SDLC Insights

Improve observability, predictability and efficiency

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Stop trying to drive so fast

Everyone wants a faster software development lifecycle. After all, if you can push more out, the thinking goes, you’ll start raking more in. For many organizations, this means they’re constantly looking out for new ways to squeeze more out of engineering. 

They might as well be shooting themselves in the foot. Why? Well, to paraphrase one CTO, it’s as if Amazon had tried to solve the logistical challenges of same-day delivery by telling their delivery workers to just drive faster. That advice would have resulted in more crashes without solving the root cause of getting goods to homes quickly.

In other words, if you’re trying to improve your productivity by fixating on the last mile, your efforts are probably ineffective at best. At worst, they’re entirely counterproductive — something your burnt out engineers will quickly confirm. What you should be doing instead is focusing on how you can make your entire process flow more efficient.

Building better processes with Bloomfilter

As it happens, we recently announced two new features to help you do just this. With Initiatives, you have a tool that enables you to definitively tie together your executive planning with your strategy cycles, helping you streamline communications and reduce unnecessary delays. And with Financials, you can do something you can’t do anywhere else: translate your software development activities into ROI. Or, to put that another way, you can finally understand the costs and benefits of what’s happening in your SDLC.

But we haven’t stopped there. We noticed that, when our customers use these tools, what they want to know next is how they can identify any possible points of risk or friction in their software development process, then remediate those points. Traditionally, this has been a hard problem to solve. Not only is it difficult to observe what is happening inside the development process, but it can be a challenge to even understand the details. How is work flowing? Where are the blockages? Where is work flowing backwards?

As challenging as it may be to see all this, it is nevertheless essential. We need to know what is happening inside our workflow, just as we need to be able to quickly and easily identify potential risks, critical issues, and waste. 

Our new Process Map feature provides you with this transformative view.

Introducing the Process Map impact

So what does it really do? In short, it allows you to visualize the flow of work for any given team (or group of teams) over any length of time. That means you can start answering difficult questions. Where is work flowing between stages? Where is it progressing as expected through the stages? Where is it skipping stages or even flowing backwards? 

And once you start getting those answers, you can begin making your real impact. Here are three ways that can happen:

  • You’ll be able to immediately identify where (and when) teams aren’t following the process. A team with lots of skipped steps is usually clear evidence that they’re putting themselves at risk for waste or may suffer from quality issues later on. But by working from the outside in on the right side of the process map, you’ll easily be able to see where teams are skipping tasks in key parts of the process.
  • You can identify tasks that are flowing backwards. While a limited amount of backward flow should be expected, especially if you have a thorough QA process that catches failed tasks that then need to be redone, too much work flowing backwards should raise concerns. But by using the process map (once again, working from the outside in, this time on the left side), you can identify this problem early on, giving you a quick way to identify waste.
  • You can compare teams. Measuring team performance can sometimes feel like apples and oranges. But by mapping their process journeys, you can get a quick visual comparison of each team’s consistency. This allows you to see their performance side by side.

Make meetings that count

As you can see, this feature opens up a lot of opportunities for how you determine performance and improve efficiency across your teams. But I think one VP of Product captured it best when we first introduced him to his Process Map. “This shows me who I need to set up meetings with,” he told us. “Immediately.”

We still have lots of iteration in store for this feature. But as we watch our customers continue to use it and come up with creative ways to measure and improve their processes, it is giving us loads of insight into just how powerful it can be.

Stay tuned for more Process Map updates soon. Expect to see lots of additional capabilities, such as:

  • Where tasks are stalling, in addition to how they are flowing
  • The financial impact of any waste identified by the Process Map
  • Real-time alerts when certain stage changes happen (e.g., a three-point card flows backwards two stages).

Erik Severinghaus

Co-Founder | Co-CEO

Erik is an entrepreneur, innovator, author, and adventurer who’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, and The Wall St. Journal. His track record includes profitable exits from iContact (Vocus), SimpleRelevance (Rise Interactive), and SpringCM (DocuSign). Erik released his first book in 2021, Scale Your Everest, a guidebook for mental health, resilience and entrepreneurship. As an endurance athlete, Erik has conquered some of the world's tallest peaks, including Mt. Everest in 2018.