For many CIOs, CTOs, and IT teams, it’s easy to get lost in projects. And, it’s just as easy to drop a project when it is finished, ready to move on to the next to-do. As you re-examine your priorities, consider shifting away from this project-based thinking and more toward productizing.
Productized IT solutions and services are all about taking what would typically be a one-to-one service and packaging it with other services. People can access entire packages of solutions, customized to their needs rather than adopting many individual services.
For your customers or end-user staff, it might look like packaging the tech product with services that ensure it continues to work as intended, like maintenance. On the internal side, the tech team that implements a project is also responsible for maintaining and improving the result, after it’s introduction.
Essentially, instead of just completing a project and walking away, CIOs and CTOs can push toward a full-service approach, giving users everything they need.
Where Projects Fall Apart
While the IT world often revolves around projects, often the practices and process come before people. And, in real life, that often translates to significant failure rates. One study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, reviewing 10,640 projects, found that only 2.5 percent of the companies completed all of their projects.
The same article highlights the cost of struggling projects, with a study that found the average cost overrun for IT projects is 27 percent. Worse, one in six projects has a cost overrun of 200 percent and a schedule overrun of 70 percent. Ultimately, with an estimated IT project failure rate between five and 15 percent, that’s $50 billion to $150 billion annually in the United States.
Gallup says most IT projects fail because of that focus on process, policy and procedure, leaving out human emotion. While it’s common for CIOs, CTOs, and others involved in tech to focus on rational components of projects, the emotional factors impact success.
The idea is to update project management to think about not just how to do the job, but the outcome if the job goes well. Productization can help with this shift, ensuring that everyone understands the impact of moving away from purely project-based thinking.
Why Productization Matters
Productizing your IT solutions has many benefits. Productizing IT services means you can introduce repeatable processes and technology automation. That, of course, saves you money and adds efficiency to everything you do.
Productizing simplifies the journey for customers and end users. They can look at the packages your organization offers and choose what works for their needs instead of having to investigate and negotiate. That means productization simplifies the journey for staff within the organization as well, with as much information as possible available up-front.
Productizing IT services means you are creating a scalable business model. Instead of having to hold yourself back based on the amount of work you can do offering services, you are working with products. Products are tangible units, and if you are putting more of them out, you can scale your team accordingly.
Perhaps most critically, productizing IT means defining the scope of what you do. We have all been involved with projects that seem to get bigger, more complex, and more unwieldily by the day. Productized services eliminate that problem, clearly defining the scope of every project from start to finish (and, of course, maintenance!).
Case Study: Walmart’s CIO
In this 2018 Forbes article, Walmart CIO Clay Johnson’s approach to productizing takes the spotlight. Johnson notes that a big priority of his, at the time, was to move to a product model with end-to-end ownership. Explaining that traditional corporate IT involves a lot of fragmentation, he says that approach makes it hard to be efficient and know what decisions to make.
Johnson said Walmart rolled out the productization model in pockets across the company. They also combined it with artificial intelligence and process automation to be even more efficient.
Walmart also productizes data, and a huge amount of it with several million customers serviced each week. If the company translates the insights it gets from data analysis into scalable models that power data products, it realizes more value. And, much like productizing IT solutions, this generates cost savings and reduces redundancy.
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