Business Alignment over Engineering Features

In his blog on Product Management, Saeed proposes a fifth element to the Agile Manifesto:

Business Alignment over Engineering Features

His argument is that developers, testers and even managers treat each feature equally without worrying about how the business makes money. There were some interesting responses to this:

1. Jelena said that this is already contained in the Principles “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project”, and also can be filed under “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation” element of the Agile manifesto. She also goes on to say that sometimes engineering excellence is more important.

2. Others illustrated how product management and development can never reconcile.

I don’t think it is needed to have another element to the manifesto at all. As Jelena said, it is already contained in the principles and also in the elements. If a  Product Owner can not make efficient decisions and guide the roadmap, then the team can’t do anything. For instance, in the firm I work with currently, the Product Managers and Development Managers blend so effortlessely that you wont even notice, who is who. This closely aligns the business with the development. We prioritize, reprioritize vigorously and we make decisions collectively – sometimes development helps us make better decisions [what if we just made a single HTML page rather than all dynamic feature that you want and will take time] and sometimes businesses help development make better decisions [we need a guarantee that whatever was working before is working in future].

In essence, elements basically highlighted the importance of where our focus should be. Business Alignment over Engineering Features places a lot more emphasis on Business Alignment and takes the focus away from Engineering Features. This is also partly wrong – engineering features and excellence in itself is also sometimes desirable.


2 Responses to “Business Alignment over Engineering Features”

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for blogging on my post. A couple of things to point out. The 5th element I propose is NOT: “Business alignment over engineering features” as you have written, but rather:

    Business alignment over engineering EFFICIENCY.

    The words are important as I’m sure you can understand.

    Keep in mind that the current 4 elements of the Manifesto are structured such that what is to the left of “over” is MORE important than what is to the right of “over”, but both are important.

    e.g. working software over comprehensive documentation.

    documentation is important, but not at the expense or detriment to working software.

    This structure holds true for my 5th element.

    Engineering efficiency is important. I state that in my post. But it cannot supercede business objectives. Business alignment means that the actions and outputs of the Engineering teams should be aligned with the business. They should not make decisions that have negative impacts on the business simply because they are expedient to do technically.

    As for Jelena’s comment, that this concept is listed in the principles behind the manifesto, I know that and agree. But this is true for the other 4 elements as well.

    This issue of business alignment needs to be brought forth explicitly in the manifesto because the manifesto is a call for change in the software community and this gap between the engineering teams and the business has been a glaring problem for a long time.

    Hope this helps further explain my post and thanks for blogging on it.


  2. […] “Good Management Practices”. Some posts where I blogged about this include Business Alignment over Engineering Features, Agile Metrics, Managers in Agile, Should Managers Worry about Coffee Breaks, Business View – […]

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