The Built to Adapt Benchmark Will Help Companies Set a New Course

Edward Hieatt

As Senior Vice President of Services and Customer Success, I manage Pivotal’s services and technical field organizations. We help customers to build better software using our next-generation development practices and our cloud-native platform, Pivotal Cloud Foundry.  

Pivotal has decades of experience. We’ve helped hundreds of companies from cutting-edge startups to Fortune 500 enterprises. We’ve learned what works.

We believe that every company must become a software company. Fast organizations—not necessarily large organizations—will succeed in the cloud era. Enterprises must turn their mass into momentum. Our role is to help them pick up speed.

Unfortunately, Digital Transformation is on the verge of becoming a meaningless marketing term but at its core, it’s about building software that delivers business value. It’s one thing to talk about the importance of innovation or “being agile” or using cloud architectures; it’s quite another to define exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and why. We believe that for large enterprises in particular, it is critical to be specific from the outset about the motivation, ambition, and success criteria for such a transformation.

Customers often ask me how they can measure their progress on this journey. It became clear that large and complex enterprises needed a map to point them in the right direction and show them how far they have come. Pivotal decided to make that map.

The Built to Adapt Benchmark is a quantitative framework of indicators that gauge how well an organization builds software that delivers business value. Over the past year, Pivotal used The Benchmark to assess the software development proficiency of companies across five industries and six countries. You can compare your own company’s performance with that of your peers by filling in the online Benchmark questionnaire.


Building a Benchmark

Better software does not add value unless it furthers business goals. Each Benchmark indicator is designed to promote focus on building software that delivers business value. Pivotal defines five business outcomes that effective software development supports: Speed, Stability, Scalability, Security, and Savings. We call these the 5 Ss. Each S is measured by a set of Benchmark indicators.  

In operations, Speed means efficiently managing the platform and rapidly providing the services application development teams need to deliver business value. Development teams should be able to deploy their applications to production as quickly as possible so Lead times is one Benchmark indicator which addresses operations speed.

For application development teams, Pivotal’s development practices support not just speed but velocity: speed in the right direction. Getting frequent customer feedback allows teams to quickly modify applications based on customer needs. Measuring how quickly teams get that feedback (Customer feedback frequency indicator) and act on it by building and deploying new features and applications (Responsiveness to feedback, Feature development time, and Frequency of product deploys indicators) is therefore critical. Innovation can only happen if software is built in this way.

Stability and Scalability should simply be taken off the table as concerns. Development teams should build cloud-native, loosely coupled applications (Cloud-native applications and Scalability indicators) to achieve seamless scalability. An enterprise-grade, cloud-hosted platform scales workloads automatically and recovers quickly if there are interruptions to service (Mean time to recovery indicator) so that developers can focus on producing business value.

In a similar way, Security should not be a constant burden on development teams. A platform which assumes that the barbarians are already inside the gate can continuously work to stifle security threats. This approach will lead to a lower number of security incidents (Security indicator).

Savings in operations means that a small operations team can keep costs down by managing thousands of applications using a highly automated platform and DevOps techniques (operator-to-developer ratio and automation indicators). For development teams, Savings means delivering business value as efficiently as possible (strategic versus unplanned work, product to developer ratio, and developer time allocation indicators).  

Finally, while each Benchmark indicator is allocated to one of the five business outcomes, some indicators influence multiple outcomes. For example, high budget flexibility allows companies to quickly and easily initiate new projects as new market opportunities emerge, thereby affecting an organization's Speed as well as Savings.

Software Success Metrics

On the path to becoming a software company, enterprises often forget to define new metrics for success. There’s a lot of excitement when an organization starts this journey. People buy into the new vision, complete a few projects, and start to see amazing results. But when they try to scale, companies run into more and more roadblocks, because they are asking more and more of the organization to change, and the motivation for making that change often becomes hazy.

That’s when you need concrete success metrics. In the absence of a new set of metrics, companies revert to project management metrics: Did you complete all the features? Is the project on budget and on time? Those metrics prize excellence in project management, not excellence in building software that delivers business value. The Benchmark captures Pivotal’s success metrics for software. We hope that the Benchmark will help companies not just to set a new course but to reach their destination.


About the Author

Edward Hieatt

Edward Hieatt is Senior Vice President of Pivotal’s services organization. In this role, Edward is responsible for the strategy, execution, and business results of Pivotal's next-generation client services organization—Pivotal Labs. In addition, Edward is responsible for Pivotal's worldwide technical field and software subscription renewal organizations, which help clients adopt and become successful with Pivotal's products and services.

Why is Session State Management So Hard? With Spring Session, It Doesn't Have to Be.
Why is Session State Management So Hard? With Spring Session, It Doesn't Have to Be.

Find out how to simplify session state management with Spring Session.

Operationalizing Apache Kafka on Kubernetes: Pivotal and Confluent Team Up
Operationalizing Apache Kafka on Kubernetes: Pivotal and Confluent Team Up

Pivotal is teaming up with Confluent to make Pivotal Container Service (PKS) the best place to run the Conf...

SpringOne at VMware Explore 2023

Learn More