Measure impact with metrics
Evaluating ROI and quantifying risk increase in importance as organizations building custom digital products shift toward a product-centric mindset. Powered by data, metrics provide critical insights into the efficacy of products. The ultimate success metric of a product is adoption.
A product transformation, while impactful (e.g., an application transforms a company’s operations), could take years—just long enough for the business to question the initiative. The journey requires time, quality execution, significant investment, and a well-defined path to correct course. Organizational structures, funding models, job descriptions, and expectations need to remain nimble to enable long-term shifts at the company.
Many technology leaders rely on classic project management techniques to track the success of individual initiatives and large-scale programs. A project is considered successful as long as it is delivered on budget, ships to production by the established due date, and includes the desired scope (aka functionality). These methods of measurement and accountability, however, severely underdeliver in context of a transforming organization.
Good metrics are equally relevant to small-scale individual products and $100 million portfolios. Both require focusing on outcomes versus activity. Bad metrics introduce counterproductive behaviors that:
Promote activity over progress.
Engineering managers track the productivity of an individual based on the number of lines of code written within a given time. This metric incentivizes bad behavior, prioritizing a complex over-engineered approach over simple, elegant design.
Elevate features over outcomes.
When project managers track the completion of original scope, the individual contributor prioritizes functionality over findings from the end user. This leads to products that are over engineered based on biased assumptions, instead of market data collected from real customers.
Classic project metrics focus on a snapshot in time (e.g., 65 percent budget spent, 45 percent of scope complete) over a holistic view. These indicators provide a limited view of success (or failure), lack historic context, don’t consider whether performance gets better or worse, and fail to inform the executive team of what lies ahead.
Are too granular for process change.
Organizations shifting into a product-centric mindset need to quantify and track the benefits of switching away from classic methodologies. Quantifying improvement of time to market as well as business value justifies the necessary investment.
Punish instead of teach.
Deviation of the scope, slipped timelines, or increased project budget do not provide information on the root cause of the team challenges. These same metrics, however, are mostly used to punish and blame parties that fail to deliver over time, creating an environment of silos and defensive behavior.
No matter the role, all team members rely upon metrics to evaluate successful outcomes. Product managers with agile teams need a level of granularity in their metrics to incentivize self-awareness and promote effective behaviors. The development team (e.g., designers and engineers) need to test and evaluate the elements they’re building. Product leaders driving the vision on a particular program need effective data to justify the investment to communicate success throughout the product journey, evaluate the effectiveness of the product team, and course correct the product roadmap to hit desired outcomes. Sponsors managing a portfolio of transformative efforts require a dashboard-like experience to aggregate product metrics into actionable cues in order to warrant continued spending, terminate a program, invest in new opportunities, or adjust the execution strategy.
This white paper covers the challenges of traditional project metrics and recommends tactics for self-governing product teams to use in order to build healthy products. I’ll go over in-depth Devbridge’s proven best practices for gauging product effectiveness, quality, team velocity, process maturity, and portfolio health. Being armed with a comprehensive framework of metrics empowers teams and enterprises to deliver results.