“I want my teams to become more agile in order to save money” is probably a sentence you will hear a lot from financial directors and executives. Is this really a myth?
Where Lean is not really what we should be looking for
This myth is often related to a misunderstanding of the relationship between Lean and Scrum. The Lean concept is about maximizing value and reducing waste. If you don’t associate both ideas you are not going to get results. Most executives like the idea of reducing waste and so the cost while getting more out of people. By the way in this scenario we don’t talk about people but resources. So sometimes when you have to assess a team to find ways for helping them going out of a flaccid scrum implementation you also have questions like : who do I need to fire once they get better?
Waste should not be related to people but instead it should be on ideas, vision and value. The whole point of agility, lean and so Scrum is to maximize the value of the product we are building. Finding better ways to deliver better software and not finding better ways for cost cutting.
Saving money : not the idea
What matter the most is to deliver value rapidly but what is value? When you get asked about how we a company can save money doing agile you should reply saying : what can we do to get more money out of your product ? By getting more money in selling a better product we move from the idea of saving money to survive to gaining more to expand. If you want to bring the conversation on this field you should be prepared to answer a lot more questions about defining the “what” of the product. There are a lot of ways to make the value a tangible actionable metric. You can start by monitoring usage of features, product, do user surveys or even analyze how much money you’ve spent to build your minimum viable product. Only having a number between one and hundred is not enough you will have to quickly move to a value coming back from a real use of the product.
Teams of highly qualified professionals
Forming agile teams is where you’ll probably realize that becoming agile is not costless. Specially at the beginning. The best agile teams are for sure made of highly qualified professionals with a lot of experience. As you may know we are looking for self organized and cross functional teams so if your team is made of interns with no experience you are in a dead end. When people are more experienced they are usually more expensive and this is normal specially if they have the expertise you are looking for to build your product. You can build agile teams made of experts and junior but it won’t be as effective as having only experience people.
In summary move the discussion to business value delivered instead of cost. A better time to market and building a better product is not something you can do with small teams of inexperienced people. So find ways on getting the best possible product that can make your business flourish in small but effective steps. That should be all what matters.