One of the things you hear when developing software, especially in an agile environment, is ensure that you are delivering business value .
But what is business value?
Does your team understand “the value” that a piece of work will provide? I suspect not but here’s the dirty little secret in most companies neither do the business.
The issue with the business not understanding the value of “your work” or a project is that even if the project is delivered on time and with all the features that were asked for it can be a failure as it doesn’t actually deliver the value the business needs.
Part of the problem is the term value in the first place, what does it refer to? How do you define value?
A bit like Phaedreus’ quest to find a definition of Quality in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance you could spend a long time searching but not come up with a definitive answer.
What you can say with some certainty is by the time a team starts development if the value relating to that piece of work hasn’t been defined its too late, the team is building what has been asked for and its costing the business money and you have no idea if it will deliver value to the business.
The time to define the value of the project is when its proposed, what value will the business get from this project? it could be things such as:
- Gain new customers
- Retain existing customers
- Be seen as “Thought Leader” in the sector
- Increase specific revenue
- First to market
When you understand value of the project you can proceed to create the goals of the project and the value each goal brings, the features for each goal and the value each brings and so on, you get the idea.
What is key here though is to communicate this value to everybody involved so that not only do they understand the value of what they are delivering but crucially are then able to make judgements about that work, should they take approach a or approach b? what does each approach contribute to the overall value of the project?
So next time you start a project ask about what value is being delivered, you never know it may just help you deliver a project that actually delivers the value the business needs.