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September 07, 2011


You say :

Value, specifically the delivery of business value, is a core component of agile methods. This concept is woven into the agile DNA with its inclusion in the Agile Values (“Working software over comprehensive documentation”) and the Agile Principles (“Working software is delivered frequently” and “Working software is the principal measure of progress”).

However this seems to be predicated on the idea that (Working Software == Business Value) which is not always the case. In fact it is quite often not the case. Using the delivery of working software as even a measure of business value (let alone the definition) seems deeply wrong-headed.

Hi Bert,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I will try to explain my points and address you concern. The statement that “Working software is the principal measure of progress” is not my statement, but a direct quite from the agile manifesto. Your observation that “Working Software == Business Value” and this is not always the case is true for many projects.

However in agile projects we prioritize work by business value and work on items in business value order. So if following an agile approach working software does equate to business value since the work would not have been approved for development if the business value had not been determined and approved. The format many teams use for gathering requirements helps illustrate how this is baked it. The format of “As a ROLE I want FUNCTIONALITY so that BUSINESS BENEFIT for example: “As a Netflix customer, I want a list of movies I may like based on my ratings, so that I can find more movies to rent”. Stories without a business benefit are rejected or sent for further analysis. The Backlog is prioritized by business value and work is selected from the top of the backlog

So, while you are right that just any old working software may not equal delivering business value, if the whole process is business value driven, then the software selected for development will have been predicated on its value. In these circumstance working software does equate to business value. I hope this helps explain my post.

Best regards

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