At car2go many smart people have a big bouquet of great ideas. Unfortunately there are not enough people in order to deliver all of those. From a business perspective, it is crucial that the most valuable ideas are delivered at the right time.
The journey towards a unified process of Business Value Estimation lead the car2go employees through the phases of Analyzation, Process Design, Trial-Run and Living the Process. The success of a company is directly related to setting the right priorities.
Analyzing the Status Quo
car2go learned from the past that tending to work in uncoordinated way can drastically slow down the business. Sometimes the focus was more on the business side, sometimes more on the product development. Teams even were working on topics, which were not transparent throughout the company.
This behavior also lead to an inefficient way of using capacities. People could likely not be aware about current work items or teams could potentially work on the same items, without knowing it.
One finding was that the prioritized work of the development teams was not always aligned with our company targets. Four key aspects where identified, which the process needs to fulfill:
- Alignment of topics
- Alignment of prioritization
- Continuous Improvement
In written words, the target picture looks as follows:
Designing the process
Since the mission statement was now clear, people collaboratively started to sketch the process. Many ideas and aspects were brought up. Some of them were dismissed, many of them were taken into consideration. Several suggestions were adjusted to fit the needs. Firstly an agreement of the „flight-level“, at which ideas are being looked at, was set:
Question: Based on your guess, did car2go agree on a worm’s eye view (rather technical) of our work items, or on a bird’s eye view (rather high-level)? Answer: Correct choice, if you voted for the bird’s eye view.
The birds-eye view allows the company to grasp the benefits, efforts and dependencies much quicker. Also it avoids to have too many too detailed discussions. The process designers continued with defining the border-constraints which new ideas need to follow.
Contribution to the company strategy, a clearly stated benefit, a well described feature, a set of necessary people, are some of the constraints.
The person, who is suggesting an idea (also called “Feature”), is named “Feature Owner“. The company agreed to estimate the Benefit and Effort for each idea using the Fibonacci scale (0, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100).
Those values help to set all our estimated ideas in a relative relation to each other. This approach is easier to perform than putting absolute numbers on the Features.
Trial-Run the process of Business Value Estimation
Before being able to perform the first run, some re-work of ideas, which were already in the systems, had to happen:
- Fill out descriptions, so that they are written in a uniformed, user-centric fashion (car2go uses the User-Story template, which is widely spread in agile frameworks such as Scrum)
- Clearly state expected benefits
- Perform effort estimations in the Product Owner round
Among others, members of the global car2go Management, Feature Owners and Product Owners attended the first session on August 22nd 2016. The group consisted of 23 persons.
The group started estimating the Benefit Values for two ideas, which were already implemented.
After a discussion round, the group achieved a mutual agreement on the values and calculated the Business Value ((Benefit / Effort) *10).
These features served from now on as a reference for the upcoming Business Value estimations. The attendees were split into 3 small groups, consisting of at least one member from the Management, one Product Owner and multiple Feature Owners. Within only one hour we had estimates for 17 features.
The Management approved 13 out of 17 features, which is a confirmation rate of 76%.
But there were many more achievements
- leveraged collaboration between people across the company
- higher transparency of current work throughout the different departments
- stronger focus on the most important topics
- acceptance of the process
This success showed car2go, that it can use the designed process as a basis.
Based on the promising results, the group set the ambitious goal to have business values on the most relevant 78 ideas until end of October 2016.
On top of that, the company wanted to see the Cross-Functional Business Experts groups running in a self-organized way by then.
How is car2go performing the process of Business Value Estimation? Did car2go reach it’s goals?
Those, and many other questions will be answered in our 2nd part of the article.