White Paper: Value in a Digital Services Project

Value in a Digital Services Project


The Agile Project Framework talks about ‘business value’ and states that value emerges when projects are aligned to clear business goals. Although agile projects start with the identification of a high-level business vision and objectives as part of the Business Case, it’s often difficult to maintain links to the objectives throughout the life of the project and to measure success based on their attainment. Instead, there’s a tendency for the team to focus more on completing the technical work and changing business processes. Without some sort of action, there’s a danger that the original expectations of value might not be realised. 

This paper makes three main recommendations that could be adopted as a series of incremental steps to retain focus on value throughout the life of an agile project. 


Delivering value is a key tenet of agile approaches to software development, including the Agile Project Framework . However, there are few techniques for identifying, tracking and sharing value in agile IT projects. The value concept is commonly taken for granted and is rarely clearly identified in IT projects.

The Agile Project Framework refers to ‘business value’ and states that it emerges “when projects are aligned to clear business goals”. This starts with the identification of a high-level business vision and objectives. However, a key issue is how these business objectives filter down into the project detail. After project set up, the work and decision-making moves to a lower level where the focus is on technical practicalities and business process changes. Decisions made at this level are key to defining the final product or service. What is harder to do is to maintain links to the high-level business objectives throughout the detailed development work, and to measure success at the end based on those business objectives rather than successful completion of the technical work.

We tell the story of a city council housing organisation, our case study, as they digitise part of their tenant services. The business has clear strategic aims, and we found that project stakeholders and team members could describe the value of the project from their point of view. The key challenge areas that emerged were nuanced differences between value perspectives, a need for more precision about and prioritisation of value, and for a coherent thread to join high-level business strategy to project aims and to measurable project outcomes.

Based on the findings of the case study reported in this study, this white paper presents some recommendations from relevant literature on value characterisation in Agile projects and value delivery. To summarise, the main recommendations from literature are:

  • Value Characterisation: To gather value perspectives from different stakeholders to identify and form a mutually agreed understanding.
  • Build the Right Thing Right Based on Actual Value Need: To base the project on customer and user needs and keep them involved throughout the project through continuous stakeholder collaboration.
  • Value Progress Recognition: To estimate, manage, and deliver value based on estimations and feedback, taking stakeholder views into consideration. Moreover, to enhance the system’s ability to create value frequently throughout the project and system’s lifecycle.

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Agile Research Network

Agile Research Network

The Agile Research Network (ARN) is a collaboration between researchers at two UK universities at the forefront of investigating agile methodologies. The Open University (OU) has a strong research record in using agile methods in practice. The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has a strong record of linking research, teaching and practice through industry-based research and practitioner-focussed Masters and doctoral programmes. ARN is funded through a number of sources; currently, it is funded by the two university members and the Agile Business Consortium.
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Agile Business Consortium

Agile Business Consortium

The Agile Business Consortium is the professional body for business agility. We’re all about community – whether you’re a multinational working through a large-scale transformation, a new start-up, or a contractor, we can support you to achieve more, to grow more, and to build your business agility. As a global not-for-profit organisation that’s been around for over 25 years, our knowledge and experience around agile competencies and behaviours can offer you the guidance you need to reach your agility goals. Together with our partners, we create and share agile research, case studies, resources and tools that help you compete in today’s uncertain world. A registered not-for-profit, we’re the world’s longest-standing agile-orientated organisation. We’re the brains behind AgilePM®, AgileBA®, AgilePgM®, AgilePfM™ and AgileDS™. Based in the UK, we have members in over 30 countries around the world.


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