CIOs battle product management pitfalls

Product management is increasingly the preferred method of delivering digital capabilities. Yet the transition from a project-based mindset is rife with challenges, say IT leaders and experts.

Seeking to boost value to business stakeholders, Equinix is adopting a product model for building solutions. But the evolution from traditional project management practices is complex, and fraught with nuance that can trouble the transition and outcomes.

Equinix is grappling with determining which department owns a given product, as well as what the product lead should be called, according to CIO Milind Wagle, who is leading the effort for the operator of data centers. “Roles and responsibilities in the operating model are getting tested,” Wagle tells CIO.com.

Such details — the department in charge and personal titles — may seem like simple enough hurdles to clear. But they are typical of organizations migrating to product-based operations, which require different governance than project management approaches do, experts say.

“The shift from project to product is a seismic shift,” says Gartner analyst Remi Gulzar. “It redistributes and obscures decision, rights, and accountability.”

Even so, CIOs hail product management for its ability to help organizations cultivate nimble operations capable of quick pivots. Lured by the promise of driving continuous innovation that will result in competitive advantage, 40% of large enterprises will manage internal business capabilities as products by 2023, according to Gartner research.

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