Why a new software process won’t fix your delivery effectiveness
Simply aligning your IT capability with your business goals isn’t enough to grow your company. To achieve real IT-enabled growth you’ll need to build on a foundation of technical excellence and thanks to DORA that’s something you can now actually measure.
This article was originally published in the first issue of DevOps Culture Magazine.
In 2007 MIT Sloan Management Review published an article titled Avoiding the Alignment Trap in IT. In it the authors set out the results of a survey of more than 500 senior business and technology executives from around the world. What they found was that most companies were struggling to harness their IT capability to achieve growth strategy.
Analysis of the respondents clustered on two main axes: how aligned the IT organization was with the business needs, and how effective the IT organization was at delivering technology.
Most companies (71%) fell into what the authors termed the Maintenance Zone, where the executives believed that the IT function was neither highly aligned or highly effective. These companies spent average amounts on IT, and had mostly average financial results. The IT spend in these companies is intended to do little more than keep the lights on.
Companies that had IT functions that were highly aligned with business priorities, but not very effective, fell into the Alignment Trap. These companies spent 13% more than average on IT, but their 3 year growth rates were 14% lower than average.
The companies whose IT function was working well (the right side of the model) all had better financial returns1. Companies with a well-oiled IT function spent 15% less than average, and those who were highly aligned, and highly effective, outperformed the growth average of their peers by 35%.
What the authors had discovered is that organizations don’t become high performing by starting with alignment improvements. Rather, only by improving delivery performance first was it possible to achieve IT Enabled Growth.
“Contrary to conventional wisdom, the path to IT-powered growth lies first in building high effectiveness and only then ensuring that IT projects are highly aligned to the business.”
If we reframe this in terms of a nautical analogy we might better understand why:
Considered like this it is unsurprising that the authors discovered the Alignment Trap. Once an IT organization has its full focus on business needs it becomes harder to make the strategic investments in better, simpler technologies and approaches.
“Aligning a poorly performing IT organization to the right business objectives still won’t get the objectives accomplished,” says Richard F. Connell, CIO of Selective Insurance Group.
Given this information, it is instructive to look at how many companies begin their digital transformation by reorganizing the business to include IT functions. Adopting agile organizational models such as SAFe or the Spotify Model will certainly help ensure that plans and priorities are active decisions. In short, they can solve an alignment problem in an organization.
However, the Alignment Trap highlights that putting the business in the hands of a poorly performing IT organization will result in poor outcomes. For this model to work you must have technical leadership setting clear technical strategies based on strong business-cases.
“Even companies that don’t consider their IT organizations highly aligned were spending 15% less than average, and their growth rates were 11% higher. These are numbers that justify considerable investment in pursuing effectiveness.“
These findings make it clear that pursuing technical excellence is not only the first step to delivering IT Enabled Growth, but also an end in itself.
The DevOps Research coming out of DORA provides an even stronger case for why that might be2. What Nicole Forsgren and her team has found is that when taken together Lean Product Management (Alignment) and Continuous Delivery (Effectiveness) are predictive of Organizational Performance.
All the data points towards a single key finding - that technical excellence is foundational. But, how can we measure the progress? Helpfully, DORA again provides insight into strong predictive measures of IT performance which work across industry and sector. These four measures, taken together, can help determine your progress:
These metrics are incredibly easy to measure. In fact, you probably already have this data in your change management systems, version control logs and defect databases. So, what’s stopping you?
I am an Atlassian certified trainer and over the years I have been spending much time with clients and their Jiras. In this blogpost, I have collected some small tips and tricks that will make your Jira usage better.
Jira Software is a powerful tool deployed in so many organizations, yet in day to day usage people are missing out on improvements, big and small.
In this post, I’ll take a closer look at the version of Jenkins X using Tekton, to give you an idea of how the general development, build, test, deploy flow looks like with Jenkins X. How does it feel to ship your code to production using a product coming from the Jenkins community that has very little Jenkins in it?
A crash course in Jenkins X and how to test it out on a local Kubernetes cluster
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Sneak peak at CSI Volume snapshotting Alpha feature
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Writing tests for ‘Theatrical Players’
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The latest drivers of software delivery performance
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How the stories we tell influence our decisions
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Kubernetes has become the de facto container orchestration platform. When we help clients of different sizes and domains start their cloud native journeys in Kubernetes, we assist them in making sound decisions and technology choices. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to choosing cloud providers, CI tools, continuous deployment pipelines etc., so it is important to make the right decisions at the start. Failing to do so can be very costly in terms of lost time and money.
How to make the right technical choices on your cloud native journey
Learn how Docker and Kubernetes work and the key benefits they bring. Using real demos, I show how Docker is a great packaging and distribution technology, and how Kubernetes provides a powerful runtime for containerized applications.
Watch this introduction to Docker and Kubernetes at the Trondheim Developer Conference (TDC)
In the world of Agile and DevOps we use many figures, charts and diagrams to argue and reason about our world and how we prioritize and make choices. However, at all levels of the organization, we misuse and misinterpret figures. It’s time to be explicit, measure the right things and act on them. Watch this talk from DevOpsDays Zurich in May 2019.
Watch this talk from DevOpsDays Zurich
Summer is a great time to catch up on reading, whether you’re at the beach, in a summer house, or cozy at home. If your book backlog is on the short side, don’t worry! We compiled a list of great books for summer reading.
Inspiration for your summer reading list
Hear about upcoming events in Scandinavia, latest tech blogs, and training in the field of Continuous Delivery and DevOps