Proving the Business Value of Software Engineering

Even highly effective software engineering leaders can do better at communicating value in a language the business understands.

Start building value stories

Create software engineering value stories that prove benefit to the business.

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Demonstrate software engineering value through storytelling

Software engineering leaders use an array of metrics to prioritize initiatives by value, but they often fail to use compelling business-value-focused metrics.

Download this report to discover:

  1. Six well-defined sample value stories aligned to common business stakeholders’ priorities
  2. How metrics make compelling business narratives more compelling
  3. Steps to creating good value stories

Demonstrating software engineering value

For software engineering leaders to show value to the business, they need to tell a story that's compelling for those stakeholders. These two tactics can help.

Software engineering leaders must effectively link their technology outcomes to business outcomes.

Software engineering leaders today are tasked with innovating, building and delivering new digital products and experiences to drive business results, but proving the value of their teams’ activities can be tough in the increasingly complex business environment full of disruption, change and diverse stakeholder voices (board, CIO, business unit leaders, employees, investors, government, society, etc.). ​

Too often, “value” itself is poorly or abstractly defined, though software engineering teams need to continuously assess the value that their engineering efforts are delivering, and determine opportunities and approaches that will generate greater value. To do that, they must understand:

  • Why they are being asked to build something 

  • Whether what they deliver produces the expected business outcomes

  • How they can maximize the value of solutions they deliver and be active participants in identifying and generating high-value opportunities

To ensure greater value delivery, software engineering leaders can optimize software engineering teams’ path to value delivery by:

  • Driving a common understanding of business value and helping teams target their software delivery efforts at critical business value drivers using a framework  

  • Orienting teams to focus on addressing the underlying business problems that inhibit value 

  • Aligning different roles and teams across the delivery ecosystem to customer value through end-to-end value chains 

  • Providing teams with visibility into how their work impacts business value by establishing a value framework that maps delivery metrics to business outcomes 

  • Demonstrating how software engineering initiatives drive high-priority business objectives

Use business language to build stakeholder buy-in.

For software engineering leaders to win support and investment for their key initiatives, they will need to define the business case clearly, translating complex technical concepts and requirements into a relatable value proposition for a nontechnical audience.

Mastering priority business terms is a basic but critical tactic to successfully justify the business cases for software engineering initiatives. Incorporate such language into business cases from the outset to improve communication with business stakeholders, ensure alignment with mutual goals, facilitate investment decisions and improve product roadmaps.

Just by employing these 10 essential business terms, software engineering leaders will be better able to substantiate their business cases for software engineering initiatives, increasing the chances of securing the required investments.

Ten priority business terms to incorporate in software engineering business cases and conversations:

  1. Return on investment (or return on innovation). The expected return from an initiative over time.

  2. Time-to-market. Time required to deliver defined products or software to meet business or customer demands.

  3. Initial and total addressable market size. The initial and total population to which the products or software can appeal.

  4. Customer engagement. Understanding what target customers need and want to drive engagement, utilization and feedback.

  5. Market differentiation. Offering products and software that competitors do not yet offer, and maintaining that position continuously.

  6. Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses vs. cost of goods sold (COGS). The portion of revenue assigned to the expense of producing the product or service.

  7. Product funding. Dynamic investment pool to fund product or software initiatives, practicing product-centric delivery to meet business demands.

  8. Total cost of ownership. All costs across the product’s life cycle.

  9. Adaptive governance. Flexibly delivering required business outcomes and balancing exploration and business-as-usual needs.

  10. Go-to-market. Planning, communication and execution to introduce products or software to the target audience.

Software engineering leaders should also work with stakeholders to expand this list and capture other relevant business terms as the product life cycle evolves.


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