Matt and I talk about lessons learned from almost a year of helping transform IT at Allstate. When it comes to scaling up agile and cloud-think the real challenges are in functions other than development, like budgeting, planning, training, hiring, and how the overall IT department is organized. We discuss those topics – esp. budgeting! – and also how to set one’s personal expectations about going on the transformation journey. Then we discuss an upcoming column on mine in The Register on the benefits of small batches thinking.
After a year, the question becomes “can it scale?”
How do we do: Budgeting, training, hiring, how do we organize teams
We only plan with good information, not bad information.
You need to establish an overall vision, but avoid being too specific on tactics. For example, with a claim application, we know the general product, the vertical, the line of business we have roughly an idea of what claims are, who the customer is, and what that experience is like. Delivering a better experience for claims, what that feels like, and how do we measure it – these things we don’t know perfectly up-front, so we have lots of discipline around iterating and experimenting to deliver good product.
How budgeting changes in this small batches approach.
With a lot of this, you can’t talk someone into doing these things up-front. They have to experience it first hand: you have to walk them through it.
What organization could be larger than the US Federal government? Not only that, the chance to transform how software is done in the government has perhaps one of the largest possible impacts of transforming any “IT department.” In this episode, Matt and Coté talk with Diego Lapiduz who works in the GSA’s 18F organization helping government agencies develop their software in new, more agile and cloud-driven ways. We discuss the background of 18F and the broader government initiatives to transform how software is done and also walk through some of the learnings 18F has had in trying to make such a huge transformation.
“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.”
Software is infinitely flexible. It can be changed right up to the time the product is introduced. Sometimes it can be changed even later than that with things like software or firmware upgrades, websites, and software as a service (SaaS).
Software does have its disadvantages, too. Accurately scheduling long-term deliveries is difficult, and more than 50% of all software developed is either not used or does not meet its business intent. If executives managing software do not take these differences into account in their planning processes, they are likely to make the classic mistake of creating detailed, inaccurate plans for developing unused features. At the same time they are eliminating flexibility, which is the biggest advantage of software, by locking in commitments to these long-range plans.
n=250 survey that shows people want more from IT, but they feel IT is not up to the task: “A mere 43 percent agreed their IT department were successfully becoming more strategic, responsive, and valued as a partner; 58 percent rated IT as poor or making only moderate steps, the report said.”
Don’t just put old wine in new bottles, figure out if there’s something better than wine too: “How much of the current excitement – and achievement – of digital government is about making the old product better? And what might the new product be which will change the idea of government altogether?”