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“Code to Business Value” Scale of Awareness

By: Mark Patton

Published: 10 May 2023
Last Updated: 10 May 2023

Scale Defined and Mapped to Level

As a person gains experience in their career, they gain knowledge and expand the scope of their influence, responsibility and awareness of the reasons they are writing software.

In my years working with software development teams, I have found that developers expand their awareness along an upward scale. This scale is useful in helping to determine the actual level of a developer, but also to identify what to address to further their careers.

Scale Defined and Mapping to Developer and PM Levels

Shown here is how the “awareness levels” map to the “experience levels” of Developers and Product Managers. It is easiest to read this chart from the bottom to top.

Scale Level Description Developer Level PM Level
Business Value Builds features that are valuable for the customer and profitable for the Company, and align to a defined strategy. Value expressed as measurable increases to areas that directly support customer acquisition, expansion or renewal. VP Strategic PM
Customer Value Builds features that are good for the customer, but may not be cost effective for Company, such as one-off features or features that are expensive to develop or maintain. May align to a defined strategy. VP Strategic PM
Customer Delight Builds features that make (some) customers happy, but may be junk features. These could create Business Value, but more often these are developed because a few customers asked for it. Business Value estimates are often neglected. Often do not align to a defined strategy. VP Strategic PM
Quality as Meeting Requirements The best measurement of quality is whether it meets the specification. No need to make the software any “better” than that. At this level, gold plating is avoided in favor of productivity. Principal Technical Product Manager
Workable Architecture At this level, designs follow optimum architecture. Gold plating is avoided. Uses the latest and greatest technology only if really needed. Principal Technical Product Manager
Design Patterns Design patterns are studied, learned and applied wherever possible. If not overdone, this benefits code quality and performance. Senior Technical Product Manager
Languages Knowledge of a variety of computer languages. Strong opinions about which languages are better. Senior Technical Product Manager
Quality as Stability At this level, quality is expressed as stability, which is a more technical and useful definition than “goodness.” Senior Technical Product Manager
Libraries (self-created) At this level, developers start packaging commonly-used code into libraries. There is also a (mostly unnecessary) desire to create shared libraries. Mid-Level  
Optimization Attention is paid to making code faster or smaller. Most of these efforts are a waste of time, or are done pre-maturely before the system shows where optimizations are actually needed. Mid-Level  
Quality as "Goodness" “Quality” stated in non-technical terms (good, bad, buggy, slow, etc.) Junior  
Libraries (public) Expands use of publicly-available libraries in favor of writing by self. Junior  
Working Code Can reliably write code that runs. Junior  
Code First learning to write code and structure a program. Junior  

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