Agility and Devops or how to reduce shadow IT & software TCO

In a context of development and deployment of enterprise applications, business organisations face major challenges:

  • Make the right software investments
  • Guarantee success and satisfaction
  • Drive the deployments successfull

But when you look at figures, it’s a bit frightening.

 

According to a study of the Standish group, 45% of application features and functions are never used by final users. Only 20% of the investments are useful! It’s a bitter pill to swallow, no?

There are some reasons for these shocking facts : when users are asked to draw-up a list of their requirements, they ask for all the things they can think of.

They do this because they only get to voice their needs once, at the start of the project, and well in advance of when the application is provided. Most of the time, there are no iterative interactions with IT. As a result, users ask for the maximum they can think of, not what they really need day after day.

Moreover they know that IT rarely delivers all the features they’ve asked for, so one more reason to expand the list.

This is why traditional processes with up-front defined planning and requirements definition can be a real issue. Processes that only involve users at the start of a software project, for a one time requirements activity, are problematic.

In this difficult context, challenges are:

  • How to deliver faster a software that matches actual user needs?
  • How not to invest 45% of budget for nothing?
  • What if you could drive the software roadmap every 15 days?
  • What if you could upgrade applications and data in 1 minute?

In other words, how to reduce Shadow IT and software TCO in enterprise?

We’ll see how an effective management and culture can reduce enterprise risk and cost, as well as improve users’ satisfaction and innovation.

But first of all, let’s look back on the shadow IT notion.

What’s Shadow IT?

To put it in a nutshell, Shadow IT is IT outside of IT. It’s when IT devices, software and services are outside of the ownership or control of the official IT departments in a company.
In May 2014, Gartner said: ” Shadow IT is growing and is an unstoppable force. Left unguided and controlled, it can destroy value. Most CIOs that don’t see much shadow IT in their organizations are not looking for it or are looking in the wrong place”
This issue seems largely unmanaged and even unacknowledged.

Why Shadow IT happens?

The main reason I see is that changes in the IT operating model, with ongoing increases in centralizing requirements, often result in a greater decision-making gap between end-users and IT departments. There is a gap in communication and understanding between those making IT purchasing decisions and the actual needs of users. Users need a greater say on purchasing.

That is where combining assets of Agility and DevOps can help improve these issues.

Agility : The first solution

For organisations to maintain a productive workforce, it’s important people feel their needs are catered for. Making decision makers aware of user requirements is key to identifying the right IT investment. To close the gap and to ensure the value from IT investments is realised, end-users need to have greater influence on the buying process.

That’s why, engaging with customers enables better understanding of their wants and needs early in the process of application development. With this process working effectively, the productivity of an organisation has the potential to be greatly improved, leading to better return on investment in IT solutions and better profits for the business overall.

As an illustration, a research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, suggests that agile firms grow revenue 37% faster and generate 30% higher profits than non-agile. It makes you want to try, doesn’t it?

DevOps: The second solution

DevOps can be both a culture and a deployment organization. In every case, the aim is to dismantle the traditional silos between software developers and IT operations. DevOps underlines the interdependence of software development and IT teams and helps an organization produce software and IT services more rapidly, with regular iterations.

Agile software development opens the way toward a continuous development cycle but it doesn’t mention the operations side. So whereas development is continuous, deployment can still be waterfall-oriented.

The Agile Manifesto emphasizes individuals and interactions over processes and tools. DevOps emphasizes collaboration and integration with automation of change, configuration and release processes.

They are several benefits of a DevOps approach including:

  • Faster delivery of features and boosted deployment frequency: being able to move quickly from committed code to the feature being available in the production environment
  • More stable operating environments
  • Lower failure rate:

As you can see, benefits of DevOps practices are clear. Teams that can deploy changes quickly and reliably are able to provide new features and improvements in response to users. With DevOps, both sysadmins, developers and end-users are happier!

How we do Agility and DevOps at Enalean

At Enalean, we are already convinced by the power of Agility and DevOps, as well as our customers who collaborate with us.

So, when working with our clients, we promote Agility notably in the Open RoadmapTM service we provided.

  • The client is a Product Owner. This means it is in charge of collecting all the needs of internal users.
  • Every 15 days>, we pick-up the top stories prioritized by the client.
  • After, developing the requested features, we hold interactive bi-weekly demonstrations with our clients’ teams. We immediately collect their feedback and suggestions of improvements.
  • We embrace continuous discussions, asking for feedback and real cases of usage.

Thus, Tuleap Technology is constantly evolving to meet clients’ needs.

In addition to the Agile bases above, we implement DevOps practices in delivering the Tuleap Enterprise technology:

  • High frequency stable releases: not only do we put the Minimum Viable Product right in the hands of the users with monthly releases but we all also provide near-weekly Tuleap Enterprise releases that integrate ongoing bug fixes. All this means we deliver new features faster -about twelve times a year- while other companies wait several months to release software updates. This is really meaningful and valuable for our clients.
  • Real-time development releases: every merged commit triggers a new development release. Our clients can test features before they are finished to get a look-and-feel of the way things are going and provide valuable feedback.
  • Deployment speed: we work hard to enable our clients to update their Tuleap platform in a one-minute process. We use cutting-edge technology such as Docker or Ansible for instance. Our clients don’t have to choose between new features and stability.
  • Increased Effectiveness: our DevOps process make Tuleap deployments and upgrades predictable and secure. This frees admin people from failures and hazardous conditions of maintenance.

IT Department benefits

Here are the benefits our clients report to us:

  • They buy development capacity, not licences
  • End-user empowerment is strongly increased: end-users feel more respected and involved in the decision making process- they get what they need!.
  • Decreaseof Total Cost of Ownership: there is no Capex cost (capital expenditure) and training costs are significantly reduced : as the Tuleap application is co-created with the end-users, it focuses on what they really need and has been step-by-step approved by the users.
  • This moves the IT Department from cost center to strategic investment partner

 

About the Author

How great is the challenge of creating economic value for a company with a libre software. I enjoy this! It encourages me to think business and communication in a disruptive way. I believe in the core value of FLOSS and agile spirit: open minded listening, transparency and co-creation. I'm Marketing Manager at Enalean.

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