This year, we decided to take a family vacation but drive instead of fly due to the pandemic. As with most big things, it took a lot of planning to decide where to go, for how long, and what would be family friendly. We decided on an island in North Carolina, since our mapping application said it was a very reasonable drive at 10.5 hours. I told my wife that we should plan for 12-15 hours but she insisted it would only take 11 hours. This ended in a lot of frustration and disappointment when the actual drive took 15 hours. What happened? Why was I able to predict it would be closer to 15 hours than 10.5? Simple. There was a lot of risk in our long drive – we have a baby under 1, we were driving down the coast to a popular vacation spot, our departure time wasn’t exact, we got slowed down by accidents and traffic, etc. Also, if anyone reading this works on Google Maps, the trip time should take into account traffic patterns in each area at the time of day you’re expected to reach it.
We run into a similar problem in software – even when we plan up front, we are shocked when projects take longer than expected. The reasons why Agile and similar methodologies are so popular is because they try to reduce the risk by making smaller time increments that are less risky. Using my vacation analogy above, a 10-minute drive is a lot less risk then a 10-hour drive.
Software has a much longer lifecycle than just development. That’s where Value Stream Management really comes into play to reduce the risk from idea to value. We have all been in meetings where we wonder why Feature X missed but the code was done. Maybe it failed quality, security, code coverage, etc. but for some reason there was too much risk to deploy that item to customers. HCL Accelerate, our value stream management platform, allows for risk to be managed by giving you visibility into all the metrics of how long software takes and making your team’s output more predictable over time.
Using HCL Accelerate allows the business to ask for new features and the technical team to give better estimations about risk. Let’s take an example of a team that has a Lead Time of 25 days, and the business wants a commit that feature X will be released this month. The team is able to see that the code has above average code quality, security scans are running automatically, and all metrics seem to indicate that this is a reasonable commit within the scope given. Now, if the feature would have been in an application that had lower-than-average code coverage, security scans need to be sent to a 3rd party, and builds are flaky, then the team might need to ask for a longer time for that feature due to the risk.
The key is having all the information at your fingertips to be able to have conversations and manage risk. It is not just about “did the code get done” anymore. It is about, “were we able to deliver value to the customer.” Our tools and process should match that thinking, which is why HCL Accelerate is not just about mapping – it’s about the journey from idea to value to help your teams conquer all the data involved to have better unity.