Innovation and mindset can take a while to evolve. It was the case with social media, wireless communications and the Internet of Things.
Software delivery is a good example of a concept that’s ready to stand on its own. As software becomes more integral to companies and to society at large, the way it’s designed, built and distributed has evolved. Today, the delivery process is far more sophisticated than it used to be, with more resources in the mix and more moving parts. After years of looking at aspects of the software delivery process as separate pieces, people are thinking differently about how all the pieces fit together.
That change in thinking is putting momentum behind the creation of a new IT category called software delivery management (SDM). SDM pulls together under one umbrella all the teams, tools, information sources and processes that relate to the delivery of software. It aims to eliminate inefficiencies that have cropped up along the way and help create a more value-driven process, aligning organizations’ resources toward a common set of goals.
The Road to SDM
For decades people divided IT into two basic camps: hardware and software. The categories were analyzed largely in terms of output. Experts tracked how many computer boxes a big integrated manufacturer such as IBM or Digital Equipment Corp. made, or how many software disks Microsoft spun off its production lines. Companies had their own methods of getting products out the door. Management techniques such as TQM helped guide these processes, but little outside attention was paid to specific steps companies took along the way.
All of this changed as software itself started to evolve. The internet, smartphones and more versatile operating systems opened up the software market to everybody. Software producers (manufacturers and individual companies alike) spent a lot of cycles working to perfect aspects of the software delivery process. Companies created teams to research, scope, develop, engineer, produce, integrate, test, market and sell software apps. They applied a variety of tools to accomplish specific tasks and implemented processes such as continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) to help streamline the engineering functions.
These advancements brought software to where it is today—companies are delivering apps quickly and updating them often. Operations teams are collaborating with developers, and organizations are doing their best to anticipate customer needs and institute quality control mechanisms. Software is achieving things never thought possible.
Stashed in Silos
But the delivery process isn’t perfect. Too often, pieces are separated from each other. Tools don’t work together. Teams don’t talk to each other enough. Information is stashed in silos that one side of the organization isn’t sharing with another. Data that does get shared hasn’t been updated.
Disconnects like these cause ripple effects throughout the organization. Projects get delayed; apps get delivered with bugs and/or vulnerabilities; developers find themselves overworked, restarting initiatives because they didn’t have the information they needed to do it right the first time. Executives get frustrated that teams aren’t delivering on their goals.
The disconnects can’t really be blamed on a particular team, tool or misplaced plan. They’re the fault of the overall process itself. A development team might be doing a great job with a top-quality tool and a well-thought-out plan. But if the product development group supplied developers with out-of-date information and a testing tool doesn’t integrate with a tracking database, the project will run into problems.
All Processes Connected
What’s needed is a new category that looks at software delivery from a holistic vantage point. Everything connects with everything. SDM provides those connections. It outlines a set of pillars to unify data, insights, processes and functions—aligning organizations around a common set of goals.
In upcoming blogs, we’ll look more closely at how SDM works, what kinds of benefits it can provide and how it can generate true business value for an organization.