Small Changes, Big Gains


At DCG, we admire Sir Dave Brailsford, who turned UK Cycling from enthusiastic also-rans to a world power. Obviously, having talented individuals helped, but adding together small percentage changes to kit, processes and physiology led to huge gains in performance.

Sir Dave continues this relentless focus on facts and measurement with Team Sky. Careful adjustments achieve the small gains that, added together, set the team on a different level from the competition. Every change has a purpose, whether it’s to optimise the bikes, improve training, or even to help cyclists sleep better by bringing their own pillows on tour.

DCG believes that software development can use the same approach to improving project delivery.   Like Sir Dave, we concentrate on measuring the facts and optimising processes to deliver significantly improved results.

We aim to enable clients to visualise the true value of software projects. Our Value Visualization Framework (VVF) is a quick and inclusive way of surfacing the business value of software change. Quantifying the business value of new features clarifies and accelerates prioritisation of the product backlog, leading to higher value delivery earlier than ever before.

Nasty crashes do sometimes happen in development, and our Project Triage Solution diagnoses and quantifies the changes needed to restore or salvage value.

Effective development processes, starting with metrics-based parametric estimates, aid good governance and enable organisations to deliver business change on time and on budget with fewer headaches.

Alan Cameron
Managing Director, DCG UK

Written by Default at 05:00

Quantify the Economic Value of Stories Once Deployed

Michael D. HarrisThroughout my blog posts over the past several months, I’ve talked about the “Value Visualization of IT” and shared my Value Visualization Framework (VVF) concept. It is a 5-step VVF process that runs in parallel to the process that creates the business case for a project and then breaks the project down into epics and stories. It provides a comprehensive way for organizations to communicate business value information for software development projects.

In previous blogs, I have covered the first four steps of the VVF, including: 1. Defining the units of value delivery; 2. Defining the value of the project in specific units; 3. Defining the “size”; and 4. Defining the cost of delay. Today, I will cover the last step: Quantifying the economic value once deployed.

Once you understand the value of each unit and the potential costs of delays in the project, you need to quantify the economic value of each unit once the project is deployed. Delaying the assignment of actual market value to deployed functionality until it is actually deployed allows fluctuations in value due to market forces or environment changes to be taken into account. The following graphic provides an example for a website development project. It assumes that the value of website subscribers increases as the subscriber base grows. Hence, in week 9 each subscriber is worth $10. This goes up to $15 in week 12 and $20 in week 15. This is based on advertising revenue per subscriber increasing as the number of subscribers increase. Of course, the value could just as easily fall!

Economic Value of Stories

With a process such as the Value Visualization Framework, we can get more value out of our software development initiatives by using business value as the most important consideration in prioritizing flow of work through software development. Prioritizing based on difficulty of project, how many and which resources are required and who is shouting the loudest might seem logical in the short-term, but will not maximize the true value of a software development effort. By measuring and tracking value throughout the software development initiative, using all or even just some of the steps in the VVF process, you will be better able to prioritize workflow, hence, value flow.

Michael D. Harris
DCG President

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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Defining the Cost of Delay

As many of you know, the “Value Visualization of IT” is a topic I am passionate about. I’ve written numerous articles, blog posts and even a book on this subject, as well as spoken about it at many conferences and events. I believe that understanding the value of a software development project is so critical to its success that I created a concept known as the Value Visualization Framework (VVF). In September, I walked through the 5-step VVF process, which provides a clear directive to discuss, define, measure, and prioritize software development initiatives based on their ability to deliver on the value expectations.

After completing the first three steps of the process: defining the units of value delivery, the value of the project in specific units and the size of the initiative, the next step is defining the “Cost of Delay” of the implementation challenge, including level of complexity, duration, etc. This step is crucial in prioritizing work packets or projects or stories. Essentially, we should always prioritize projects with the highest cost of delay. However, identifying the cost of delay for a particular story is neither intuitively obvious nor easy. The following are three potential approaches to defining the cost of delay:

1st Approach: Explicit Cost

  1. Penalty if completion date is missed (e.g. $2,500 fine if not completed by Day 15)
  2. Missed opportunity (e.g. the loss of an incentive – 30 new subscribers will sign up if delivered by Day 17 or not!)

 2nd Approach: Cost if Stories in Software Development are Too Long

 The following table shows examples of costs of delay for excessive times in software development

Cost of Delay

3rd Approach: Relative Cost of Delay of One Story Against Another

This approach can allow cost of delay to be assigned by an informed and representative team with relatively little data. The process is similar to story estimation in Agile using planning poker. Usually a limited set of numbers (Fibonacci or modified Fibonacci e.g. Cohn Scale - Popularized by Mike Cohn for use in Story Points: 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100, ?) are used and participants must choose from this and set the relative cost of delay for each story against the other stories, as in the figure below.

Cost of Delay for Stories

The fifth and final step of the VVF process is quantifying the economic value once deployed. Watch for an upcoming post discussing this step.

Michael D. Harris
DCG President


Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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Download Value Visualization White Paper

Michael D. HarrisMichael D. Harris has written a white paper titled: “How can we get more value out of software development?” It provides an introduction to visualizing the value of software development projects. In the paper, Michael lays out the challenge that most major corporations face in regards to software development: projects are prioritized based on a variety of factors, but typically not business and economic value.

The white paper discusses the importance of value visualization and then walks through the 5-step Value Visualization Framework (VVF) concept that Michael developed to help IT departments and business units collaborate to set, measure and track goals based on value.

Download this free white paper today by clicking here and learn how you can maximize the value of your next software development initiative.

Written by Default at 05:00

Michael D. Harris to Share His Value Visualization Framework at the IEEE Software Technology Conference

Michael D. HarrisMichael Harris, author and speaker on the Value Visualization of IT and related topics, and President and CEO of David Consulting Group, will present at the IEEE Software Technology Conference taking place October 12-15, 2015 in Long Beach, California.

Mr. Harris will present his “Value Visualization Framework” concept on October 14 at 10:00 a.m. PST. He will discuss how providing IT with the economic data for software development initiatives can lead to improved decision making and ultimately impact an organization’s bottom line. Mr. Harris’ 5-step Value Visualization Framework (VVF) promotes collaboration between the business units and IT in order to prioritize projects based on their value. Mr. Harris will share his framework and offer guidance on how it can be used in conjunction with many of the popular development methodologies in use today, such as Agile.

“When IT functions in a silo, its ability to impact the overall organization in a meaningful way is limited, at best,” said Mr. Harris. “It is imperative that IT work closely with the business in order to prioritize its work based on assigned value. With the value information directly from the business, IT can then produce work that will foster the greatest business and economic benefits, providing increased profitability and an improved competitive advantage.”

The IEEE Software Technology Conference is a leading software conference that provides a forum for software practitioners to share their experiences with the goal of improving the execution of software across the industry. The focus of this year’s event is “Meeting Real World Opportunities and Challenges through Software and Systems Technology.”

More information about the VFF and Mr. Harris is available here:

Written by Default at 05:00
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"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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