IBM Innovate 2012 – Fytte 1

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Content Copyright © 2012 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt

My job title is “Practice Leader Development and Governance”, chosen because I feel that “governance” is central to what development is all about – not developing computer programs, but developing technology-based solutions to business opportunities. And “governance” is about making sure that these solutions are “value for money” – that they help to optimise business service delivery, without waste and without adding unmanaged risk.

So I was pleased to see IBM emphasising “governance” at Innovate 2012 IBM Rational’s User Conference) in Orlando. This follows the trends from previous Innovate conferences and continues the journey that is making, I believe, Danny Sabbah’s vision, from when he ran IBM Rational, come to life. Sabbah has now moved from Rational to Tivoli – “Devops”, crossing the silos containing software development and operational service delivery, is another key part of the vision, I think.

It’s a journey, because optimising business service delivery represents a cultural change for most developers and people don’t change as fast as technology (and, once changed, they slip back into old ways, unless change is being managed on a continuous basis). However, Kristof Kloeckner, general manager, IBM Rational, points out that “now is the best time to be in Software Development” as software development starts to be seen as synonymous with business development – but only, I’d add, if you are the sort of developer who can get out of the traditional development silo. At least, if you’re in development for the longer term.

However, if this is going to work, we’ll need “just enough governance” to meet business needs; not stultifying governance, for its own sake, that gets in the way and stifles agility. So, lightweight adaptive governance is now a delivery aim for the Jazz platform. In other words, as I see it, development tools are beginning to collect information and metrics that can be the subject of analytics and give managers the information they need to manage effective “business service delivery” with appropriate governance, using management-oriented dashboards.

This might worry some of the free spirits in development but people who’ve adopted this new way of working (such as Ericsson) say that their developers love it, in practice. Automatic metrics mean that they can spend less time in unproductive meetings reporting progress (or lack of it) to managers who sometimes don’t understand the issues; and more time doing what they enjoy doing – developing software solutions that delight their stakeholders. And with less depressing “scrap and rework”, because the business is now in touch with the evolving software solution.

It’s important to see this as a “quid pro quo” deal, Kloeckner says, with benefits for all stakeholders, including developers. Developer buy-in is essential (any initiative can be sabotaged by disaffected but intelligent people at the sharp end) and this will come if management focusses on developing trust. People who do things properly should be rewarded, rather than people who take short-cuts, deliver quick results and leave problems for those that come after. All stakeholders in the software (and business service delivery) process – including those old enemies, the programmer and the end-user – must be able to trust in the process and the vision and trust that they will be rewarded for their contribution to collaborative delivery.

In fact, I’d go further and say that trust comes from promoting ethically-based processes – good ethics enable collaboration, efficiency and stakeholder delight (the “greed is good” mentality, with everyone for themselves, only seems to work, if it works at all, in the short term). Perhaps promoting corporate ethics is a bit outside my pay grade but I finished my first day at Innovate in an optimistic mood.