Use the baby step model to stay in business!

When taking the big leap, creating something, the project is a necessity but when doing the aligning and re-aligning our services to the ever-changing business needs the baby step model is the way to go.

Don´t get me wrong, I love projects, I do not know of a better way to succeed in creating something reasonably quick with focus, the right amount of resources and control. When we are creating something, the project work model has several obvious advantages. Yes, we can talk all night about doing things agile or lean and I agree, that is the way to go when we are building something. However, to create something we need the temporary organization, which is the project.

This is not what I am going to talk about today. I want to talk about not using project, not creating a temporary organization, to be leaner and to work agile. To sum things up, to use the baby step model.

Our reality, no matter what line of business of business we are talking about, is changing, all the time. This is all we can be really sure of, things are always changing. Even if something does not change, that is a change in itself. In order to survive in our dynamic business climate we need to really master the task of keeping our business on its toes, using the new business opportunities that arises and protect ourselves from new threats and risks. IT is a big part of this, constantly aligning our IS/IT services to the needs of our business. Now, we can do this in several ways but one thing is for certain, we need to be really clever about how we do it not to slow down the business or even worse, seeing our services lose their business value too fast. We need to align and re-align our services.

We also need to maintain stability, the status quo, we cannot disturb the ongoing business but neither become too conservative. A term for this that has gained a lot of attention is Bi-modal IT. However, this is the subject for another blog post.

Traditionally many IT organizations has a really bad habit. We let things deteriorate over time until its falling apart. Then when things are already bad we start a 8-12 month project to fix things.

Creating a project to do a lot of maintenance and small development efforts, all in one go, is not clever at all. It is actually too late, we are already behind and we will never catch up. This is the way to stay reactive and with a constant stream of complaints and an unhappy user community and business. I am going to tell you why.

Projects makes us focus, which is good if our task is to create something new, something that does not exist yet, which closes our eyes to what is happening, sort of blind-folds us. We are in a way taking a step out of the running IT operations. Projects also takes time, the average project is 8-12 months, and even if shorter this means a great risk. In addition, when changing many things at once it is always very complicated to foresee all the technical consequences, thus greatly complicating the quality assurance. Besides this, the project will borrow a lot of resources from the ongoing daily operations, which can have a negative effect on our support, such as extended resolution time and a growing problem backlog.

In our strive towards being more responsive and bringing more business value we actually do the exact opposite when running projects for already existing IS/IT services

The way to do this is by using what we in IT Service Management (and of course other frameworks too) call Continual Service Improvement (CSI). This means constantly suggesting improvements, continuously analyzing how we can improve our services and maintain a fruitful and frequent dialogue with the business.

It also means that all development runs through our transition mechanisms such as Change- and release management, making sure that our bug fixes and development items are controlled and established in the operational environment. We are managing the different development tasks we have to do one by one, thus taking baby steps to continuously making sure that our IS/IT services are bringing maximum business value. Sure, we sometimes group these into releases, but that is only to be smart about the status quo factor, not disturbing the operations too much, each item has a life cycle.

This is a huge topic and can be divided into a lot of discussions and/or posts, but for now I just want to tell you this; stop running maintenance projects, treat all your development for your current IS/IT services in baby steps and I promise that your IS/IT services will stay valuable not only for a longer period of time but also during its entire lifetime.

Stay smart people!

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