I spent most of my 13 years at Microsoft developing ways for IT teams to deliver business value more effectively.

It was a long road. It all started when I joined Microsoft Consulting Services in 2001. I was delighted to find myself a small fish in a big pond of smart, motivated fish on the cutting edge of technology. The biggest surprise, however, was that the systems and tools that supported our business processes didn’t do a very good job supporting the actual work we needed to accomplish. This seemed like an ironic problem for a big technology company like Microsoft to have, so I set off to find out how this could be.

I have to admit that the first explanation to cross my mind was that IT was clueless. Over the years, however, I found that Microsoft IT was comprised of deeply experienced and talented IT professionals. As I dug deeper, I looked at enterprise architecture, portfolio management, process engineering practices, software delivery methodologies, requirements management, project management skills, team size, testing methods and a host of other possible culprits. While there was some variation, teams who were especially strong in any of these areas weren’t necessarily better at delivering business value.

In fact, the most common complaint I heard was that the more the organization matured, the harder it was to get anything done. It seemed like the overhead grew until there was little capacity left to accomplish any meaningful work.

The trick was to figure out what essential few things could help a team make the most of their skills and talents to produce the right results. After a few years of experimentation, we found that a developing design practices and a discipline for measurement changed the game for IT. In fact, teams that were successful in building these muscles reported a doubling of product velocity and team health, and as much as 80% fewer defects. The tricky part was figuring out how to land these practices in an environment that is culturally disinclined to adopt them.

Design for Business Value is a methodology that captures the most effective principles and practices that we learned along the way. The methodology is designed to be simple, pragmatic and actionable. We’ll publish more on the actual methods, roles and responsibilities, principles and adoption strategies later, but for now, we hope you’ll find this Design for Business Value Reference Guide useful.

Please use the comment section to share your experience, ask questions or otherwise contribute.