“Lack of knowledge…that’s the problem” – W. Edwards Deming.
Not understanding a situation can make the best of us feel anxious and frustrated. Sleepless nights, long contemplative walks along the sea wall, drawing on windows a la John Nash. Uncertainty can plague any person and workforce.
Sure, at a team-level we can implement mechanisms for communication and collaboration to address such fears. Such transparency enables us to gain as much visibility into our endeavors as possible – helping us to see what’s working and, crucially, what’s not. In Enterprise IT, however, one team’s view is just that –one team’s view; just one piece of the mirror that reflects the organization’s entire operations.
In software delivery, for instance, the various groups of specialists who plan, build and deliver software at scale will all have their own processes, customizations, workflows, and reports. At this localized level, teams can be masters of their world, doing the best with what they’ve got and can see.
But given that these cross-functional teams must work together to deliver business value through software, this scale of visibility and traceability just isn’t enough – especially if the issues slowing down value delivery exist outside any given team (i.e., a bottleneck lies further up- or downstream, the number of data points undermines the integrity of shared data and so on).
It is this dearth of knowledge, this reductionist worldview, this inability to obtain one source of truth that is hampering traditional enterprises’ ability to master the main means of production in the Age of Digital Disruption – especially when you consider the sheer size of IT operations. Tina Dankwart – Senior Consultant at Tasktop – taps into this state of play in her recent article “Global Reporting: 5 Reasons Why Tool and Team Alignment Are Wastes of Time”.
Tina uses a British telecoms provider as an example: “15,000 end users operating across three continents, a wealth of different client operations systems, outsourced IT, four different testing companies, multiple time zones, 400 projects, and one connection made every two seconds”. How then do you piece together the mirror when it’s shattered in fragments across the globe?
The answer is not, as Tina stresses, in process standardization and forcing teams into one tool. There is, after all, no one tool that can handle the complexity and volume of work in enterprise software delivery. Nor, for that matter, is there a tool capable of generating a 360-degree report on all activities within a software delivery value stream. As she points out, “lifecycle tools are experts at whatever they were purchased and implemented for — defect tracking, or test management, requirements capture — but not reporting.”
Instead, the answer lies in enabling teams to carry on doing what they’re doing in their own tool with their own workflows and taxonomies, and automating the flow of data across the value streams for more comprehensive reporting. Or in other words, seamlessly bringing the full picture to everyone in their respective system, team, department, office, and region. This flow of data is a critical step in establishing a real-time knowledge-sharing network that changes the way we see, manage and report on the value that software delivery is creating for the business.