Reducing the Software Scrapheap
Conversations about sustainability within organisations often focus on hardware to reduce physical waste and cloud technologies to minimise energy consumption. But optimising software development can deliver comparable or even more impactful results. At the same time a much better experience for your ultimate ‘customer’.
Total spend in the tech sector is expected to rise to $4.4 trillion this year, according to Gartner’s recent forecast. A large proportion of this spend is on software, which has seen 9.8% growth in 2022. But historically around 45% of software that is developed is never used.
This staggering statistic indicates a huge waste of resources, talent, time and energy. It reduces business profit and value too. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
By reallocating and re-prioritising resources, businesses can make more intelligent, data-led decisions about software engineering to drive significant value and reduce waste. The benefits of a more sustainable approach to software don’t end there: companies can also get more for their money where capacity is fixed.
How can this be achieved? Becoming a more sustainable organisation starts with a change in mindset.
The software sustainability mindset
In order to become more sustainable, businesses first need to become more value-driven. When it comes to software development, there is a competitive market for a finite pool of creative tech talent. So companies need to maximise what they have.
A good starting point would be to make sure employees with software development skills are focused on delivering products that directly benefit customers in order to get the most impactful results. Not only will this result in a commercial benefit but also reduced waste. Products and services unable to deliver tangible value won’t make it past the development stage. If they do you’ve wasted time, energy and effort putting things into production that don’t get used.
Adopting this value-driven and sustainable mindset is made easier with a product management approach wholly responsible for forming a clear development strategy and ensuring projects stay on the right track. This in itself could lead to a ballpark 10% improvement in reducing waste upfront.
Effective product management, including collaboration with the relevant business leaders and customers, is the first stage in establishing what we refer to as the intelligent experience. In turn, this creates journeys that are distinctive, dynamic and focused on the moments that matter for customers.
Getting the right people with the right mindset and the right processes in place is key to reducing software waste. But better engineering also relies on technology solutions that effectively measure the success of experiments, completed and ongoing activities.
Product management teams need relevant data available so they can make decisions about software development that will ultimately increase customer satisfaction. This is essential for the effective prioritisation of workloads – there’s no point wasting resources on developing tools or journeys that the data indicates customers have little interest in or don’t enjoy using. Instead, these efforts can be concentrated precisely where there is demand.
Car manufacturer Lexus has seen tangible results from reconfiguring its organisation, team and technology. The introduction of product management, analytics and optimisation has given the company a much clearer picture of what customers are doing and allowed it to re-prioritise its developments. In turn, this has led to an increase in development efficiency of 15%+ beyond what is possible with traditional customer behaviour and satisfaction surveys.
How can your organisation reduce its software scrapheap?
The elimination of software waste can be boiled down to five key steps:
- Connected experience design – focusing on the customer experience journey
- Product management – creating a stronger vision for and prioritisation of software engineering work at a team level
- Instrumentation – capturing events technically to gather data on key moments
- Analysis – interpreting what’s going on with the data
- Optimisation – deciding how to use data to improve the customer experience
Concentrating exclusively on projects that deliver tangible value is the single best way for organisations to improve efficiency, reduce waste and become more sustainable. At a granular level, let’s not forget that each line of code created has an associated cost. To save money, time and energy, make sure every line of code has a clear purpose.
Much like our planet’s precious resources, talent, time and effort are not infinite. Think sustainably, act sustainably for a better customer experience and a more resourceful future.
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