Demonstrate Value When Managers Miss It

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How valuable is the work you do? What your boss thinks may have more to do with gut feel than actual numbers. A survey of software application developers found more than a third believe say management never (11 percent) or almost never (26 percent) calculates the return on investment of the applications they work on. And while 93 percent think the value of their work is clear, 44 percent don't believe their CIO or managers ask the right questions in trying to determine a project's return on investment.

The survey was conducted for PreEmptive Solutions. Its CEO, Gabriel Torok, says the results show developers and managers are likely to be "misaligned on business objectives when there's no systematic approach to measuring application value." (No surprise that creating such systemic approaches is the business is a part of PreEmptive Solutions' business.)

This is an interesting tidbit at a time when money's tight and companies are focusing on projects whose contributions to the bottom line are certain. It highlights the importance of communicating the value of the work you're doing, whether you're a developer, a QA specialist, architect, or whatever. You simply have to look for ways to let people know the kind of contribution you're making. My suggestions:

Stay in touch with your boss: Be sure to let him (or her) know what you're up to, the progress you're making, and the results you're achieving.

Be responsive: When someone reaches out to you - for help or with a suggestion - get back to them quickly, first with thanks, and then with a report on how you're following up. Going forward, keep them in the loop.

Be aware: Once you're done with a project, don't let it disappear further up the pipeline. Stay abreast of developments and look for opportunities to help people who may be involved downstream.

By yourself, you can't force your company to become more scientific in its approach to measuring a project's impact - or the impact of your work specifically. But you can show how you've contributed to helping managers meet their business goals.

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