Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter

2008-08-11

Is it a project or is it a product?

For me, working at a product compay, I had big problems when reading literature on software development. Everything concerned projects but we have a product. Big difference. And yet not. I believe that you, indifferent of you working in a project or working with a product, benefit from taking both perspectives.

With that I mean that sometimes you should look at your work as part of a project and sometimes you should see the product. And if you look from one of the perspectives, you should try switching to the other. Just to see what you are missing.

For example, if you're working in a project to implement a new software to your organisation and you're discussing deployment. Think of it as a product. Think how you're going to handle updates, bugs, new versions of components, etc. Think of implementing the software at multiple organisations. This might not be the case right now, but what if the organisation buy another company or is split. I don't say build for that scenario but it gives interesting thoughts which might change your priorities. And also, the users might not understand that something like that could be a problem and there is really a plan to implement the system on another team. Yes, we're doing Boston now but we plan to move on to the Dallas department later. No problem? Well, what if both have installed but want to run different versions or have different environment to deploy on. Building for operations was not the reason for me going into the software industry but that is really what makes it hard and interesting. It's not like in the good old days when the big system was built and it hanged on until it died and was replaced.

The project view is good when applying agility: if you're working at a product company you might not see the end of it. What is a product burndown chart when we don't know how many versions we're going to build? Well, in this case I see every release as it's own project and if I just focus on getting that to work, that is something I can handle.

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