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Projects-to-Products: Providing Translation

By Brian Nathanson posted Oct 17, 2019 11:06 AM

As part of a projects-to-products transition, one of the roles that the PMO or SRO (Strategy Realization Office) in an organization will likely perform is a translation role to align or standardize the terms different parts of the organization use for different pieces of the product framework. In some cases, there will be enough momentum to get the entire organization to agree to standards. In other cases, each business unit or group will maintain its own autonomous terminology, which will then require the PMO/SRO to translate for aggregation purposes.

Here's what a typical "translation" might look like:
  • Product --> Capability
  • Value --> Epic
  • Product Manager --> Capability Manager
  • Product Owner --> Product Owner
  • Release --> Launch
Within the same organization, a different business unit may use the following:
  • Product --> Platform
  • Value --> Value Stream
  • Product Manager --> Platform Owner
  • Product Owner --> Product Lead
  • Release --> Release
Understanding that a Platform and a Capability are both products as well as that Epics and Value Streams may represent similar value elements depending on where they originate is part of the value that the PMO/SRO organization provides -- and also stands as a contrast to the more rigid, standards-based approach that marked traditional project management.

What terms does your organization use for these pieces? Do you have differences between different parts of your organization? What else should we consider in this arena? Sound off in the comments.