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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cultural Debt

There has been a lot of talk lately about IT’s accumulation of “technical debt’.  Technical debt describes necessary work from a prior deployment that was deferred in favor of other tasks.   As technical debt grows, the ability to make future changes is hindered because of backlog was not addressed.

I have recently come to recognize that IT suffers from another type of debt – cultural debt.  IT is a young industry that grew rapidly  while facing constant pressure to bring technical innovation to the market. Cultural considerations were deferred  in favor of building and deploying products and services.  IT’s silo culture grew organically out of the need for diversifed sets of specialized experience and expertise.

While cultural debt was accumulating,  IT’s complexities were increasing.  The single platform mainframe vanished in favor of multi-platform servers.   Production applications grew exponentially. The IT supply chain went from a single location department  to a network that spans multiple geographies and organizations. Although IT’s silos were also acknowledged to be  IT’s constraints, converging different processes, frameworks,  vocabularies and customs was not going to be easy.  And so the cultural debt grew.

Like all debts, payment is eventually due.  For IT, the due date is  today. Cultural debt is having a tangible impact on the bottom line by hindering IT’s ability to meet the pace of deployment that the business now requires. Every bottleneck in the workflow between Dev and Ops affects the entire system of supply and demand.  The business has zero tolerance for missed deadlines, poor quality code or fragile applications.   A paradigm shift is required in order to improve IT’s consistency and speed.

The good news is that an increasing number of individuals and organizations are looking to pay down cultural debt by embracing a DevOps approach. Case studies are emerging that demonstrate proof of concept - silos are breaking down and people are talking to each other. Tools are enabling automated tasks and deployments are happening faster with fewer defects.  Dev and Ops are starting to embrace a common set of practices and accountabilities.  Best of all, DevOps is stemming the rate of future technical and cultural debt  - and that’s a win for everyone.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Scrum Gets Things Done

Scrum is the most prominent of the Agile frameworks.  In many instances its concepts and vocabulary have become synonymous with Agile.  Why?  Because the Scrum framework brings to life all of the values and principles promoted by the Agile Manifesto.

What is Scrum?  I particularly like this description from
Scrum is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex projects.  Scrum provides a small set of rules that create just enough structure for teams to be able to focus their innovation on solving what might otherwise be an insurmountable challenge.

Scrum is often mistaken for a method just for building products. Nothing could be further from the truth – it is a methodology whose primary objective is to get things done – first by defining “done” and then by steadily progressing the forward through short increments known as “sprints”.   Each sprint burnsdown a backlog of work until the entire project is "done".   

Other beneficial aspects of Scrum include:
       Good planning and review
       Agreed user stories
       Small self-organizing teams
       Improved communication (daily standup)
       Better workflows and fewer bottlenecks
       Reduced work in progress
       Improved responsiveness
       Measurable accomplishments
       Shorter feedback loops

Scrum is deceptively simple, yet difficult to master.   Is Scrum the only Agile framework?  No.   The use of Kanban is also rapidly growing – giving rise to another emerging framework called Scrumban.    Stay tuned to future blogs for more on this.

I strongly believe that everyone in IT should learn about Scrum.   Let’s get things done!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The New Jayne Explains - Let's Talk About Agile, Agile SM, Lean and DevOps

For several years  now, I have been blogging about updates in the ITSM industry.   “That’s interesting, Jayne” some of my followers have recently said “But what we really want to know is what the next generation of IT and ITSM will or should look like.”   OK - I may have an opinion or two about that.
It’s taken a while, but the trends are becoming clearer.   Individuals and organizations are starting to  look at complementary frameworks, methods and movements such as DevOps, Agile, Lean, Agile Service Management® and others in order to take their IT and ITSM efforts to the next level. 
What does that mean?  Are ITSM processes no longer going to be relevant?  Of course not.  It means that we will have to  build on what we have already accomplished by doing it faster.   It means we will have to break down some pretty significant silos.  It means we will have to integrate the best of Dev and Ops’ processes, practices and vocabularies into a universal system that spans the entire IT supply chain.  It means we will have to actively reduce bottlenecks, waste and work in progress.  It means we will have to accept automation as a member of our teams.  It means that ITSM processes will have to be more agile, more lean, more “modern”.    It means we have to learn and share and assimilate all good ideas into a custom framework that specifically fits the needs of your business.  A little scary?  Perhaps.  Exciting? Definitely.
Let’s embark on this new knowledge journey together.  Some of the frameworks, methods and movements mentioned do not (yet) have definitive bodies of knowledge but good practices are starting to emerge.  I will now use Jayne Explains to share my observations, insights as well as bits and pieces about what I learn along the way.    Hopefully we can also use this blog as a forum to engage interesting discussions and help shape the future of IT learning.  ITSM Academy’s  introductory DevOps Overview course is already available with more detailed DevOps Fundamentals and Agile Service Management courses on the way.  Stay tuned.   
The future is here - welcome to NextGen ITSM®