Visualizing the Value Through Information Radiators and Business Dashboards

Information RadiatorIn the Agile world, the term information radiator is now commonly used as a term for a visual display showing the status of a project. According to Alistair Cockburn, who coined the term, “An Information radiator is a display posted in a place where people can see it as they work or walk by. It shows readers information they care about without having to ask anyone a question. This means more communication with fewer interruptions."

These information radiators used in the IT world are very similar to the business dashboards that have become widely used by management and C-level executives on the business side.  Business dashboards offer “at-a-glance views of KPIs (key performance indicators) relevant to a particular objective or business process” (Wikipedia).  Just like the dashboard on your car, a business dashboard will quickly alert you if there is an issue and provide other key information to help you quickly understand the current status.

Information radiators and business dashboards have many similarities. They both are designed with a human’s need to visualize something in order to better understand it. They are both simple and easily understood at a glance. They provide up-to-date, valuable information on a project or process and enable anyone on the team, even external stakeholders such as the C-level, to gain a clear view of where a project or process stands and if there are any bottlenecks that need to be addressed. 

In the world of software development, where the C-level needs to be informed on a high level about a project, an information radiator can be a powerful way to simplify complex data and present it visually to executives who are very familiar with viewing business dashboards on a frequent basis in other parts of the organization. Leveraging these powerful visualization tools, any authorized individual within an organization can gain a better understanding of the business value of the software development project without in-depth, time-consuming reports or meetings.

Do you use information radiators, business dashboards, or another visual tool to manage your software development projects and demonstrate the value to the business?  If so, I’d be interested in hearing from you about what you see as the biggest benefit your organization gains from using visual tools. Do they help you get stronger buy-in from your internal customers?  Do they keep your IT team more on track?

Mike Harris

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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5000-1 Foxes in the Henhouse

Steve KitchingIn the past week, we have seen one of the most remarkable sporting achievements by an unlikely underdog here in the UK. Leicester City FC, of the English Premier League, won the league with two games to spare, beating illustrious teams such as Manchester United and Chelsea to the top.

This was a team with no stars; in fact, it barely escaped relegation a year before, which bookmakers made 5000-1 outsiders to win the title.

How did they do it? Some say it was the discovery and subsequent reburial of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral after his remains were found in a local carpark, bringing the team this run of good fortune.

The truth is that the victory was due to an incredible display of teamwork and commitment. There were no egos, just a drive to perform and support each other to consistently deliver results time after time.

Other teams failed, including my local side, Newcastle, where egos and attitudes ruled and so performances and results degraded.

Why am I talking about this on a software blog? We can all relate this situation to our experience of teamwork in the IT world. I’ve worked on teams where egos dominated. Whoever shouted the loudest would win, and inevitably the team would struggle to meet its goals. Compare this to teams who worked together harmoniously and delivered the goods time after time. The way a team works together directly affects the results.

This lesson can apply to any team in the IT space, but the mantra of teamwork should shine most predominantly in the Agile space, where the team(s) should pull together for a common goal.

How do you improve team culture and habits? We suggest the AgilityHealth Radar, which is a strategic retrospective that focuses on the top areas that affect team performance and health. With the results, there is a clear path forward to improved team culture and thus improved results.

So, are you a Leicester or something else entirely?

Steve Kitching
Estimation Specialist

Written by Steve Kitching at 05:00

IT as a Value Center

IT Value CenterIT is often considered a Cost Center for an organization. It is viewed as an overhead expense and when determining which projects should move forward, senior management tends to considers cost of the IT projects as the key criteria for that decision. In more recent years, some organizations have begun to look at it in terms of a Profit Center, where the IT projects actually generate revenue for the organization and positively impact the bottom line. This has been beneficial for IT departments helping them to prove their worth within the organization.

This week, my new white paper, “IT as a Value Center (not a Profit nor a Cost Center),” was published, where I discussed yet another transformation the IT industry needs to make. CIOs (and an organization’s entire senior management team) need to consider IT as a Value Center. By doing so, organizations will keep a lens on maximizing value through proper prioritization of upgrades and enhancements of existing technologies to meet the ever-changing needs of their customers (both external and internal).  

The white paper discusses the differences between the three schools of thought: Cost vs. Profit vs. Value. In my view, the value center approach flips today’s paradigm and positions IT decision-makers to focus on adding value to the balance sheet and to the customer experience. 

I welcome you to download the white paper and share your thoughts on IT as a Value Center. Have you tried this approach in your organization and, if so, has it driven a stronger collaboration among IT and the business units?

Mike Harris


Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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Operating Expense to Equity Value

IT Financial Management

Harrison Zipkin, our Director of VC/M&A,recently attended the IT Financial Management Association’s (ITFMA) Financial World of IT Conference in Chicago.

We've been to the conference several times now, and it's so interesting (and satisfying!) to connect with executives who truly care about the value of IT and the effect that software can have on the bottom line.

The conference is considered a must-attend event for those interested in improving their IT financial management capabilities. To that end, Harrison's presentation focused on software in terms of mergers & acquisitions.

He discussed how to use software asset due diligence and IT management techniques to increase software value, prevent unexpected capital expense requests and preserve exit strategy opportunities at higher valuations.

Learn how to evaluate and execute the IT-related aspects of an M&A - download his presentation here

Written by Default at 05:00
Categories :

A Network of Teams

Mike HarrisAgile development is all about teamwork. The members of a team need to effectively communicate and coordinate to finish a piece of work. There are many benefits to the framework’s reliance on teams (and with teamwork in general). But, like anything else, there are drawbacks. We’ve seen these firsthand with our AgilityHealth Radar Team Retrospectives, which breakdown the issues a team is experiencing.

This is why I found the article “Team spirit” in the March 19th edition of The Economist so interesting. The article shares findings from the “Global Human Capital Trends” report by Deloitte, stating that teamwork has reached a new high in organizations.

On the whole, companies are seeking cross-disciplinary teams that focus on one particular product, problem or customer – no more silos! These teams have the power to manage themselves and they spend markedly less time reporting upwards. Given the rise of Agile (in departments beyond just IT), this is no surprise.

But, like we’ve seen with the Agile teams we evaluate, teamwork fosters its own set of issues:

  • Temporary contractors make it difficult to achieve a common culture.
  • Groupthink can be unavoidable.
  • Teamwork may result in confusion, delay and poor decision-making.

Ultimately, there needs to be more discussion about how to manage teams – like the conversation facilitated by AgilityHealth Radar. And that discussion needs to be put into action. Shifting to a new model is easy enough, but it’s necessary to analyze and tweak that model to continue to progress.

Read the article: “Team Spirit,” The Economist

Mike Harris

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00

"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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