Processes and Agility are vital for any software development company, irrespective of the maturity level; however, organizations sometimes lose the real Purpose of processes and agility, which is bringing Business Value to the organization. Let’s see how Processes, Agility, Purpose & Business Value come in to play in an ideal scenario.
World-leading companies bring consistency and clarity to their business by running on solid processes. However, while processes should be defined with a purpose, rigid process controls in an early stage of a company will hinder its ability to maneuver itself in a very competitive dynamic environment. When defining a process, it is important to keep the following aspects in mind:
- A process should have the right balance (very qualitative).
- A process should be well understood by employees.
- The purpose behind the process should be clear to the people who follow it.
- Employees should know when to violate the process.
- The process should be regularly questioned and revised to suit the business needs.
Agility is about being nimble & responsive to business change while focusing on creating value for the customers. Agility is not the same as not having processes; agile organizations have the right amount of processes to run the operation in a professional manner. A few points to consider if you are running agile are as follows:
- Agility should be based on an accepted framework like SCRUM.
- It should not be mixed up with the process.
- Existing processes should be questioned based on the business value it creates.
- People should be empowered, even to make mistakes.
- Training and time should be given for people to understand the agile philosophy.
- It should be inculcated in the organization’s culture.
Sometimes we work in an organization without seeing the purpose of the work we do. If employees can clearly understand the purpose, with the right training and processes, agility would come naturally. However, in most cases, the purpose is not properly communicated or defined for business units and individuals. This leads to the creation of non-value adding processes that hinder agility.
A classic example of losing the sense of purpose is a developer who goes through the code just to prove a point to the QA team, on the verge of a critical release, resulting in late delivery. The purpose of having Development and QA processes is to deliver an error-free solution to the customer. If the purpose had been understood properly, they would have worked as a team in delivering the release on time, rather than trying to best each other.
A purpose is twofold: official and unofficial. A job description easily defines the official aspect of a purpose. The unofficial part is made of self-discovered ethics, values, and responsibility. When one advances in their career, they should focus on self-discovery, which in turn fuels advancement.
If there is one thing that each individual need to be clear about, it is the purpose!
We conduct tasks that don’t add any business value to the end customer. Anything that we do which the customer is not paying for is considered non-value adding. But it’s not practical to run a software development house based on the core manufacturing lean principles.
The three aspects of Business Value:
- Value adding – Tasks that add direct value to the end customers, for which the customer pays.
- Non-value adding but necessary – Tasks that the customer might not pay for, but required to run an organization.
- Non-value adding and not necessary – Tasks that do not fall under any of the above aspects are considered waste.
A customer can be internal or external. For example, Delivery can be a customer of the internal IT department.
Inability to understand the business value could lead to many unwanted issues; it will directly impact the purpose, which will lead to wrong KPIs and metrics. Wrong KPIs and metrics will lead to wrong processes, which will kill the agility, creating an environment unfavorable to agile principles.
- Business value
These four things are crucial for a start-up or a company in its mid-growth stage. Once a company goes beyond a certain point in their growth cycle, the Process would take over Agility, Purpose, and Business value. That’s why world leading organizations are built on solid processes that incorporate Agility, Purpose, and Business value.
Startups should define their ‘Purpose’ in the business value they can create for end customers. When an organization defines its purpose, agility can be achieved.
It is very important that individuals find the right mix of these 4 facets of an organization, where learning, training and exploring what’s happening out there play a vital role.
Assistant Vice President -Software Development & BI, Project Delivery