What’s the difference between product and solution.
The word solution and the word product is used interchangeably in our profession, and that’s what I want to cover in this video because those two words are similar, but they do not mean the same thing.
Related Article: Product vs. Solution
Learning Outcomes for this video
No one exactly knows the difference between a product and a solution, these are you key learning points for today:
- The Difference Between Product vs Solution.
- Why that difference is important | Defining Product and Solution.
- BA Advice | How you can distinguish one from the other on any given Project.
Why Knowing The Difference between Product and Solution Is Important?
Most people use those words interchangeably.
For most people who are not experts in this area and who are not in the profession of business analysis or software development or anywhere in that group of professions, they’ll use those terms interchangeably.
They don’t understand the difference or they don’t need to understand the difference.
We as professionals have to understand that difference because it makes a difference in the work that we do.
Defining Product vs. Solution | Why Is The Difference Important?
I’ll offer you a very simple formula that will hopefully make the difference between these definitions stick in your mind, and the formula is as follows:
SOLUTION = PROCESS + PRODUCT
Anytime you’re confused about the difference between the two, you’ll understand that a solution is all-encompassing whereas a product typically only refers to the system side of a solution. OK!
So when somebody says we’re delivering a product typically what that means is that they’re delivering a system which has a set scope of functionality that’s attached to it. Right!
The product doesn’t typically include the process improvement part of a project, but the solution does.
Getting In Depth – Why The Difference Is Important
So when you say the solution is equal to process plus product basically what we’re saying here is that for us to deliver a complete solution we have to deliver a product along with a process that goes along with it.
The process is a lot more on the business side of things. It is how the business functions or how the business needs to function in the new world (future state) for the entire solution to work as one unified solution.
Essentially the process part of it is sometimes neglected especially if you have a very I.T. focused department or I.T. focused project manager or project.
Typically a lot of the process side stuff is not even addressed at all, or the process side of things will be just separated as something that the business has to deal with in isolation on their own. That solution thinking of things in that way doesn’t help to deliver the best solutions. Right!
So that’s the definition and explanation of a solution versus a product and the importance again is that in your work it makes a huge difference. Because whether you’re delivering a process along with the solution or not it affects that scope of work.
Your day to day tasks as a business analyst is affected by whether you have to do a lot of process design work with the solution that you’re delivering or whether you’re just going to be focusing a lot more heavily on the systems side.
Process professional makes a huge difference by understanding that difference and knowing how to take those differences into account on different projects you might have.
How To Distinguish The Difference Between Product and Solution On Any Given Project.
You’ll have some projects that are strictly I.T. projects.
The process component is typically not going to be part of the scope of the project, and it’ll be either something that is completely just pushed on to the business as a responsibility that they must fulfill.
So you’re just delivering a new product, and the process isn’t likely going to change very much. Once that process along with the solution is delivered it doesn’t make that much of a difference.
There are a lot of projects that don’t fall into that category, or they may fall into that category.
If you’re delivering a new system or a new product the vendor or the business is not going to realize the full benefit of that product unless they do some internal changes in how they perform their duties.
It should be taken on a case-b-case basis; there are certain circumstances where it may make sense to deliver a product only. Again it’s taken on a case by case basis, a project-by-project basis but as an analyst what you have to do is that you have to very clearly define your scope of work on the projects that you work on.
Part of defining that scope of work means that you have to get to the project manager or your leadership group or the management of the I.T. for deciding what your scope of work is going to be for any given project that you have on your plate.
It is because whether you have to do process design or not it’s going to consume your time. It has to be part of the estimates that you provide to your project manager, and it makes a real difference.
The difference between product and solution in your world makes a huge difference.
So on a project by project basis what you should be doing is that you should be clarifying the scope by answering:
- Are we looking in our future state?
- Are we looking to make a lot of process changes?
Because if that’s the case, then I have to allocate a lot of analysis time.
I have to put that in my work breakdown structure for the analysis of work that needs to be done.
It is done to make sure that we do that adequately and that we don’t just try to do that on a haphazard basis or kind of like on an ad-hoc basis right!
You want to plan for that work so that you have adequate time to do a lot of the process design work that needs to be done. And as part of defining your work part of the work breakdown structure, you have to define who is going to be leading the process design part of that. Is it going to be the analyst or is it going to be on much larger projects? You’ll have a process design professional who is dedicated strictly to the process design part of the solution. Right!
And so when you’re thinking through and if you’ve been asked to develop a web plan that is a very large scope item that you have to take into account. Must you be able to decide this in? Is this out well in the way you decide?
All this is determined by your definition of the word product versus the word solution. Right!
If you’re delivering a total solution, your take on that should be that yes, I know. We should have a large process design or some significant line item in our work plan to make sure that the process design part of this project gets done properly. Right!
Wrapping It All Up
So that’s the difference between product and solution. I understand basically from your point of view as a professional that you must have a much clearer understanding of a lot of the terminology that your clients or the general public might have.
As professionals, we have to make sure that we understand a lot of these intricacies because these intricacies make have a huge impact on the way we do our work. And the difference in the definition between the word solution and the word product is a perfect example of that. I’ll leave the video there.
Learn More About Product vs. Solution in the BA BLOCKS Program
I do have an entire lesson that I’m teaching in the B.A. Blocks program that talks about the solution and also it talks a lot more about how you can structure the products right? So there are different layers that you have inside of the product.
The analyst’s view of a product happens across five different layers, and I talk a lot about that in the lessons that we have in our B.A. Fundamentals Block of the B.A. Blocks program.
If you’re interested in that, you can sign up at our website to take some of the free blocks and then decide whether that’s something that you’re interested in continuing to learn.
Hopefully, you’ll be in a much better position to decide as to whether wanting to learn a lot more about this profession is something that that you’re interested in pursuing. I’ll leave it here, and I’ll see you on the next one.