3 Methods to increase Business Value

Business Value IncreaseYesterday I enjoyed talking to Southern Fried Agile, the local one-day agile conference in Charlotte.  My topic was: Three Steps Toward Greater Business Value.

I was pleased to see many participants wanted to discuss this subject. So much so, that the organizers decided to run the session twice. I am happy this is considered an important subject. Certainly, I think it is.

Here are some things we already do in Scrum to increase Business Value (or should):

  1. Better partnership between Business and Technology
  2. Improve the Product Owner (and give him or her the job of increasing BV)
  3. Use a prioritized Product Backlog
  4. Order the Product Backlog to maximize the release of Business Value (over your chosen time frame)
  5. Build working product each sprint (if cut short, at least we can field what we have built so far)
  6. Demo working product and get feedback from business stakeholders each sprint. Ex: “Did we work on the most valuable stuff this sprint?”
  7. Release more frequently

Could each of these be done better?  Yes, of course.

In the presentation, I suggested three “big” additional things.

A. Business Value Engineering

This is a framework for continuously getting better at delivering business value. By mapping the process, by articulating the underlying assumptions, by taking a fact-based approach to proving which improvements deliver more BV.

B. Priority Poker

This is an easy thing to add to Agile Release Planning or to Release Plan Refactoring.  You enable the 5 or so best people on business value (in your specific domain) to learn more from each other about business value.  And you average their opinions. By voting “business value points” on each user story, the rest of the group learns too.

C. The Pareto Idea

This is classic, and in some sense, almost everyone does it already.  Except not nearly enough, and not consciously enough, and not aggressively enough. And they don’t take it as a basic, everyday, mindset.  So, fight to separate the gold-platinum-diamonds from the silver-copper from the dirt. (The mining metaphor.)

This is a lot of hard work, and part of it is to break down the larger stories into small sprint-sized ones. (I like about 8+ stories in a 2 week sprint.)


There is much more to all 3 of these ideas to be discussed later.  However, the attendees seemed to like the ideas.  The real question is how well they converted the stimulation to action, and how well the action gave them (and their customers) more success.  Note: Sometimes useful action may be, so far, only to learn more.  We shall see.


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