Moving from Project to Product with Flow Metrics – What Are They and Why Should You Care?

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The emergence of Flow Metrics, presented in Dr. Mik Kersten’s the Flow Framework™, arrives at a crucial time. While the need to deliver more value from software is well-documented, there has been no real form of measurement that can tell organizations if their transformational efforts are working — until now.  The four Flow MetricsVelocity, Efficiency, Time and Load —provides business and IT executives with a window into the enigmatic world of software delivery. These business-centric metrics provide a common language to make collaborative decisions to accelerate the value delivery of an enterprise’s software portfolio. Together, they can be used to guide your IT organization’s journey from a product-oriented cost centre to a profit-generating product operating model.

Why Flow Metrics?

Previous attempts at measuring software delivery have failed because they’re performance metrics, such as counting the number of lines of code and number of deployments, which represent local activities and optimizations and not directly linked to business outcomes such as revenue, customer responsiveness and retention. So while trillions have been invested in IT, from new tooling and talent to methodologies (Agile, DevOps, SAFe), to costly accompanying training, many businesses and IT leaders lack the means to establish whether the needle is moving in the right direction.

What are Flow Metrics?

By crunching the objective data that is captured from integrated software delivery toolchains—across teams, tools and departments—organizations can generate four clear business-centric metrics to improve cross-organizational decision making, answering crucial business questions such as the following:

  • How is your software delivery impacting revenues, quality and costs?
  • What’s slowing your value delivery down?
  • How are your DevOps, Agile, SAFe transformations performing?
  • Where should you strategically invest to improve business outcomes?

These metrics present a new approach to measure software delivery value streams against business outcomes:

  • Flow Velocity: Is value delivery accelerating?
  • Flow Efficiency: Is work downstream (ideate stage) in a wait state holding up delivery?
  • Flow Time: Is time-to-value getting shorter?
  • Flow Load: Is demand outweighing capacity?

Flow Velocity, along with Flow Time, are what Carmen DeArdo calls “the money metrics” — they tell you how much business value you’re delivering, and how quickly. While the money metrics are naturally the most appealing, the supporting metrics—Flow Load and Flow Efficiency— indirectly impact the money metrics:

  • Flow Load tells you if your WIP is overloading your teams.
  • Flow Efficiency helps you identify where wait states are undermining your Flow Time.

Across January, we’ll be writing about each metric and providing inspiring real-world examples of how global enterprises are using them through Tasktop Viz to continuously improve their value delivery through software, helping you to navigate your journey with actionable insights that actually mean something.

Measuring What Matters in Software Delivery: The Tasktop Viz Story

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