By Andy Cleff
Outputs or Outcomes?
Many organizations are stuck measuring and making decisions based on outputs – like velocity. In fact, team velocity is one of the most commonly used, abused, and misused metrics in Agile software development as well as during digital transformations. Teams, their managers, and even their stakeholders often focus on “improving velocity” without considering the entire value delivery system. Then they are shocked when they don’t get the business outcomes they really want, for example predictability or speed.
In this article, we explore healthy ways for your organization to use metrics to gain meaningful insights into the results of your experiments in the course of your Agile transformation.
Measure for a Purpose
As Simon Sinek famously says: “It all starts with why.” You need to understand what you think you are going to measure and why you want to measure it. When it comes to metrics in Agile, the data itself is not the goal — instead, it’s a means of tracking your journey, testing hypotheses, and providing feedback as you head towards your next goal.
That goal, the Big Why, should be focused on business outcomes, not outputs. Here are nine business outcomes (that come from Agile Velocity’s Path to Agility® framework) to think about:
- Employee Engagement: Employees are more satisfied in their work, willing to go the extra mile, passionate about the purpose of their jobs, and committed to the organization.
- Continuous Improvement: The ability of the organization to relentlessly pursue optimizations in all aspects of business functions.
- Innovation: New ideas, creative thoughts, or novel imaginations provide better solutions to meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or known market needs.
- Customer Satisfaction: Customers are satisfied with the experience, benefits, and outcomes when using your product or service.
- Market Responsiveness: The ability of the organization to pivot quickly to respond to ever-changing market demands.
- Productivity: Teams maintain a predictable cadence of delivery enabling the business to make informed business decisions.
- Speed: The time it takes to deliver an idea into the market.
- Quality: The product or service meets the expectations of the market for usability, reliability.
- Predictability: Increase the business value realized while maintaining or reducing costs.
We recommend that your organization pick one. Sorry, you can’t have them all at once! Limiting your organizational WIP (Work in Progress) helps create a clear sense of urgency.
Reasons To Measure
There are many reasons to measure as you track progress towards organizational business outcomes during your transformation. These include:
- Knowing where to invest your money – and to do so based on more than just gut instinct
- Knowing if you are building the right things for our market
- Measuring your performance and alignment — where your inventory (the software that the development teams create) that addresses features, defects, risks, and debt is not easily visible
- Knowing if your customers and employees are delighted (or not)
Why Don’t More Organizations Measure More Things?
In our practice, we routinely discover that many organizations don’t have much in place in terms of metrics. Why not? Some reason include:
- People are afraid of weaponized metrics – ones used not for purposes of continuous improvement, but instead for comparison and punishment.
- They were collecting vanity metrics, ones that didn’t offer any predictive power and eventually considered measurement programs “useless.”
- Metrics are actionable, however, they are presented in a way that people don’t find them useful (for example endless tables of numbers instead of clear graphic representations).
- Folks believed the “right things” were just too expensive to measure, and they failed to poke around to find existing data that would suffice.
- They mistakenly thought the “right things” were immeasurable — and didn’t consider finding proxies.
Meaningful Agile Metrics for Digital Transformations
Successful organizational transformations put in place metrics programs that focus on global outcomes and meaningful feedback loops. This is true at any point along the transformation journey.
|© 2020 by Andy Cleff|
All Rights Reserved
This article was originally published at https://baa.tco.ac/34lU