Your 10 WORK VALUE ELEMENTS (WaVE) for software and data delivery teams


In "How to boost stakeholder engagement with WaVE, a language built on WORK VALUE", we introduced the language of Work Value Elements (WaVE) and how you can use them to:

  • Modernise and mature the way Product and Delivery involve the business in your decision-making processes.
  • Establish better practices.
  • Enable a structure for quantitative analysis of work and outcomes.
  • Drive higher confidence with your investment boards.

In this post, I expand on the types of Work Value Elements (WaVE) I use to explore, profile and allocate work within software and data delivery teams.

NOTE: These WaVEs are not exhaustive. They are designed to act as a starting set/blueprint.

WaVEs for working with software & data delivery teams

Classifies work against the following value themes:

WaVE Allocating effort to:
FIX Correct a bug/glitch/defect in an existing workflow or codebase that makes the solution generate errors or fail to work as intended.

Unnecessary delays in addressing this type of work drives:
  • Unsatisfied customers.
  • Higher support calls.
MAINTAIN Enhance, update or replace existing capabilities or components within a solution to ensure the continuous delivery of Value as advertised and published within the solution specifications.

Examples of this effort can include:
  • Refactoring existing code.
  • Replacement of components used to support capabilities with an alternative supplier that is either terminating an ongoing partnership, going out of business is more responsive, accessible, affordable or reliable.
  • Adapting existing code to continue working on a new operating system update (e.g. making sure your code can work on both Windows 10 and the recent Windows 11 release).
UPTIME DevSecOps supporting the ongoing delivery and availability of the core solution within the expected parameters, quality and SLAs.

Works classified in this WaVE include:
  • Improving the internal tooling and capabilities to run a scalable CI/CD operations that delivered 99%+ uptime.
  • Driving penetration tests, analysing assets for security threats and developing remediation systems to mitigate issues found proactively.
  • Quality Assurance and Automated Regression Testing
Roles that service this area would typically hold alternative skills than those in typical software/data.
WaVE Allocating effort to:
EASIER Modify the user interface (UI), user experience (UX) or solution responsiveness to ensure customers have a delightful experience as they discover, access and use the intended utility and Value of the solution.
FASTER Upgrade the processing engine to enable you to do more of the same type of work within a specific timeframe. This means you can either do the typically expected volume of work in less time or do a higher volume within that same timeframe.

In a cloud environment context such as MS Azure / Amazon AWS, the value proposition of this work can be directly linked to cost savings for both vendor and end-user.
INTEL Accelerate one's ability to observe, gain insights, learn, remember, reason, solve problems and make more thoughtful sound judgements.

This means you can leverage modern data-driven capabilities to generate timely and accessible knowledge by using existing data or modifying the solution to better collect a broader set of data or capabilities to learn, comprehend, analyse and recommend the next steps.

WaVE Allocating effort to:
CONNECT Create seamless digital connectivity that allows organisations or solutions to:
  • Interact or talk to each other via APIs.
  • Automate business processes.
  • Enhance the sharing and syncing of data between applications and systems.
  • Enhance productivity and drive incremental revenue.
GTM Support your organisation to build deep and meaningful relationships through each micro-transactions or micro-communication.

Generate targeted, integrated, personalised, customer-first, or partner-first interactions across all user touchpoints within a solution and ancillary environments (web site, product(s), support, partner portals etc.)

Works of this type generally include:
  • Integrating in-product messaging to be managed by marketing teams.
  • Telemetry collection and processing initiatives to enable personalised servicing and customer recommendations (in-product or within partner portals, customer-portals or other forms).
PLATFORM Extending the presence and capabilities of your core solution to a specific secondary platform.

This includes making a core service available/consumable via a mobile/tablet experience specific to a platform, e.g. iOS, Android, etc., which are not typically considered core, e.g. (Windows/macOS/Linux).

NOTE: In a multi-platform solution, I would expect you to split this into dedicated WaVEs, e.g. PLATFORM-IOS or PLATFORM-ANDROID.
WaVE Allocating effort to:
FEATURE Introduce a new functional capability or massively transform an existing solution aspect and deliver an extraordinary and differentiated value to end-users.

In this table, we separated functional capabilities that enable users to achieve outcomes in an EASIER or FASTER manner and abilities that help them be SMARTER in performing their duties. We also split work related to enhancing GTM, PLATFORM and DEVSECOPS.

This distinction generally leaves particular new feature requests in the area of functionality that is specifically user-centric.

Highlander rule: 1:1 mapping

As a rule, each singular work request must always map to 1 primary WaVE.

We identify that there can be times when analysing an Epic/bigger piece of work, you may meet complexities and want to classify more than one. While not ideal, in such cases, you would:

  • Identify your primary WaVE this Epic/bigger piece of work.
  • Capture any additional WaVEs you feel pertinent as secondary.
Secondary waves are to be used for your informational purposes. All future analytics and visualisations of work distribution used to drive and support decisions will only use the primary WaVEs.

Use WaVEs in your systems  today

The beauty of WaVEs is that they can be represented as TAGS within the systems that you are using today to capture work requests. This includes solutions like JIRA, MS DevOps, Asana, Monday etc.

This compatibility also means you can use the in-built reporting capabilities of your existing solutions to map the distribution WaVEs in your backlog. This information can then be used to:

  • Communicate with the business what the spend is unlocking in terms of Value.
  • Confirm whether your prioritised work aligns with the intended purpose of your upcoming update.
  • Assess the workload on your team.

Concluding thoughts

The nature of the work needed to build, ship, and maintain high-quality, valuable solutions that can be found, consumed and licensed is complex and multi-faceted. In your role as a Digital Leader, you must understand the type of work being prioritised and done in the buildup to the next solution release update.

WaVEs introduce a way to

  • Classify work in terms of Value as experienced by the customer while avoiding any links to the exact detail of an individual work request.
  • Aggregate work requests by their WaVE tags to understand your "investment bias". Use this understanding to confirm whether your investment bias aligns with the intended purpose of the upcoming release. Using an example, if you are working on a service release update, I would expect you to include work requests of type MAINTAIN, UPTIME and BUG-FIX only. If you have other WaVEs allocated, it would be an excellent opportunity to investigate and determine if you want to keep it in its current position or move it out to a more apt update (e.g. a New version update release).
  • Identify when you are "spreading your limited resources too thinly" across too many WaVEs. Use this info to determine whether your work allocation strategy enables your team to focus or work at its best productive outcome aligned to the purpose of the upcoming release update.
  • Be mindful around WaVEs that trigger more works, increasing your cost to develop, ship and drive take rate. Using an example, whenever you build a new FEATURE, you automatically drive work requirements from your partner teams: technical writing, support, sales, marketing, systems, etc.

Once you grasp the WaVE mechanisms, your outlook towards work allocations, roadmap, and release strategies changes forever.

The WaVEs language to be relevant to other several departments, including marketing, technical writing, user experience, product operations, support, sales, etc. All departments can benefit from this type of tracking and profiling work.

You become more sensitive towards the cost of implementing work and the Value they return. Your communication language improves, and you start finding more people who understand and support your approach work like a pro!.

Let me know how you do!

This post and the information presented in newsletter, events and website content are intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. The views expressed herein are of the author alone and is not a recommendation of an investment strategy or to buy or sell any security, digital asset (including cryptocurrency) in any account. The content is also not a research report and is not intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision. While certain information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, neither the author nor any of his employers or their affiliates have independently verified this information, and its accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The content is not legal advice. Any third-party information provided therein does not reflect the views of Accordingly, no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to, and no reliance should be placed on, the fairness, accuracy, timeliness or completeness of this information. The author and all employers and their affiliated persons assume no liability for this information and no obligation to update the information or analysis contained herein in the future.

Your 10 WORK VALUE ELEMENTS (WaVE) for software and data delivery teams

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