Visualizing the Business Value of Software

By: Michael Harris, President & CEO, DCG Software Value

Technology, and particularly software, is a significant expense for companies in today’s digital world. However, businesses must invest in software in order to operate more efficiently and effectively, meet (or exceed) their customers’ expectations and gain a necessary competitive edge in their industry.

Developing software in-house can be a major undertaking and if the software development team is not guided by the appropriate objectives, a project can quickly go awry and cost valuable time and money, as well as not deliver the necessary functionality to meet the organization’s needs or customer expectations.

The challenge is that often the software development team is not brought into the discussions about the business and economic value that the software is expected to deliver. Without this knowledge, the software development team often makes decisions based on factors unrelated to value, such as the difficulty of the projects, how many and which resources are required or who is shouting the loudest to get their project completed first. As a result of being kept in the dark, the software development team may be focused on developing lower priority features and functionality that don’t meet the customers’ expectations and don’t drive value.

This needs to change. All stakeholders (business units and IT) in a software development project need to be involved in the value discussion and clearly understand the goals and objectives. This can be accomplished by using a 5-step process that has helped organizations visualize the value of their software initiatives. This concept, which I call the Value Visualization Framework (VVF), helps organizations have a clear directive to discuss, define, measure, and prioritize software development initiatives. The five steps include defining the units of value delivery, defining the value of the project in specific units, defining the “size”, defining the cost of delay of the implementation challenge, and quantifying the economic value once deployed.

I understand that not every organization has the resources to complete all five steps, but getting all the stakeholders on the same page and completing even a few of these steps will go a long way to delivering the expected business value. With all stakeholders involved in the value discussion, both business units and IT can be held accountable for specific outcomes throughout the development process. Additionally, by tracking the actual versus target value throughout the process, timely data-driven adjustments can be made to help the project stay on track and achieve the desired end goal(s).

By bringing the IT team into the discussions about the economic and business value of their projects, they will become a strategic contributor to the organization and an important asset in driving costs savings and business value.

Michael Harris, President & CEO of DCG Software Value, is an author and speaker on a wide range of topics related to the Value Visualization of IT. His second book, “The Business Value of Software” will be published in August 2017. For more information on Mr. Harris or Value Visualization, visit:

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