For those of you who have wondered where I have been, I am happy to say that I was in the Bahamas. I took a long deserved vacation with the family to the Bahamas. The cruise and the trip were excellent. Now I come from the 80 degree sunny weather of the Bahamas and Florida to the 20 degree snowy weather of Cincinnati, it just doesn’t seem fair. No, I was not in the Bahamas for a month or two months, but getting caught up with everything takes time.
Recently, I have been pondering the question “Has IT become irresponsive to business requests?” As I go from organization to organization I look at the time it takes from request to solution implementation and I am dumbfounded. For those of us who have been in application development services for awhile remember that what use to take a day now takes a week, or longer. Yes, we have things like Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and other regulations to thank for this; but also I see that organizations themselves put so much process into their developing of IT business solutions, that the time to fill a business request gets longer and longer. Let’s take a look back to see how this happened.
In the beginning there was chaos. The business manager, needing a widget, made a request to the IT manager, the IT manager handed down the request to the developer, who spoke this language called “techie”. In three days, the business manager needing his widget, went to the IT manager and asked “Hey, where is my widget?” The IT manager replied, “I will find out for you”. He went to the developer and asked ‘Where is the widget?”, and the developer handed him a midget. The IT manager said “I am not sure this is what he wanted”. The IT manager returned to the business manager with the midget. The business manager said “That is not what I asked for, can’t you understand plain ‘biz talk’?” He further inquired, “Why couldn’t you tell me when it would be done and stop the developer when he started building the wrong thing?” The IT manager said “I need help!” and chaos ensued.
Then The Project Manager (PM) stood up and said I can help. I can put together a project schedule and draw pretty pictures for you that will tell you exactly when that IT business solution will be done. The IT manager said “I like pretty pictures, yes do that”. So the business manager made a request to the IT manager for a fidget. The IT manager handed down the request to the PM. The PM made a project schedule, carefully drafted a project scope, wrote a communication plan and a risk mitigation plan and made deadlines and milestones. He then showed all his work to the IT manager who looked at it in awe. Then the PM handed all his work to the developer who stripped out just the parts he needed to create the widget. In seven days, the business manager needing his fidget, went to the IT manager and asked “Hey, where is my fidget?” The IT manager showed the business manager all that the PM created and the business manager looked at it in confusion. The IT manager said, this says your fidget will be done in two days. The business manager said, at least now you can tell me when it will be done, but what is taking so long? So now they have structure to the chaos. In two days the IT manager delivered the widget to the business manager and the business manager said “that is not a fidget, what is wrong with you?” The IT manager said I do not understand what you want.
So the Business Analyst (BA) stood up and said I can help. He said your application development team speaks “techie” and the business people talk “biz talk”. I speak both languages and can translate what the business is asking for into “techie” for the development team. The IT manager said “Yes, do that”. So the business manager requested a zidget from the IT manager. The IT manager handed the request down to the BA and the PM. The BA went and talked to the business manager and said “tell me about this zidget you want”. He made long lists of requirements and definitions of what a zidget is. Meanwhile, the PM made his project schedule, full of scope, plans and drawings. The BA went to the PM and handed him all the requirements and said this is what the business means by a zidget. The PM handed all that the BA and the PM had created to the developer who stripped out just the parts he needed to create this zydget. In ten days, the business manager needing his zidget, went to the IT manager and asked “Where is my zidget?” The IT manager showed the business manager all that the PM and BA had created, who looked at it in great confusion, and stated “Is that what I asked for?” The IT manager said “Yes it is, and it will be ready in two days”. The developer showed the finished zydget to the BA, who stated “this is not quite right, make a little change here”. So the developer did as the BA said. In two days the IT manager delivered the zidget to the business manager, who declared “Look you got it right!”
The above story does not really account for the time and effort that Quality Control and Production Change Control put into the process. So it is easy to see why a day has become a week, or longer; and make it appear as if IT has become irresponsive to business requests. However, in most organizations the above is the normal process, we call project life cycle (PLC), to get an enterprise application development change made. Most organizations have emergency procedures that circumvent the normal procedures to get a change made quickly. More and more I see those emergency procedures being used. What does this cause, new production change control processes and validation, which usually translates into more people. So what can be done to improve this process? Go back to Chaos?