The Only Strategy You’ll Ever Need to Improve Time to Market
If you don’t really know how your teams are doing, you won’t be able to improve time to market. That’s where the power of viewable data comes in.
If I asked you, “Hey, how are your teams doing”, what would you say?
Could you answer: “they’re doing great!” Or even: “We have some challenges, but we’ve also got data that shows us how to tackle them.”
As leaders who oversee the entire end-to-end value stream, we’re doing our best to improve time to market while making sure that we’re heading in the right direction with our individual products.
But when your decisions are based off guesswork, you might think you’re doing okay when in reality, there are problems lurking just under the surface.
“How are your teams doing” is honestly a trick question, and you’ll probably get different answers based on who you talk to.
If you talk to the developers, for example, they might be quite confident: “Yeah, we’re moving tickets through the board and everything’s going pretty smoothly.”
Talk to the product managers, on the other hand, and they’ll say, “What we’d really like is if we could deliver results faster.”
Head over to the QAs and you’ll get a different answer altogether: “We always have so much to do, we’re always the bottleneck – we need more people!”
You’ll literally receive different answers across the board, based on who you talk to. And that’s because all of these answers are purely anecdotal!
Here’s the thing:
You know something is off. You know that some of your teams really are struggling – they have real problems going on, and they need solutions.
But you don’t know exactly what it is you should be changing. And the last thing you want to do is take potshots without any proof to back up what you’re doing. Especially considering that you are responsible for making far-reaching decisions that involve multiple teams and thousands (or even millions) of end users.
So how do you figure out what direction you need to be heading in? You have to shift the conversation altogether.
It’s All About Process Improvement
Gut feelings, as powerful as they are, aren’t reliable indicators. What you really need is actual, viewable data to give you answers. Let’s take a step back and dig deeper into the problem we’re trying to solve.
The ultimate goal we have is to deliver results to our customers quicker, collect feedback quicker and continue to pivot the direction we’re heading with each individual product.
Now, how do you deliver results in the first place? Put simply, your teams follow a set of steps in their product development process that move each piece of work from an idea to a deliverable.
Doesn’t it make sense then to analyze this process to identify opportunities for improvement and actually figure out what’s slowing you down?
You don’t have to ask your teams how they are doing anymore. Instead, to improve time to market you need to put your focus on how the work flows through your process and optimize that process to cut the waste.
And let me tell you, more often than not, it’s about tweaking your management practices just a little bit that leads to massive improvement in your delivery speed. And when I say massive, I really mean achieving results like increasing productivity by 250% in less than 2 months.
So what do I mean by tweaking your management practices “just a little bit”? I’m going to give you one clear example that not only shows you what I’m talking about, but that you can also start implementing as early as tomorrow morning.
Help Your Teams Deliver Results Faster Using Nave’s Analytics Suite
You know how a picture is worth a thousand words?
What we’re looking at here is a Cycle Time Breakdown Chart. It’s showing how much time your work has spent at each process step.
The pie chart shows you where the bottleneck is at.
If you look closer at the light pink section, the one that represents Code review (Done), you’ll see that almost 30% of the total delivery time has been spent there. The Code review (Done) status is an inactive status, so that’s a total of 407 days in which the work has just been sitting and waiting.
You have an opportunity here to improve your delivery speed by 30% just by tweaking the way the team makes decisions about what to work on.
You can do this by introducing an explicit process policy as simple as this:
Once someone is done working on something, instead of pulling new work from their To Do list, they go through the Code review (Done) status and pick up anything that’s waiting for code review (even if they didn’t originally participate in the actual implementation!).
That way, the team will focus on clearing out all outstanding work before initiating new work, which will ultimately reduce the waiting time in your system and thus improve your delivery speed.
Once you’ve created a dashboard with your data, you can analyze your Cycle Time Breakdown Chart and identify from the get-go the bottom-line challenges that are slowing you down.
So go ahead, check this out and let me know what you’ve discovered. Send me a DM on LinkedIn, I’d love to hear all about it.
That’s it for today, my friend!
I hope I’ve convinced you by now that having an actual visual for your data is by far the most accurate way to answer the question “how are my teams doing.”
Having proof empowers you to then help your teams find targeted solutions to deliver customer value faster.
Thanks for checking in and I look forward to seeing you again next week, same time, same place! Bye for now.
Meet the Author
Sonya Siderova is a passionate product manager and a driving force behind Nave, a Kanban analytics suite that helps teams improve their delivery speed through data-driven decision making. When she's not catering to her two little ones, you might find Sonya absorbed in a good heavyweight boxing match or behind a screen crafting a new blog post.