Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence

TURNING OPERATIONAL KNOWLEDGE & COMPLIANCE INTO A COMPETITIVE EDGE

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Posts Tagged ‘agile software development’

Agile: Tail Wagging the Dog?

wag-the-dog[1]I’m deeply concerned that agile software development is taking us giant steps backwards in terms of achieving true business agility.  At some companies we visit things are simply out of control. The software development tail wags the business dog.

It’s not just me who thinks so. Here are some comments from recent conversations on social media:

“The business is now at complete mercy of IT Agile to the point where it’s cut out of critical product and service decisions. … IT agile delivery being seen as equivalent to agile/entrepreneurial business which is very far from the case.”

Donna Luehrman, MBA, CBAP

“Agile software development methodology is often antithetical to longer-term business agility and a short-sighted antagonist to the discipline required to achieve it.”

Howard Wiener, President, Codiscent Americas

Agile software development will never get you to agile business because it does not address operational business knowledge (business rules) in a direct or innovative fashion. By coding faster and faster many businesses are simply becoming more and more un-agile. Untold millions of dollars are being sunk into instant legacy. Worse, it may take untold billions of dollars to service that legacy over time. That’s not operational excellence; that’s operational negligence.

If your current approach is based on user stories and use cases and the like ask yourself these questions:

Question 1. Do you address business rules directly in your requirements approach? By ‘directly’ I mean in a systematic, traceable way. Or, do you implicitly assume IT will just somehow get them right?! I think that’s a very bad idea and a very big risk for operational business excellence.

Question 2. What are you doing to ensure governing rules are understandable by business workers and SMEs in the specific way that the business wants them to be interpreted and applied? What are you doing about rules that aren’t automatable? Aren’t those important? And what are you doing to coordinate and disseminate this knowledge to line workers in a systematic, repeatable way?

Is there a place for agile software development? Of course. Just not when it comes to basic operational business knowledge (business rules).

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Read more about the Big-5 business challenges: http://www.brcommunity.com/articles.php?id=b904

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IT Departments Should be Evacuated – Agree/Disagree?

Fire_Exit_Doors[1]Let’s put you on the hot spot. You are forced to agree or disagree with the following statement, and defend your answer. What would you say?

Evacuating the IT department to weave IT into the business optimizes business capabilities.

Here’s how I answer: I agree. How about you?

My reasoning: Almost 20 years ago, John Zachman made me read an article by Peter F. Drucker in Forbes Magazine called The Next Information Revolution. It made such an impression on me I still have a yellowing copy of it pasted on a cabinet in my office.

To make a long story short, the article relates how in the 1400s and 1500s there was a period of time when printers of books dined with royalty and noblemen. Printing was such a revolutionary and scarce skill they were the heroes of the day.

By the late 1500s, however, printing had become such a commodity that the occupation had completely lost its luster. No more dining with kings and queens.

My point is this: The days of traditional departmental IT staff having unfettered access to the financial assets of the corporate budget will end sooner than you might think. The current way of building business systems is unsustainable. If you think the cloud was something, just wait!

I look at agile software development as the death throes of traditional IT. Beyond it there’s nowhere left to go to accelerate except to elevate the level of human interfaces with machines. Economics will demand it.

As traditional IT loses its grip, IT will of course become better woven into the fabric of the business. And that’s going to be a great thing for optimizing business capabilities.

Knowingly or not, business analysts are playing a founder’s role in that shift of power back to the business side. Yes, some days it feels like an impossible struggle, but time, economics and technology are on your side.

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Mark Your Calendar: The annual Building Business Capability (BBC) conference is November 6-10, 2017 at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando, FL. The BBC is the place to be for professional excellence!

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Agree/Disagree? Empowerment Key to Business Agility

empowement 2Let’s put you on the hot spot. You are forced to agree or disagree with the following statement, and defend your answer. What would you say?

Empowerment, more than rules, processes or architecture, is key to business agility.

Here’s how I answer: I disagree. How about you?

My reasoning: Professionals in our field are often quite shortsighted with regard to empowerment. Many simply get it wrong. Working within business rules, processes and architectures doesn’t lessen empowerment; it lessens anarchy.

The real nemesis of business agility is things running amok. That’s true at both ends of the spectrum, from customers to IT.

  • Customers: Ultimately the most important thing for customers is simple consistency and faithful compliance with the company’s obligations (business rules). That’s what I call high-fidelity customer experience. That capability can’t be achieved without rules, processes and architectures.
  • IT: The ability to generate code faster – call it ‘agile software development’ or what you please – does not produce business agility. Business agility requires sustainability. In a digital world it’s not enough simply to put up systems fast and to keep them running. Business rules change, sometimes quite rapidly. You must be able to roll out changes to those business rules at the ‘speed of business’ to systems already implemented. Again, that capability can’t be achieved without rules, processes and architectures.

The industry’s view of empowerment tends to be askew. Who are we trying to empower, and why?

  • Customers: Empowerment means the company always meets their expectations. The company has captured the requisite knowledge (business rules) to deal with them correctly and consistently. Customers know they can depend on you to get it right.
  • Workers: Empowerment means freedom from having to be hands-on with everyday mundane cases. By having capturing the requisite knowledge (business rules) beforehand, you free up their time to deal creatively with outside-the-box cases.
  • Business analysts: Empowerment means business analysts don’t have to reinvent the wheel on every new project. You’ve created deep knowledge reservoirs (of business rules) to jump start each new initiative.

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Mark Your Calendar: The annual Building Business Capability (BBC) conference is November 6-10, 2017 at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando, FL. The BBC is the place to be for professional excellence!

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