Effective Queue Management Can Drive Software Business Value

Sticky Notes

Proper prioritization is essential to driving the business value of software. Those working in the trenches need to have a clear understanding of the end goal in order to prioritize their projects appropriately.  With all team members focusing on the same mission to maximize business value from software by optimizing the flow of business value through software development, better decisions can be made throughout the software development lifecycle.

The key element to properly prioritizing projects is effective queue management. On a daily basis, tactical decisions are made at the team level about the prioritization of tasks.  In Donald Reinertsen’s book “The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development,” he offers six principles for creating a value management capability for queue management at the team level:

1. Software development inventory is physically and financially invisible
2. Queues are the root cause of the majority of economic waste in software development
3. Increasing resource utilization increases queues exponentially (but variability only increases queues linearly)
4. Optimum queue size is an economic trade-off
5. Don’t control capacity utilization, control queue size
6. Use cumulative flow diagrams to monitor queues

Often decisions made by IT are not based on delivering business value, but on the difficulty of the project, the resources required or who is shouting the loudest to push their project to the top of the queue. This needs to change. IT departments need to prioritize their projects based on the business value they will deliver to the organization. Effective queue management is an essential component to making the right tactical decisions that will lead to maximizing the flow of business value in software development efforts.

What drives your decision-making process when determining what project to put in the queue next?


Mike Harris
CEO

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
Categories :

Software Value Needs to Start at the Top

McKinsey

I read an article recently, written by Hugo Sarrazin and Paul Willmott at McKinsey & Company, that I thought would be of interest to the readers of this blog. It resonates with my past posts about getting the software value message right to the top of the organization. The article was titled “Adapting your board to the digital age."

Who can argue with recommendations to make board members more informed about the development of technology solutions? I particularly like, “Board members need better knowledge about the technology environment, its potential impact on different parts of the company, and its value chain.”

I would have liked to have seen more stress on the importance of the board being focused on the value delivered by digital transformation. Some of the recommendations (such as having technology committees) could be seen as sufficient in themselves, which they are not. I’m sure that if the board has a “balloons” committee then the company will end up spending more on balloons, even if that is not going to increase the value of the company.

My recommendation to boards? Follow most of the good ideas in this paper, but beware of “digitization” for its own sake. Start and end with business value!

Read, “Adapting Your Board to the Digital Age,” here.


Mike Harris
CEO

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
Categories :

Portfolio Software Value Management

The CIO Forum

Last year our CIO, Mike Harris, was invited to speak at the annual CIO Forum, a gathering of senior-level IT executives. Conference sessions are led by peers or industry experts, like Mike, who have a clear understanding of the business obstacles inherent in controlling large technology departments and how they can be managed and resolved. His presentation, "The Value Visualization of IT," shared his ideas about how to get the most value out of software development initiatives in order to drive better decision making and improve value flow.

His presentation was so well received, that he was invited to speak again this year! Of course, while it's nice to be recognized, the conference is a great opportunity for us as well, allowing us to better understand the issues at the top-of-mind for CIOs and to find out what they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis. In turn, we can provide some insight into strategies and tactics they may not have considered before.

For instance, Mike's presentation this year, "Portfolio Software Value Management," provided actionable steps for maximizing the flow of business value from software. He also shared insights from his forthcoming book, "The Business Value of Software" (publication date 2017), focusing on the best practices for deriving value from software development initiatives.

Industry trends suggest that IT management is increasingly being held accountable for the value of IT initiatives, and yet little effort is made to actually measure, track, and optimize the value of software development in any meaningful way. In the words of Mike, "It's appalling that so few organizations have implemented the necessary steps to demonstrate their value directly to the business in terms that they can understand and openly discuss."

Download his presentation for suggestions on how organizations can move forward down this path - and let us know what you think!

Download

Written by Default at 05:00

CIOs Discuss Prioritizing Projects by Business Value

Mike HarrisLast week I had the pleasure of speaking at The CIO and IT Security Forum in Miami. I also spoke at a CIO Forum this past fall. At these events, my presentations are delivered to small groups of CIOs/CISOs intentionally to allow an interactive and intimate dialogue. That said, I had about 35 people split across two presentations last week. My goal for these presentations is to offer ideas for using software business value to prioritize development projects at the strategic and tactical levels, to provide practical examples, and, above all, to evangelize to try to get more companies doing this stuff – visualizing the business value of their software development efforts.

The attendees were very engaged in this topic. Most of their interest was focused on using cost of delay and weighted shortest job first approaches to prioritize projects. In the first session, the audience requested I go through the calculations in detail, so I incorporated that into the second presentation and again got a positive response. There was something of an “aha” moment in both sessions as they realized that coming up with relative business value for prioritization purposes is actually a practical proposition.

In the first session, we had a substantial group of CISOs, and we talked about where information security investments fit in the business value of software – a particular piece of software development could result in a reduction of risk, but all software development has the potential to add risk of a vulnerability if security is ignored or is simply paid lip service. 

Of the 35 or so participants, just two claimed to attempt to prioritize by business value. They were able to describe their approaches to the other participants. This is one of the great things about CIO Forum events – participants learn as much from their peers as they do from the presenters, and I always try to encourage this interchange during my sessions.

Do you prioritize your software development initiatives by business value? If not, what criteria do you use to prioritize your projects?  If you’d like to learn more about focusing on software business value to prioritize your efforts, click here for white papers, additional blogs, and webinars on the topic.


Mike Harris
CEO

 

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00

Value Metrics for Agile Governance

Value MetricsThe software development industry has made great strides in leveraging metrics to improve performance; however, the metrics being used in Agile implementations today are often focused on the team level and not on the organization as a whole. With the proper software value visibility metrics, an organization can better manage Agile software development initiatives to ensure these investments maximize the value potential.

An article I recently wrote that discussed these value metrics was published in Techwell’s Spring 2016 edition of Better Software magazine. In the article, I set the scene by discussing current practices, beginning with examples of metrics used in a waterfall organization: delivered as promised, productivity, timeliness, quality, and accuracy. Although these metrics can be tremendously valuable in many ways, they do not provide the necessary details for governance. I also discuss the metrics challenge for Agile and the differences between Agile and waterfall metrics. 

The significance of the article truly comes in the discussion of a solution that helps organizations implement value metrics that are useful to individual Agile teams as well as proving beneficial for executives. To learn more about my proposed solution, take a few minutes to read my Better Software article. I’d welcome your thoughts on the article or ideas you have to help improve software value.

Note: You can view the complete article by clicking on this link: Value Metrics for Agile Governance. You will be asked to subscribe to Better Software. It is quick and painless. You will then have access to the article, courtesy of Better Software magazine.

 

Mike Harris
DCG CEO

Written by Michael D. Harris at 08:49

"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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