Software Development Methods – Selecting a Pragmatic Approach

Having personally done extensive work with many Organisations over the years to help them create, adapt and implement various types of SDLCs for specific transformational needs, I found the recent article by Mark Kennaley very insightful as a categorised summary of the types of Methods that exist.

Mark describes how the various Software Development Methods (used during an SDLC) often reflect the culture, structure and processes of the Organisation and promotes either positive or negative characteristics when it comes to Delivery of  Solutions that meet Business needs.

He states that the typical negative impact on an organisation manifests itself in various costly ways:

…Each time an organization embraces a new methodology, it triggers a large change management exercise. Within IT, this change typically involves a three-to-five year process that results in the following direct costs for a 1,000-person IT organization:

  • Consulting, training, and mentoring costs to go from novice to competent, and even expert, using Stuart and Hubert Dreyfus’ skill acquisition model. For 1,000 people, this can cost $1 million to $2 million.
  • Knowledge management, to avoid the risk of relying on tacit knowledge in the heads of coaches and consultants. If performed, the capture of standard work, or “our way of working,” results in more than $1 million in costs related to process-related software.
  • Changes in approach can also trigger the need for new process management tools. Cost can range from free to $1 million or more.
  • Costs related to putting a new software delivery infrastructure in place. Hitting the reset button can cost upward of $5 million.

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Gartner Predicts Lack of BPM will topple many Global 2000 Companies

In a recent article from Gartner, they predict that:

Between now and year-end 2014 an intensifying focus on process-related skills, competencies and competitive differentiators will increasingly separate process excellence leaders from the laggards among the Global 2000, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner has identified some of its key predictions for business process management (BPM) in 2011 and beyond.

“A key theme in our BPM predictions for 2011 is the rising focus on making business process improvement (BPI) a core competency of the organization — and on the capabilities and tools required to gain that competency,” said John Dixon, research director at Gartner. “Increasing process skills in the Global 2000 will further separate the companies with enlightened process experts from those that are simply competent in the basics — and will intensify the negative repercussions and devastating consequences from public exposure of process weakness.”

It goes on to state that:

  • Between now and year-end 2014, overlooked but easily detectable business process defects will topple 10 Global 2000 companies.
  • By 2015, context-aware computing will be used to rejuvenate at least 25 percent of “commodity” enterprise processes that are currently perceived as “low value.”
  • By 2014, process templates from “nontraditional application vendors” will be included in the shortlisted options for 70 percent of application purchases.
  • General BPM certification will grow in value but will not be materially relevant to BPM hiring decisions before 2015.

Would love to hear your thoughts on how well prepared your organisation is.

Further reading:

Focussed Business Strategy is making a Resurgence

In recent months there has been a noticeable resurgence in the need for Business Architecture at both tactical and strategic levels. In my experience, there are many Enterprise Architects (EA’s) thinking about Business Architecture, but very few who are really doing Business Architecture.

The Standish Group, an IT research organisation, documents this annually and has historically found that 31.1% projects are cancelled before completion, 52.7% of projects will cost 189% of their original estimated cost and only 16% of projects are completed on-time and on-budget.

Apart from the typical Project Management and Software Delivery Governance and Optimisation improvements that can be adopted to improve this situation, a further and probably more advantageous approach would be to adopt ‘Problem Architects’.

Solution Architects (the opposite of Problem Architects) are more commonly technical specialists focused on defining a technical solution that is usually heavily dependent on ‘clear’ business requirements often formulated by users and project Business Analysts. In most cases, this tends to be an inexact science as it is often too complex, too ambiguous, and has lots of errata due to tight project specific deadlines.

Forrester 2010 research has found that:

“…40% of organizations now have an established business architecture program. And most of the rest are working toward creating one. For a large majority of EA teams the question has shifted from ‘When should I start my business architecture effort?’ to ‘How do I get business architecture moving?’…“

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BPM Centre of Excellence – Strategic & Tactical Value Explained

Foreword: Having recently completed the design and implementation of an operational BPM Competency Centre for a Global Insurance company, I thought I would share a bit of my recent experience on the subject. The Competency Centre initiative formed part of the extremely ambitious IT and Business Transformation programme that is fundamental in redefining the organisation and laying the foundation for its expansion strategy across Europe.

Over the decades, the search for IT and/or Business ‘Excellence’ has led to a concept that is often misunderstood and can be very amorphous in definition and execution – Business/IT Transformation.

A term also commonly used in the same context is that of a Centre of Excellence or ‘CoE’ aka ‘Competency Centre.’  In this post, I will not attempt to redefine either, but rather explain a bit more about how the various constituent parts of a CoE can support Transformation projects and more specifically Business Process Management (BPM) initiatives.

The purpose of a CoE is to act as a nucleus for promoting and managing the collaboration of people, processes and technologies around key organisational objectives by ensuring the application of best practices, education and training, support services and technology awareness.

In most organisations, this is an extremely complex challenge, especially if the level of organisational maturity is low and their existing operational model is disjointed. That said, more mature and integrated organisations find the exigency and necessary focus for adopting a CoE a challenge.

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BPM in the Cloud – What’s it all about?

Business Process Management is becoming more common place and has become accepted as a business imperative by most organisations. The adoption of Cloud based solutions that provide integrated process SaaS offerings is however still not as widely accepted but is finding traction.

A recent event from Cordys explains “How Cloud Computing Will Change Business Process Management” in which George Barlow, the CEO of Cloud Harbor, Inc. a Cloud computing software and services company presents a view of how:

…the  increasing relevance of Cloud computing, using BPM systems will be offered in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model and be delivered in on-premise service appliances behind the firewall.

… it explores these topics and provide a glimpse into these significant new business technologies to be delivered “in the Cloud”.

It is obviously a vendor and service provider view of the business and technological value proposition but in my opinion, the webinar (with audio option) is one of the better introductions to ‘BPM in the Cloud’ and is also supported by various analyst market forecasts.

Check out the webinar  here (requires short registration) or alternatively, the slides from the presentation are below for those who are ‘time challenged’   🙂

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What is the State of the Cloud? – An Overview

There are various views in the market regarding the adoption of Cloud computing  and as I have experienced with BPM, many folks are still struggling with trying to figure out what it is,where the value proposition is and how to quantify it. Some of the more common comments supporting the Cloud computing argument include:

  • Cloud computing is expected to grow in adoption within the next five years.
  • Drivers for adoption will include the need for higher levels of service at lower costs.
  • Benefits of cloud computing include faster development speed and better payment structure.
  • SMEs may be more interested in cloud computing in the next three years, particularly when they need to build or expand their data centers.
  • <add your own here….>

As a snapshot on the ‘State of the Cloud’ I have included a presentation from Interop 09 Enterprise Cloud Summit late 2009. It gives some introductory thoughts on clouds, how we got here and where it’s going. I would be interested to hear about your plans and experiences regarding BPM and Cloud adoption.

For further reading, have a look at this post that states Ovum Research firm has chosen Cordys as the the best fit for SaaS enabled BPM platform.

BPM Conference – Vendors Showcase BPM and EA Capabilities

The recent event from BPM CON II – Intelligent BPM for the Productive Enterprise highlighted something that I have posted about before – the importance of EA & BPM convergence.

Admittedly, everyone has a different view on what BPM and EA is and how value can be derived from each but as with most things, real benefits come from combining individual concepts, methods and tools rather than just working with them individually on a case by case basis.

This  general principle of holism was concisely summarized by Aristotle in the Metaphysics:  “The whole is more than the sum of its parts”.

Reductionism in contrast, is sometimes seen as the opposite of holism. Reductionism in science says that a complex system can be explained by reduction to its fundamental parts. This sounds very much like the abstraction capabilities that Business Process Mangement and Enterprise Architecture provide.

No matter how you choose to define it, ultimately the focus should be on  how both can be used to solve tactical business problems while executing a longer term strategic roadmap. But I digress…..

The BPM II conference had four vendors presenting their capabilities and approaces to how BPM & EA could be used.

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