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How Do You Know When You're Delivering Customer Value From Your Software Project?

John Yorke, WWT Agile Coach, authored an article for CIO Story discussing how to successfully deliver a software project with value to the customer.

John Yorke, WWT Agile Coach, authored an article for CIO Story discussing how to successfully deliver a software project with value to the customer.

Posted by CIO Story in September 2018:

Many of us are relatively familiar with the notion that stories should be expressed in terms of value deliveredand how important the “Why” is for being able to maximize the outcome for the customer. In other words, the project outcome can be a reflection of delivering what is needed rather than what is asked for by the customer. Because of this, there are so many projects that never see the light of day or are ever used because they don’t meet the true need.

In addition to this, when we talk about good stories, we often refer to the term “INVEST” (Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Small, Testable)as a means of helping validate that our stories are well written. I think this is a great tool for helping to write user stories, and we may even include acceptance criteria to help the team identify that the story has been completed in such a way that the value is best able to be realized. With that in mind, I’d like to propose going a step further.

Expected Vs. Actual

Whichever way the story is written, the assumption is that the product owner has determined the value of the story and prioritized it accordingly, but value is a very nebulous term and encapsulates all sorts of thoughts, many of which are assumptions or just plain guesses or personal preferences. We are also making the assumption that the story will successfully deliver the value we intend; rather than accepting that it is a hypothesis that will achieve our goal.

Up to this point, we are assuming that the product owner is always making the right decisions, and that their assumptions of the value delivered by a story are infallible. But speaking as a product owner myself, let me attest that this is a rather hopeful assumption, often a value judgement based on little more than an educated guess, and very subjective opinions about value.

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