T14 Tech Leaders Share Essential Data Points They Consider When Determining Sprint Priorities
By Expert Panel® Forbes Councils Member, Forbes Technology Council Jun 22, 2022
Determining priorities for future sprints is one of the most challenging tasks tech leaders undertake—and it’s one they have to engage in over and over again. A tech team serves many stakeholders, and all of them believe that their priorities should drive yours. But everyone can’t be “the” winner. Additionally, your company and team often have multiple goals; deciding which are the most important can’t be done lightly.
It’s essential to review multiple data points and establish priorities that represent the best-possible, most impactful outcomes for your customers, your company and your team. Below, 14 seasoned tech leaders from Forbes Technology Council share the data points that factor into their decision making and help them determine priorities in future sprints. These may not be the only data points you need to consider when establishing priorities for your team’s unique workload, but they’re a strong place to start.
1. Customer Feedback
You must be attuned to customer feedback. Whether you realize it or not, your business model is evolving, so take suggestions seriously. Create touch points, and listen even more closely to the toughest critics. If you are pushing boundaries in complex spaces such as the Internet of Things or cloud platforms, then you must be prepared to change your thinking as new use cases, integrations and go-to-market models affect demand. – Kit Kyte, Checkit
2. Business Impact; Compliance; Security
We factor in business impacts, enterprise compliance checks and security threats as our driving factors for tech priorities. Some examples: We need a technology solution to shift security to the extreme left of our solution development cycle, we need design thinking/simulation technology to improve the customer experience, and we need a bidirectional traceability solution for proper change management. – Suman Biswas, Niyam IT, Inc.
3. Employee Usage Data
Employee-centric data is very useful when I am determining what my company’s tech priorities should be. By pulling software as a service usage data, for example, I can look more closely at which apps employees use at the team and individual levels. This kind of data gives companies better visibility and control and empowers them to make better decisions when negotiating vendor contracts. – Jody Shapiro, Productiv
4. Long-Term Initiatives
Between the “fires” that arise, constantly changing cybersecurity needs and new wants from leadership, maintaining priorities is a struggle for all tech leaders. All of your sprints must first point back to your long-term initiatives. If you’re not addressing your three-, five- or 10-year goals first, then you will constantly be dealing with what is urgent, not what is necessary to move the company forward. – Jordan Arvin, Renovia
5. Potential Business Value
Always think about what will provide the most value for your business, and prioritize that. But remember that value doesn’t just equal increased revenue. For example, improving security might provide tremendous value, since data breaches can be so costly. – Ruchi Goyal, Accenture
6. The Underlying Problem
While determining tech priorities, it’s extremely important to analyze and assess the underlying problem being solved. So many tech priorities fail at the adoption stage after execution, owing to them being misaligned with the actual problem statement. Thus, a true voice of the customer defining the problem statement is a must in identifying priorities. – Apurva Kadakia, Hanu
7. Business Opportunity And Cost
Thanks to digital transformation initiatives, many companies build their own software, and business leaders naturally want to measure the impact of that investment. Because of this, a top data point for determining tech priorities should be business opportunity and cost. Value stream management is a helpful methodology for analyzing tech priorities and determining which ones support business objectives. – Victor Shilo, EastBanc Technologies
Risk management is an essential part of any company’s planning method. Factoring risk into the planning and prioritization process helps mitigate and reduce the overall project risk to some extent. To quantify risk, look at some of these areas: incomplete requirements, incomplete effort, unrealistic expectations, lack of involvement of senior stakeholders and complicated architecture. – Adi Ekshtain, Amaryllis Payment Solutions
9. Competitor Analysis
Competitor analysis is a strategic decision-making tool for determining which technology projects to prioritize in the future. It not only helps businesses to make informed decisions but also allows them to anticipate if and how their competitors will try to capture market share. This, in turn, also helps you maintain your competitive advantage. – Chintan Shah, Brainvire InfoTech Inc.
Any data that shows user growth, retention increases, duration improvements or financial growth helps determine what we plan. Companies should not tackle something that doesn’t either add to growth or at least shore up a foundational element that will support future growth. – Blair Currie, Snibble Corp.
11. Net Promoter Score
Everything you do as a business and any software improvement or development that you work on should be dictated by the needs and the pain points of your customers. One of the most straightforward ways to measure customer satisfaction is the net promoter score. If, overall, your customers are not likely to recommend your product, you know big changes are needed and should be prioritized. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor
12. Organizationwide OKRs
It is essential to consider the organization’s objectives and key results. They act as a guiding star that guides Scrum teams to emphasize and commit to an initiative that will make real differences. By aligning OKRs with product vision and sprint goals, teams can efficiently prioritize high-impact items and track their performance against measurable targets, powering positive business results. – Roman Taranov, Ruby Labs
13. Employee Feedback
Customer insights are often at the core of most tech priorities, but they are open to interpretation. Listening to your own team will surface new insights and encourage ownership over time. Set up a defined process for collecting and quantifying feedback from the team—you’ll notice more motivated employees and better decisions in your next sprint. – Jason Gong, Firezone
14. Cycle Time
When evaluating sprints, it is important to keep an eye on your cycle time. For those who are unaware, cycle time is the amount of time it takes to complete one task. Specifically, I look for changes in cycle time. Identifying areas of inconsistency will help you, as a tech leader, address issues in future sprints and find objectives that need to be rescoped into smaller, more consistent tasks. – Nicholas Domnisch, EE Solutions