Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Value

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine the value that we are adding to a project, it is very easy to get our heads trapped at the abstraction level that we work at, for example as a developer I have previously invested lots of time in formatting code bases to new standards, at the time I believed this was adding lots of value to the project, because I was thinking about the project like a developer thinks about the project, I believe this is a stage many developers go through in their quest to be great at their job.

If we look at a project and try to determine value, we quickly get to sales as value. That is the only real value that can be delivered, if you are holding up delivery of a product you'd better be damn sure you have a good reason as you are costing the company money. This can be very hard to see with the layers between you writing code and the person collecting the cheque from the customer so disconnected. Unless we put effort into thinking about what is adding value it is very possible that we are all delivering lots of things that are of low or no value.

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It can also be hard when trying to shift to this mindset to find where long term value delivery fit it, it's already hard to measure the value of adding a feature to a piece of software, how do we even begin to comprehend the value in spending a day writing documentation for other developers, or helping to train colleagues.

There is loads of great advice out there on development techniques, mobbing, pairing, TDD, XP and so on. But how can we measure the difference that they make to our organisation? What metrics should we use? The only thing I can think is to use story points as a starting point, velocity could be a good metric, but story points are hard and not directly tied to value... perhaps we should measure the value of a story/bug at the same time that we measure the effort required?

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