How to Deliver (Products) with Success – An Introduction to the Product-centric Model

The product-centric model provides a continuous flow of work to the product teams and continuous value to the end users. It aligns the business strategy while empowering the teams to decide what is best for their product aligned to the product vision.

The approach aims to reducing time to market for new products, generating a higher return on investment (ROI), and creating customer-centric experiences.

The product-centric delivery model enables teams in organizing in cross functional teams to continuously deliver value to our customers by focusing on the outcome rather than the output.

Digital transformation is the business buzzword of the decade as companies try to understand how to transform their businesses in the face of changing consumer behavior and ever-increasing competition from disruptive new entrants. It is a fundamental shift in how businesses seek to deliver value to their customers and crucial to their very survival.

Nonetheless, the issue is that most organizations going through a digital transformation think of it as a transformation project (e.g., moving from paper to PDF) rather than an ongoing cultural change. This can be mainly traced back to the fact that for most of these organizations, anything digital has been the domain of the IT department and IT departments have evolved to be service organizations, focusing on delivering projects on time and on budget. This implies that most of our customers are struggling with their digital transformation challenges and are therefore seeking support from a strong partner, like Microsoft Industry Solutions, on their journey.

Every business depends on customers. What customers buy – or choose to use – to acquire value or have one of their problems solved are products. A product is a tangible (good) or intangible (service, information, technology) item that closely meets the demands of a particular market and yields enough value to justify its continued existence. It is characterized by its benefits, features, functions, and uses that satisfy needs of the consumer. In its essence, to successfully develop and launch a product, three aspects need to be effectively unified:

  • WHY the product or service matters (product vision)
  • WHAT problem we are solving and what the product is (product strategy)
  • HOW the product is developed (product development)

Hence, the product or service is the result of what a product team builds (HOW), and the product manager is responsible for what the product team will build (WHY + WHAT).

Traditionally, at Microsoft we have always been strong in covering the engineering aspect of a product, which – again – is the HOW. Industry Solutions is no doubt the Azure expert and as we are deeply technical, HOW to implement a solution has always been one of our strengths. However, without a good reason to build a product, and a purpose to the product, it does not really make sense to build anything. That is why Product Management is so important. Product development always must start with the WHY, which is part of the product vision. The product vision defines the long-term goal and acts like a North Star, providing guidance for all the decisions made around product development and delivery. This implies that we, at Microsoft, should become proficient in applying a product-centric mindset, but what do our customers get out of it?

As mentioned, our customers’ greatest challenge is mastering their digital transformation, which involves a fundamental shift in how they seek to deliver value to their customers. New solutions and products are at the heart of this endeavor, suggesting effective product management playing a key role. The product-centric approach makes it easier to rapidly innovate and iterate because the focus is on customer experience, evolving requirements, and the strategic differentiation for a product or service (outside-in versus inside-out). Hence, offering product management expertise to our customers allows us to reduce time to market for new products and enable a higher ROI for them, paving their way for long-term competitive advantage and prosperity.

In conclusion, product management is all about building a sustainable business model through delivering customer value and ties together continuous customer discovery with rapid, iterative development to make sure to stay ahead of competitors and market trends. Product Managers should be obsessed with optimizing a product to achieve business goals while maximizing return on investment. Furthermore, product management is a lot about empathy and understanding – empathy for the developers and how they work, empathy for the customers and their pain points, and empathy for upper management, who juggle aggressive goals and impossible schedules. This suggests that we can only help our customers if we deeply understand who they are, what problem they are trying to solve and why the solution to their problem fits into the bigger picture of an organization’s aspirations. Product Management helps creating a shared understanding on the context of a product, while ensuring iterate and rapid delivery of value.


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