2.1. An American Success Story
In a book like this, it can be tempting to focus solely on what's wrong with the technology industry. After all, there are lots of tools we can use to make IT more effective. So why not point out all the holes that need to be filled? Any serious observer would agree that there are lots of things wrong with how we structure, manage, and execute IT in this country. Plenty. But in my view, that's looking at bent
A better viewthe more informative viewis to focus on what the industry does right, to remember that American IT is a story of unparalleled success. In the span of only 30
And if a picture is worth a thousand statistics, Figure 2-1 is a great picture for you.
Figure 2-1. Technology is an unparalleled American success story. Not only are cell phones, email, and laptops de facto ways of life, IBM scientists have been able to harness the attractive properties of
2.2. The Conscious Organization
All organizations use process. Many times they are not well defined. Many times they are just embedded in the culture. Often they are the wrong processes. Management may not even be aware of what they really are. But if you look closely to see what these processes are, you can learn a lot about what's important to a company.
Process reveals an organization's values, priorities, and preferences. They naturally emerge from the actions an organization employs to see its work through.
I once worked with a software company that regularly, always around release time, scheduled marathon testing and defect-correction sessions: 12-
One of the early benefits of implementing a formal process program is that these values begin to visibly emerge. In the example above, management probably would have balked had it been asked to document the marathon sessions as a matter of company policy. I think if they were asked to consciously commit such descriptions to paper, they would have naturally realized that such routines are not very commendable. Weak management can hide behind a lack of
Many, maybe even most, IT
This is not only a tough way of doing business, it's an expensive one. This tenuous grasp on consistency and predictability carries with it major drawbacks and risks. Here are some recent
Those numbers come from a 2004 study by the Standish
In the 1994 report, the numbers were eye-opening. The 2004 report showed some improvement, but the overall performance indicators shed light on a still-present problem. Corporate IT is wrestling with its ability to manage technology development and deployment in a consistent and predictable fashion.
Here's another number: a 2002 ANSI report puts the cost of American IT failure for the year at just under $60 billion.
What might it be in 2008?
Of course, all these numbers are not the problem; they are symptoms. And we need to
Very little of those factors are under the direct control of IT. Yet they have
But if we recognize the above factors to be true, doesn't that promote the case for process even more? If we recognize that we are indeed in a business that's going to be pressured often by changing or unrealistic demands, shouldn't we respond in part by getting internal operations running as well as we can?
I'm not trying to paint all corporate IT departments as underperformers. They are not. As mentioned above, American technology, and the reign business has on technology development and management, is unparalleled. The industry can deliver, and it does deliver.
But still there is that $60 billion. It's not missing money. It didn't
Process won't solve all of IT's problems. No one should promote that line. But it can help almost all IT shops in three very distinct ways:
And with those
2.2.1. The Business of Technology Is Business
This is a book about process improvement, about the benefits of process improvement, about techniques for process management, and about the structures of three of the industry's leading process management programs. The
There are pockets of
In this chapter, I want to begin to build the business case for process improvement, to identify why process can be used in small IT shops as well as large IT shops to conduct and manage business along predictable, successful, and profitable lines. The financial numbers above tell a story, but I'm not chalking those figures up solely to
But we do know that most of the IT shops that drive corporate America do not
Calvin Coolidge is famous for his saying in the 1920s, "The business of America is business." The same could be said today about American IT. The business of technology is business. Technology is not analogous to a game. It is not a different spin on war. It is not an adventure. It's a business, and it should probably be run like a business.
And so a good way to begin the case for process improvement is to begin by addressing it in the same way a business would.
CMMI Survival Guide: Just Enough Process Improvement
CMMI for Development: Guidelines for Process Integration and Product Improvement (3rd Edition) (SEI Series in Software Engineering)
Integrating CMMI and Agile Development: Case Studies and Proven Techniques for Faster Performance Improvement (SEI Series in Software Engineering)
The Power of Business Process Improvement: 10 Simple Steps to Increase Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Adaptability