Within the IT space, much attention is devoted to the work of project managers—those who oversee crucial technology initiatives at the project level. What constitutes an IT project can vary: A company may be deploying a new digital tool. It may be migrating employees from an old piece of software or workflow to a newer one. It could be configuring a new network. Whatever the project, however, it remains precisely that—a project.

In contrast, program managers think and work one level above project managers. Rather than focus on individual initiatives, program managers oversee larger sets of projects related in some way, usually in how they help achieve certain business goals. In this sense, the role is more strategic than that of a project manager. Individual projects have start and end dates. In contrast, business programs, whether related to IT or not, can exist in perpetuity in the same way that overarching business goals do. 

IT program managers play an important role–ensuring that IT projects remain continually aligned with overarching organizational interests. As they continually guide IT to make sure its work is furthering the business as a whole, the most forward-thinking program managers are leveraging product-led principles and tactics. 

The product-led path to better program management

In IT and elsewhere, the link between project goals and greater business goals is often severed once a project actually gets off the ground. IT project managers will often make a business case for an initiative at the outset of its conception, but once that initiative gets approved, it’s easy for the project priorities to become misaligned as the goals and priorities of the business change over time. 

To remedy the situation, product-led IT program managers are changing the way their teams think. Instead of focusing on static, inflexible project management trajectories and timelines, they’re encouraging their tech teams to build and manage products in an agile, iterative way that’s responsive to changing user and business needs. In other words, they’re moving their mindset from project led to product led in several key ways. 

An iterative approach fosters greater efficiency

As part of embracing the product-led mindset, IT program managers are encouraging their teams to experiment more with methods and tactics for driving digital transformation—getting employees to use software in desired ways as an organization adapts to evolving demands. As this more fluid, iterative approach evolves, IT teams gradually arrive at better and more efficient processes for guiding employees through transformation at scale. And a digital adoption solution is a crucial tool they’re using to hone and optimize these processes. 

The best digital adoption solutions can give IT teams unprecedented insights into which methods for driving transformation are working and which are not. Not only do they let IT teams compare the efficiency and effectiveness of various interventions to one another—-say, two versions of an in-app guide designed to onboard employees to a new process or workflow. They also provide compelling insights via powerful analytics about which software, processes, and digital transformation initiatives are driving the most value for the business—and why.  

More value from workplace tech drives more value for the business

Because they look at IT through the lens of the bigger business picture, product-led program managers focus on driving value—both for the individual employee and the organization as a whole. They do this, for example, by managing and overseeing internal-facing product and tech teams focused on better understanding the employee experience and the various wants and needs across a company’s workforce. The better IT understands those needs, the more value it can deliver to the organization via technology.  

Here again, the benefits provided by the digital adoption solution are unmatched. Analytics not only allows program managers to understand how work happens across apps and over time, it also allows for customizable support in order to make work better for the individual employee. Using segmentation by metadata (e.g. role, tenure, office location) or behavior (e.g. whether it’s an employee’s first time using an app, engaging in a workflow, or completing a process), IT teams can get a sense of the employee experience and how it varies by individual and team. 

Digital adoption solutions can also supplement this quantitative picture with the qualitative element of comprehensive feedback management. Polls and surveys deployed within the app can capture employee feedback at its best—because it’s being given where and when work happens. This kind of in-the-moment feedback illuminates the employee experience in a uniquely contextual way.  

Making tech spend align with ROI

An important way that some IT program managers match their departmental actions to company goals is around finances—namely, making sure a business’ investment in software generates the value expected. Is the number of licenses a company has paid for a given program in excess and part of a bloated budget, or not enough to generate value? Are certain apps even necessary at all if the company’s tech portfolio already contains other apps that have the same functionality or serve the same goals? Is the full array of features a given digital tool offers being used by employees, or are they using only a small part of what they could be using?

With the help of a digital adoption solution, product-led IT program managers are overseeing large initiatives that answer these and many other questions related to optimizing the IT portfolio. By fostering a product-led mentality that drives innovation and iteration, they’re helping IT teams build, buy, and refine better internal-facing tools to empower employees—all while ensuring that what they spend on tech generates maximum value for the organization.