With Branndon Stewart, director of product marketing for Borland Software Corp., a provider of application lifecycle management solutions.
Question: According to your research, 87% of respondents said their organizations had been ineffective or only somewhat effective in integrating their IT management and governance processes with their systems for managing application development. Why have companies found it so difficult to integrate these two areas, which are seemingly so closely related?
Stewart: Application development in general tends to be a very siloed process. Companies want to make the delivery of software a more predictable process so they spend a great deal of budget on getting ideas from the business to define the project and then taking those ideas to the project manager, who is responsible for getting the development team to deliver the software. IT management and governance is also not yet a mature process. What we see over and over again is companies looking at new investments, but not in the context of their existing investments. So you have the project manager trying to bridge the gap between two or more immature processes. Most vendors have also focused either on IT governance or on application development. Few vendors have tried to address both.
Question: What are some ways that companies can begin taking a more holistic approach to IT management and governance?
Stewart: We recommend taking a pure portfolio management approach, where companies don't just look at new investments but at existing investments as well. For a lot of companies, governance ends when an investment decision is made and project management picks it up and takes it to the software development team. These should really be parallel processes. If you are taking assessments and making adjustments at a portfolio level instead of a project level, it increases visibility across the organization and results in better decision making. We also encourage companies to really figure out their processes and go through a process optimization effort, then find the technology that can accommodate the way they do business today. And it shouldn't just be about the tools; people need to be part of the processes as well.
Question: Most respondents said their organizations had a formal launch process for new projects, yet far fewer of them said their organizations effectively used a project plan for managing projects or assessed the business impact of completed projects. What are some ways companies can pay more attention to execution and follow-through?
Stewart: In many cases, development projects get siloed for a while, and then they don't deliver any value upfront. So we encourage companies to implement a standard development methodology like CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) or the Scrum method. They make development more of a collaborative process with the business. It's also important to be able to accommodate people other than project managers and make it easy for them to submit feedback or report on the status of a project, no matter what their project management expertise.
Establish goals not just for the new parts of your portfolio, but for the existing parts as well. Make sure that governance doesn't end with the investment decision. Make execution a part of the governance process, and assess the returns to make sure the value was delivered as promised.
This 3 Questions originally appeared in a weekly report from IT Business Channel.