How much business value does your software group generate for your organization?
That’s the existential question an international corporation’s software leader poses, kicking off the 2017 book “The Business Value of Software.” It’s also a topic we’ve all likely wrestled with from time to time. It’s the essence of the value we personally bring to the business through our daily actions.
The problem is, value is hard to define and hard to measure. But, it’s easy to see how business value can seep away from software initiatives when software projects start to experience problems.
When production is delayed, and software releases don’t go out on time, sales will fall short of projections. When a release doesn’t satisfy customer needs in a specific market, negative user reviews will spike–and that could impact future sales. When market trends shift suddenly, and business unit leaders have no clear way to push the development team to add new features to the product, that’s a missed market opportunity.
With every misstep, you’ve lost a certain amount of business value.
Conceptually, every one of these situations is fixable. To an extent, some companies have adopted practices that can catch certain problems before they become unfixable. But, to a greater extent, the inability of software-driven companies to anticipate trends, flag problems, share information, iterate on solutions and learn from mistakes is costing them business.
In this blog series, we’ve discussed how software delivery management (SDM) presents a framework for organizations to change the way they think about software and streamline delivery processes. SDM seeks to connect all aspects of the software delivery process to not only become more efficient but also drive toward a common goal of delivering maximum business value.
The SDM model is built around four key pillars: ensuring everybody is working with common data; sharing insights and continuous learning across the organization; connecting processes to bring ideas to market; and enabling closer collaboration across software-related functions and teams to amplify value creation efforts. It emphasizes that software doesn’t have to go it alone–the whole organization is rallying around software and making it a top priority.
How does an interconnected, collaborative, information-driven software organization create business value using SDM? Here are a few ways.
Leaning on Analytics
Rather than just using discrete build-test-deploy processes, make sure management, developers, marketers and engineers are all incorporating key analytical measures in their iteration processes. These stakeholders shouldn’t go on hunches–they should base their decisions, at least in part, on data. The data includes downloads, adoption figures, conversions, support requests and customer experience performance ratings. Armed with information, the organization will do a better job delivering the software customers want and are willing to pay for.
Helping People Ask the Right Questions
Developers are a prideful bunch. They want to build great software that users love to run. Without insight into business needs and user preferences, they’ll do their best with features and functionality. With data sharing and communications channels in place, they can ask questions like “Where is this feature being deployed?” or “Why will customers want a whole new interface?” Consequently, ops pros can ask, “Who pushed this new release to production and when?” VPs can ask whether the latest round of releases will be ready for the big marketing push to launch it. If you’re asking the right questions early enough in the process, you’re going to make better decisions and be doing a better job delivering on business goals.
Being Nimble Enough to Change Quickly
Organizations pride themselves by their ability to act in an agile manner. But, are they really set up to move on a dime? Say a well-researched release flops unexpectedly. Sales and support rapidly gather feedback that European users hate the color and APAC users hate the navigation path. Because all the stakeholders are aligned and ready to move, developers tweak the features, ops leaders juggle the release schedule, management relaunches with regional marketing campaigns, sales follows up with targeted incentives and developers watch for more user feedback that can be incorporated into future releases.
Your company has worked hard to turn itself into a software-driven business. Using the principles of SDM, your business can drive business results to the next level. It can generate more sales. It can make unhappy customers happy. It can make happy customers even happier. It can improve its own responsiveness, up and down the organization. Most of all, it can use software to achieve its ultimate goal: to drive business value.