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Feature Folly

This post is from Jim Highsmith by Jim Highsmith. Click here to see the original post in full.

In my executive presentations I spend a fair amount of time on the topic of Do Less, talking about how we waste an incredible amount of time and money building features that are rarely or never used. Published studies put this number at far greater than 50%. I see audience members agreeing, but I can also see the little thought bubble floating slightly above their heads, “but not in MY organization.” Organizations worry about improving development productivity by 10% when what they should be worried about is improving customer demand effectiveness by 25%. I’ve always said that one of the biggest potential productivity improvements from Agile lies in all the features that we don’t do because of the constant attention to simplicity and highest value to the customer.

However, in most organizations, software development efficiencies are subjected to infinite analysis while customer demand effectiveness isn’t mentioned at all. We neither measure nor calculate feature value in the beginning nor do we measure whether or not value was actually captured as the customer or product manager had predicted. In many large companies project ROI might be calculated as part of the portfolio management process, but rarely does anyone follow up to see if that ROI was in fact attained. So development teams have feedback mechanisms while customer/product...

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