Governing IT Investments

The Agile Manager

In the previous blog , we looked at common misconceptions of IT governance. We also looked at how corporate governance works to better understand what governance is and is not. In this blog, we'll look at how we can implement more comprehensive governance in tech projects. For corporate tech investments, the top most governing body is the firm's investment committee. People who govern delivery do so on behalf of investors, not delivery.

Can we stop misusing the word "Governance"?

The Agile Manager

The word "governance" is misused in IT, particularly in software development. Governance is neither of these things. By extension, this makes it a form of self-regulation, and defines governance as nothing more than a fancy word for management. This body doesn't govern. The second interpretation relegates governance to an overhead role that polices the organization, searching for violations of rules and policies. Well, what does it mean to govern?

Regulatory Capture and IT Governance

The Agile Manager

Industries are regulated by governments so that companies don't compromise the public interest. In the same way, we have governance within businesses to make sure that management doesn't compromise the interest of investors. And just as it is with businesses in a regulated industry, management of a well-governed business may have a set of priorities that are perfectly justifiable in management's context, but are orthogonal to investor's interests.

Activist Investing in Strategic Software Chapter 1 Excerpt - Why Governance Matters

The Agile Manager

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 1, Why Governance Matters. * * * That there are abundant examples of bad governance but few examples of good ones comes as no surprise. What passes for "good" in governance is not all that remarkable. People in governance roles are expected to discharge their duties competently; meeting expectation is not exceptional. Hence we have few examples of good governance but many examples of bad. IT Governance Strategic IT

IT Governance Maximises IT Returns

The Agile Manager

This suggests strongly that “how work is done” is an essential IT governance question. That is, IT governance must not be concerned only with measuring results, but also knowing that that the way in which those results are achieved is in compliance with practices that minimise the probability of failure. One of our governance objectives must be that we are cognisant of how solutions are being delivered everywhere in the enterprise, because this is an indicator of their completeness.

Join Your Peers at an Agile Governance or Budgeting Event In October

The Agile Manager

We’re pleased to present Real Time Governance , a follow-on webinar that extends the concepts to their next stage of evolution. I’ve had the opportunity to present the Governance material with my ThoughtWorks colleagues Jane Robarts and David Leigh-Fellows in Calgary, Toronto (which was recorded and is available on InfoQ ) and San Francisco. Agile Management IT Governance Leadership PMO Strategic ITOctober is normally a heads-down month.

I'll be Gone, You'll be Gone

The Agile Manager

The Financial Times recently ran a long article describing the breakdown of governance over the Crossrail development , the first new underground railway in London in over a century. Good governance is usually only appreciable by its absence, but the Crossrail case allows a before / after contrast between the presence of good and, after the sacking of a key board member, the presence of bad. As a case study in governance, the FT article is an analysis very much worth reading.

Spinnaker Sets Sail to the Continuous Delivery Foundation

The Netflix TechBlog

At the Spinnaker Summit in 2018, we announced that we had adopted a formalized project governance plan with Google. Spinnaker’s previously defined governance policy remains in place.

Activist Investing in Strategic Software

The Agile Manager

A few years ago, I felt I had enough experience - and had put enough thought into the subject - to write a book on governance in software development. I had observed that most tech firms and captive IT organizations are largely left to self-govern, and both are pretty light touch about it. I had also observed that governance is widely misunderstood and the term is used in technology in a lot of different ways, almost universally incorrectly. IT Governance Strategic IT

Counterfactuals

The Agile Manager

There is no law or reason governing why I was there at the moment the battery exploded, or for the battery to have exploded at precisely that moment. The landscape of strategic software investing and governance is riddled with speculation. IT Governance Risk ManagementEarlier this year, my house should have burned to the ground. A CR2032 battery exploded and caught fire in a confined place dense with flammable objects.

Webinar: Being an Activist Investor in IT Projects

The Agile Manager

An ounce of good governance is worth a pound of project rescue. Agile practices, with their emphasis on transparency, business alignment and technical completion, are enablers of better IT governance. An Agile organization needs a new approach to governance, one that makes everybody think not as caretakers of a project but investors in a business outcome. What you will learn What are the principles of IT governance? What kind of governance does Agile enable and demand?

In Tech, Portfolio Management is a Metaphor, Not a Way of Life

The Agile Manager

A few years ago, I wrote about the chronic misuse of the word "governance" in technology. When we think in shareholder activism terms, we understand the importance of good governance structures and mechanics, and the need for diligence by those investing in the business through technology. IT Governance Strategic ITThe word "portfolio" is suffering the same fate.

The Persistent Imbalance Between Supply and Demand for Software Development Labor

The Agile Manager

As it happens, it will go largely unnoticed because neither the concept of technical debt nor its commercial ramifications are well understood by the (average) business buyer of software, and because IT governance remains weak in practice. IT Finance IT Governance Strategic ITThe growth in demand for software has consistently outpaced the growth in the supply of software developers. This has been the case for well over half a century. It's worth looking at why.

Resiliency, Not Predictability

The Agile Manager

A steady diet of reliable data about the software we're developing and how the delivery of that software is progressing allow a steering committee to continuously and fluidly perform its governance obligations. This, in turn, gives us information to act on the last governance responsibility, which we do by changing team structure, composition and even leadership, and working with the investment committee to maintain viability of the investment itself.

Rules versus Results

The Agile Manager

We assume, not only that good procedure will give rise to good outcome, but also that the ability to articulate the procedure is the key to good outcomes. -- John Kay, writing in the Financial Times A common error in both the management and governance of IT is an over-reliance on rules, process and "best practices" that portend to give us a means for modeling and controlling delivery. Best practices" are held out as the basis of IT governance. Agile Management IT Governance

Why Commercial Contracts Matter In Agile Software Development

The Agile Manager

The preamble language defines who the parties are or think they are as an acknowledgement of the strengths that each bring to the relationship: they are disruptors ("re-imagining the classroom for the 21st century"), or market leaders ("the nation's largest provider of financial services to retirees"), or specialists ("the leading provider of software development services to municipal governments in the tri-state area"). Agile Management IT Governance

The Corrosive Effects of Complexity

The Agile Manager

IT Governance Leadership"Much complexity has been deliberately created, to encourage consumers to pay more than they need, or expected." John Kay, The Wrong Sort of Competition in Energy Modern software assets are complex in both their technical composition and their means of creation.

Bootstrapping a Usability Testing Program

Tasktop

government shutdown in early 2019. It was only when those park rangers stopped working during the government shutdown that we truly grew to understand their enormous impact. The lack of rangers lead to park damage, closed bathrooms, overflowing garbage cans, and theft of natural resources (Joshua Tree has been projected to take 200-300 years to recover from the government shutdown !).

The AWS GovCloud (US) Region - All Things Distributed

All Things Distributed

This new region, which is located on the West Coast of the US, helps US government agencies and contractors move more of their workloads to the cloud by implementing a number of US government-specific regulatory requirements. Our government customers sometimes have an additional layer of regulatory requirements given that they at times deal with highly sensitive information, such as defense-related data. Government and Big Data. All Things Distributed.

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Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For March 22nd, 2019

High Scalability

Wake up! It's HighScalability time: Van Gogh? Nope. A satellite image of phytoplankton populations or algae blooms in the Baltic Sea. NASA ). Do you like this sort of Stuff? I'd greatly appreciate your support on Patreon. Know anyone who needs cloud?

Business Cases: Simplicity over Sophistry

The Agile Manager

Beyond just being a rational thing to do, policy dictates that we have a business case: the rules governing capitalization require that we explicitly define what we expect to achieve, at what cost, for what benefit, over what time. A good business case is critical to governance, portfolio management and execution. IT Governance Strategic IT

Strategic Software Investing: Chase the Ends, Not the Means

The Agile Manager

IT Governance Risk Management Strategic ITWhen a company engages in custom software development, it is making an investment into itself. Company executives decide to convert capital into software because they believe that the resulting software will make the business better. How we make that investment decision is crucial to the success of the investment. Our first investment decision is based solely on an idea.

Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For December 21st, 2018

High Scalability

Wake up! It's HighScalability time: Have a very scalable Xmas everyone! See you in the New Year. Do you like this sort of Stuff? Please support me on Patreon. I'd really appreciate it. Still looking for that perfect xmas gift? What could be better than a book on the cloud?

Trust, but Verify

The Agile Manager

IT Governance Strategic IT“If a builder builds a house for a man and does not make its construction firm, and the house which he has built collapses and causes the death of the owner of the house, that builder shall be put to death.” Clearly, the Babylonians understood that the builder will always know more about the risks than the client, and can hide fragilities and improve his profitability by cutting corners—in, say, the foundation.

Expanding the Cloud – The Second AWS GovCloud (US) Region, AWS GovCloud (US-East)

All Things Distributed

In 2011, AWS was the first cloud provider to launch an isolated infrastructure Region designed to meet the stringent requirements of government agencies and other highly regulated industries when it opened the AWS GovCloud (US-West) Region.

Are You Ready to Restructure?

The Agile Manager

This, in turn, means that businesses are being completely restructured in how they are capitalized, organized, managed and governed. One covers challenge of change management during restructure , the other governing restructure. Agile Management Change Management IT Governance Restructuring ITGlobal business faces unprecedented changes.

Expanding the cloud to the Middle East: Introducing the AWS Middle East (Bahrain) Region

All Things Distributed

Starting today, developers, startups, and enterprises, as well as government, education, and non-profit organizations can run their applications and serve end users across the region from data centers located in the Middle East.

Business Value is a Weak Currency

The Agile Manager

IT Governance Strategic ITInvestments in infrastructure, whether public transport or IT applications, tend to lack hard numbers because they are a means to an end and not an end in themselves. We have transport to enable people to travel to work and allow goods to reach markets. Captive IT departments produce systems that enable us to conduct business faster and more efficiently and at larger scale. In the absence of hard measures, we concoct soft ones.

Restructuring IT: Organizing for Results

The Agile Manager

Instead of sending round reams of paperwork for PMs to fill out in little more than CYA exercises, what if we were able to govern IT non-invasively, ascertaining from our delivery teams whether they’re delivering value for money, and working in accordance with expectations?

IT Effectiveness is Measured by Asset Yield

The Agile Manager

From an IT governance perspective, however, this doesn’t tell us all that much. With this measure we have a business-oriented way to answer the first governance question : are we getting value for money? Well governed IT is the centerpiece of executing this strategy.

The Agile PMO: Becoming a Real Time PMO

The Agile Manager

This makes us more effective at governing IT : By reconciling actual results with our business cases, we know the in-flight NPV we’re tracking toward. Agile Management IT Governance PMO

Games 52

Annual Budgeting and Agile IT, Part II: Why Agile Gets Compromised When It Goes Corporate

The Agile Manager

The rules governing capital expenditure are pretty strict. The annual budgeting cycle that still governs companies sets an expectation that operations, IT included, will perform consistently with a big, up-front plan. IT Governance Restructuring IT Strategic ITIn the first installment , we had a look at how the CFO is primarily concerned with consistent cash flow so that the business can service long-term financing obligations.

Annual Budgeting and Agile IT, Part III: Operational Predictability versus Financial Rationality

The Agile Manager

We do this through continuous governance , to align operations with financial intent. But there's a difference between mechanical governance and investing. Continuous governance is only effective if we have activist investors: people experienced with technology investments who not only scrutinize the data but manipulate it, reframe it, challenge it, supplement it by getting their own, and interrogate the people behind it. IT Governance Restructuring IT Strategic IT

Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For December 7th, 2018

High Scalability

In all honestly I really can't fathom how the American government let this deal occur. Wake up! It's HighScalability time: This is your 1500ms latency in real life situations - pic.twitter.com/guot8khIPX. — Ivo Mägi (@ivomagi) November 27, 2018. Do you like this sort of Stuff? Please support me on Patreon. I'd really appreciate it. Know anyone looking for a simple book explaining the cloud? Then please recommend my well reviewed (31 reviews on Amazon and 72 on Goodreads!)

The Agile PMO: Automating Metrics Capture

The Agile Manager

Agile Management IT Governance PMOThe last piece of the Agile PMO puzzle is to make the data needs of the PMO non-burdensome to delivery teams. It’s all well and good to be able to get quality and performance data, but it has to be easily accessible.

Restructuring IT: The Detroitification of IT

The Agile Manager

Change Management IT Governance Restructuring IT Strategic ITIn previous installments of this series on restructuring IT , we looked at how IT has adopted industrial practices as it has gone in pursuit of scale. As a result, IT bears striking resemblance to Detroit automakers.

Restructuring IT: Anticipatory Responsiveness

The Agile Manager

Change Management IT Governance Restructuring IT Strategic ITMichael Milken , the former junk bond king, has a charitable foundation.

Come On and Take a Free (Regulatory) Ride

The Agile Manager

In this way, government can get its citizenry mobile with fewer negative consequences. In short, the proposed merger would have yielded everything except for the specific electronic vehicle technology that governments are adamant that auto manufacturers must deliver.

Restructuring IT: A Different Look at the Business-IT Relationship

The Agile Manager

IT Governance Restructuring IT Strategic ITThe relationship between IT and its business partners is notoriously bad. Year after year, surveys by different research organizations report that improving that relationship is a top-10 priority for CIOs.

Mitigating Corporate Financial Risks of Lean IT

The Agile Manager

Whether our business is govered by GAAP or IAS , the rules that govern capitalization of intangible assets such as software require us to define our investment intention. Finally, and most importantly, we’ve learned that Agile IT requires Agile governance. Agile Management IT Governance Risk ManagementIt's pretty well established that Agile and Lean IT are more operationally efficient than traditional IT. Agile teams tend to commit fewer unforced errors, and don't defer work.

Annual Budgeting and Agile IT, Part I: Why the CFO Isn't Impressed with Agile

The Agile Manager

IT Governance Restructuring IT Strategic ITI’ve been asked by a number of people recently how we can reconcile Agile IT, which shuns long-range deterministic planning, with annual budget & planning cycles, which are dependent on it. This 3 part series will look at the CFO's perspective on the business, the inherent conflict in IT investments financed through business operations, and what CIOs can do to decouple IT finance from IT operations.

One-Way Risk and Robustness of IT Projects

The Agile Manager

The fact that risk in IT is substantially one-way brings a lot of our management and governance into serious doubt. That risk in IT is substantially one-way brings a lot of our management and governance into serious doubt. Agile Management IT Governance Leadership Risk ManagementWriting in the FT's Long View column , James Mackintosh makes the point that hedge fund managers “appeared smarter than they really were, because they were taking a risk they did not recognize.”

Introducing alphaITjournal.com

The Agile Manager

alpha IT journal.com I'm pleased to announce the launch of alphaITjournal.com , an online magazine focused on the execution, management and governance of IT investments that can produce outsized (or "alpha") returns. IT Governance Strategic ITThe mission and purpose are summarised in the welcome message on the site and in the press release that was issued in early July. There are a few things that I hope stand out about the site. The first is the site layout.