Changing How You Deliver Software, Not What Software to Deliver

Faster Horse

If I had asked peo­ple what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

Just because Henry Ford never said that doesn’t mean it’s not true1.

On the sub­ject of core trans­for­ma­tion, I believe many com­pa­nies approach trans­form­ing their core busi­ness with the wrong atti­tudes. They’re using the same process for imple­ment­ing trans­for­ma­tion that got them where they are today. They’re look­ing for appli­ca­tions that are lean and process cen­tric, but then deploy them in a tra­di­tional fash­ion that makes them static.

I could imag­ine the con­ver­sa­tion between IT & the Busi­ness. Busi­ness says “we’re not able to move fast enough”, so IT responds “what would you like the sys­tem to do?” After hear­ing a list of capa­bil­i­ties, they respond that “we’re deploy­ing a new appli­ca­tion that will give us those features.”

Of course, that appli­ca­tion leaves the busi­ness unsat­is­fied — over time, they’ve devel­oped new requests. IT feels that the busi­ness is never sat­is­fied, con­stantly chang­ing their require­ments. The busi­ness feels that IT doesn’t listen.

If busi­ness could com­mu­ni­cate with IT well, they might won­der some­thing like Allyson won­ders about AT&T:

iOS 7 came out almost four months ago. Four. Months. Com­plaints have been con­stant since then. What pos­si­ble excuse could they have for not push­ing out an update already?

Any­one from IT read­ing this post is prob­a­bly shak­ing their head — noth­ing hap­pens in less than four months! Or, as a cus­tomer of mine once said to a sales per­son I was work­ing with…

That change your sug­gest­ing would only take a cou­ple of hours to make. But, then it would take at least 2 weeks of test­ing at which point we could get on the sched­ule to roll into pro­duc­tion. Get­ting on the sched­ule usu­ally takes 2 months.

This is why DevOps mat­ters to large enter­prises. Their employ­ees expec­ta­tions are being set by con­sumer tech­nolo­gies. In con­trast IT is deliv­er­ing tech­nol­ogy in a rather old fash­ioned sort of way. Sim­ply buy­ing a new sys­tem to trans­form the old way of doing some­thing isn’t really trans­form­ing. It’s deliv­er­ing new features.

To truly trans­form the way IT deliv­ers tech­nol­ogy takes a lot more effort. It requires IT to do more than just buy new prod­ucts. IT need to change their process of deliv­er­ing tech­nol­ogy to the enter­prise so that change itself can hap­pen more quickly, regard­less of the fea­tures themselves.

PS Just found another arti­cle say­ing some­thing sim­i­lar, if in a more tech­ni­cal man­ner. It’s a good read.

  1. Reminds me of one of my favorite say­ings… “just because I’m para­noid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.” []