How to win in the age of software : Ensure you execute your business and technology strategy in unison, with flow metrics.

Based on the work of the economist Dr. Carlota Perez, Mik Kersten describes in his book, Project to Product, how to survive and thrive in the age of digital disruption with the flow framework, what happens to companies as the transition happens from one technological age to the next. Each technological age brings with it a new means of production, and companies that master it, survive and thrive in the new technological age. Companies that couldn’t master the new means of production become extinct.

Agile and DevOps emerged as responses to problems faced by technologists: Agile to solve the problems associated with waterfall software development, and DevOps to solve the problem of getting software into production. While the need to solve these problems is immensely important, success of agile and DevOps transformations should be measured not just by how effectively they solve these problems. They should also be measured by how effectively they improve the ability of the companies to deliver business results through software. This is what the modern age of software demands.

The means of production of the previous age of oil & mass production was mass production. Manufacturing companies that mastered mass production survived and thrived. Those that couldn’t master it, disappeared.

The means of production of the modern age of software is software delivery at scale. As   software is pervasive and impacts all economic sectors, all companies have become software companies. And their ability to deliver software at scale is now critical to their business success.

To master software delivery at scale, companies launch agile and DevOps transformation initiatives. However, the transformation initiatives don’t explicitly set out to improve the ability of a company to compete and win in the age of software. They are primarily focussed on improving technical and process capabilities as illustrated by these sample success metrics: number of agile teams stood up, number of people trained in agile and DevOps methods, team velocity, deployment frequency, lead time from code commit to code deploy. None of these agile & DevOps transformation metrics are business metrics.

These metrics don’t tell you if your company’s ability to compete and win has been enhanced or diminished. And that is an existential problem – your company’s survival may depend on it.

The flow framework helps you solve this existential problem. It helps you measure if your transformation initiatives have enhanced or diminished your ability to deliver business value, by measuring the time it takes from intent to create business value to the delivery of business value.

 In addition, by enabling you to measure the flow metrics (velocity, time, efficiency, load, and distribution) of the four items of business value (Features, Defects, Risks and Debts), you can execute your business and technology strategy in unison – the secret sauce of technology giants and startups. With the flow framework, you too have the ability to do the same: execute business and technology strategy in unison. And, this should be the overarching goal of agile & DevOps transformations, and a measure of their success.

Note : The article is based on the book Project to Product, Dr. Mik Kersten

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