Products over projects
We’ve long been championing the idea that thinking of software development as a project - something budgeted and delivered during a limited time slot - doesn’t fit the needs of the modern business. Important software efforts need to be an ongoing product that supports and rethinks the business process it is supporting. Such efforts are not complete until the business process, and its software, cease to be useful. Our observation of this products over projects approach, both with our own projects and outside, makes us determine that it is the approach to use for all but exceptional cases.
Most software development efforts are done using the mental model of a project, something that is planned, executed, and delivered within defined time-slots. Agile development challenged much of this model, replacing an up-front determination of requirements with an on-going discovery process that runs concurrently with development. Lean startup techniques, such as A/B testing of observed requirements, further erode this mindset. We consider that most software efforts should follow the lead of Lean Enterprise and consider themselves to be building products that support underlying business processes. Such products do not have a final delivery, rather an on-going process of exploring how best to support and optimize that business process which continues as long as the business is worthwhile. For these reasons we encourage organizations to think in terms of products rather than projects.