3 Approaches to Streamlining IT
Software and IT projects have a bad track record. Since the early days of computers, projects have been delivered late or not at all. The Mythical Man Month, written in the ’70s, provided convincing evidence that simply adding people to a late project didn’t result in completing it any sooner.
The cost of these delays is higher now than ever. The era of digital transformation means IT isn’t just supporting back office business functions; IT underlies the way companies create products and deliver them to customers.
As a result, companies have been searching for methods they can apply to software development and IT operations to streamline the process of writing code, deploying it into production, and supporting it. Today, companies are combining three complementary methods—agile development, DevOps, and Lean IT—to make creating, deploying, and supporting software more efficient and effective.
One reason software development used to take so long was that coding didn’t start until the requirements were fully specified. Thick requirements documents were produced, teams would start coding…and it would be found out that the requirements were incomplete, or incorrect, or circumstances had changed since they were documented. Time was wasted and work needed to be redone.
Agile development teams recognize the reality that specifying software fully is impossible. Instead of working from a document that defines the deliverable of a six-month project, teams work in short sprints, typically two weeks long. The end product of each sprint is defined through meetings with the business that specify what the most important features are for that release. By working this way, teams increase productivity and emphasize a focus on the customer.
While the coding behind every software is unique, getting software to work in the production environment shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, deployments are often fragile and unrepeatable, breaking on servers that have incompatible third-party products. Operations teams spend much of their time figuring out why applications are breaking, but they often don’t get to feedback their insights to the development teams.
The DevOps process changes this by more tightly integrating development with operations’ release and support procedures. DevOps can ensure that applications are tested in environments that mirror the production environment and develop scripts that ensure stable, successful deployments. The support team’s insights and needs for features such as logging feed back into the development team’s planning.
Both Agile development and DevOps streamline processes, reducing wasted time and effort in software development and support. Lean IT makes the focus on delivering value by reducing waste explicit, and can apply that strategy throughout IT operations. This occurs by focusing on five concepts:
- Value: what the customer wants
- Value stream: the activities that create the value
- Flow: perform the activities without interruption
- Pull: work is done when the customer needs it
- Perfection: rework is unnecessary because work is done right the first time
By applying these principles, companies eliminate wasted effort and support continuous improvement.
Putting Lean Into Work
To apply lean to IT processes, companies need to analyze the way their operations work. Value stream mapping that analyzes information flows can identify steps that waste time, such as duplicate data entry every time a help desk inquiry is escalated.
Working with an IT services firm like Prescient Solutions is another way businesses can apply lean principles to their IT efforts. Companies can draw on our resources to help you do the work you need when you need it. Your employees to focus on core business work while your IT functions leverage our certified, expert team members’ knowledge to resolve IT challenges the right way. Contact us for a free assessment and to discuss how our services can support your lean IT operations.