Day 15 of 100 Know You Are Managing Time to Market & How To Do It

May 17, 2013 — Posted by Al Shalloway

Continuing with the 100 Things You Must Know to Be Effective In Software Development

The purpose of development/IT is to deliver value quickly - not just for a team, but for the entire organization. If you reflect on this, it's not about going fast, it's about removing delays.  Delays are typically waiting for folks, getting feedback late, detecting errors late, or just going to work on something else that has come up.  Scrum, XP, and Kanban all, in their own way, focus on doing this - eliminating delays.  However, instead of listing how these methods do it, let's look at fundamentally at what practice they use to do it.   There are (at least) four ways to accomplish this:

  • remove delays in the workflow by making them visible on a value stream map (Lean)
  • manage work-in-progress to remove delays in the workflow (Lean, Kanban)
  • use cross-functional teams that self-organize to remove delays in the workflow (Lean, Scrum, XP)
  • focus on business value delivery - do what it takes to get the most important thing out the door fastest (Lean, Scrum, XP, Kanban)

These are obviously related, but since one-size does not fit all, if you don't know all of these methods you will certainly not be effective in certain situations.

Let's go through each of these briefly:

 

Remove delays in the workflow. Sometimes mapping out the workflow is all it takes to get to the root cause of problems.  Attending to delays and thrashing at a macro level can lead to insights how to remove them.  Acceptance Test-Driven Development is another method to remove delays.

Manage work-in-progress to remove delays in the workflow.  Many (most?) delays in workflow are due to working on too many things. If you manage the size and number of things being worked on, the delays you want to eliminate will be reduced significantly.

Use cross-functional teams that self-organize to remove delays in the workflow. Scrum works, when it does, because its core mandate of a cross-functional team provides the structure from which to eliminate delays in workflow. Having all the people you need to get the job done makes it relatively straightforward to eliminate any delays in the workflow.  Scrum hits the wall when it is attempted to be used across teams because it provides no viable  mechanism to handle cross-team delays. 

Focus on business value delivery - do what it takes to get the most important thing out the door fastest. If one focuses on delivering business value, one will do what it takes to:

  • eliminate delays in the workflow
  • will focus on the most important work - managing how much work is being done to not lose focus from the most important stuff
  • will have all the people necessary to get the job done quickly (notice what you do when you have a high priority, severity one issue

These are essential the first 3 items on the list.

The bottom line is don't get hung up on your method - understand why each can work and use them when that practice is most effective. 

Want to learn how to do this in your company?  Send me a note.

Al Shalloway
CEO, Net Objectives

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With 45 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas.



        

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Al Shalloway
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