Software Process – What Really Matters

As a former consultant I had the unique opportunity to conduct a time study examining the end to end software process delivery for a property and casualty company in Connecticut. The first charge was to build a framework and methodology for conducting the study and to secure buy in from all senior leaders on approach.

Once we secured buy-in we began to data mine activities across the lifecycle looking at e-mails, meeting minutes, project plans, portfolio management data and timesheets in an effort to identify and quantify waste in the lifecycle. We took the position early on that qualitative process improvement was a good thing but unless it showed impact, we were not willing to open up those clam shells. We were not looking to make the effort about process redesign but rather process elimination where it made sense. The findings were telling as noted below:

•45% of resource time was spent on trying to figure out what to deliver
•30% of resource time was spent on trying to create the product
•10% of resource time was spent on securing approvals and responding to changes
•10% of time was attributed to waste (deferrals or delays that we attributed to inaction)
•5% was spent on reporting status

The only item that we focused on was the vetting process for delivery (45%). As we drilled down on the specifics we found the following:

•IT was not positioned in a way that optimized service to business stakeholders. We needed to understand the changing dynamics of the business community and we also had to find a way to become business enablers as opposed to rigid technologists.
•We made recommendations around modifying the organizational design to foster partnership and remove the us versus them mentality that was prevalent in the organization.
•We introduced the concept of benchmarking to the business and IT. Using data from sourcing organizations, we provided a comparative estimate of delivery for internal, external and hybrid solutions. We empowered the business with perspective and choice.
•We introduced the concept of right think development for associates targeting underperforming individuals with the right messaging and recommended the termination of associates who did or could not buy in.
•We introduced assumptive staging for requirements sign-off that spoke to the degree of change and the probable impact to schedule. This gave the business full transparency into how future actions would impact the project leveraging internal versus external resources
During a follow-up assessment 18 months later we found that the organization was able to actually deliver on commitments faster, business survey feedback metrics increased significantly and there was less churn in the vetting process which leadership attributed to the increased transparency created by benchmarking options upfront. The benchmarking process also allowed the business to see the inherent value of leveraging internal expertise from a time and material basis, as well.

If you would like to know more about this approach or would like to identify a specific challenge that you are looking to solve, please contact me at for more information.

Categories: Motivational