Sep 28th, 2020

End to End Delivery

Part 6: Deliver Value Sooner

  Written by: Craig Vosper, Chief Delivery Officer

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Last week, we completed the discussion around how we plan a project. Now, I’d like to begin discussing how we deliver projects. Previously, I had listed these 4 basic delivery tenets:

  1. React to change
  2. Deliver value sooner
  3. Become more predictable
  4. Ensure high-quality work

Today, I want to talk about item number 2: deliver value sooner. This concept is a pivotal driver for the other three, so I think it makes sense to start here. In a previous article titled Selecting the Best Option, I had alluded to the act of defining a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) or Minimal Marketable Feature (MMF). This effort helps the team immensely when documenting the work to be done.

There are different definitions for MVP’s/MMF’s, but for the purpose of this example we’ll use the following: The smallest number of features that will provide an impact on one or more objectives. This technique for decomposition is an excellent way to focus your team and deliver value sooner (notice we did not say deliver code sooner).

There are a lot of approaches for decomposition. I’ve listed some of the techniques we’ve used below:

  1. Select a single market or customer-specific segment of your business. This helps the team focus on one set of users or customers vs. trying to consider every possible market need at once.

  2. Select a single type of service, product, or offering. This allows the team to focus on a path through the solution; giving them less exceptions to build right away.

  3. Select the “happy path” only. This requires some very explicit choices regarding how to handle exceptions but can be excellent for identifying exceptions that don’t require immediate attention.

In a previous article, I shared an example Service Application. In this example, we selected a service type to act as the initial MVP (referred to as “regular route”). This allows us to push a release into production much sooner than if had we built the solution for all service types. You can see this in the execution matrix displayed below:

Example Execution Matrix

Another overlooked but even more important benefit of decomposing work is that it helps you identify the work you don’t actually need to do. The Standish Groups Chaos Report in 2018 found that 50% of features are hardly ever used. This means that half of all delivery work is essentially thrown away. Think of this as an opportunity to improve your delivery organization by 100% simply with decomposition and prioritization!

Now that we have well-defined sets of work and understand how that work will impact the business, we can dig into how to become more predictable. This will help us provide better estimates as to when the business will get their next round of value.

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