How Project Management Starves Company Growth
There are a lot of different ways for a company to try to reverse the death spiral of slow sales, customer churn, and stagnant growth, but a lot of the cures they dream up only attack the symptoms, not the root cause.
When a company’s growth cycle is stuck and they come to me, we almost always end up diving all the way down into their product development approach, if they have one, and making sure it’s not the problem.
When is it the problem?
When it’s a project management approach.
Project management disguised as product management won’t fix a broken growth cycle. In fact, what it actually does is codify the flaws in the company’s product and processes.
And usually the company doesn’t even realize they’re doing that. Let’s make sure you’re not doing that.
SaaS and the Advent of Modern Product Science
To home in on the difference between product development and project management, and how they get misused, let’s first jump briefly into the history.
I’m going to talk about SaaS, but product science isn’t just about software. Software is just where everything changed. Those changes now permeate through every kind of product, as technology has become a component of every kind of product.
SaaS didn’t necessarily usher in the mainstream acceptance of product science, but it definitely accelerated and evolved it. SaaS development began requiring product-adjacent elements from marketing (key benefits, engagement) and engineering (UX, UI) to exist in a space that sat between the customer and the product build.
Project management did not do this well.
Before SaaS, computers were mostly desktops and were almost strictly used for business or gaming. Sure, there were occasional releases of productivity software meant for the general public “customer” on home PCs and laptops, but it wasn’t until the 2010s when we started to see the browser as the OS of choice for any kind of application — business, personal or otherwise.