Project to Product – Mik Kersten Book Summary

Project to Product – Mik Kersten | Free Book Summary

Project to Product – Mik Kersten

Project to Product is a book written by Mik Kersten and published in 2019. It provides a framework for surviving the digital age and explores how companies can use software to transform their businesses. It discusses topics such as the software economy, product-centric strategies, and modernizing software delivery.

The book also provides insights into the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation and examines the impact of software on business strategy.

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The Big Ideas

Avoid the pitfalls of local optimization. Focus on the end to end value stream. In the context of a software value stream.

  • The concept of end to end includes the entire process of value delivery to the customer. It encompasses functions ranging from business strategy and ideation, all the way to instrumentation of usage, to determine which values were most adopted by the customer base.
  • Review your mental models. Comparing Software Development to Manufacturing leads to ineffective optimisations.  Software Development is non-linear value steam, much like an Airline Routing Network rather than the more linear Manufacturing Value Streams.
  • Alignment is critical between Organisation Structure, Software Architecture and Value Stream Architecture.

Free book, podcast summaries

Software is more like routing aeroplanes than manufacturing cars.

Project to Product – The Flow Framework

A framework to visualize the software delivery network enabling business decisions throughout all levels of the organization.

Flow Framework:

  • Align IT investment with value streams.
  • Scales the Three Ways of DevOps (flow, feedback and continuous learning) to the entire business.
  • Measurable business result.

At top level, it provides two things:

  • Value stream metrics to track each value stream, so you can correlate production metrics to business outcomes.
  • Value Stream Network: Infrastructure to measure the results delivered by each product.

Flow items in SW development

  • Features: New business value.
  • Defects: Quality.
  • Risks: Compliance and security.
  • Technical Debts.

Flow Metrics:

  • Result oriented metrics, like revenue and cost, not proxy metrics for value creation like deploys per day.
  • Agile and DevOps metrics lie a layer down below the Flow FW.

Flow Distribution:

  • Distribution of the four flow items is the critical metrics for aligning value streams to business strategy.
  • Flow Distribution trade-off are understandable to business stakeholders that have no IT background.

Flow Velocity:

  • Accelerate metrics not as important if your bottleneck is not deployment automation.

Flow Framework: The Features

  • Flow Framework assumes that the best suited practices for your business are already underway.
  • The role of the Flow FW is to ensure that the business level framework and transformation initiatives are connected to the technical ones.

Questions fundamental to production:

  • Who is the customer?
  • What value is the customer pulling?
  • What are the value streams?
  • Where is the bottleneck?

Flow FW will allow you to:

  • See end-to-end flow of business value in real time.
  • Instantly spot bottlenecks and use them to prioritize investment.
  • Test hypothesis based on real time date from every value stream.
  • Rearchitect your organization around maximizing flow.

Result oriented metrics, like revenue and cost, not proxy metrics for value creation like deploys per day.

Connecting to Business Results

  • Feedback at the right level of granularity is essential to support decision-making.

Business Outcome metrics:

  • Value: Most important metric.
  • Revenue: If not monetized directly, then use the indirect value of the other value streams it supports.
  • Cost: Only delivery cost + proportion of shared costs.
  • Quality: Escaped defects, incidents, NPS, renewal rate.

Value Stream Management

SW is fundamentally different from physical production, so attempting to emulate a model that worked for physical production is the wrong approach.

To transition a company from project to product, start with the tool network, then the artifact and last the Value Stream Network.

In network management, bottlenecks are constraints that you simply reroute around.

Flow does not need to stop as it does in a linear process. Network-based model is more representative for SW dev than a linear manufacturing flow.

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