Why Agile is not a methodology to build IT Strategy but for software development

Why Agile is not a methodology to build IT Strategy

This is a breakout from Deliver Business Value with IT (the Book) that you can find as well as (Actionable Story Boards) @ https://flevy.com/seller/mpalmgre/ref=mpalmgre that is flick out the slide set on your ipad and start to share with your CIO, Executives and Board.

Agile http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_management , http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2012/06/01/ge-gets-agile/ is an excellent methodology to ensure project management as we develop software (full stop).

Yet I have over the last years encountered a number of CIO’s that tried to apply Agile to build the IT Strategy and run the IT department ( see also https://deliverbusinessvaluewithit.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/the-very-reason-why-most-it-strategies-fail-and-miserably/ ). Agile is an excellent tool to ensure capability delivery and effective project management and product delivery with the frame of software development.

Where I do agree with the principles of a more “adaptive” approach to IT Strategy development spelled out in http://deloitte.wsj.com/cio/2012/05/24/an-agile-approach-to-it-strategy/ I believe it is important to keep the methodologies apart.

One examples @ http://cioevent.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/agile-methodologies-live-cioevent/

However organizations are struggling to implement Agile effectively when they consider the changing nature of IT and business engagement within Agile, their current sourcing strategies, mind set shift required within Agile, internal financial model built around large business cases and assumption model and challenges in adapting Agile to large scale project delivery across an enterprise.

Extract from my new book Deliver Business Value with IT! – Design, Build and Run Effective IT Strategy execution to business needs. @ https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/290604 and soon also on apple store, Amazon,  Barnes and Noble.

“Value Innovation, that is Differentiation and Cost!

If apple inc is one of the highest valued business it is because the deliver best in class technology but above all due to the fact that they deliver a superior customer experince at the right cost to value.

Michael Porter (http://hbr.org/2008/01/the-five-competitive-forces-that-shape-strategy/ar/1 ) identified competitive advantage by differentiation or cost. The value equation norm in the industrial world has since become differentiation and cost . The IT department as provider of services can no longer focus on one or the other. Standardisation both from a service and process perspective is a must. Each business is unique but the processes used to deliver to business objectives are to 80% the same across sectors. Within manufacturing standardisation is key, the IT department should move down the same path. If Salesforce.com or box.net, Oracle and SAP can deliver cross industry and sector we need to define the amount of “tailor made” that we are ready to pay for and how “Agile” do we need to be? To manufacture a product or build a building we specify the description to the needs of the client, deliver a blue print and produce / build. Changes in the production are costly, yet this is the very basis for “Agile” reason why most IT Contractors would not accept a set cost frame for a contract where the blue print was not defined well enough to produce to the needs of the client in the first place (moving target dilemma).

The bottom line is that we need to rapidly be able to understand modelise and deliver to the needs of the business and business objectives. If standardised solutions cover 80 % of the needs that would most likely be enough.

To systematically capture (modelise) unique “tailored” business processes in a modelisation tool that are not industrialised is not only a waste of time but of enterprise resources (unless this would be required by the audit team)


A coherent approach would be to identify business processes that support activities that could be industrialied with IT when needed and modelised if we cannot find a standardised solution off the shelf.


Google, box.com, Salesforce and other hosted providers dispose of resources that most IT departments could only dream of to address specific subjects such as mail, document storage, CRM. Why reinvent the wheel when we can extrapolate on hundreds of manyears of cumulated knowledge (not to mention budgets funded by IPO’s) all in the name of security?


Even my tailor (one of the finest in Paris) has moved forward to a model of “tailor made” to half custom made where he has realised that a person that does not know what he needed in the first place will systematically be disappointed and want something better as the product is delivered (even if it corresponds to what the client asked for). The situation is comparable to that of most IT departments and one of the reasons why an internal client can refuse to sign off the delivery of an application because the colour of beige is not right where he most likely know that the definition did not correspond to the needs of the business in the first place and certainly less so 18 or 36 months (processes modelled and defined by a consultant, translated and programmed) down the road.

The CIO and IT department needs to support the run of the current business activities as well as new emerging initiatives that will eventually form the business strategy. The cloud (internal or external) would be particularly well placed to develop new services that can then be institutionalised as the success of the initiative is confirmed.

The CIO and IT Department that sit around and wait for the Business Strategy to be formalised to build an IT strategy and vision might not make the 18 months magic mark. The IT Bottom line is that the IT Strategy should support business objectives, with new technology as needed as the IT department delivers effective IT Services and innovative technology solutions to improve competitiveness, demonstrated and articulated.”

( see also https://deliverbusinessvaluewithit.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/if-your-it-strategy-execution-looks-like-this-i-would-invite-you-to-discover-my-new-book-deliver-business-value-with-it-design-build-and-run-effective-it-strategy-execution-to-business-needs-ht/  )


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