My second conversation with an agile sponsor is inevitably… metrics. I stopped feeling surprised after a half dozen engagements. To me the metrics were obvious. Constant, fast delivery makes it easy to track your customers happiness and buying decisions. Constant feedback loops help people make better business decisions faster. I witnessed this for years. My observational evidence though is an act of faith for new agile organizations. They need their own evidence. Evidence is powerful. Measurements and trends are powerful, and most organizations want to track what is important to them.
Days to First Value
Over time I’ve helped people develop several metrics that work for them. Days to First Value, passed on to me by my colleague Steve Fastabend through his work at Northwestern Mutual, has proved invaluable. It works. It works at multiple levels of an organization and for multiple purposes. Did you get enough emphasis on the ‘multiple’? As Alton Brown says No Unitaskers.
How it works
- Choose something to consistently track. A piece of work like a product backlog item, feature, epic, project, defect, customer service call….anything.
- Decide on a trigger.
- Decide when you get your first value from it.
- Measure the time between with a goal to reduce it
Examples at Multiple Levels
Business Question: How effective is our live customer service?
A customer call center decides to track incoming support calls from [Pickup] to [Completed Transaction]. This helps them measure how quickly they get a curious or blocked customer to a transaction of value, whether on the phone or redirected online. Measure days, hours or minutes to first value.
Business Question: How quickly does our team produce value?
A Scrum team decides to track features from [Acceptance at Sprint Planning] to [Confirmed earliest use of that feature in production]. This helps measure their value-sense; decomposing the feature for early value, producing enough for the Product Owner to release and their customers to want to use, and the quality and release practices that allow quick delivery.
Business Question: How quickly are we getting a return on investment?
A portfolio management team decides to track Epics from [Funded] to [Confirmed earliest use in production]. This helps them use Throughput Accounting measurements and watch how efficiently the system uses money.
- Make clear definitions of Ready for the Trigger and Done for first value
- Capture it for every piece of work. I’ve seen teams use stickers, marks, and built-in timers. the methods are endless.
- Make this a constant measure. Its easier to track and attribute changes in Days to First Value if its measured all the time.
I hope this was helpful. If you have questions, or want to talk more about implementing this metric in your organization please call or email. 281-520-8750 email@example.com . I enjoy talking about metrics.
As always, I am curious about your experience. Please share. Do you use this metric today? Do you apply it differently? Do you use a metric like this one? How do you use the data?