17 March 2010

Definable & Measurable Software Value

In the race between How Fast? and How Valuable?
  • the former might be an ingredient of the latter, but 
  • the former should never win at the expense of the latter.
Remember
We can get to crap-shack in a hurry.
I want to be meticulous about the meaning of value. It's not easy, but the challenge should inspire.

Value differs with every project. A pattern of define and measure is necessary.

Define and Measure

On every software team I have been on, we ignored the objectively measurable for the sake of expedience, then married How Valuable?with wild-assed guesses -- our guesses, or those of the business.

I am ready for this to stop.

The challenge is marrying How Valuable? with verifiable data. An example of what I mean would be to equip our teams to address and react to concrete questions like
  • What's our retention rate following the new feature?
  • How many new users did we enroll?
  • How many units did we sell?
  • Did our community react favorably to the change?
  • What are 3 pain points for our user community?
  • What are 3 beefs our user community has with our software?
  • Has the volume of help desk calls changed?
Whenever questions like these are asked, the follow-up is How much do we care?

The Next Project

So, I'm thinking about my next project. Here's my to-do list so far:
  1. Lobby for a discussion of what's valuable
  2. Continually challenge team members about what's valuable
  3. Sustain a living definition of what's valuable
  4. Find ongoing means to measure and demonstrate value
  5. Be a rat terrier on the heals of lazy, unclear, or incomplete value definitions
  6. Be a rat terrier on the heals of value definitions that can't be verified
  7. Push to collect data to verify the iterative addition of value
  8. Prepare to react to feedback from data collection
  9. Limit back-patting in retrospectives simply because stories were completed
  10. Limit back-patting in retrospectives if incremental value cannot be proved
  11. Challenge "Product Owners" or "The Business" when notions, laziness, or any lack of commitment toward proving value prevails