A client asked me recently: "How can we be more efficient on this project?"
I thought it was a really good question to ask because there's always room for improvements, let's be fair. I really liked that concept of "marginal gains" where small improvements over time can compound into something much bigger.
How do you measure efficiency? What metrics should we use and track to try and improve it? When it comes to digital projects, I think it should be the overall speed of delivery.
Let's look into it a bit more.
When it comes to supporting or building a web application or a digital system, how long does it take you to go from an idea to that feature being deployed to production? To measure efficiency, you can look at the budget or the resourcing, but I really think the overall speed of delivery will cover most of those points and it's a good metric to measure.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of steps, a lot of people involved in turning an idea into a feature, so we really need to look at the entire life cycle, the end to end process.
In the agency world, we're obviously working on multiple projects for multiple clients. We always try to learn lessons from what works well in one project and apply that, roll it out to other projects. It's not always possible, of course. Every project has different requirements, different team members, different project managers...
Over the years and hundreds of projects, I've identified 4 components that we can improve to increase the overall efficiency in the delivery.
- The first one, a critical point, is the experience of the product owner, whether it be agency or client-side. It's really important to focus on the requirements early on and having them well-defined. It can be a bit contradicting to think about having to spend longer analysing and over-analysing things too early... but better inputs will always bring better output, so this is key.
- The second one is to improve the process, the delivery process. You can follow Agile methodologies to bring some flexibility when the business priorities are changing. It helps to keep the team focused on small iteration and continuous delivery. On top of Agile, you can combine DevOps principles to automate as much as possible when it comes to setting up, testing or deploying the applications.
- The third component is your team, the staff working on the projects. They all have varying degrees of experience and backgrounds. It's about building a culture of training, of knowledge sharing and splitting the work equally across the team. You also need to look at the collaboration between the team, between UX designers and developers for example, to avoid silos and assumptions during the handovers.
- The fourth and final component is to have the right tools. The right tools to keep track of the features, to help communication... Everyone should be aware of the status of their tasks and know what their priorities are, whether it's at management level or for the team executing the projects. You could have a project board that should allow you to identify bottlenecks and get the right information to make the right decisions, and better decisions, at the right time on a daily basis.
It's important to highlight though, that the speed of delivery should NOT come at the detriment of the product quality. You do not want to rush things by bypassing a few steps or skipping the testing process or UAT end-user validation, for example, be careful with that.
Once you start measuring this metric and look at the 4 components we discussed, I hope that you will be able to make improvements and increase your delivery velocity.
When you are able to release features quicker, you will gain a quicker feedback loop from real users, from your market, to iterate upon. That will only improve the overall quantity of your digital products.
Increase the speed and increase the overall quality: everyone wins!
That's it for today. If you're struggling with digital delivery or need support to upgrade your processes, just get in touch. Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Twitter to keep learning with me and grow your career in digital.
Until next time, stay safe and see you soon.