates cohesively across traditional functional boundaries, ensuring that the product evolves in a holistic and customer-centric manner, if you want to know more about this topic just follow this complete article: Project to Product Organization For Executive Leaders.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company designed around value streams? Are you ready to make the transformation from project to product?

  
Difference XVI

Project To Product Agility

Project-to-Product-Ind16In project organizations, agility is commonly applied predominantly within the development phase. Agile methodologies here facilitate iterative development, enabling teams to adapt to changes and incorporate feedback during the creation of the project deliverables.

However, this agility often doesn’t permeate the entire organization, and other aspects such as strategy formulation, planning, and delivery might still adhere to more traditional, plan-driven approaches.

Conversely, product companies often embed agility throughout the entire organizational spectrum, from strategy through to delivery. This holistic application of agility ensures that not only is the product developed in an adaptive, iterative manner, but the overarching strategy, planning, and delivery mechanisms are also imbued with a capacity for flexibility, responsiveness, and continuous improvement.

This enables product companies to nimbly navigate through the volatile market, ensuring alignment with evolving customer needs and maintaining a competitive edge.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company applying Agility on the business side? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference XVII

Project To Product Product Discovery

Project-to-Product-Ind18Project organizations, traditionally, are bound by a commitment to deliver precisely against the stipulated requirements, even if during the development process, market needs shift or evolve.

The rigidity of project scopes and the emphasis on adhering to predefined deliverables and timelines can sometimes result in the delivery of a product that, while meeting the initial specifications, may not necessarily resonate with current market demands or customer preferences.

In stark contrast, product companies often employ Digital Product Discovery, a methodology that intertwines product development with continuous market validation.

This approach ensures that every feature, enhancement, or product developed is not only aligned with current market needs but is also validated by potential or existing customers, thereby significantly mitigating the risk of developing solutions that are misaligned with market demands.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company integrating Product Discovery into your product development? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  
Difference XVIII

Project To Product Owner

Project-to-Product-Ind17In project organizations, the IT department often takes the reins, driving the project from inception through to delivery.

The focus here is predominantly on utilizing technological capabilities to deliver the predefined project outputs, ensuring that the technical aspects, such as infrastructure, software, and data, are aligned with the project requirements.

The IT department, in this context, often navigates through the technical complexities and challenges to ensure that the project adheres to its stipulated timelines, scope, and budget.

Conversely, in product companies, the product team typically leads the charge, steering the product through its entire lifecycle.

Rather than being purely technology-focused, the product team amalgamates technological expertise with business acumen, customer insights, and market awareness to ensure that the product not only is technologically sound but also delivers sustained value to customers and aligns with business objectives.

So the question that I have for you is:

Is your company's Product team driving the entire product development? Are you ready to transform project to product?

  

Project To Product Framework

As we delve deeper into the intricacies of transitioning from a project to a product mindset, it becomes imperative to explore a structured, strategic approach that can guide organizations through this transformative journey.

The myriad differences and shifts in perspective, as detailed in the preceding sections, underscore the necessity of a robust methodology that can navigate through the complexities and challenges inherent in such a transformation.

Enter the ADAPT Methodology® – a comprehensive, nuanced approach designed to facilitate a smooth, effective transition, ensuring that organizations not only navigate through the change but also emerge more resilient, agile, and customer-centric.

The ADAPT Methodology® is not merely a set of prescriptive steps but a holistic, encompassing philosophy that permeates through every facet of an organization, ensuring that the transition from project to product is not just a strategic shift, but a cultural, operational, and organizational metamorphosis.

It is meticulously crafted to address the multifaceted challenges and nuances that organizations encounter as they traverse through this transformation, providing them with the tools, insights, and strategies to navigate through the change effectively and sustainably.

Join us in the following section as we dissect the ADAPT Methodology®, providing you with a roadmap that is not just theoretical but steeped in practicality, ensuring your organization is adeptly navigated through the transformative journey from project to product, ensuring continuity, sustainability, and perpetual value delivery in an ever-evolving business landscape.

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APPROACH
The Approach pillar exists to solve one of the most important problems that leaders face: a complete approach end to end to create awareness and generate sales for their Digital Product!

DATA
The Data pillar exists to help leaders to organise and have a better understanding of customer habits and reactions to their digital products. In the Digital Era, a company cannot exist without taking into account a good strategy for how the data will be used.

AGILITY
The Agility Pillar exists to transform software development organizations into agile, flexible, and fast digital operational companies, resulting in improved time-to-market

PRODUCT
The Product pillar exists to Improve the odds of success by learning to design a winning product strategy, develop viable business models, and discover the right product for the right audience.

TRANSFORMATION
The Transform pillar exists to help you restructure your organization in order to create an organization that is optimized for speed and product-centric. You will be able to change direction quickly, break the necessary hierarchies, and create coalitions between executives and the operational layer.

  

Project To Product  Transformation Roadmap

For you to implement a Project To Product Transformation we recommend a 16-month project as described below, this suggestion is for an organization of 150-200 people.

If you have a bigger organization we recommend you implement this Project To Product  Roadmap every three months with new parts of the organization, always learning from previous implementations.

AgileTransformationRoadmap-01

  

Conclusion

In a world where digital transformation is not just an option but a necessity, the shift from a project to a product mindset becomes pivotal for organizations aiming to remain relevant and competitive.

The "project to product" movement, as elucidated in the article, is not merely a change in operational methodology but a holistic transformation that permeates through every facet of an organization. I

t demands a reevaluation and recalibration of strategies, structures, and practices to ensure sustained value delivery to customers and alignment with evolving market dynamics.

The ADAPT Methodology® emerges as a beacon, guiding organizations through this complex metamorphosis, ensuring that the transition is not just strategic but also encompasses cultural, operational, and organizational dimensions.

Organizations embarking on this journey must navigate through the intricacies of change management, continuously aligning their strategies, operations, and products with the ever-evolving needs of the customer and the market, thereby ensuring not just survival but thriving in the digital age.

Reflective Questions

  1. Adaptability and Continuous Improvement:
    • How does your organization currently navigate through the complexities of changing market demands and technological advancements to ensure sustained value delivery to customers?
  2. Customer-Centricity and Value Delivery:
    • In what ways does your organization ensure that the products developed are not only technologically sound but also continuously aligned with customer needs and business objectives?
  3. Holistic Organizational Transformation:
    • How prepared is your organization to embark on a transformative journey that encompasses strategic, cultural, and operational shifts toward a product-centric paradigm, and how can the ADAPT Methodology® facilitate this transition?
  

Did you like this article?

We enable leaders to become highly valued and recognized to make an impact on the World by helping them to design Digital Product Companies that will thrive and nourish in the Digital Age, we do this by applying our own ADAPT Methodology®.

If you are interested in knowing if you have what it takes to design and build a great digital product company simply take our Digital Leadership Influence Scorecard.

If you want to know how we can help you to start your transformation please check out our: Training.

If you are interested in doing a transformation in your company please check out our: Consulting.

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Author

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Luis Gonçalves

Founder and Creator of ADAPT Methodology®

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