By: A Staff Writer
Updated on: Jul 18, 2023
IT Product Model is a foundational organizing framework to align the technology team with business strategy and objectives.
We aim to demystify the innovative IT Product Model and illuminate how it’s transforming the world of information technology (IT) in businesses large and small.
The IT Product Model is a paradigm shift in how organizations conceive of and manage their IT operations. It reframes IT not as a series of projects with defined start and end points but as a portfolio of ‘products’ or ‘services.’ These products or services, maintained and improved by dedicated cross-functional teams, persist over time, fostering a continuous lifecycle of innovation and improvement.
Each team takes end-to-end responsibility for its respective product or service, from design and development to testing, deployment, maintenance, and ongoing enhancement. This approach brings the business and IT closer together, aligning each IT product team’s work directly with specific business outcomes and promoting a culture of ownership, accountability, and customer-centricity.
The digital age is characterized by rapid change and increasing complexity. To navigate these waters, businesses need IT departments that are agile, efficient, and closely aligned with business goals. Traditional project-based IT models often fall short of these needs, leading to siloed operations, misaligned goals, and missed opportunities for innovation.
Transforming traditional IT operations into an IT Product Model is no longer a matter of choice but a strategic necessity. This shift can enhance the speed and quality of service delivery, improve customer satisfaction, and unlock opportunities for innovation and growth.
The transition to the IT Product Model represents a significant paradigm shift. Traditionally, organizations have managed their IT operations as a collection of individual projects, each with a defined scope and a specific timeline. These project-centric models, however, often create silos and hinder end-to-end visibility, limiting the ability of IT to deliver maximum business value.
The IT Product Model breaks down these silos by transitioning from a project-focused mindset to a product-centric approach. In this model, IT operations are organized around enduring ‘products’ or ‘services’. These IT products persist beyond the confines of individual project timelines and embody a continuous lifecycle of development, enhancement, and improvement. This shift empowers IT departments to be more responsive, efficient, and aligned with the ever-evolving business needs.
Several essential elements define the IT Product Model:
Adopting the IT Product Model can deliver substantial business value. Here are a few key benefits:
In essence, the IT Product Model offers a robust framework for transforming IT operations into a strategic asset that drives business value and innovation.
The primary distinction between the IT Product Model and traditional IT operating models lies in their fundamental approach to managing IT operations. Traditional models typically view IT operations as a series of discrete, time-bound projects. Each project has a distinct start and end date, with specific deliverables and outcomes.
On the other hand, the IT Product Model reframes IT operations around enduring ‘products’ or ‘services’, managed by dedicated, cross-functional teams. Each product persists beyond the confines of individual project timelines and embodies a continuous lifecycle of improvement and innovation. This reframing brings IT closer to the business, aligning each IT product team’s work directly with specific business outcomes.
Traditional IT operating models, while successful in many contexts, often exhibit several potential pitfalls:
The IT Product Model introduces several significant advantages over traditional IT operating models:
While the IT Product Model and traditional IT operating models have their places, the former’s focus on product-centricity, agility, and close alignment with business outcomes suits it particularly today’s dynamic business environment.
The IT Product Model bestows upon each cross-functional team the end-to-end responsibility for their respective product or service. This broad mandate encompasses every product lifecycle stage, from initial design and development to ongoing maintenance and continual enhancement.
By owning the entire lifecycle, teams comprehensively understand their product’s functionality, dependencies, and impact on business outcomes. This complete ownership fosters a deep sense of accountability and responsibility and empowers teams to make informed decisions and swiftly address issues, leading to better product performance and customer satisfaction.
Unlike traditional models that focus on delivering specific outputs within discrete project timelines, the IT Product Model embraces a continuous lifecycle approach. This methodology encourages a culture of ongoing improvement and innovation, keeping each IT product or service relevant, competitive, and valuable over time.
Continuous improvement involves regularly assessing each IT product’s performance and user feedback to identify opportunities for enhancement. These insights drive iterative changes and refinements to the product, ultimately leading to better quality, increased efficiency, and higher user satisfaction.
Focusing on continuous innovation allows teams to proactively anticipate and adapt to evolving business and customer needs. By staying abreast of technological trends and market dynamics, teams can introduce innovative features and capabilities into their products, thereby driving business value and maintaining a competitive edge.
One of the standout attributes of the IT Product Model is its explicit alignment with specific business outcomes. Every IT product or service ties directly to strategic business objectives, ensuring the work of the IT product teams contributes to the broader business goals.
This alignment serves two crucial functions. First, it helps prioritize IT initiatives based on their potential business impact, ensuring resources and efforts are directed towards the most value-generating activities. Second, it fosters a shared understanding and collaboration between IT and business stakeholders, leading to more informed decision-making and better business outcomes.
The IT Product Model’s lifecycle approach, emphasizing end-to-end responsibility, continuous improvement, and explicit alignment with business outcomes, transforms IT operations into strategic enablers of business value and innovation.
Assembling the right team is a critical first step toward successfully implementing the IT Product Model. Each team should include diverse skills and expertise, encompassing all the capabilities required to manage the product lifecycle effectively.
Typically, a team would comprise members with skills in areas such as product management, software development, testing, operations, and user experience design. It’s also essential to consider softer skills like problem-solving, communication, and collaboration, as these are crucial for effective teamwork.
Selecting team members is not just about their individual capabilities but also about how these skills complement each other. An ideal team should be a well-rounded unit capable of addressing various challenges and opportunities throughout the product lifecycle.
In the IT Product Model, teams have end-to-end responsibility for their respective products. Encouraging a sense of ownership and accountability within these teams is therefore paramount.
Ownership implies that teams have both the authority and the responsibility to make decisions about their products. They should feel empowered to make choices, take risks, and innovate in pursuit of the best product outcomes.
Conversely, accountability ensures that teams understand they are answerable for the results of their decisions. It promotes transparency and trust, pushing teams to deliver their best work and continuously strive for improvement.
To foster this culture of ownership and accountability, leadership must clearly communicate expectations, provide the necessary resources and support, and recognize and reward teams for their achievements.
A crucial element of the IT Product Model is a strong focus on the customer. After all, each IT product’s ultimate goal is to deliver value to its end users. Promoting a customer-centric culture within the team can significantly enhance this value delivery.
A customer-centric team consistently puts the needs and experiences of the customer at the forefront of their decision-making process. This could involve using customer feedback to inform product enhancements, conducting user experience research to optimize product design, or collaborating closely with customers to co-create solutions.
Emphasizing customer-centricity improves the quality and relevance of the IT products and fosters stronger relationships with customers, enhancing their satisfaction and loyalty.
Building effective cross-functional teams for IT products involves carefully selecting members based on skills and expertise, fostering a culture of ownership and accountability, and promoting customer-centricity. These elements, when combined, can dramatically improve the performance and business value of your IT products.
Defining your IT products and services is the first step towards operationalizing the IT Product Model. This involves identifying the various IT functions within your organization and reframing them as distinct ‘products’ or ‘services’ with their specific customer base, functionality, and business value.
Remember, these IT products aren’t just software applications or technologies. They are any IT functions that deliver value to your internal or external customers. This could range from an internal data analytics service supporting business decision-making to an external customer-facing application.
To organize the IT Product Model effectively, it is useful to consider your organization’s core business capabilities. Business capabilities represent what a business does to achieve its objectives. They are typically stable over time and cut across organizational boundaries.
By aligning IT products with these business capabilities, you can ensure that each IT product contributes directly to a specific business outcome. This streamlines your IT operations and brings IT and business closer together, fostering collaborative decision-making and value co-creation.
Once you’ve defined your IT products and aligned them with business capabilities, the next step is to structure your cross-functional teams. Each team should have the necessary skills and expertise to manage its assigned IT product end-to-end.
The team structure should be flexible and adaptive, capable of evolving as the product grows and changes over time. As discussed in the previous section, it’s also important to foster a culture of collaboration, ownership, and customer-centricity within these teams.
While the IT Product Model offers numerous benefits, implementing it isn’t without challenges. It requires a significant shift in mindset, new working methods, and organizational structural changes.
Here are a few strategies to overcome these potential challenges:
Operationalizing the IT Product Model involves defining IT products and services, aligning them with business capabilities, structuring cross-functional teams, and navigating potential implementation challenges. By executing these steps effectively, you can transform your IT operations into a strategic business value and innovation driver.
Organization A, a large multinational corporation in the financial sector, faced challenges with its traditional project-based IT model, which led to siloed teams, duplicated efforts, and slow response times to market changes.
Recognizing these challenges, Organization A transitioned to the IT Product Model. They started by identifying distinct IT products that deliver value to their business and customers, ranging from their internal cybersecurity service to a customer-facing digital banking application.
They then structured cross-functional teams around each product, selecting team members based on their skills and how these complemented each other. These teams were given end-to-end responsibility for their products, fostering a sense of ownership and accountability.
The results were impressive. The new model eliminated redundancies, streamlined processes, and improved agility. The cross-functional teams were more responsive to market trends and customer needs changes, leading to improved customer satisfaction and increased business value.
Organization B, a leading e-commerce company, recognized the need for greater agility in their IT operations to stay competitive in their fast-paced industry. They turned to the IT Product Model as a solution.
In their implementation, they emphasized the ongoing lifecycle of IT products, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. This involved setting up robust feedback loops with customers and regularly assessing each product’s performance to drive iterative enhancements.
The transition to the IT Product Model boosted the company’s agility significantly. They were able to react swiftly to changing customer expectations and market trends and continuously improve their IT products. This increased the company’s competitiveness, leading to market share and profitability growth.
Organization C, a global healthcare company, adopted the IT Product Model to drive business innovation. By reframing their IT operations as individual ‘products’, they could align each IT product with specific business outcomes.
For example, they aligned their data analytics service with the business capability of informed decision-making. This direct alignment enabled the analytics team to focus their efforts on delivering actionable insights for business leaders, driving significant business value.
Moreover, the continuous lifecycle approach of the IT Product Model spurred a culture of innovation. Teams were encouraged to explore new technologies and approaches, leading to groundbreaking solutions that significantly improved patient care and operational efficiency.
These case studies highlight the successful implementation of the IT Product Model in diverse organizations and industries. The transformation improved operational efficiency and agility and drove business innovation and value.
As businesses continue to navigate the digital landscape, the IT Product Model is a strategic framework for delivering exceptional IT services. We project its adoption to increase, fueled by its ability to foster agility, speed, efficiency, and business alignment.
The model will likely evolve as technologies advance and companies demand more integrated and agile IT solutions. It’s conceivable that we will witness the emergence of AI-powered tools designed to manage IT products, automate routine tasks, and drive data-informed decision-making. This could further enhance the productivity and effectiveness of IT product teams.
While the IT Product Model presents tremendous opportunities, staying prepared for potential challenges is vital. These may include resistance to change, difficulties in defining IT products, or challenges in assembling and managing cross-functional teams.
Planning for these challenges involves a blend of strong leadership, clear communication, continuous learning, and flexibility. Robust change management strategies are essential to manage resistance, while ongoing training and development programs can equip teams with the necessary skills and knowledge.
Defining IT products is important to remember that this is not a one-time effort but a continuous process that evolves with the business needs. Organizations must be prepared to reassess and redefine their IT products as the business strategy, market conditions, or customer needs change.
In the fast-paced and ever-evolving business environment, staying agile is critical. The IT Product Model, with its emphasis on end-to-end product ownership and continuous improvement, is perfectly suited for this.
Yet, agility also implies the ability to respond to changes in the model itself. As the IT Product Model evolves, organizations must be ready to adapt, whether adopting new technologies, adjusting team structures, or revising their IT product definitions.
In essence, the future of IT under the IT Product Model appears promising. While opportunities abound, it’s important to remain vigilant about potential challenges and maintain agility. By doing so, organizations can leverage the IT Product Model to drive business value, innovation, and competitive advantage.
As you embark on the journey to implement the IT Product Model, here are some key considerations to keep in mind:
Success in implementing the IT Product Model can be measured using a variety of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics. These might include:
Remember, implementing the IT Product Model is not a one-time effort. It requires continuous assessment and iteration. Regularly review your IT products, team performance, and alignment with business objectives. Use the insights gained from these reviews to make ongoing improvements to your IT products and processes.
Implementing the IT Product Model involves careful planning, continuous measurement, and ongoing iteration. With these steps, you can transition from traditional IT operations to a product-centric approach that drives business value, agility, and customer satisfaction.
The IT Product Model represents a paradigm shift in perceiving and managing IT operations. By reframing IT functions as individual ‘products’, this approach aligns IT operations more closely with business outcomes, enhancing efficiency, agility, and value. It fosters a culture of ownership, accountability, and customer-centricity, encouraging teams to innovate and continuously improve their respective products.
The transition to the IT Product Model requires organizations to embrace change and foster a culture of innovation. It necessitates a departure from the familiar comfort of traditional models, adopting new working methods that might seem challenging initially. However, the resulting benefits – increased agility, improved customer satisfaction, and direct alignment with business value – make this transformation imperative in today’s dynamic business environment.
As we conclude this comprehensive exploration of the IT Product Model, we encourage you, as a technology or business leader, to consider how this model could revolutionize your IT operations. The journey might seem daunting, but remember, you’re not alone. With careful planning, continuous measurement, and ongoing iteration, your organization can successfully transition to this model.
In the ever-evolving business and technology landscape, staying static is not an option. Embrace the IT Product Model as your guide to navigate these changes, transforming your IT operations from a support function to a significant business value and innovation driver. Stay agile, keep innovating, and drive your organization forward into the future of IT.