An outcome is the change you’re trying to make in the world. It’s the need of the customer that you’re trying to satisfy, or it’s a change in your organization. It’s ultimately why you create or change your products (internal or external).
An output is something you create in order to make an outcome happen. Outputs are things like requirements, documents, software, and tests.
When you understand the outcome you’re trying to deliver, you understand why you’re creating or changing a product.
When you understand the outcome you’re trying to deliver and have a quantitative way to measure whether you’ve reached that outcome, you have a more reliable way to gauge progress and success than looking at output (stories completed or velocity). You know when you are making progress toward solving your customer’s problem, and you know when you can stop. Even if that means not delivering everything on your backlog.
Here are some resources that describe how to discover your outcome and the metrics that go along with them.
How agile business analysts discover outcomes
A look at how agile business analysts discover outcomes in a measurable way to help guide them in determining the scope of their effort. This post is Part 3 in a series on agile business analysts, but the ideas apply to all product people.
‘Tis Better to be Effective Than Efficient
This presentation explores the difference between efficiency and effectiveness and describes 3 simple, yet powerful, techniques that can help your team be more effective one of which is measuring success based on outcome rather than output. The materials shown with this presentation include a copy of the slides, a video of the presentation from Agile India 2017, and a webinar I recorded on the topic.
Outcome based metrics
Outcome based metrics are a way to quantitatively tell whether you’ve delivered an outcome and to avoid measuring progress and success based on output.
Is Time to Value an Outcome Based Metric?
You use outcome based metrics to quantify your outcome. The tricky bit then becomes distinguishing between metrics that are outcome based and those that are not. Chris Matts suggested that time to value is an outcome based metric. I recorded my thoughts to his idea in a separate post, partly due to some comment deleting shenanigans.
Measuring Business Value Is Not The Points
Establishing an outcome measure can be difficult. Some teams have adopted a concept they use to determine the size of backlog items and use it to “measure” value – value points. Unfortunately value points are closer to measuring output than they are outcome. Here’s why.