Software Development, Mission Statements, Business Alignment, and Identifying the Job to Be Done
September 6, 2010 1 Comment
In my last blog post Software Development and Steven R. Covey on Leadership, I wrote about an interesting audio excerpt relating to IT departments and Software Development from Steven R. Coveys audiobook “Stephen R. Covey on Leadership: Great Leaders, Great Teams, Great Results” .
As an exercise, I put some of my own thoughts together while reflecting on some of my current and past projects.
As Software Developers, instead of saying “Our job is to have world class technology” we could become much more specific on a project by project basis. There should be a specific mission statement for each solution: For example, a Part Inspection solution being developed for a large automotive manufacturing organization could have the following mission statement – which helps identify the job to be done: “Use technology to eliminate paperwork distribution on the shop floor and reduce the quantity of scrapped parts”.
A global Subject Matter Expert team of Software Developers that comes together to collaborate and help solve technical challenges within a large global organization needs a mission statement too so that every member of the team can truly understand how initiatives and ideas fit into the mission of the team. Amongst other things, ideas, initiatives, and discussions can be evaluated against the mission statement to ensure these are in alignment with it.
How are we aligned with the business?
Being aligned with the business is extremely important and all team members need to be aligned with the business in supporting the right goals. We need to understand the metrics used buy the organization to determine which goals are being achieved and what the objectives are. We should only exist to help the business achieve their objectives. This holds true for both employees and consultants and neither should lose sight of the goals of individual projects or the goals of the organization. It’s also important to understand how they fit together.
How do we identify the job to be done?
Working with the business, the users, and their current processes with or without the use of technology will help us identify how they are currently working and where innovation in technology will help.
Based on discussions, meetings, our own business knowledge, etc we get a good idea of what needs to be done technically. Depending on the project the team will have a combination of developers + project managers + architects and every team member needs to be aligned and understand the job to be done.
To identify the job to be done, we ask questions about how the technology will add value to the business to get an understanding of what specifically the problem is and how innovation in technology could remove the problem and really add business value. We need to understand how the solution has a big effect on the bottom line of the business, or more specifically, how it either increases profits or reduces expenses. It’s also important to see how not implementing a solution could pose its own negative consequences (ex: Mission critical legacy systems which lack vendor support). We need to remember that EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) is the bottom line and it’s what is most important to the organization and therefore most important to us.
After reading this above post, I challenge the readers of my blog to share some of their own thoughts and opinions. If you wish to share you could either contact me directly to discuss, email me, or leave a comment on this blog page. Use the template below if you wish.
- Mission Statements
- How are we aligned with the business?
- How do we identify the job to be done?