Who’s succeeding with product-focused IT?

Many CIOs are facing the most challenging undertaking of their careers: shifting their IT organization’s focus from projects to products.

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Organizations are making the shift to delivering IT as a product — a multistep process, rife with challenges. First, there’s the need to lay the groundwork for change, and to extend a product mindset across the organization. Then governance must be implemented, product teams must be structured and implemented, and supporting IT capabilities must be created. Unlike leaders of startups, who can create an organizational vision from scratch, CIOs have to create their “new-not-new” IT organizations within the existing business mission and vision, supporting ongoing initiatives while laying the groundwork for transformation.

There’s no roadmap for success, but some companies are successfully pulling it off. Here’s how three IT organizations have risen to the challenge.

Forming product groups

As part of its move toward agile development, a $4.4 billion U.S. manufacturer now has five product groups focused on workforce, innovation, customers, manufacturing and analytics. Each group has a product manager who works directly with a business leader to determine what business capabilities that function needs IT to deliver.

For example, human resources and employees’ digital experience both come under IT’s workforce product group. “It’s up to the leader of the workforce group to understand the capabilities this part of the business needs and to dig into the details and put together a program and roadmap — and then to drive that roadmap,” explains the company’s CIO. IT then uses metrics to track progress and measure success after each capability is developed. “This marks a radical departure from previous IT–business conversations,” the CIO says.

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