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SPaMCAST 486 features our interview with Daniel S. Vacanti.  Mr. Vacanti is the author of Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction.  We discussed the concepts in the book, answered a question from Steven Adams, and talked about his new book.  It was great to talk about a book with the author after the re-read.

Daniel Vacanti’s Bio:

Daniel Vacanti is a 20-plus year software industry veteran who has spent most of his career focusing on Lean and Agile practices.  In 2007, he helped to develop the Kanban Method for knowledge work and managed the world’s first project implementation of Kanban that year.  He has been conducting Lean-Agile training, coaching, and consulting ever since. In 2011 he founded ActionableAgileTM (previously Corporate Kanban) which provides industry-leading predictive analytics tools and services organizations that utilize Lean-Agile practices.  In 2015 he published his book, “Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability”, which is the definitive guide to flow-based metrics and analytics. Daniel holds an M.B.A. and regularly teaches a class on lean principles for software management at the University of California Berkeley.

Contact Information:

Twitter:  @danvacanti





Re-Read Saturday News
We will begin the full-scale re-read of L. David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around! next week and I am stoked. Buy your copy and listen to the interview I did with Mr. Marquet (SPaMCAST 202) to get involved in the re-read.  I am going to lead the re-read from my 2012 (7th printing) copy.  The book has 29 chapters, not including the forward, a cast of characters, index, afterword, and a glossary. The book is an easy read because Marquet is such an excellent communicator.  My intent is to knock out the preface material next week and then begin delivering 2 chapters per week. If my estimating ability holds true, we will complete our re-read in 18 weeks. I expect to miss two weeks due to travel. (more…)


A New Copy!

One note to start with: we are on Chapter 14 today out of 17. So, after today, we have approximately four more weeks. As a result, we will have to choose another book in the next couple of weeks.  I have received some suggestions, and I have also asked the interviewees that appeared in the Software Process and Measurement Podcast in 2017 which was the most impactful book they have read. I would also like your input. What do you suggest that we read next?  

Chapter 14 is titled Introduction to Forecasting in Daniel S. Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction (buy a copy today)

One of the definitions of predictability is the ability to make a quantitative forecast about the future state of a process. In this light, a forecast is just a calculation about the probability of the occurrence of some future event; an estimate might be a forecast. At one point in my career, the group I was part of had to collect data on a nightly file maintenance process so we could determine whether the process could finish within the required time window.   (more…)


You have to measure to improve!

The nine most commonly cited reasons for an agile transformation range from coldly tangible to ethereal.  As we have noted, each of the reasons can berestated as a question(s) that can be answered quantitatively.  How the question(s) is stated provides clarity to the organization’s goal.  This is no different than the way acceptance criteria and test cases define the nuances and provide clarity to user stories.  Today, I’m presenting an example of how data can be used as a feedback loop to highlight misinterpretation of intent and provide an impetus for behavior change. (more…)



A New Copy!

Chapter 13, Pull Policies, of Daniel S. Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction (buy a copy today) begins Part 4: “Putting It All Together for Predictability” . Pull policies define how work is accepted by a team and gets worked on. Pull policies are important because they affect cycle time and predictability.

Chapter 13 Pull  policies

Almost everyone that has been introduced to the concepts of flow,  kanban, or scrumban has been introduced to the idea of class-of-service (CoS).  Arguably, if you have ever stood in a line only to see someone go around the line understands different classes of service. A family member works in the airport, they always go to the head of the queue; airport employees are a class of service.  Vacanti uses the airport example in great detail at the beginning of the chapter to illustrate the impact of classes of service. I suggest reading the example at least twice before you finally put the book away (it is that good).  

Class of service is “a policy or set of policies around the order in which work items are pulled from a given process once those items are committed to.”   (more…)


Is value limited?

Organization or team decides to embrace agile and lean techniques for many reasons. Arguably there may be a disconnect between the reasons why people say they are addressing a method and the real reason.  How people are incented (paid or bonused) and how people are measured might be more a accurate representation. For example, if product cost in important to an organization, measures will have a systems perspective; however, if cost is important without a systems perspective the focus may be on the cost of components or individual components. The nine of the most commonly mentioned reasons for adopting agile are all can be measured however, some attributes are more or less difficult to measure. Common metrics include (note we will come back to how useful each is in the next entry in this series): (more…)


Can we really measure anything?

Organizations and teams come to agile—for that matter, any concept, framework or technique—for a wide variety of reasons.  Even if we are just the keeping up with the neighbors, we need feedback to know if we have met our goal.  We need feedback because—to quote Paul Gibbons, author of The Science of Successful Organizational Change (Re-read Saturday)—“we confuse what we think ought to work” with what does work (quote from SPaMCAST 480).  Feedback is required when we are trying to determine if the time and effort invested to adopt agile delivered the expected results.  The typical results promised from an agile transformation fall into nine overall categories.  Each of these can be used to generate questions which can be used to measure and assess impact.

  • Lower Cost – Are teams delivering functionality at less cost than they did when using different methods?
  • Faster Completion – Are teams delivering projects and programs faster?
  • Frequent Deliveries – Are teams able to release functionality more often?
  • Transparency – Are the agendas, policies, conditions, and decisions available to everyone involved in delivering value?
  • Business and Customer Focus – Is the work that teams do important to the business and/or the organization’s customers?
  • Engagement – Are teams, stakeholders, and customers working collaboratively in a concerted fashion to deliver value?
  • Predictability – Are teams able to state what they will do, when they will do it and then deliver on that promise?
  • Flexibility – Can the team change direction to meet business needs?
  • Increased Quality – Are teams delivering more usable functionality? Does the functionality have fewer defects and meet needs of the business?

Arguably not all of these promised benefits are direct benefits of adopting agile.  However, all of these benefits are used to sell the cost of adopting agile. Therefore it is imperative that you be able to answer whether we have met the promises and goals set when committing to an agile transformation. Peter Drucker, the management pundit,  has been quoted as saying “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” The impact of adopting agile in the business or technical components of the organization should have an impact on the purpose of the organization.  Most organizations adopt agile to improve their ability to deliver value and gain customers.  At the business level, these tactical goals that support Drucker’s more lofty goal are typically measured by reduced cost and/or increased profit.  Both are proxies for creating and keeping customers.  Evan Leybourn recently wrote that companies are not in the business of making money.  In a comment, someone pointed out that making profits was a requirement for maintaining the ability to create customers; therefore, it is a crucial part of a business’s survival equation.

The Agile Manifesto does not make any promises about performance or about how people will interact.  The Manifesto does describe values and principles that guide adoption and behavior in broad terms.  There are multiple paths for achieving the values and principles in the manifesto.  People almost always sell agile as more than a set of values and principles.  People sell agile to leaders with promises of faster, better, cheaper or otherwise improved functionality.  Given these promises it behooves all practitioners to be able to answer whether those promises were delivered with more than a shoulder shrug.


Next – Suggested Measures and Metrics


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SPaMCAST 473 features our essay on 6 Important Flow Metrics!  Getting the most value out of a process is important to any leader.  Balancing getting the most value with getting value sooner complicates the discussion.  In some cases, getting some value sooner is worth more than the same value delivered later.  Guiding the delivery of value is more complicated than a rank ordering a list of user stories and then magically hoping that everything will happen in the most effective and efficient manner possible.  Measurement is an important tool to help teams and organizations ask the right questions.  The 6 flow metrics provide process transparency into organizations that leverage continuous flow, scrumban, and/or Scrum as the basis for their Agile implementations.

We will also complete our discussion of part 3 (3 of 3) of chapter 20 of Tame The Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach and Its Application to Scrum and Kanban  (buy a copy here).


Re-Read Saturday News

This week,  we tackle Chapter 8 of Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction by Daniel S. Vacanti. Chapter 8 is titled, Conversion of Flow Part II.  Remember that requirement in Little’s Law.that work that enters the process, completes and leaves.  We do a deeper dive on why that is important.  Buy your copy today and read along! (more…)


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