Selling Agile to the CFO: A Guide for Development Teams - Slide 4

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CFOs need benchmarks, tracking, and financial measurements. Explain how agile delivers value frequently, in small increments. Incremental development aids in gathering metrics that help CFOs analyze return on investments and plan future budgets. Go over the process by breaking features into small user stories and sizing them with a point system. Over time, CFOs can get a good idea of how much a story point costs. As teams learn, their velocity averages out and becomes predictable.

One way to describe how agile teams build only what is useful and necessary is to compare the process to just-in-time inventory and the drop shop model for online orders. Manufacturing companies in particular understand the value of building features in shorter timeframes and knowing what they’re getting.

CFOs know that long development cycles are inefficient. The short cycles of agile – delivering production-ready software in one, two, three or four weeks – provide more certainty. You know what you need to do in the next month. CFOs understand this much better than waterfall development. If software is your company’s most important product, this just-in-time approach is especially important.

Your programming team is on board with agile and the notion of iterative design and development, but the financial executives prefer to think in terms of “Just tell me when it’ll be ready and how much it’ll cost.” If you can sell the CFO on the agile methodology, you’ll have an ally in the board room.

Agile adoption requires a big investment by your company, not just by the development and QA staff. Your team needs time to master agile values, principles, and practices, and to apply them to your unique situation. A culture of learning, time to experiment, and tolerance for mistakes are essential to successfully improving software quality and responding to changing business requirements. How can you get the resources and long-term support you need from the business?

Here’s a good strategy: Get your chief financial officer (CFO) on board. Telling the CFO, “We want to do this” probably won’t work. After speaking with both financial and software experts, including her own company’s CFO, Lisa Crispin, an agile testing practitioner and coach, is confident that you can make agile an easy sell.

Here are seven tips from Lisa Crispin, highlighted in her post on the Software Quality Connection, to help you sell agile to your CFO.

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