A false choice: systems of record vs. systems of engagement – Pivotal Conversations #49

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What’s the best way to categorize and prioritize your IT projects? Splitting them up between systems of record (ERP) and systems of engagement (user-facing apps) is a popular mode of thinking, highly related to bi-modal IT. In this episode, guest Ian Andrews explains why this framing is a bad idea and offers a value-driven way of thinking about it instead, along with plenty of commentary from Coté and Richard.

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Ian Andrews on bimodal, systems of engagement vs. systems of record

  • Systems of engagement vs systems of record – why is this distinction not helpful based on Ian’s conversations with actual customers. And, of course, bimodal.
  • Spring Boot’s story, and Spring Cloud.
  • Contrasting those with JEE needs shifting. That InfoQ piece Ian references.

Why Big Companies Need Lean Startup Techniques, Gartner

A lead-gen-y blog post, but with some good stuff, e.g.:

  • “Gartner estimates by 2021, more than 50% of established corporations will be leveraging lean startup techniques at the business level to increase the pace and success of business transformation.”
  • Nice MVP/small batch framing: “A critical challenge for many organizations will be adopting radical MVP thinking in the business (not just in IT). Businesses must define what is the least investment needed (in time, budget, resources, etc.) to test the most uncertain assumptions for the new product or service.”
  • And a mini-case study of the Queensland state government which ain’t half bad.

Source: Why Big Companies Need Lean Startup Techniques – Smarter With Gartner

Bimodal IT leads to technical debt that must be paid, with interest

Instead, it has created a great divide, said Pucciarelli. “This siloed, divided approach brings frustration, disappointment and failure in multiple ways.” For one thing, it doesn’t support healthy team spirit, he said, and the innovation side tends to operate fast to deliver business solutions without the accountability around reliability, quality and security that is expected from the traditional IT side. “It leads to redundancy and inefficiency.”

Source: Bimodal IT leads to technical debt that must be paid, with interest

Maybe “bi-modal” is about temperament, not just enabling “sad IT”

More for the “I don’t think bi-modal is that far from what all us methodology hipster talk about” file here:

Q. Have you seen organizations that have officially reorganized around a Bimodal approach? What kind of job titles/job descriptions are you seeing?

It’s much less an organizational structure change, and much more about culture, process and method. But yes, it is not unusual in the short to mid-term to differentiate teams. Mode 2 usually starts life as being quite small, and often needs “protection”, to prevent the organizational anti-bodies killing it off. It is better to go narrow and deep and focus the capability on a particular part of the enterprise, or on particular domains like mobile for example. Small IT organizations (<50) don’t have the option to create any kind of split of course).

I'd still wager that most people who complain about bi-modal haven't read up on it too much (it's hard to do, and there's bat-shit expensive paywalls around it). Also, I think Gartner has been filling out the nuance of the original, clear idea: softening it and making it more practical, which makes it more ambiguous.

My theory here – based on conversations with people transforming large organizations – is that the focus here should be on the temperament of the people, not the process. For any given project, the proven process of small batches applies, but you’ll often want “cow-pokes” (risk takers who hate long term commitment) for new projects and “city-folk (enjoy stability) for post-1.0 projects.

There’s a chance for judgement about who the cool kids are vs. the old folks there, but I’d suggest finding that distinction is all about the perceiver. In my career, I’ve found people who are perfectly happy being in one of those two boxes. Problems arise (I think Apple’s negligence for apps their no longer interested in is a good bad result to ponder here), but I feel like it fits the staffing and prioritization needs of most large organizations.

But, I don’t call it “theory” for nuthin’.

A tale of two ITs | Business Cloud News

“The challenges are cultural, organisational, and technical. According to the 2015 BCN Annual Industry Survey, which petitioned over 700 senior IT decision makers, over 67 per cent of enterprises plan to implement multiple cloud services over the next 18 months, but close to 70 per cent were worried about how those services would integrate with other cloud services and 90 per cent were concerned about how they will integrate those cloud services with their legacy or on-premise services.”

A tale of two ITs | Business Cloud News