Monday, October 15, 2012

3 Methods to increase Business Value

Yesterday I enjoyed talking to Southern Fried Agile, the local one-day agile conference.  My topic was this: Three steps toward greater business value.
I was also pleased to see that many participants said they wanted to talk about this subject. So much so that the organizers decided to run the session twice. I am happy that this is considered an important subject. Certainly I think it is.
Some things we already do in Scrum to increase Business Value (or should do):
  1. Better partnership between Business and Technology
  2. Improve the Product Owner (and give him or her this job)
  3. Use a prioritized Product Backlog
  4. Order the Product Backlog to maximize the release of Business Value (over your chosen time frame)
  5. Build working product each sprint (if we get cut short, at least we can field what we have so far)
  6. Demo working product and get feedback from business stakeholders each sprint. Ex: “Did we build for you the most value stuff this sprint?”
  7. Release more frequently
Could we be doing each of those better?  (Ok, sorry for the rhetorical question.)
In the presentation, I suggested three “big” additional things we could do.
A. Business Value Engineering…
This is a framework for continuously getting better at delivering business value. By mapping the process, by articulating the underlying assumptions, by taking a fact-based approach to proving which improvements would be better.
B. Priority Poker
This is an easy thing to add to Release Planning or to Release Plan Refactoring. Or relatively easy. You enable the “5″ best people on business value (in your specific domain) to learn from each other more about business value. By voting “business value points” on each user story.  And the rest of the group learns too.
C. The Pareto Idea
This is classic, and in some sense, almost everyone does it already.  Except they don’t do it enough. And they don’t take it as a basic, everyday, mindset.  So, we fight every day to separate more the gold-platinum-diamonds from the silver-copper from the dirt.
This is a lot of hard work, every day, that we do while we break down the stories into small sprint-sized ones. (I like about 8 stories in a 2 week sprint.)
There is much more to all 3 of these ideas.  To be discussed later.  But they attendees seemed to like the ideas. But the real question is whether they got enough to start taking action (if only to learn more).  We shall see, I hope.

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