Product managers are often told they are not delivering fast enough and in response to the pressure, managers ask their teams to cut corners on quality, work longer hours and more frantically. This is the surest way to produce a steady stream of low quality features and unstable code which can cause system outages and integration problems by the ship deadline further delaying a team.
How can a custom software development team preserve their quality of life while still delivering quality products to customers and satisfying company executives? Blindly applying a process to increase speed which leads to nothing more than long hours, misery and unhappy customers is not the solution. Truthfully, influencing a team’s productivity is remarkably easy when you understand the principles of speed.
The Elements of Speed:
If you observe, the most productive people are relaxed but intentional. Working with speed requires awareness, discipline and a deliberate process. Before you achieve a process that’s fast and productive however, it’s important to breakdown the elements of speed: throughput and cycle time.
Throughput involves the amount of work a development team can handle safely and productively without cutting corners and without collapsing the process. However, when frantically writing substandard code and subsequently dealing with crashes and more time pressure is the norm, changing the process can be painful in the short term. Though, the long term benefits will drastically improve productivity.
Cycle time measures how quickly the tasks you set actually get done. With each new feature request, whether it’s from the customer, salesperson, or stakeholder, someone is waiting for a task to be completed. A short cycle time that adapts and responds to customer insights easily is the most effective way to produce sustainable speed.
Strategies to Increase Speed:
The most effective way to increase speed is by making adjustments to a team’s habits. The key is to slow down and limit the number of items in a team’s throughput. This prevents work overload, improves motivation and allows a team to finish tasks quickly and calmly without the need to cut corners. Maintaining a responsible throughput also saves a team from switching costs or the need to move back and forth between tasks. Staying focused on a single problem until it is complete is a huge time saver.
Cycle times can be shortened by limiting the number of items allowed in a team’s backlog. Making conscious assessments and asking whether or not an item is worth the time can save a team a great deal of time.
How to Make Speed a Habit:
One necessary habit to acquire is cadence or a balanced and rhythmic flow where planning is built into the fabric of a team. A combined technical and business team should meet at regular intervals to get situational awareness of the project and plan immediate next steps. Speed and agility depend on the ability to adapt and course correct. These meetings can include daily standup, weekly tactical, quarterly release planning, and yearly road mapping.
The key take away is to focus on a few high-value items at once and deliver them quickly by maximizing throughput and minimizing cycle time. Agile emphasizes empowerment over commands and adapting to change rather than following a fixed plan. These principles are the key to speed and better quality products.
For information on Agile dedicated teams and how we use the principles of speed to deliver high quality products in less time, explore Miracle Group’s range of services and Agile solutions.