There’s been some discussion this week in the comments over on It’s a Team Game about a software team whose internal and external customers don’t seem interested in their product increments. No-one seems to care whether the team delivers anything at all. In response, members of the team are concluding that they need more of a focus on delivery, as recommended by Alistair Cockburn in Are Iterations Hazardous to your Project?. They reason that frequent delivery (and demonstration) of running tested features will create belief, and then demand will follow.
This got me thinking about the RTF metric, and in general about the attributes of the product increments delivered at the end of each iteration. Certainly they should consist of running features – which I take to mean that they provide (possibly small) chunks of meaningful, cohesive, user-visible behaviour. They should also consist of tested features – which I take to mean that there are no defects in them. But which features?
In order to turn around an indifferent audience, it may not be enough to demonstrate delivery. The lack of bugs will definitely help the team’s credibility, but there needs to be more. The features must be valuable to someone, and they must be fresh. It’s no good delivering something that has only marginal benefit; and it’s no good delivering features more than a few months after they were requested. Stuff has to be relevant to today’s customers today.
So it seems to me that, even in the early days of creating a relationship with customers, each increment must deliver at least one running tested feature that was asked for only recently. Ideally a feature that was requested at the previous end-of-iteration demo. Nothing will get customers hooked more than meeting their demands quickly and perfectly. And once they’re hooked, they’ll want to steer too.
And so I feel that the RTF metric is incomplete. We need to augment it with a measure of turnaround time for features – perhaps Kent Beck’s software-in-process metric. And we need to add a measure of the value delivered – perhaps Ken Schwaber’s revenue earned per $100k spent. Value, quality and speed – do they provide a complete measure?