What is value?

Value flowers

Agile teams focus on delivering value. What is value? What does it mean, when something is valuable or has value? How do you measure value? It may not be as easy as it seems. First of all, it’s a nominalization of a pretty complex concept and combines many philosophical, psychological, economic, ethical, and social factors.

Sometimes, we can simply express value in money. Which is the easy case. If you have something that you can sell on the open market. The price that you can get is the measure of value. You may have something that has a sentimental value and you would not sell it for any amount money. Software that saves you time or helps you make decisions quickly may be very valuable to you, but that value could be more difficult to measure. Time factor is something else to consider. Something might be valuable in one way in the short-term, but completely devastating in other ways in the long-term. Can you think of something that helps make or save money now, but risks losing reputation big time in the future? How about utility value? What’s the value of an inexpensive software app that you use all the time vs an expensive system that you only use occasionally? Perhaps, value and price or cost are not always the same thing?  What about a perceived value? Diamonds are for ever! Something that is not that rare and has not much utility for most people is very expensive because the world of people thinks about them as something that has value.  Value often depends on the context. For example a beautiful web page design may be valuable for an externally-facing site, and an absolute waste for a company’s internal system.

On projects  you want to focus on the business value to the customer.

“Working software over comprehensive documentation.”  “Working software is the primary measure of progress.” “Deliver working software frequently.” Agile Manifesto’s Values and Principles embrace the concept of delivering value to the customer. For agile teams, customer is King! Will the customer make money, save money, reduce time, reduce waste. minimize risk, improve their brand recognition? All of that brings business value to the customer and that’s why value-driven delivery is the primary focus and the main criteria for your success as an agile practitioner. In your work, whatever you do, always be asking the question – does it bring any value?