Book Review:Project to Product-Part 1

Book Review:Project to Product-Part 1

Recently I read the book “Project To Product” by Mik Kersten. It helped me to connect how Agile and DevOps practices can be integrated with value stream mapping and measurement framework. Typically the Agile practices are adopted within IT. The value stream mapping within Business operations. They generally stay separate with very few attempts to look at a bigger picture and connect these practices. The Project to Product book will help you to put these together.  

 Most of us would have worked in an organizations which has a practice of annual budgeting. There is also heavy emphasis on executing projects are executed. The entire organization design, performance measurements and teams are structured to support with this operating model. In this scenario, it is common to see leaders strive to complete the projects on time, within budget and claim success at the end of the year, just in time for their yearly performance reviews.  

 If you have been in the industry long enough you would struggled with a disconnect between project success rate and the business outcome realize. Many projects succeed, the leaders get bonuses and promotions but at the same time, the business unit or the entire organization fail to meet its objectives or market demands.  

 There are many examples of this, especially in the tech industry, starting from Nokia, to troubles at IBM and Microsoft. Mik explains the limitations of Project management framework. He takes up the challenges that Nokia, Microsoft, and Equifax went through to illustrate them.  As we are getting into an age of software, most industries rely heavily on their software systems to add value. But many are not built from ground up as a software product organizations. So they still leverage the project oriented practices and operating models. Their IT department which was viewed as a cost center, is transitioning fast into a profit center. Even as IT has a very large impact on business the tools used to allocate resources, track and measure outcomes are insulated from business. The IT is still largely a black-box for business.  

 You might have come across instances where IT intake and prioritization happens once a year. There is very little flexibility & empowerment of business teams to re-prioritize and pivot during the year. Is there an alternative model? A move which can bring agility and alignment to better meet the market dynamics? 

 Agile and DevOps practices are being adopted by IT as a means to address the above issues. After many training, certifications, workshops, dashboards and adoption of new tools, the above challenges and disconnect still exist . Where are we going wrong? What is the missing piece in this puzzle? Mik Kristen proposes Flow Framework as an answer. I will cover what I learnt about Flow Framework in part 2 of this post.

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