What level are your stakeholders at?
"The Business" is made up of stakeholders who see the business value of your project in different terms.
At your company, do you tend to refer to people outside of the engineering org as The Business?
Product owner? The Business.
Manager? The Business.
Marketing, sales and C-suite? Oh, definitely The Business.
A project consists of stakeholders at different levels; anyone outside engineering is lumped into "product" or "business."
When you finish a project, you delivered some business value to all stakeholders in the project. That value is perceived differently depending on where they are in the corporate hierarchy.
If you divide stakeholders up by how they see "business value", then it might look like this:
- Executive Layer: Sees value in moving company performance metrics like sales, revenue, and market share. Example stakeholders: CEO, CIO, VP, SVP.
- Organizational Layer: Sees value in moving org-level metrics like production incidents, FTE hours, sales, demand, and shipping costs. Example stakeholders: Senior IT Director, Architect, Sourcing Manager, Engineering Manager.
- Product Layer: Sees value in moving product-level metrics like downloads, reviews, NPS, page speed, and release cycle time. Example stakeholders: Product Owner, User Experience Designer, Solution Manager.
- Technical Layer: Sees value in moving technical metrics like lines of code, CI build time, code complexity, and package vulnerabilities. Example stakeholders: Application Developer, DevOps Engineer, Staff Engineer.
These are not exactly correlated with the "real" corporate hierarchy at your company--they represent a kind of "business value abstraction." It's a continuous spectrum, so a Principal Engineer is at the boundary of Product/Technical for example.
You likely operate at the bottom of this business value pyramid and without knowing how you are affecting the top levels, it becomes very hard to draw a line between your accomplishments and how you deliver business value.
If you understand where the stakeholders in your project lie in this pyramid of value, it becomes easier to explain to other people (inside and outside the company) what your "accomplishments" are accomplishing.
I tire of fetch quests, send me on something where I'll at least get a new sword.
Look at the upcoming initiatives or tasks for the next block of work. Are there ones you can volunteer for that move higher-level value metrics?