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ROI in 90 Days with Jira Align

Screen Shot 2022-03-11 at 12.45.17 PM.pngIn order to demonstrate value with Jira Align and get a return on your investment (ROI) in 90 days, it’s not solely dependent on your ability to roll out Jira Align to your teams. It’s also dependent on your organization identifying and delivering on business outcomes (think increasing predictability, shortening time to market, improving customer satisfaction…).

Background

Prior to coming to Atlassian, I was a customer. We were able to get $6M in cost savings while increasing monthly delivery by ~42%, across our first 3 portfolios in less than a year. We removed waste from systems of delivery, improved transparency and delivery flow, while maintaining headcount and quality.

Prior to implementing Jira Align, my employer wanted to hire more teams in order to deliver on forecasted commitments. Based on past performance, leadership knew they didn’t have enough capacity relative to demand. I had a hypothesis that we didn’t need to hire more people. Instead, we needed to focus capacity on the right things and we'd use Jira Align to help accomplish this.

The cost savings within 90 days was derived from not needing to hire the additional 5 teams ($1.2M each annual) that leadership wanted. The ~42% monthly delivery increase happened over time and was derived by increased delivery rates over the baseline timeline. 

I made it about money

For me, it was critical to understand the current state of the system of delivery, in order to quantify improvements that were needed. It was equally important to make this about money. If you can show how Jira Align is going to save your organization money, it can buy you time on your implementation. Certainly, everyone wants to talk about increasing value delivered versus the number of things delivered but it’s easier to calculate the average cost of something than its value. Stick to what you can quantify early on and show your math. I found it easier to show cost savings and time savings.


Establish a baseline set of measures

Getting a baseline early provided us with the greatest delta, once changes started to happen. These are some quantitative measures I used to measure backlogs, teams, and product delivery

Backlog

  • Backlog of work (months of work in a to-do or in-process state).
    • Sum number of items in the backlog or in-progress state.
    • Divide that backlog amount by averaged throughput rate.

Teams

  • Human capital cost
    • Number of teams. 
    • What is the cost per team (blended or actual)

Product Delivery

  • Delivery (throughput) rate. (averaged by month)
  • Time to Market [idea to delivery] (lead time). (averaged in months)
  • Work in Process [dev in-progress to done] (cycle time). (averaged in months) 
  • Percentage of your work linked/not linked to higher level roadmap commitments. (orphan percentage)

 


What we initially discovered

  1. Based on average throughput rates and lead times, we calculated that we had months (even years) of work either in progress or in the backlog. People were starting work but not finishing it.
  2. A high percentage of things teams were working on were not actually aligned to the roadmap. If we could stop the teams from working on these non-priorities, they could finish working on the real priorities.
  3. We had a lot of incomplete teams that were dependent on others. 

What we did to improve

  1. Started linking teams in Jira to programs in Jira Align. We provided role-based training.
  2. We assessed our teams, understood their needs, and informed leadership what needed to change.
  3. Either stopped or did not start working on something, if it was not aligned to a prioritized higher-level commitment on the roadmap
  4. Made sure there was sufficient ready backlog for teams, linked to sufficient prioritized roadmap
  5. Ensured we had complete and stable teams, with a goal of limiting dependencies, to better deliver on commitments 
  6. We implemented Enterprise Insights (Jira Align’s BI Solutions), to share insights that were unique to our organization
  7. Documented our System of Improvement, not just System of Delivery, to have better clarity and accountability.

 What started to happen

  1. Once teams were integrated with Jira Align, we had better transparency to what they were working on.
  2. Teams had better understanding of what was a priority and why
  3. Once the “orphaned” work was stopped, existing capacity was refocused on finishing work currently in progress. 
  4. Throughput Rates went up and Cycle Times and Lead Times went down.
  5. Because we focused on having well-formed stable teams, delays due to dependencies went down. 
  6. Because we balanced capacity and demand, predictable delivery went up. 
  7. Overall cost of people and stayed steady

Conclusion

Certainly, your outcomes may vary from mine. But, with an outcome-driven plan with quantifiable measures instrumented early, and a clear improvement strategy, you can absolutely get a return on your investment in 90 days. 

4 comments

Al Reid Atlassian Team Mar 14, 2022

Great article @Derek Huether 

Like Derek Huether likes this

What was the size of this change? How many people or teams were brought together under Jira Align?

Thanks @Derek Huether for sharing these insights

It will help ppl take informed decision and knowing what to expect

Loved the way you summarized the things and presented pointers at the end

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