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Think Like a Product Manager to Deliver Successful IT Projects

A great manager is willing to search high and low for new insights into how to be a better leader. One person you might unexpectedly learn something new from is the product manager. Patrick Gray writes an article about how IT project managers can improve through some lessons learned from the friendly neighborhood product manager.

Productive Lessons

Product managers often have a simple reason for what is driving the urgency of a project. For instance, if you are rushing against a competitor to be the first to get a new product to market, everyone is going to understand and rally around that. In IT projects, defining the value is much more nebulous. We know the project will produce benefits, but articulating why succinctly might be difficult. You need to demystify your project and be able to tell people in a few words (such as, “allowing our customer reps to do their jobs more effectively”) why your IT project matters.

Scope is another area where it could be helpful to consider the product manager’s perspective. In product-driven organizations, scope is treated as a much more organic entity, and so organizations work around the changing nature of scope. This idea could be applied more in IT as a means of warding off scope creep and landing completion dates. Gray says IT should also obsess less over minor cost savings and go for what produces value.

He lastly discusses the user experience, particularly how he does not believe IT factors it into the equation often enough:

Corporate IT has long been able to deploy applications and platforms that give user experience cursory consideration, if at all. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense or touchy-feely “soft stuff,” the fact is IT services now compete directly with third-party cloud applications that users can provision with a credit card and a few clicks of the mouse.

Applications that are difficult to use, or that just look bad may suffer the worst fate of IT projects: a “successful” rollout that no one actually uses. Take some time to understand basic design principles, and get help with incorporating design and usability into your IT projects, just like an effective product designer would.

All things considered, Gray might be going a little hard on IT. But the point still stands that product managers have developed some smart ways of doing things, the same way that IT managers have, and it would behoove us to share what we know. You can read the original article here:

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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