The Tool You Choose Defines the Way Your Product Teams Work

The Tool You Choose Defines the Way Your Product Teams Work

Imagine this… You have confidence that your key metrics are trending in the right direction, and know exactly how your team’s work supports your goals. You have clear visibility into portfolio trade-off decisions, risks, and opportunities. The decisions you make are all backed by data. 

Is this due to a great process or a great tool? 

The Role of Tools in Shaping Your Product Team’s Culture

Some people believe you first create a good practice and process, then you choose a tool. However, there’s a new band of thought that the right tool actually helps you build upon new learning, drive better adherence, and accelerate the adoption of a new practice, process, or culture.

When a team adopts a tool, it’s important to not just look for features, but also understand the key differences and the impact that each tool can have on organizational culture.

The industry has shifted from project to product management, from output to outcome focused workflows and from a roadmap to a portfolio decision making framework. These shifts shape the way teams collaborate, communicate, make decisions and deliver value. 

The Transformation from Project to Product

At a high level, project-based waterfall tools, such as Jira Align and Planview, focus on managing and tracking the progress of individual projects. These tools typically have a waterfall, ‘command and control’ linear approach to work. There’s a start and end date. You scope it, complete it and move on. If it was on time and on budget, it was a success. 

However, as we know, product is never done. Product-based tools, such as Dragonboat, are designed to support teams in achieving their desired outcomes. Rather than focusing on delivering a set of features and functionality, these tools help teams align their work with the overall product strategy and goals of the organization. They encourage a more responsive and agile approach to work, allowing teams to continuously adjust their priorities and focus based on progress and outcomes. 

A product-focused workflow prioritizes continuously evolving products, enabling portfolio leaders to make real-time adjustments for improved outcomes.

Read more on Transforming From Project to Product.

The Transformation from Output to Outcome

An output-focused culture typically focuses on the delivery of specific features, such as the launch of a new product or the completion of a project. This approach is typically more tactical in nature and is used when the product requirements and goals are well-defined and understood.

An outcome-focused approach, on the other hand, keeps attention on the problems being solved. The focus is on the value the product delivers and the outcomes it achieves, such as increased customer retention or revenue. This approach is typically more strategic in nature. Outcome-focused product management is more flexible, allows for more experimentation, and helps teams adapt to the changing state of the business, customer, and market. 

Great product management drives business success in organizations. For that to succeed, we need to align goals and measure outcomes at both the team and exec levels. That’s why I got really excited about Dragonboat because it allows you to tie everything together. With Dragonboat you can make great decisions and run with it. The faster you can make a good decision, the better off you are.

– Melissa Perri, CEO of ProduxLabs & Author of ‘Escaping the Build Trap’

The Transformation from Roadmap to Portfolio

We all know roadmaps. They serve the purpose of collecting feedback, prioritizing and visualizing features in a Gantt chart, timeline, or board format, and sharing with stakeholders. Roadmaps help product managers align on work, but can often lead to silos and feature traps.

A portfolio tool enables you to connect multiple roadmaps and layer multiple lenses on top of them. Taking business goals, customer feedback, market dynamics, and available resources into consideration when making decisions. With a portfolio tool, executives and their teams can evaluate and allocate to various investment options based on desired outcomes and adjust responsively based on the actual results.

​​When you have multiple teams to manage, you need to change your processes and elevate your thinking. You don’t want to be in the details of what everybody’s doing. You have to start thinking about them like a portfolio.

– Wyatt Jenkins, Chief Product Officer at Procore 

Read more on how to Choose Between a Roadmap vs. Product Portfolio (PPM) Tool

Your Tool Creates Your Culture

The tool you choose can have a significant impact on your organizational culture. Project-based tools will lead to a project-based workflow, where teams are primarily focused on the completion of individual projects rather than the overall outcomes of the organization. Roadmap visualization tools can lead to an over-index on feature delivery, where teams get stuck in the build trap.  

Both can create silos within the organization and hinder the ability to respond to the state of the market and adapt to changing business needs.

Product portfolio tools help facilitate a shift in mindset towards a more outcome-focused approach. Aligning your team’s work to goals and enabling them to make more informed decisions about how to allocate their time and resources. 

Ultimately, a team’s success should be measured by building products that drive business outcomes. Did this initiative help us achieve our goals? Are we progressing toward our goals at the rate we expected? Are we prioritizing work that will have the highest utilization of our available resources? 

Picking The Right Tool for Your Business Needs

Each tool is designed with a philosophy and a certain set of principles. These principles reflect the way you work, the process you create, and the culture of your team. 

To understand the culture a tool will create, you must understand its DNA. Planview and Jira Align are for project portfolio management. Aha was built to manage a feature roadmap. Productboard to manage feedback and requests. 

On the surface, there may be similarities between tools, but look under the hood and you’ll quickly see the nuance. 

Transformation happens when leaders empower their teams to be focused on outcomes, not just work. 

With the help of Dragonboat, we’ve changed our strategic mindset to really focus on where growth lies and focus the product organization on the proposed growth objectives and we’re starting to see the results of that.

– Perry Steinberg, Chief Product Officer, AbacusNext

Dragonboat is an outcome-focused portfolio platform purpose-built for outcome-focused product teams. Check it out via Dragonboat’s free trial today or schedule a demo with one of our product expert consultants. 

Bill Cushard

Bill Cushard is general manager of partner success at Dragonboat, the product portfolio management platform for outcome-driven product teams. Prior to joining Dragonboat, Bill held leadership roles in customer success, professional services, and marketing at ServiceRocket, Accenture, and E*TRADE Financial.
All Posts

Ready to super charge your product?

Subscribe to
our newsletter

Get more stories like
this in your inbox.

This site uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential, while others help us to improve your experience by providing insights into how the site is being used. For more information, please check our Privacy Policy. You can disable or remove cookies in your browser settings at any time. By clicking "Accept" or continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies across the site.