What I do is make sure your software products work for your organization as a whole. To your organization that could mean your software creates revenue, or it could mean it gets you more fundraising done, or it could mean it attracts higher quality candidates for your HR department. I make sure the software project delivers within your larger mission.
A product developer role is necessary because software development is intense and expensive work. Software development without a product developer is slower, more expensive and less valuable.
Your developers shouldn’t do it
Software developers, the people who actually write the code, are capable of addressing the larger strategic, day-to-day work and planning of a software development process. However they are rarely authorized or experienced in addressing the hundreds of day-to-day planning, configuration and business process questions raised during the course of any software development project. If your developers are so authorized, or experienced enough, they likely don’t have the time to find the best answers while simultaneously producing high quality software.
The stakeholders shouldn’t do it
The stakeholders that pay software developers are also capable of answering all these questions, but are not accustomed to finding architectural solutions. Stakeholders often do not understand the large measure of design information involved in even the most basic software product.
Why you should contract a digital product developer
The most critical aspect of managing hiring development is deciding if you should make a staff hire or contract assignment of the role. It hinges on your answer to this question:
Do you need a business unit tasked with creating and managing digital products for your company?
If you do, you should start this unit by hiring a digital product developer to run the business unit.
If you don’t, then you should contract a Digital Product Developer.