During today’s webinar about ALM, I took great pains to talk about what constitutes a real strategy for software innovation, and what an imitation strategy looks like. Many of the questions we receive at Cutter, such as, “What scaled Agile approach should we pursue?” are impossible to answer without a strategy to guide these sorts of decisions. Before talking about scaled Agile, or whatever the topic du jour is, we first must backtrack into a discussion of the strategic imperatives behind these questions — assuming anyone knows what those imperatives are. One of the hardest aspects to understand about strategy, either for ALM or anything else, is that it’s not written on stone tablets. Strategy is made Read more
Posts Tagged 'ALM'
If you’ve been following my series of posts about ALM, you know that the Lean concept of flow is one of ALM’s two central pillars. (The other is alignment, an indicator of the likelihood that the software organization is delivering value.) Whenever I talk about anything related to Lean, I’m always a little nervous. People misinterpret Lean frequently, with highly destructive consequences, so putting a Lean frame around ALM is almost asking for trouble. The most frequent distortion of Lean that I’ve seen in software development is the following syllogism: Lean tells us that we should reduce waste. Unused capacity is a form of waste. Therefore, we should maximize the utilization of our capacity. To Read more
[For some related posts about application lifecycle management, click here and here. For my video series on ALM, click here.] Software teams are usually very responsive either to their own organization or the customer; it’s harder to find a team that is good at responding to cues from both. For example, I’ve known teams within corporate IT that are so enmeshed with their customer that the business, for all practical purposes, manages and runs them. I’ve also seen teams in software companies that are primed to respond every time an executive clears her throat, but far less responsive to customer issues. In part, these behaviors are the result of corporate culture: for example, in vertically-oriented Read more
Say that you had a recurring problem with your car. Every time you stalled, the radio was playing. While there might be other contributing factors, such as running the air conditioning, or recharging your phone through the car, you’d be inclined to think that the radio is a major contributing factor. The capacity of the car’s electrical system might be the ultimate culprit, but you’d also be suspicious that the radio is drawing far too much power, all by itself. In 100% of the application lifecycle management (ALM) assessments that I’ve done for clients, requirements are one of the major contributing factors to ALM problems. (If you want to know the assumptions that go into Read more
Recently, I published a five-part series of videos about application lifecycle management (ALM), summarizing a lot of what I’ve learned about the subject. Probably the two most important points are the following: ALM is a strategy, not a framework, a methodology, or a bunch of tools. Software innovators, from IT departments to Silicon Valley start-ups, need to overcome their confusion over what a strategy really is. The videos already make the arguments behind these two points, so I won’t repeat them here. Instead, I’ll focus on a practical issue, knowing the difference between a real strategy and an imitation of one. Many software companies define their strategy as a series of initiatives. Some representative examples Read more
[Editor’s note: Tom Grant’s 5-part video series on ALM is a great intro to the subject. Start with part 1 – “ALM – A Strategy for Successful Software Innovation.”] Application lifecycle management (ALM) has had a troubled history. Here’s the story so far: Under the banner of ALM, software professionals have often focused too much on the “M” part of that term, emphasizing centralized management, a means to an end, over the actual end goal, greater capability to deliver software value. ALM has tilted far too much in the direction of tools strategy, as if the only ALM strategy worth talking about is solely focused on tools. (The ALM tools vendors have some culpability for that Read more
It is my profound pleasure to welcome Sue McKinney and Tom Grant to the Cutter family and to the Agile practice. I am really excited about the expertise they bring to the practice and the opportunity to work with them in person. I first met Sue some five or six years ago in an APLN conference in which she presented her experience teaching the IBM elephant to dance to the rhythm of Agile. My overarching impression from the presentation was “Wow, this lady has fire in her belly!” This impression of mine grew stronger and stronger over the years as I became more familiar with her large scale transformative work at both IBM and Pitney Read more