Part 4: The Work - Don't Waste My Time… Or My Money!

As an executive, you are entrusted with the stewardship of the company's internal investments. Are you getting the most for your money? Can Agile help achieve your business goals? In Part 4 of this five-part series we discuss a different way of thinking about the software development work being done to determine if an Agile Transformation should be one of the tools used to help you succeed.

Being accountable to shareholders, the Board, the Partners, whomever - they are wondering if you are the right steward of the company's investments. How fast and how frequently can you prove that you are? Oftentimes it is easy to get distracted by a plethora of numerical measurements that are intended to show project status. Sometimes they are unwittingly the wrong metrics, or at a minimum extraneous. The need in many organizations is to simplify and get back to the question "Are you achieving the desired outcomes based on the current investments". It's a simple question of ROI.

In Part 2 we looked at simplifying the finances. In Part 3 we took the uncertainty of time out of the equation. So now the decision points that remain after each time-box become much more related to strategic outcomes and investment levels:

  • Are we working on the RIGHT things?
  • Are the right things being achieved quickly enough?
  • Are the current investment levels enabling both of those?
  • What should we STOP working on?

How do you know if you're working on the right things? You need to know, and know quickly. That's where incremental delivery comes into play. You need to know if your customers have any interest, or see any value in what you're building. Should you continue down this path? Accelerate delivery? Reduce expenditures in this area? Or abandon it altogether?

By utilizing a capacity funding model, along with time-boxed delivery increments, the work any team is performing in their area of technical expertise can, if necessary, completely change course at the beginning of each time-box with relatively minimal disruption or delay. Keeping your eye on having an environment that grows and sustains high-performing teams allows for an enhanced level of adaptability to changing business needs. If you determine that you need to redirect investment levels to enable accelerated output in another area - redirection of an existing high performing team to that business area equals the redirection of investment (recalling from Part 2 that a team of 10 people often equates to somewhere around a $1.5M/year investment unit). Being able to redirect an existing team to a modified, or new, work context accommodates market changes, disruptive technology changes, new innovations, etc. In short, you give yourself the opportunity to stay ahead of the game.

Driving a new mindset in your organization is all well and good but, as any good executive knows, "the devil is in the details". You may not know all the details of how a fully Agile environment operates and evolves. How do you tie all the pieces together around how people think about money, time and work? Find the right guide for your journey…

Part 5: The Help - Know Who Your Friends Are