How to Connect Development Actions to Business Value

Feb 28, 2018

by Kai Gilb
We Deliver #ValueFirst

Connecting your development activity {actions, tasks, coding, User-Stories, Product-Backlog items, technical-solutions etc.} directly to business value is futile. If you are serious about delivering value, I suggest you look into understanding how to connect your development activity to the chain of value that leads to business value.

We all try and want to deliver value to the business. But developing and delivering technical solutions, code or software hoping it will be valuable to the business is a far stretch. Yet a value focus that many of us are claiming they do. I hold that claim to be futile, that it is in fact bullshit!

As an example,

if one of the business values is to increase the profit for the company. Then as a software product developer, you can potentially have a significant impact on the profit. But what is the connection? How direct is it? Can you prioritize your actions up against the Profit value?

Company Profit is impacted by many factors; global economics, local economics, seasons, marketing, sales, customer needs, interest rates, cryptocurrency rates, expenses, the weather, customer service, integration, tax, reputation, competition and the list goes on... oh and your software.

If you are developing software for your company, you can improve the log-in, reliability, user-friendliness, performance, and you can add some functions or change the user interface, etc.. None of which would typically directly affect revenue. Claiming you are focusing on business value when prioritizing software project activities, like product backlogs, is at best a pipe dream.

But if you are serious about delivering value to the business, you can help out, you can make the connection, you can use the Profit targets to prioritize your actions, but you have to be willing to do it right. Let me show you how we do it.

Some concepts I use in this article:

Function = what the system does.
Value = how well the Function does its Function
Solution = how the function does it so well

Concept example, for a watch:
One Function = Show time.
One Value = Accuracy.
One Solution = Spring Drive.

Her is an example:

If I'm responsible for the Table-of-Contents (TOC) in the user manual of a product. How can I relate, connect and in fact prioritize what I'm doing with the TOC to the business values like Profit?

Let me start with the business value of Profit.
To improve the Profit, one thing we could do is to reduce the Training-Costs.
To reduce the Training-Costs, one thing we could do is to make the product Ease-of-Use and Ease-of-Learning.
To improve the Ease-of-Learning, we could improve the User-Manual,
and to make an improved User-Manual, we could develop an Accurate and a Fast to look up, well laid out, Table-of-Contents (TOC).

A level’s existence is justified by the level before it.

If we control all those levels, by quantifying and measuring the values. We can show how the work on the Table-of-Contents provides value all the way up to the Business Value of Profit. We can use the higher level values to prioritize the most effective action at the product and technical solution level.

What we are trying to accomplish is:

1. that the Actions taken by the developers
are the most efficient actions they can take, to improve the product Values,

2. and that the product Values they target to improve, are the most effective improvements to the product Values for creating the stakeholder Values,

3. and that the stakeholder Values they target to improve, are the most effective improvements to the stakeholder Values for creating the desired business Value improvements.

Can you hold the developer responsible for creating business value?

You can hold the person developing the Table-of-Contents responsible for the values of the Table-of-Contents, values like the Accuracy of the TOC, and how fast the user can find the information they are looking for.
You can show that the work done with the Table-of-Context can affect the profit. And you can prioritize the work done at the lower (action) level, so it contributes towards the Profit and the values at the other levels above the action level.
You can NOT hold the TOC developer responsible for the company Profit as there are simply too many factors influencing company Profit, and the TOC will at best have a tiny theoretical impact on the Profit.

It is outside the intent of this article to go deeper into how to quantify any value at any level, and how to connect the levels using Value Decision Tables, but I hope you got a little insight into what is required to prioritize your actions, so they contribute to the higher level values.


For more detail, you can study one of our books or attend one of our workshops.

Please also feel free to attend our live webinar.

Please join the discussion in the chat below

1. How do you connect your development actions to your business targets?
2. How do you use your business targets to prioritize your development actions?


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