A Value Driven Software Approach to Transform Your Company
This post discusses how a Value Driven Software Approach can transform your business. Highlighting the insanity of having an agile software process without an equally good business prioritization process.
Software development is an expensive process. When done right, software process requires a team of experts, hardware or cloud investments, software tools, licensing, compliance, business continuity and more.
For many companies, running a complex business on off the shelf or cloud based software is limiting. Custom software adds competitive advantages and efficiencies that pay for their cost exponentially. Silicon Valley companies enjoy these benefits as they continue to innovate and profit.
Efficiency is critical to delivering software rapidly, but working on the right products, features or functionality delivers more value.
Agile Software to the Rescue?
Wait, isn’t the agile software process supposed to fix all that? The agile process lays the decision of what’s important to the business in the stakeholder’s hands. It allows the business to prioritize work it believes to be of the highest value. A disconnect often occurs at this outer boundary of the agile process. It assumes the business has the capability to make the best decisions.
Value Driven Software
Value Driven Software is a partnership between business and technology that measures and drives business value. The idea of having an agile process on the software development side that allows fast feedback cycles and prioritization, without a similarly powerful process that feeds it, seems insane. Still you don’t hear nearly as much about this disconnect as you do about the wonders of the agile process.
The traditional prioritization process assumes that management comes up with the ideas and passes them down. Even Steve Jobs known for his brilliance and innovation got it wrong often. (See Top 5 Steve Jobs Mistakes)
The business prioritization boundary begs for improvement. A Value Driven Software process provides the knowledge, organization and structure to make better guesses at what is important. Let’s take a deeper look at the 3 core principles of implementing a Value Driven Software approach.
Value Driven Software requires an empirical approach toward driving priorities. Relying on meaningful metrics to help you understand how your customer’s interact with your software, people and processes.
Without this data, the priorities of what is worked on is left to the whims of the most powerful and influential leaders or departments. It may be driven by those who catch the CEO’s ear or even those who make the most noise. If any of this sounds familiar, then welcome to the normal life of most companies.
These same Value Driven Software metrics and instrumentation provide the measure of success or failure. Making a direct link of the benefit of an idea to revenue generated, saved or perhaps a measure such as customer retention.
A partnership with business and the software team focuses on these measurements. The software team needs to figure out how to capture those meaningful metrics and make them available for the business and all team members to gain insight.
It all begins by building a culture of purpose and meaningful goals and sharing it with everyone in the company. Magical things happen when management performs the simple act of sharing the company goals and asking employees to help make it happen.
Continuing to build a Value Driven Software culture where all team members know the metrics including the financials. This is where ideas begin to flow and the focus on what’s important drives business value. When your employees are just as excited about impacting revenue as you are, there will be value.
Great ideas can come from anywhere, not just from the top. In fact, great ideas often come from outside the company. Crowd Sourcing for example, has solved complex problems that companies have worked on for years spending millions of dollars. (See some Benefits of Crowd Sourcing) The old structure that ideas come only from the top cries for retirement. Enlist and empower all you can to share their ideas and let them be heard.
Open your ears to vendors, customers, influencers, supporters so that they may present new perspectives. Open minds should be responsible for sorting these ideas and bringing them to discussion. The ideas will have to be separated, perhaps into incremental or ground breaking and other categories. A support structure to accept and percolate this input is critical.
Finally, the best ideas need to make there way down to your prioritization process. Agile is well suited to take these concepts and execute on them. Always remember, to start small, implement, learn and iterate. It is at the intersection of Value Driven Software and agile execution that businesses transform. And suddenly IT is no longer a cost center but a partner in driving business value to the bottom line.
Mr. Barbato brings over 35 years of experience in the software and technology industries to Third Wave. He guides Third Wave’s expert team in applying a sophisticated business approach to crafting its new era of agile software development products and services.