After a talk the other day I at the Yow! conference, an attendee came up to ask how he could convince his management to move to an outcomes model, and how they could forecast and measure value.
In 2007 the UK Department for Communities and Local Government (the DCLG) entered into a contract with European Air and Defence Systems (EADS, now known as Cassidian) to deliver an IT system that would underpin the FiReControl project.
The FiReControl project aimed to improve the UK Fire and Rescue Service by replacing 46 local control rooms with a network of nine purpose-built regional control centres. The project was expected to be completed in October 2009, and the DCLG’s original estimate of the project costs was £120 million. By 2009, two years into the project, the expected duration of the project had doubled, and the anticipated total project costs had increased by more than 500% to £635 million. In 2010 the contract was terminated. The DCLG had wasted at least £469 million as a result of the failure of the project to deliver.
I get asked “What’s next? Exactly what is ‘Post-Agile’ “? I then hear that Kanban or Lean Startup are the answers to all of our problems, along with the 200 or so new scaling Agile frameworks that have appeared on the market.
There is a tendency to jump to solutions and answers before properly understanding the problems or identifying the desired outcomes. Imposing a new process won’t deliver the right results if you’re tackling the wrong problem.
What do you currently measure? Most metrics efforts seem to focus on the throughput or output measures.
Throughput measures tend to cover how fast you get through the work. Examples from Agile teams are things like ‘number of items completed’ or ‘total story points’ completed during an iteration. Lean teams might use cycle time, or how long it takes a similar sized item to move from the beginning of the lifecycle to when it is launched.
Output would include Lines of Code, features or function points completed.
Throughput tells us how fast we go, output tells us how much we delivered. But why are we doing any of this work? What are the problems we are trying to solve? What are the business results we desire?