Knowing What’s In and What’s Out
Most products in the project will be built by the teams. Some, however, may come from outside the project. Unless you work in a company that makes computers, if you’re running an IT project then the computer itself will be an external product – something coming over the project boundary from outside. Now, be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that external products are unimportant. I used to work in IT projects, and you can take it from me that in an IT project the computer is rather important. The point is that the computer, vital though it is to the project, came in over the project boundary from somewhere outside; it wasn’t created by the team.
A common confusion when first learning about internal and external products is to mistake the project boundary for the organisational boundary. An external product is a product coming from outside the project, not necessarily from outside the customer organisation. For example, it may be coming from another project. Perhaps another project is developing a specification for a piece of equipment it’s constructing, and your project needs a copy of the specification because a product being built in your project will have to interface with that other project’s equipment.
It may help you to clarify which products are internal products and which are external if you look at a diagram. Figure 22-1 shows how a product from an outside supplier can be an internal product, while the product from somewhere ...