I've been learning the PRINCE2 methodology which advocates a product-orientated approach to managing projects. This seems sensible to me.
However, in hindsight, looking back at projects I've been involved with, I've realised that some of these have only defined the product in suitable detail towards the end of the project. So for the first 75% of the project, the only thing known about the product is that it will be a publication of some kind. It is only then in the last 25% of the project where this gets defined in detail (for example, the publication will be 2 documents accompanied by 5 wall-sized posters).
This seems risky to me: since expectations are not being laid out until right towards the end of the product. If someone interpreted the publication to be a video, rather than documents, then we have an issue. On the other hand, I appreciate that not defining the product towards later in the project could be allowing more time for innovation and creativity.
My questions are:
Should a project always provide a view on the detailed specification of a product right from the beginning and manage changes to this specification using a change management process?
Or does it simply need to work out the right point in the process where detailed specifications are needed? If so, how do you understand where this point in the process is?