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@DevOpsSummit Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Aruna Ravichandran

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Identify Business Value Before Jumping Into Requirements

ID-GEM is particularly formulated for small-to-medium sized businesses

How many times have you set off on a software development project with a brilliant idea and boatloads of ambition, only to finish the project and realize it doesn't meet the necessary business objectives? ID-GEM is a free tool from Amadeus Consulting that aims to help avoid this seemingly inevitable "planning gap" and help bring your dev project from ideation to completion more efficiently, with better overall team alignment, and with buy-in from all stakeholders.

ID-GEM is particularly formulated for small-to-medium sized businesses - business that can least afford a project failure - that might benefit from a well-designed development process strategy. ID-GEM is a five-step process designed to evaluate a project at the beginning and ensure that the business objectives are aligned with the proposed product. Often, on software projects, developers will jump straight into the "features and functions" phase of the project. As we've worked with our clients, we've noticed that our greatest successes have come when a we've started a project and the business needs have been aligned rather than jumping into technical specifics. If the final product doesn't match business objectives, organizations are stuck spending money and time trying to align those needs. For some organizations, this is a veritable death sentence in the software world.

ID-GEM functions as a communication tool for addressing this planning gap by allowing the development team to align with business stakeholders before the development process even begins. In many situations, this is a difficult, if not impossible, conversation to have. For better or worse, developers and business stakeholders are often speaking a different language. With a step-by-step guide, communication lines can be more easily opened.

As the first in a series of five blogs examining the core values of ID-GEM, we're going to take a look at the first step of the process: "Identify Value."

If you are serious about completing a project, identifying that project's value to your business needs is the first and most important step of the journey. After all, any meaningful project should have a real and tangible value associated with it that is worthy of your team's time and effort. The value of a project can be big or small, whether it's something as simple as collecting emails as sale leads, or making a strategic move up the value chain.

An example of why identifying your business value is important can be seen in the case of FourSquare. FourSquare was growing incredibly quickly up until 2009. When Facebook introduced a competing functionality of "checking in," FourSquare began to see user numbers declining. It made the decision to split the app features into two separate apps (FourSquare for Restaurant Suggestions and "Swarm" for check-ins). FourSquare's value came primarily from selling user location data, which required a large amount of data to be marketable. When it split the app, and reduced the functionality of the original app, the user base (and corresponding data) shrank - dropping their valuation by nearly 50 percent.

FourSquare's scenario is a classic case of not properly identifying value. Rather than recognize the importance of a large, data-generating user base, the company made the decision to fragment its application, and, consequently, its user base, ultimately hurting the company's business.

Spending some time to properly identify your core business values and what you want to affect will greatly impact the overall success of your projects. To help you understand how this works in practice, imagine the business value you've identified is to capture market share and increase users. In this scenario, you'd want to consider relevant and important considerations such as:

  • When building applications like this, the primary objective is to get users into the application(s) easily and keep them actively engaged. In order to do this, you have to have a streamlined sign-up process and a plan for updated content and/or features to keep people engaged and returning to your application.
  • Additional branding, look and feel, and ease of use are extremely important in this type of app.
  • Another common strategy is gamification and adding marketing initiatives for competition. This can drive certain types of users to stay engaged and keep participating. Another option would be an exploratory approach, where new features are revealed over time.

You can see how these sorts of considerations can be essential to correctly identifying and staying aligned with the value you've identified. By working through the essential considerations for your identified business value, it will help further align your value choice and bring you closer to the next step in the process.

You might now be wondering when you should incorporate the first step of ID-GEM? You want to embark on the ID-GEM Process after you have identified your primary need for your project, but before you start to compile the list of the project's desired features and requirements. You can then expect the ID-GEM process to take 2-4 days to complete (and you will undoubtedly grow faster as you become more familiar with the process and its underlying strategies).

With the first step of the ID-GEM process completed, you are now ready to embark on step two: Discovery Questions. Check out our blog on discovery questions to learn more about this essential part of ID-GEM.

More Stories By Lisa Calkins

With years of experience, Lisa Calkins has the skills to guide the Amadeus Consulting Team in tackling clients' challenging business goals. Over the past 20 years, she has continually refined the company's best practices and ability to meet the unique demands of its clients. She is also a dedicated community leader, involved in numerous local business organizations and professional women's groups. Lisa has been a speaker at many conferences on digital communication, hosts female focused professional development sessions, and leadership mentoring sessions.

Awards: Denver Business Journal's Outstanding Women in Business (technology/telecommunications category), Bronze Stevie for Mentor/Coach of the Year

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