Ever since project management was introduced to IT field, our lives as software development professionals have been scheduled around Projects. We literately are living with Projects. After we are done with one project, the next one comes. Or even better, the next one comes before the previous one finishes. If we are not doing a project, we must be busy planning for the next project. While we are so buried in the coming and going projects, it’s a good chance that we have missed the whole picture.
So, what’s a Project any way?
The official definition by Project Management Institution: A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.
A project has the following characteristics:
- Have definite beginning and end
- Create unique product or service
- Have objective that indicate completion
- Progressive Elaboration
By nature, a project is a temporary endeavor. Ultimately, it’s just the “means” not the goal. It takes us from one place to another. But, it’s the journey, not the destiny.
What’s the destiny, then? What’s the core? What’s the not-so-temporary thing in our work?
That’s the Product or more specifically, the Software Application, in software/IT industry.
A Product Development Team is responsible to create and continuously improve a software application that serves some meaningful business purposes.
A product/software application has its own life cycle:
- Initial creation: from non-exist to the first Production release
- Continuous improvements: as long as a product has users, it requires continuously maintenance (bug fixes) and improvements (new features)
- Termination: just as anything concrete, a product may die, meaning users cease to use it. It maybe because the company goes out of business or simply because it’s replaced with another better Product.
The Projects happen in between a Product’s life cycle. We may have projects to initially design the database and the architecture. There maybe other maintenance projects to adding new features or doing refactory for the existing architecture. A formal termination/transition project may exist just to transfer the data out the phrasing out application to the new application.
Next time, when we think of the projects we are doing now, we can also think about the Product behinds it and where in the lifecycle of that Production this project fits in. That will help us better understand the goals of the current project.
Matter of fact, when we think deeper, handing out the application to the users is hardly the only thing we do. We also spend a lot of our time doing the following:
- Deploy, Configure and Host the application
- Technical Support
- Manage the capacity
- Manage the availability
- Manage the service level
- Manage the security
- Manage the business continuity (disaster recovery)
In short, we provide a full spectrum of IT services to our users. And users actually evaluate us by all the services we provide not just by the Product (software application) we deliver.
So, it’s time to think what kind of Services we would like to provide to our business users. Then determine what kind of Products we need to deliver. Eventually, we will get to the Projects we need to accomplish to deliver the Product and/or the Service.
After all, it’s the IT Services we delivered that matters to our users, not the projects we are working on. Projects are just the tool we use to organize our work in order to provide better Services.
Jumping out of the boxes of the Projects, we will eventually find a wild wide world of Services, waiting for us to explore!