If software delivery is not a factory – what is it?

After posting my first blog I had a discussion with a friend of mine who is an Agile coach. He asked the obvious question: “Mirco, if you think it is not a factory anymore, what is it then?”.

Studio_AaltoNow that caused me to pause, but after a moment I remembered a discussion panel at a conference I attended. The topic was “Software Delivery Metrics” and the whole room was looking for answers on how to measure the effectiveness of software delivery teams or the even more elusive productivity. The discussion went around and around in circles and while I was hoping to get some good answers there was none to be had. People were talking about business outcomes and customer and employee satisfaction – which I agree with but are difficult to measure and to determine cause and effect. Before giving up I threw the following analogy in the room: “So what you are saying is that software delivery is like marketing? When you run a campaign and everyone is happy with the campaign and the product sells more than you consider yourself successful with your marketing campaign. But you don’t know whether your campaign was successful or whether your competitor did something stupid, and you don’t know whether there would have been a more productive way to deliver the campaign” – so perhaps software delivery is not a factory anymore, it is a studio (like a marketing or design studio).

Now this analogy might not be perfect either and I am sure some marketing buffs out there will tell me that marketing is very measurable. Especially if you consider the abilities that came with A/B testing in online marketing, but hey its closer to the truth than the factory model is.

I will close with a quote from John Wanamaker:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”

– I leave it to you to see what this means for software delivery.

Picture for this post:
Studio Aalto, by Pepechibiryu, available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvar_Aalto#mediaviewer/File:Studio_Aalto.jpg
License: CC BY-SA 3.0 

3 thoughts on “If software delivery is not a factory – what is it?

  1. Pingback: Let’s burn the software factory to the ground – and from their ashes software studios shall rise | Not A Factory Anymore

  2. Pingback: Burn Software Factories to the Ground and Let Software Studios Rise -

  3. Pingback: Let’s burn the software factory to the ground – and from their ashes software studios shall rise | Agile Australia Blog

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