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Discussion on: How to Set the Technical Direction for Your Team

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jlehew profile image
John Lehew

Nice Post James. The Impact vs effort is a great concept that is sometimes difficult to estimate and measure. There are many features that initially appear as high impact, low effort then change to high effort for many reasons and once implemented ends up having low impact. It helps to check in soon after work starts to verify actual effort still lines up with the estimates. It's impact is also difficult to measure as it is intertwined with other features and difficult to separate the impact of a change unless it is a new, core feature.

I agree that having a long and short term technical direction is critical. Your guidelines on how to set short term and long term goals is good.

John

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James Hood Author

Thanks for the feedback and good points, John. You're right that impact and effort can be difficult to estimate and measure. I don't have a bullet-proof solution for that, however here are my thoughts:

  1. Estimation of effort is hard, period. I generally like using Scrum, because it tries to mitigate this with frequent practice of estimation, measurement of actuals and retrospective to continuously improve. For longer-term planning, frequent checkpointing to see if you're on track, and if not, if you can make changes to help (reducing scope, adding resources, etc).
  2. Measurement of impact can also be difficult to measure, however I think the more common pitfall is failing to define success metrics from the beginning. If you take the time to think about what you want to measure and instrument your solution, then you can draw meaningful conclusions from the data, even in an environment where you can't hold all other variables constant.
  3. In any case, as I mentioned in the article, fast iterations with rapid feedback is key to taming the chaos. If the cycle time is too long, the amount of noise you'll have to sift through quickly becomes prohibitive.