Articulating Economic Value in Software Engineering

Avishek Sen Gupta


  • People struggle to articulate value, risk, and uncertainty beyond a certain point to stakeholders who demand a certain measure of rigour and/or quantifiability. I contend that the DORA metrics are not enough. There is usually a gap between the language that engineers and PMs speak vs. executive management.
  • Engineers struggle to articulate the importance of architectural decisions and tech debt to management. Equally importantly, they struggle to articulate the urgency (or the lack of it) around implementing these things in concrete terms.

Why? (contd.)

  • Engineers are implicitly or explicitly held accountable for delays and cost overruns. Despite this, there is a reluctance among them to rely too much on metrics because people think metrics are easily gamed.
  • Thinking about value and deciding tradeoffs based on economic factors is not something that is done enough, if at all, at the level of engineering teams. For example, questions like "Should I do this refactoring?" and "Why should we repay this tech debt?", or "How are we better at this versus our competitor?" are usually framed in terms of statements which stop before traversing the full utility tree of value.


How to write slides

Split pages by horizontal ruler (---). It's very simple! 😆

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