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Moving from Project to Purpose


In the fast-paced world of software development, the paradigm has shifted from focusing solely on project management to embracing a more holistic approach that centers around the concept of purpose. This transition from Project to Purpose is not just a buzzword but a transformative ideology that drives productivity, innovation, and collaboration within teams. Let’s delve into this concept, expanding on the ideas presented in Mik Kersten's book "Project to Product" while also integrating the powerful concept of Team Topologies.

The Project to Product Shift

Mik Kersten's book "Project to Product" has been a game-changer for many organizations, urging them to rethink the way they approach software development. In the traditional project-based model, teams focus on completing a set of tasks within a specified timeframe, often with an emphasis on meeting deadlines and budgets. This approach can sometimes lead to a disconnect between the development process and the overall business goals. Kersten's book challenges this norm and promotes a shift towards a product-centric mindset.

The key idea behind "Project to Product" is to view software development as an ongoing process, with teams responsible for the continuous improvement and evolution of a product throughout its lifecycle. This shift allows organizations to maintain a more sustainable pace, foster creativity, and build products that truly resonate with the needs and aspirations of their users.

Team Topologies: A Framework for Transformation

In parallel, the concept of Team Topologies, introduced by Manuel Pais and Matthew Skelton in their book "Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow," is gaining prominence in the software industry. Team Topologies offer a framework for organizations to structure their teams in a way that aligns with the project to product shift.

Team Topologies advocate for four fundamental team types:

  1. Stream-aligned teams: These teams focus on specific value streams or products. They are responsible for end-to-end delivery, from development to operations. By ensuring alignment between teams and products, organizations can better fulfill their customers' needs.

  2. Enabling teams: These teams support and enable the stream-aligned teams by providing tools, services, and expertise. They ensure that the value streams operate smoothly and can deliver without unnecessary friction.

  3. Complicated subsystem teams: These teams take care of complex, domain-specific challenges that cut across different value streams. They specialize in areas that require in-depth expertise.

  4. Platform teams: These teams create and maintain shared platforms, infrastructure, and tools that enable all other teams to work efficiently and at scale.

By embracing Team Topologies, organizations can move away from traditional, rigid team structures and adapt to the dynamic nature of product development. This approach fosters collaboration, autonomy, and a strong sense of purpose among teams, which aligns with the "Project to Product" philosophy.

From Project to Purpose: The Convergence

The convergence of "Project to Product" and Team Topologies represents a profound transformation in the way we build software. It places purpose at the core of every team's mission, emphasizing the long-term value a product delivers to customers over the short-term success of a project.

This shift results in the following benefits:

  1. Customer-Centric Approach: Teams are empowered to focus on customer needs and adapt swiftly to changing requirements, ensuring that the product remains relevant and competitive.

  2. Continuous Improvement: By owning and nurturing a product over its lifecycle, teams are encouraged to innovate and enhance their products continually, promoting a culture of learning and adaptation.

  3. Cross-Functional Collaboration: The fluid team structures enabled by Team Topologies foster collaboration across disciplines, ensuring that all aspects of the product receive attention and expertise.

  4. Sustainable Pace: The shift from project-based pressure to a purpose-driven mindset reduces burnout and increases job satisfaction, creating a more sustainable work environment.

How Atlassian Products Can Support Project to Purpose

Moving to a product orientation is an important change that impacts the entire organization. Atlassian Jira Align is for executives and senior leadership to drive company direction and strategy and portfolio management. Jira Align also supports all leadership, portfolio managers, program managers, teams and many others in your organization.

Jira Align can support your purpose through some following ways:

  1. Financial allocations: Set strategic priorities and allocate funding for your strategic work items in JIra Align with the Investment vs Spend report.InvestmentvsSpend.png

  2. Product focused value streams: Tracking your customer-centric work in Jira Align and managing the readiness of epics and features through the Kanban Process Flow View in the Backlog.



  3. Flow metrics: Flow metrics and reports available in Jira Align and through Enterprise Insights and Atlassian Analytics. Reports such as Cycle time, Efficiency, Throughput and many more such as the Flow Metric Dashboard.FlowMetricDashboard.png

  1. The Why Button: The summary information provided in the Why panel enables users to understand the context of Why they are building something. For example, a developer working on a story in Jira, can click the Why button to see the full work hierarchy that links the story to the enterprise strategy; product owners and others that work at the feature level can use the Why panel in Jira Align to understand how a feature rolls up in support of the enterprise strategy. WhyPanel.png

  2. View all Work: The work tree (strategy view) report provides an overview of progress on all work items in a selected snapshot (a collection of PIs), as well as an expandable hierarchy of progress at each work item level.WorkTree.png

Other Atlassian cloud products such as Jira Product Discovery, Atlassian Analytics and Atlassian Intelligence can also support your Project to Purpose journey.
  • Jira Product Discovery lets product teams capture and prioritize ideas and align everyone with product roadmaps - all in Jira.

  • Atlassian Analytics offers simple and flexible ways to visualize data across Atlassian products and other data sources, giving you holistic insights into how work gets done across teams.

  • Atlassian Intelligence allows you to transform teamwork with the power of AI-human collaboration.


Moving from a project-oriented mindset to a purpose-driven one is not just a change in methodology; it is a shift in the culture and values of an organization. By embracing the principles of "Project to Product" and integrating the Team Topologies framework, organizations can align their teams, processes, and products with their overarching purpose.

This transformative approach not only leads to more effective product development but also fosters a sense of fulfillment and innovation among team members. In the end, it's not just about completing a project; it's about serving a higher purpose and making a meaningful impact on the world.

Come see and learn more from Accenture and Atlassian at the 2024 SAFe Summit Berlin on April 8-11, 2024; Atlassian Team24 in Las Vegas on April 30-May 2, 2024; and SAFe Summit Washington DC on October 14-17, 2024.

Author Info

Nick Polce: Business Agility Lead - Australia & New Zealand at Accenture. Nick has 15 years of experience in the agile industry, with multiple agile transformations, both global and local, under his belt. His purpose is to enable better business performance through the alignment and flow of value.

Tom O'Connor: Principal Partner Solutions Strategist - Strategic Partnerships at Atlassian, has 15 years of experience in the Enterprise Agility space and over 20 in the agile industry, in which he has successfully led extensive agile transformations and aided organizations in effectively adopting agile tooling and platforms.


Heidi Hendry April 4, 2024

Great article Nick & Tom!

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Thomas Scheitterer
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April 4, 2024

Oh - great timing. Now lets do this on my current client :)

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