Product versus Project - Where to Focus Your Efforts


Friends, by now we’ve all heard the predictions heralding the return of prudence in spending, optimization, needs-versus-wants and the underlying theme of rethinking everything imaginable. Thus, the focus of our effort seems to have an interwoven connection to the care and due diligence we employ as we chart our efforts and manage our expenditures.

Having said this, what is one to do as it concerns efforts in Product versus Projects?

I say, don’t listen to your heart. Don’t listen to the tech-zealots. Listen to the business.

Call me crazy.

I have this radical concept that technology rides shot-gun with the business and solves problems using technology solutions. Heck, I’m OK with being an enabler. In this case, some might call it noble.

OK, back to Product versus Project.

Here’s my take on this. Step 1 of this is proof. Make everyone prove their intent. I’m talking about Product AND Project. How many of you can point to a properly written business case concerning your current project or product endeavor? I’ve seen too much in the space of gut feeling and pseudo-knowledge of the competition’s competitive edge- all the while not knowing much about their own firm’s technology or just technology in general. Technology is a beautiful thing, however, it should be leveraged effectively and the head of technology should partner with her executive colleagues to ensure that the firm’s commitment to technology isn’t…well, squandered.

So, what about Product versus Project?

This is somewhat enigmatic. Let’s forget the folks who confuse the two…adios.

My recommendation is, again, listen to the business. Look at your projects and segregate them into 3 groups. These groups are: 3 month, 6 month and 1 year. Weigh the importance with the business and get priority- that is, for all business facing projects. Infrastructure projects or strictly IT projects have their own life cycle. As for Product, well, this is where the business and IT have to dance together without falling down. Leverage your assets. Third party relationships, build versus buy, off-shore/captive resources and your in-house development group.

In the end, your ability to manage your commitment of execution concerning Product upgrades/enhancements and Projects will depend largely on your ability to navigate the waters of needs versus wants. Proof is paramount and those who care the most will do and express the most if they are serious. Make people accountable. Make them prove their intent. Technology is a service organization, now and always.

Andrew T. Madejczyk is Vice President of Global Technology Operations for Sterling Infosystems Inc.. Based in New York City, Sterling is a leading provider of employment and background screening services for many Fortune 500 companies. Andrew is a 20-plus-year technology and engineering veteran whose prior engagements have traversed various industry sectors including Financial Services, Aerospace/Government and Healthcare. His experience includes Sig Sigma quality practices that result from years spent as an industrial/systems engineer in the aerospace community as well as studies with Villanova University. Andrew has been a longtime member of ISACA, IEEE, ISSA and most recently, the New York CTO Club. You can reach Mr. Madejczyk through linkedin

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