December 08, 2003
XPDAY - Mary Poppendieck - Keynote Monday 1st of December, 2003
Mary's talk mainly focussed on the wider issue of productivity and engendering it within a workforce. She opened with a statement that productivity had a direct relationship to standard of living due to increased profits. Increased profits are derived from increased sales and history has many examples where this is evident.
The first steps to increasing overall profits within an organisation is to focus on the core business practices and work toward being more productive than the competition in these areas. Then work on non-core business practices and match the competition's performance on these.
Being productive does not mean sacrificing quality. You could improve speed and decrease overall quality or value and this would not be increasing productivity. Productivity is about putting the same effort into something and getting more out of it for changing the method in which the work is done. Or being able to charge the same amount for doing less work.
We can be productive by either reducing direct cost (i.e. what a client would pay for) or reducing indirect cost (i.e. streamlining processes and methods). The primary way to reduce direct cost in software development is in building only functionality that is required. Usually 80% of software product functionality is infrequently or not used. Each piece of functionality should have its return on investment measured and then only those yielding highest value should be built. Do the minimum marketable features then release. "Release early, release often" moves profit forward in time thus paying for future releases.
Value Stream Mapping is a good tool for analysing the way in which a business spends its time. It is derived from Japanese manufacturing process analysis. It is basically done by stepping backwards through a process and documenting time taken to do a task and time wasted in between tasks.
Overall, success should be measured not per employee, but the increased productivity of the organisation as a whole. There is a Japanese term 'Keiretsu' which encapsulates the notion of a cooperative group of related companies supporting one another. Productive for a software product can be measured by the increased revenue in the supported business per dollar spent by the IT organisation charged with maintaining it. To help design for this, it is very helpful to have those who will be supporting the product from technological through customer service, to be involved in the design effort.Posted by Ant at December 8, 2003 03:04 PM | TrackBack