Product-minded project management

Hi there. I am aware of that I have not been here for a few months. That is because there was a horrible disaster happened in Turkey on February 6. I cannot describe how we all have been feeling since then. I am profoundly sorry for the ones who experienced such an awful quake, lost the loved ones and their homes. I hope that the sun will shine brighter again. If you want to help the disaster region, then please consider donating here. 💚

Here is the blog post that I was preparing before the disaster.

People often try to figure out what a product or a project is. Actually they are two necessary pieces of a puzzle. We cannot think one without the other one. At this point, we need a different approach that combines both of them on the same side. This approach might be named as product-minded project management.

Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash

Let’s first understand what an agile management is, and how to integrate it into this approach.

Agile management is the application of the principles of Agile software development and Lean Management to various management processes, particularly product development and project management.” Wikipedia

As it is already mentioned in the definition above, agile is kind of the key to development and coordination processes. We should consider using it for each side since it consists of realistic applications underneath. Agile gives the power to not only design a well-defined product with a dedicated team, but also to take fast decisions and actions under any type of problematic circumstances in a project. So it is possible to call that both products and projects are living concepts. Each one requires to be updated periodically or by a trigger. And agile management methodology helps to do it seamlessly.

According to 6-point cycle of agile which is shown in the figure below, every step can be applied on the related stage of either product or project tasks. In order to manage the entire process effectively, you just need to apply the agile methods properly. Let’s give two examples from different perspectives.

Figure 1. The 6-point cycle of agile management.

For instance, you are planning a brand new feature for a software application as a product manager, you will need to get technical assistance for the next phases from the related teams. Then the technical stages will run according to the plan. After the released feature deployed on production, you will get feedback about it. Thus it will be more possible to improve the feasibility of this feature or similar ones in the future.

Now look at this example from a project manager’s view. There is a starting and a finishing point of this feature development process. At first, you planned each phases with ‘the efforts per person’ logic. This information comes from the development and test teams. But it does not usually include a buffer period to prevent any type of possible delay. So at one point, the process will most likely stuck because it is more likely designed as a waterfall. Which means every task or phase has an order, and needs to be done step by step. This is when agile management comes in. With agile approach, the planning phase includes multiple development and test phases, which are named as sprints. You have many chances to re-evaluate your planning during each sprint. So it is easier to manage the whole progress.

However both perspectives mentioned above still have a gap: The missing part of effective coordination between cross-functional teams, stakeholders and customers. I am aware of that there is an opinion like, product manager knows only the product and project manager knows only the project. In my humble opinion, these roles should carry more than that. It is not a must for sure, but it would be far better to understand project-related processes as a product person, and a product-related works as a project person.

The Product

A product refers to an application or solution that is developed, marketed, and sold to end users or customers. It is a tangible or intangible entity that provides specific functionality, addresses a particular need or problem, and delivers value to its users. These are the main goals of a product. What about the result -in other words- its success? The success of a product is often measured by factors such as user adoption, customer satisfaction, revenue generation, and market share. So the code of success is developed by the product manager. There are lots of things product managers should do. While taking a quick decision about a UI feature, nothing should block them to market research and follow the competitors. A successful product is the one which the product team is touching it all time with the right sense. Meanwhile they should keep an eye on the project processes and schedules in order to manage product development plans correctly.

The Project

A project is a planned and structured effort that involves a defined set of tasks, resources, and objectives to deliver a specific outcome within a given timeframe. It is commonly followed a project management framework or methodology, such as Agile or Waterfall, to facilitate planning, execution, and monitoring of all project related activities. So project teams use these frameworks to define the milestones, establish task dependencies, allocate resources, track progress, manage risks, and ensure timely delivery of the product. The key to a successful project delivery is the clear coordination between internal teams, especially the one between product and project teams. The bond of these two should be strengthened. Otherwise at least one team will fail in achieving its goals, and that might cause several crisis.


Overall, product-minded project management is an approach that focuses on the needs of the end user and the success of the product. It involves setting measurable goals, active collaboration with the product team, staying attuned to the market and competition, and being able to adapt to change and make quick decisions. This mindset is especially effective for the project team, but there should be common awareness in all teams.

PS. I decided to cover this issue while I was coordinating my projects. But in the meantime, I have been promoted to the product team, and working as a product manager for about five months now. Still, I will keep my project coordination duty until I transition to the product-side completely.

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