Measurement


Before we dive in – let’s begin a new poll for the next book in our Re-read Saturday.  I have had a number of suggestions:

Pick two and we will start on the top choice!  Note: There are two books on the list that will be first reads for me (I will let you guess).  All of these books are very relevant to agile, lean and process improvement.


Whether you like the word transformation or not, many in the process improvement and agile communities help to facilitate change. Involvement in any non-trivial change effort requires resources, people, support and the expenditure of political capital. If change uses an organization’s people and assets someone will ask what the return on those assets are and whether those assets could return more if used elsewhere. I can tell (and often have told) a great story about the impact of a good working environment, doing the right work, and good processes. The response I get to my rationale on the value of being agile is ‘can you prove it.’ Can you prove it’ translates directly into ‘can you measure it’, and ‘are those measures meaningful?’ A model for answering that question that I am sketching out at a program or organization level has to answer the following questions:

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Picture of George Washington on dollar bill

Sometimes it is all about the money!

In our interlude, I posited that there are questions that organizations need to ask and find a mechanism to answer. Some of the feedback I received suggested that the questions weren’t agile or weren’t agile enough. To some, only the outcome matters, not the cost or the amount of time it takes to deliver the functionality requested. The perspective of a team can be very parochial, focused on delivering what is in front of them; however, their existence is tied to more than customer satisfaction.   All organizations are tied to cost and productivity. Understanding the impact and return on effort, raw material and capital within a company that is ultimately needed to deliver the organization’s products and services define ROI and profitability. (more…)

Dawn over Lake Erie

An interlude before the day begins!

I am studying for and taking tests and assessments this week, which has thrown my cadence off a bit.  This essay was intended to be a deeper dive into cost in the world of agile metrics, but studying came first.  Therefore a useful interlude:

Agile metrics are important because internal and external stakeholders have questions to which they want answers.  Agile admonishes organizations to focus on outcomes as the most critical measure of success. The statement is hard to argue with but provides an incomplete picture. Defining outcomes is useful for addressing the nuances of stakeholder questions.  Outcomes are “things” of consequence. For a development organization, regardless of external or internal focus, the “things” of consequence they deliver are features, functions or services – enabled by code. As organizations grow and mature they must start to deal with the hard questions (internally first) well before customer satisfaction falls or other stakeholders begin asking.

Questions that need to be asked and answered include:

  1. Are we delivering enough outcomes?
  2. Are we spending too much to deliver an outcome?
  3. Are we spending too much (or too little) to support our code base?
  4. Which features, modules or products are providing the highest return?
  5. Are we staffed correctly?

All of these questions are important.  Depending on where you are in your organization’s life cycle, these questions become critical.  We will discuss a framework to address these questions in the near future but until then are there other questions to add to the list?

Additional reading on return —

Metrics Minute: Return on Investment (ROI)
https://tcagley.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/metrics-minute-return-on-investment-roi/

Metrics Minute: Return on Assets (ROA)
https://tcagley.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/metrics-minute-return-on-assets-roa/

 

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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

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielvacanti/

Mail: daniel@actionableagile.com

Web: https://www.actionableagile.com/

 

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…)

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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…)

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