Techniques for Retrospectives

RetrospectivesIf you haven't noticed, we've been talking a lot recently about retrospectives. Like so many things in development (testing, for instance), retrospectives are highly important, yet often overlooked!

Because retrospectives are so valuable, it's important for a team to have several techniques at their disposal to address different situations. In fact, we so strongly believe this, that we have covered this topic at UNICOM's Agile Methods conference in February (Mike Harris, CEO, presented), as a webinar in March (Tom Cagley, VP of Consulting, presented) and even in a Trusted Advisor report!

The bottom line is that your team needs to understand the value of the retrospective and select a retrospective technique based on the team dynamic and the project at hand.

Learn various retrospective techniques and how to select the right one:

Looking for help in improving your team's retrospectives? Learn more about AgilityHealth Radar's TeamHealth Retrospective Assessment, a three-hour strategic workshop that focuses on the top areas that affect team performance and health.

As always, if you have questions, we're here to help!

Written by Default at 05:00
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How Software Value Can Impact Competitive Positioning

Mike HarrisSome might argue that a CEO should not be concerned with software development initiatives; instead, they should be focused on more strategic aspects of the business. I do not argue that the CEO is the visionary of the company and should turn to his/her executive team to manage the details; however, today, software is entwined in almost every aspect of an organization and can significantly impact the success of a business.

CEOs need to be focused on guiding his or her team to gain or keep a competitive advantage. In today’s technology-dependent business world, software is typically leveraged to enable businesses to be more efficient and effective, helping to lower costs and increase profits. Therefore, if the CEO’s vision is to be the lowest-cost/highest-value provider of a certain product, for example, and a software application needs to be developed to allow them to streamline a process to be able to offer their product at a lower cost while still providing greater value to their customers, then the CEO will be very interested in how quickly this software solution can be developed.

Time to market can be a critical factor in gaining a competitive advantage. In the rapidly changing banking industry, for example, banks need to continually offer new products and services in order to retain their existing customers and attract new ones. Most of these new offerings are driven by software. If they are unable to develop a software application quickly enough to beat their competitors, then they run the risk of losing customers and prospects.

If the CEO understands the business value of a software application and that it will help fulfill their vision, then they are likely to also be concerned whether or not it’s being prioritized appropriately so that it can be developed, implemented and brought to the market as quickly as possible to maintain high customer satisfaction and competitive advantage. 

How involved is your CEO in your software development initiatives?

 
Mike Harris
DCG President & CEO

 

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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CMO and IT Collaboration = Higher Software Value

Mike HarrisChief Marketing Officers (CMOs) have become one of the most frequent internal customers of IT departments in recent years. There has been an explosion in the use of technology by marketers as they have had to turn to online channels to reach their target audiences.

Digital marketing techniques, such as: interactive websites, mobile marketing, videos, email campaigns, search engine marketing/optimization, among others have become instrumental for marketers to get their messages in front of the right audiences and achieve their target revenue goals. 

In addition to the numerous digital marketing practices, there has also been a significant increase in the use of marketing automation tools, such as Hubspot and Pardot, to manage all of the moving parts of a marketing program; and also in CRM solutions, like Salesforce.com, to help maximize the relationships of customers and prospects. Furthermore, marketers are relying on analytics to better understand how their programs are performing. With these tools, they know what’s working, what’s not working and are able to adjust appropriately throughout a campaign.    

As a result of this heavy reliance on technology, CMOs have had to turn to IT frequently to help determine which solutions best fit their needs. Whether purchasing a COTS solution or building a software application from scratch, the IT department can help the CMO clearly understand the technologies available to meet their objectives and maximize the business value from their software. 

To reap the most value from a software solution, the CMO and IT department need to collaborate. It is essential for IT to clearly understand marketing’s business requirements and ultimate goals in order to deliver a software solution that meets their value expectations. 

CMOs and IT are encouraged to utilize a methodology such as the 5-step Value Visualization Framework (VVF) to ensure they have a clear directive to discuss, define, measure, and prioritize their software development initiatives. The VVF process enables marketing and IT to jointly set goals, make data-based decisions and measure against those goals.  It drives greater alignment between IT and marketing through a common language about value and priorities; and can drive IT’s continuous alignment with marketing’s end objectives. 

What collaborative methods do you use to align your business units and IT?


Mike Harris
DCG President & CEO

 

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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Why Everyone Should Care About Software Value?

Michael D. HarrisIn the majority of organizations today, it would seem that those most involved in a project (of any kind) would be the ones that care the most about its value. In the case of software development initiatives, the development teams and development managers are entrenched in the day-to-day. However, they are so focused on meeting deadlines, remaining within budget and maximizing utilization, software value is often not even on their radar. Yes, they should care about it, but the other factors tend to shift their priorities.

So, if they aren’t focusing on software value, who is? Should it be the CIO’s responsibility? Should the heads of the business units who are driving the requirements for projects be overseeing them to ensure maximum flow of the software’s value? In a perfect world, it should be both IT management and the business units working together to determine the business value of the software, develop goals, communicate those goals, and to measure against those goals to maximize value throughout the development effort.

It doesn’t stop with IT and the business units. Executives, and, yes, even the board, should care about maximizing software asset value and the flow of software value. If the software asset pool is not continually enhanced with new software, its value will decrease. If any aspect of an organization is declining in value, the upper echelon should care!

If the business value of software is realized and communicated from the top down in an organization to those who can impact the flow of the software value on a daily basis, more educated tactical decisions can be made to maximize the value. Therefore, everyone can play an important part and should care about the business value of software.

What do you think? Should software value be on the minds of the IT team, business units, as well as the c-level?


Mike Harris
DCG President & CEO

 

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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Managing Business Value of Software as an Asset

Michael D. HarrisManaging software as an asset is critical for organizations that want to maximize the value of that software. There are a number of different ways that organizations (and individuals within those organizations) look at asset value when it comes to their software. These different viewpoints include: financial, software maintenance and portfolio management.

Those that look at software from the financial side, often the CFO and the accounting team, consider all software purchased from vendors or software that is developed internally to be a financial capital asset that is accrued and depreciated on the organization’s balance sheet. In today’s world, where more and more software is “rented,” the subscription fees are posted as expenses on the balance sheet. How a software asset is treated in the financial realm may significantly impact an organization’s decision to purchase software outright or license it from a vendor.

The CIO often looks at software from the software maintenance angle. The more software assets an organization has under one roof, the more there is to maintain. And, the more complex each software package is, the more likely there will be more problems that need to be fixed, significantly driving up maintenance costs. Much like the financial perspective, the software maintenance view comes down to dollars and cents. The more maintenance a software asset requires, the less value it will have. We know that every software solution is going to require some maintenance, but it is important to ensure that a software asset isn’t going to require so much maintenance that it becomes a negative value.

Portfolio management is the third perspective where software value is looked at on an individual basis and also collectively with the organization’s other software applications. Software is purchased (or rented) because it is going to provide benefits for the organization (i.e. productivity improvements, enhance customer service); however, in some situations, when that software is integrated with other applications, the value can increase exponentially. For example, when data can easily flow from one software solution to the next (i.e. an HR solution to a payroll application), it saves valuable time for staff and reduces the potential for errors. Therefore, when assessing the value of the various software assets, it is likely that the sum of the whole exceeds the sum of the parts.

All three viewpoints are valid and need to be considered when making software investment decisions and determining the actual value of a software asset for an organization.


Mike Harris
DCG President & CEO

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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"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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