Mckinsey put out a report last year that highlights how businesses are now in a state of urgency and looking for ways to easily adapt and course correct. They go on to outline that the companies that are getting it right are those that are creating adaptive, fast-moving organizations that can “respond quickly to new opportunities and challenges as they come up, in real-time.” As a result, “intelligent decision making is brought to those in the trenches,” executing and working towards the success of the business with the necessary amount of agility.
Specifically for software development, the businesses that are fitting into that ethos have incorporated automation into their workflows through advanced analytics, which arms them with the insights and competitive advantage that doesn’t exist with their current toolset - be it a spreadsheet or existing project management tool.
As organizations use analytics to improve marketing outcomes and sales forecasting, advanced analytics helps a software engineering team improve both their management efficiency (spending time trying to collect various data sets, reporting on progress, rescheduling resources, etc.), and schedule improvement (reducing the amount of sprints it takes to finish a project). For example, we found that a development team wasn't filling out the key fields within Jira, such as estimations and story descriptions. Once they covered that shortfall, they vastly improved and optimized their Jira use, which contributed to a reduction in project overruns.
There’s of course the side of the argument that says automation has a threat against replacing the job of an Agile Coach or a Scrum Master, for example. It’s their job to keep track of the necessary KPIs, and help the team measure their efficiency and effectiveness. That includes analyzing any team data that’s available.
But, advanced analytics and reporting adds a much stronger and robust string to a Scrum Master or Agile Coach’s bow, equipping her with a set of insights and best practices that aren’t available in a spreadsheet, or a burndown chart. More importantly, she won’t have to spend 10-15 hours a week trying to wrangle up some data she can use to keep track of the team’s productivity. She can leverage automated data collection and aggregation and use time savings and advanced analytics to generate the insights needed to help the team get better. It’s a way to make her smarter every time she walks into a room.
There’s a comparison that can also be drawn to the likes of Sales and Marketing, where teams have a more mature set of solutions, that allow them to become a lot smarter when they sell and market to their customers. The Chief Revenue Officer has Salesforce and the Chief Marketing Officer relies on cross-marketing solutions such as Marketo and Eloqua. The software development ecosystem is still in its early stages, which opens the door for new solutions to fundamentally change how this critical business process is managed and measured. This will benefit Product Owners, Engineering Managers, Agile Coaches, and the Line of Business.
It’s a really exciting time for software engineering teams, and there is a very large opportunity to help teams globally deliver amazing products, on schedule. Even in the midst of gambling.