IPMA International Project Management Association
23 November 2017 / 5:49

Co-create and Offer: A new business model with opportunities for project management

From Brick and Mortar to Click and Order, the transition in business thinking and opportunity capitalization has been swift and impressive. If that was not enough, the onset of social media revolution is making organizations rethink their business strategies and embrace new ways of interacting with their customers and capitalizing on the opportunities these interactions present.

Co-create and Offer is an emerging business model that embodies an approach to leverage upon the intellect and wisdom of everyone that matters in creating new ideas, products and services, and offering these (creations) for commercial purposes. The core of this new model is the co-creation capabilities of a large pool of individuals within a particular eco-system.

Co-create and offer seems to draw its essence from service-dominant logic, where parties engage in interdependent exchange of benefits to create value for one and other in the process.

Given the wide and varied involvement of individuals and the flexibility the model entails, it is imperative that co-creation efforts should be managed in some way so that they remain result-oriented.

It is similar to the case of fresh water in rivers, which if not managed effectively and utilized in timely fashion could ultimately flow into the sea resulting in a wasted resource. The co-creation efforts need to be in some systematic way enveloped in a structure to achieve the maximum benefits of the wisdom and knowledge available on a wide scale among the communities.

Towards this end, project management can play a vital role in providing the necessary infrastructure of adhoc governance system, which would incorporate the knowledge, skills and tools to manage co-creation efforts as project-based ventures.

To guide further discourse, below we present the rationale for using project management for co-creation efforts and the role it can play in helping business ventures benefit from a Co-create and Offer business model.

Rationale for using project management from Co-creation to Commercialization

The advent of Social Media platforms and other technologies has made it possible to interact with customers beyond traditional purposes of promotions and sales activities. Recognizing the wide-ranging benefits, organizations are not only using the emerging technologies to strengthen communication and customer interaction further, but are also enlisting the help of customers for co-creating value either in the form of creating new products and services, or through new ways of doing things. An example of how DHL used co-creation to enhance their operations can be read in a Forbes article at the following link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecrandell/2016/06/10/customer_cocreation_secret_sauce/2/#21fa891cad22

So it is now possible to involve customers, users, partners and other relevant stakeholders in design, development, testing, sales and marketing activities of products and services. As a result, we often hear about initiatives such as crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, co-investment, and prosperity partnerships.

Co-create and Offer business model can be operationalized in at least two ways:

  1. Traditional organizations using Co-create and Offer business model

Organizations are inherently bottom-line driven entities. Therefore, while they are keen to tap into a larger pool of wisdom to enhance their innovation and organizational capabilities, they also need to ensure that they maximize the value and stay in control of the operationalization and outcome parts of co-creation efforts.

Project management, therefore, can serve as a vehicle to help organizations plan, deploy and benefit from Co-create and offer projects. We discuss some of these possibilities as below.

  1. Well-coined projects typically include a business case document. Therefore, when organizations take a project management approach to Co-create and Offer projects, they will make better judgements about the benefits and risks involved in the co-creation efforts they intend to pursue. Project management will help in filtering out potentially risky investments from good ones, and hence avoid wasted costs.
  2. Planning, execution and control are critical to the success of Co-create and Offer projects, given the wider involvement of people from outside the organizational boundaries. Project management can help in providing competencies to control projects Co-create and Offer effectively.
  3. The recent efforts in integration of benefit realization knowledge as part of project management competencies will be very useful for organizations to use these to plan, measure and assess the benefits of Co-create and Offer projects. Hence project management will be helpful in providing an end-to-end process for maximizing the value of Co-create and Offer projects.
  1. Freelance use of Co-create and Offer business model by pool of individuals forming an organic organization for joint venture purposes.

The freelance use of Co-create and Offer business model would necessitate the formation of an organic and adhoc organization to successfully deploy and execute co-creation projects. Project management, being the adhoc system of activities, has a natural role to play. We discuss some of the possibilities below.

  1. The loose nature of a freelance based Co-create and Offer syndicate would require an understanding of the capacities of each participant to deliver. Project management skills will be critical to identify availability and gaps in resources to initiate Co-create and Offer projects in such organizations.
  2. Project management will provide the necessary adhoc platform to form teams of disparate individuals with matching co-creation to commercialization interests to come together to start a Co-create and Offer project.
  3. Project management will provide key skills in controlling the project work which will be significant given the probably fragile team structure of freelance Co-create and Offer projects.
  4. Project management will help in identifying and installing leadership for these projects.
  5. Project management will help in documenting the activities and outcomes for a freelance based Co-create and Offer project structures to survive and continue till the project objectives are achieved.
  6. Project management that embodies knowledge of scope, time, cost, risk, quality, procurement, stakeholder and communication management will give a head start to Co-create and Offer project teams when initiating projects, as collaborators could always fall back at any time to use such knowledge or use it as a point of reference for planning, execution and controlling the projects.
    Co-create and Offer project teams will feel stimulated and encouraged to achieve benefits of their co-creation efforts due to easily available project management knowledge.
  7. The success of Co-create and Offer project teams will depend on whether they can actually offer their inventions and co-creations to potential buyers and commercialize the products and services. As more and more streamlined and formal knowledge is available on how to realize benefits of projects, project management knowledge will become significant to the success of commercialization activities of Co-create and Offer projects.

Opportunities for project management

Co-create and Offer business model opens up a number of opportunities for project management growth, such as:

  1. Project management consultancies can provide tailored services to help deploy and execute Co-create and Offer projects.
  2. Project management Training service providers can offer training and education to potential individuals before these individuals team up to start Co-create and Offer projects.
  3. Education institutions can offer transferable skills-based courses to provide skills in deploying Co-create and Offer projects.
  4. The body of knowledge can document the best practices of executing Co-create and Offer projects and build new standards and guidelines.
  5. Individual project management professionals can become part of Co-create and Offer project teams on a temporary or continuing basis, to help put a project management system in place as a supporting activity on Co-create and Offer projects.

Concluding thoughts:

Co-creation is at the centerpiece of the latest business eco-system changes leading to emergence of Co-create and Offer business model. The organic nature of teams that involve in Co-create and Offer projects require a system that provides some semblance of a foundation platform. Project management knowledge geared at adhoc systems seems a natural solution to support the birth and growth of Co-create and Offer projects.


Special thanks to post-write-up contributions by Roger Tagg.

Authored by:
Professor Jiwat Ram

© 2017 Jiwat Ram, All Rights Reserved.


  • fesseha worku says:

    i got co-create and offer is an interesting business model, of co-creation capabilities and with the help project management incorporate the knowledge,skill and tools to manage co creation efforts .

    Thank you professor jiwat

  • jiwat jiwat says:

    Thanks Fesseha. I am glad it helped.

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Author of this post

Jiwat is a Professor in Project Management. He has considerable experience of working internationally in diverse cultures and business environments such as Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and Australia, among others. Over his career, he has provided leadership in establishing, designing, and delivering Executive education / Master’s, Training, and Research programs.

Jiwat is currently serving on the Editorial Board of International Journal of Project Management.

Jiwat actively contributes to project management community by speaking at various events and writing on emerging issues. His work has been published in top scientific journals and Four of his published papers have remained in Top25 most downloaded papers. Additionally, two of his papers have been ranked as the Most Cited article published since 2012, one in the International Journal of Production Economics and the other in Journal of Engineering and Technology Management. More recently, he has published a number of articles on some of the issues confronting project management in various industry based outlets.