What strategy should an IT department adopt to incrementally and iteratively transform itself? How should different methods of software development, testing, and operations be managed at the same time?

TL;DR:

  • An organisation mired in IT As A Cost Centre needs to understand where and how to invest in Continuous Delivery
  • Bimodal IT by Gartner is merely a rehash of the brownfield vs. greenfield IT dichotomy, with all the same problems
  • Multi-Demand IT is a sophisticated approach to investing in Continuous Delivery according to product demand and capabilities
  • Multi-Demand IT explains how to overhaul traditional architecture, service transition, change management, and production support

Introduction

Organisations that wish to remain competitive in the years to come must explore new offerings, expand successful differentiators, and exploit established products. A 21st century, digital first organisational model of IT As A Business Differentiator focussed on cloud computing, smart mobile devices, and big data analytics is required.

This is tremendously difficult when an organisation has the 20th century, pre-Internet IT As A Cost Centre organisational model. This refers to disparate Product and IT departments, in which IT is a cost centre with fixed scope, fixed resource, and fixed deadline projects. Segregated development, testing, and operations teams mired in long-term Discontinuous Delivery are ill-equipped to rapidly build and run products.

Strategy is choice

An organisation-wide transformation from IT As A Cost Centre to IT As A Business Differentiator is an arduous, multi-year journey. It is hard to know where to invest in Continuous Delivery when an organisation has a large, mixed estate of well-established on-premise applications and emergent cloud applications. Such applications can act as significant revenue generators, regardless of deployment frequency and runtime environment. This means visionary leadership and a sense of urgency are required from IT executives, and a Continuous Delivery strategy.

A strategy is not a vision, a plan, a list of best practices, or an affirmation of the status quo. A strategy is a unified set of choices including a desire to succeed, a declaration on where to succeed, and a statement of how to succeed. It is a commitment to hard choices, amongst options with asymmetric value.

An effective Continuous Delivery strategy can be used to establish a culture of Continuous Improvement, powered by the Improvement Kata. It allows a programme of radical, far-reaching changes to be built around the choices made. This helps people to understand, and be motivated by changes to how teams work, how they interact, and the processes and tools they use.

On that basis, how can an IT department devise a Continuous Delivery strategy? How can it incrementally and iteratively transform itself?

This is part 1 of the Strategising for Continuous Delivery series

  1. Strategising for Continuous Delivery
  2. The Bimodal Delusion
  3. Multi-Demand IT
  4. Multi-Demand Architecture
  5. Multi-Demand Operations

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Thierry de Pauw for reviewing this series.