Be known by what you deliver.
That is guidance I’ve received many times over my career (you probably have as well). Because of who has said that to me, I’ve always known they were referring to things like new products, features, etc. Tangible changes that allowed us to grow our customer base, reduce churn, lower cost.
I had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion with Gene Kim and Mik Kersten last week. The topic of flow metrics came up and Gene reiterated a fantastic point: the most valuable product that BMW produces is not its cars, it’s their factories. Likewise, a software company’s most valuable product is its pipeline. He and Mik went on to stress that improving Time to Value is always going to have a better return than the actual Value the production pipeline produces.
The image above has been stuck in my head ever since that discussion.
The concept makes a lot of sense. If you have 400 engineers and you improve their efficiency by 5%, that represents millions of dollars in their salaries alone. 5% less friction and time wasted is like getting 3,400 extra hours of output from them every month. Improving Time to Value will always pay dividends in it’s ROI.
Your company lives and dies by the Value your pipeline outputs. But don’t make the mistake of standing around staring at a slow drip and ignoring all the cracks and opportunities. As a leader you have to recognize the value in improving Time to Value.
Common things to examine when you’re looking for cracks:
- Manual testing required before and after a production deploy
- Manual tasks in the deploy process
- Delays due to coordination with infrastructure changes
- Meetings related to deploy planning
- Meetings between teams using each other’s APIs
- Manual work required for patching libraries and servers
- Build time before local tests can be run (old, slow developer machines)
- How much focus time do developers have during the average day?
- Frequent interruptions due to production problems
I hope the image above helps you tell the story to your team mates and stakeholders of why you want to deliver improvements to Time to Value. If so, let me know in the comments. If there are other common things you look for when improving Time to Value, I’d love to hear about those as well.