Build a single source of the truth


Build a single source of truth

The problem with disconnected information

How are your teams doing? And what do you need to find that out? Do you have to go different places to get the idea of where different teams stand in terms of their progress? And then there’s yet another place where your global initiatives are tracked. And in addition to that, infrastructure projects live in a special overcomplicated excel spreadsheet? If that’s the case, you are missing an opportunity of making some important data-driven decisions. 

With data being distributed across so many different places and views and files, you may not be able to recognize a problem early enough or miss an opportunity to create more value. 

A common example of impaired visibility

Imagine, two teams that have some independent work but also some shared work items, may each progress well when you look for their overall progress. But because those two teams track their data in two different systems, the organization may not even notice that the shared features that the teams are working on are not progressing. And that may be because the teams do the work, but don’t manage dependencies all that well, so every time they encounter a delay with a dependency, instead of reconciling it with another team, they simply switch to some other item in their backlog. The problem is not only that you cannot see this but that the teams don’t really see and understand the impact either. So, having a single source of truth actually matters. 

There are two important things to make this work. 

Making all work visible

The organization has to make all their work visible. This is sometimes very hard to do with multiple different sources where the work is coming from. What might be tremendously helpful is consolidating all those sources of work into just one for each team: a team backlog that will serve as a single gateway into that team’s capacity. And of course, there may be other technical challenges here and there, like maintenance effort that may not have predefined, pre-estimated work items that could be matched against team’s capacity. But that work still has to be captured, maybe just in a whole bulk, with certain capacity allocated to it. And maybe some teams struggle with a lot of walk-up work that interferes even with short-term plans and might require a better discipline of both those who do the work, but also importantly, those who bring the work to the team. But no matter what, you have to account for all work.

It’s about value, not work

Lastly, not all work is equally useful. And if you and your teams become overly focused on the work itself, you may not be able to deliver maximum value to the customer and to the business. It’s not enough to only measure and track effort. You need to also measure outcomes, perform experiments, gather customer feedback, course-correct where you see necessary, based on empirical evidence that you get.

Taking action

Identify areas where you have the least visibility. Plan your first step in acquiring a better view into those areas. In the meantime, think of making them a part of your integrated perspective. And if you don’t have that yet, that’s probably your next big.


Alex Yakyma

Alex Yakyma is the author of “Pursuing Enterprise Outcomes” and “The Rollout”. As a consultant, Alex is helping enterprises succeed with complex challenges. Throughout his career, he operated in multi-cultural, highly distributed environments. Alex has trained a large number of change agents and leaders whose key role is to help their organizations achieve higher effectiveness at pursuing business outcomes.

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