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The success of a modern software delivery effort depends on a broad range of cultural, technical and procedural factors. Efforts to identify what these factors are started soon after computers were invented. The field is probably more than half way to discovering how to do this job well, but the answer is not getting any shorter. Additional factors continue to be discovered and refined in amazing detail.
Techniques such as Squad Healthcheck allow a team to autonomously determine the completeness of their own learning journey, and allow for managers to offer support where teams have issues in common. But while Squad Healthcheck has proven popular and scalable, it only offers only a broad picture of your teams' situation, with limited depth.
Matthew Skelton, founder and Head of Consulting at Conflux and the co-author of Team Topologies, created the multi-team Software Delivery Assessment technique at Conflux, to help organizations develop and evolve the capability to self-assess their own software delivery capabilities in considerable depth. The decks contains 6 themes and 66 success factors helping managers support a culture of software delivery while respecting their teams' autonomy and differences.
The technique is easy to apply and results simple to analyse so it can be run as often as needed. Many teams value quarterly sessions covering all the themes.
We believe the technique is particularly useful at times of change, where there has been a turnover of staff, redundancies, where teams have been drastically reconfigured, or in startups or new departments where teams are new.
In short: at any time you have reason to believe that the best cultural, technical and procedural factors have been eroded.
The assessment covers ten dimensions in total:
1. Team Health
4. Continuous Delivery
6. Testing and Testability
7. Reliability and SRE
9. Security and Securability
10. Team Topologies team interactions
We have taken these themes and expressed them as a card deck with each suit representing a software delivery theme. Individual success factors within each theme are distilled onto the 106 cards in the form of a goal, and a description of healthy and unhealthy practices.
We also have a set of 5 point Emoji Cards available as part of our single player set of Virtual Agile Ritual Cards. Individuals or teams can use these voting cards to give a clear answer quickly.
The assessment involves a conversation and planning poker style card-reveal of an emoji card. For sessions carried out on video calls, we recommend keeping the screen space for participants holding up the cards. We believe this helps in driving good quality conversations which is a vital part of the process leading to the right discussions and subsequently results.
You can either print out the assessment sheets to record the scores or use our assessment worksheets for each set of criteria to help easy calculation of scores for individual teams and analysis of scores across multiple teams.
Once you input your teams' points, the detailed and summary views in separate tabs will be auto-populated giving you average scores across each factor and multiple teams instantly.
Summary view of average scores across multiple teams
With teams working remotely, one of the ways to capture scores is for the team members to hold up their scores on a video call. The facilitator can take a screenshot of the players holding up their cards and paste them into a document. Scores can then calculated later after the session.
This approach has a significant advantage of running the sessions faster and completing in the suggested 2 hours. Counting everyone's scores during a session can be surprisingly time consuming, but with video conference calls, taking a screenshot becomes a clear record which can be processed later calculate overall scores.
The Software Delivery Assessment represents thousands of pages of knowledge from several named authors such as Henrik Kniberg, Mirco Hering, Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, Gene Kim, Don Reinertsen, Dave Farley, Alex Moore, Rob Thatcher, Lisa Crispin, Janet Gregory, Steve Freeman, Nat Price, Michael Feathers, Ash Winter and Rob Meaney. Matthew used his years of consulting experience and insights to identify the key elements from all this reading and distill them into a brief card deck. The results have been tested successfully at enterprises around the world by Conflux Digital.