Six years ago, my colleague Matt Hotle wrote a piece of what Gartner calls Maverick Research – breakthrough, innovative and disruptive ideas from our research incubator. Maverick* Research: The Shift From Projects to Products Will Drive Major Application Organization Changes (2011) accurately predicted a major shift in how enterprises will change their approach to application portfolio management and application strategy.
We are finding many companies large and small embracing the product-centric approach. Instead of planning projects to make changes to their applications, they are constantly evolving the software like an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) would, regardless of whether the “customer” is the enterprise’s paying customer or an internal user of the application. Product road maps chart the course of new capabilities to be added and their priority.
A product-centric approach usually goes hand in hand with adopting agile development at scale. A product road map is a lot like a back log of stories but at a higher level and providing a future vision of where the product is going. Governance changes from approving projects to approving allocation of a team or teams to execute the road map. Like all things agile, the road map is subject to reprioritization as the team learns more about what the customer needs and finds valuable.
Digital business is also forcing this shift. By its nature, digital is exploratory Mode 2 work best done using agile methods. The resulting digital service is a product that you sell to a customer and requires disciplined product management. Finally, the new application architectures needed to build a digital service blur the lines of what an application is. Mike Gilpin and Richard Marshall recently published Reinventing Applications as Products for the Digital World exploring this trend.
I’ll continue to track the evolution of product-centric application management in future posts.
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