What is a Product?

In this article, we define what a product is and why you need to define your products to develop them effectively and successfully.

At Amazing Outcomes, we help you build better products faster.

We do this through:

  1. Digital Leadership Consulting
  2. Change Management
  3. Interim Management
  4. Product Development
  5. Training

You may think that sounds great, but you don't have products in your organization. Or do you?

How do we define what a product is?

Bear with us as we dive deep and establish what a product is, why it is important to define it and how it can help you and your organization. The ride might be long, but it will be worth it.

Spoiler alert: there is always a product.

The basic principle is to understand that a product is nothing more than a “vehicle” to deliver value. In addition, it must deliver value to its customer and its producer. Value can take many forms and it might mean something different for each organization, but this is a topic for another article.
By adhering to the principle of delivering value, a service can also be a product. Therefore, there is always a product. The key is to clearly define its boundaries to maximize the effectiveness of the organization that produces/provides it.

What are examples of products?

Let us take a look at some examples of products:

A car gives us the opportunity to identify a product that at the same time is built upon different products. The whole is a product for a user who needs to get from location A to location B. At the same time, a car has certain parts, like its steering-wheel, which has no value by itself for the user, but can be considered a product for the car manufacturer. In this case, the car manufacturer is not the user of the steering-wheel, but a customer. They have a need (having high quality and reliable steering-wheels that they can integrate in the cars they build) and this is met by the producer of steering-wheels.

Another example of a product would be a digital one. Recently we supported Sto, a renowned Germany-based international company, in building a mobile app that would meet their customers’ needs. This last sentence might seem trivial, but it is key when deciding what to build. You can take an approach of building what you think your customers want, or you can do it with a higher degree of certainty and focus the product development on those needs. In this case, before we built a single line of code, we went into the field to learn and understand the needs of the Sto customers and future users of their digital solution. Once we had a clear hypothesis on how a digital product would help them, we started to build, deliver it and validate it in short iterations.

We have seen an example of a hardware “old-school” type of product and a digital one where the boundaries are clear. But on many occasions, it is more difficult. Let us take another example from one of our clients in the heating industry, who we helped build smart heat pumps, including a mobile app to manage the heat pump that they produce for customers all across Europe.
What would be the product here? The heat pump? The mobile app to control it?

The difference between customer and users

Let us go step by step and try to establish the boundaries of the product(s) by defining the customers/users and their needs.

The easiest user to define is a person who has a home and wants to be warm when temperatures drop. To keep warm, they buy a heating pump. Therefore, the heat pump is the first product. The same user might also have the need to manage the pump without needing to be physically present. Therefore, a digital solution like an app would be a different product. Both the heat pump and the app are deeply interconnected, but they fulfill different needs.

What about installing and servicing the heat pump? Installers would be another type of user, with certain needs (i.e. need certain information in order to do their job) that could be met by the app. And the experts who do maintenance could be another example of a different user with a totally different need (and the service they provide is, in itself, another product).
Defining and understanding their needs and how to respond with the different products that are built is crucial to make sure the right product is built, at the right time, therefore maximizing value and meeting their business goals.

What is a producer?

We talked about the needs of the users and customers, but what about the producer? Does it make sense for each of the organizations we mentioned to build these products? Does fulfilling user needs automatically mean it is good business?

Here is where it is necessary to have a clear idea of what your business goals are. Why the company exists and its goals need to be clearly defined and understood. Only then the company can continuously assess if its products help them get closer to achieving their goals.

That is why building products faster matters. Because then you get to learn earlier if these products create user value and business value.

The objective is not to increase the output of the organization. It is not to produce more for the sake of doing it. Here the word better comes into play. Build better products (the right product that meets user needs and business goals), faster (in order to learn if they help us achieve our business goals).


Establishing, validating and refining goals for each product is a way to help direct the development and measure its value. But this too is a topic for a future article. If you are interested in learning more about how to define and establish meaningful goals, keep an eye on the website and our LinkedIn, or get in touch to learn how we can help you.

Clearly defining your product(s), its boundaries and its value is as important as the goals you have for your organization. It is the vehicle that will help you achieve your goals (e.g., increasing profit, providing high quality medical services, keeping people warm in winter through efficient energy management, …).

But as we have seen, it is not always that easy. That is where we can support you. Let's develop better products faster together. Are you ready? Let's start!

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