After nearly 11 months, I finally published my book on <ALT+F>. The book kept me away from blogging for quite some time, but now that it's finished I've got a bit more time to blog.
I'd like to restart my blogging by introducing <ALT+F>. This is a framework that provides Agile and Lean leaders with a tool to help the organisations they work for streamline their IT Operations. How does it do that?
The framework follows the MAPE lifecycle, i.e. a cycle composed of the following phases:
In the Measure phase, the framework implementors use the <ALT+F> templates to measure IT Operations performance. This is finally represented by the PILS (Productivity of IT Live Systems) formula.
There are quite few acronyms in the framework in order to make it easier to express complex concepts with symbols, very much like math symbols are used in formulae.
Let's analyse each one of the PILS formula components:
- PBV. This represents the Perceived Business Value, i.e. the revenue that the business perceives IT live systems generate for an organisation. For some IT systems, it's easy to determine the revenue they generate (e.g. a trading application). For others, typically service-like systems, it's more difficult. I call the first category direct revenue-generating systems and the second service-like systems. To attribute an estimated revenue generated by service-like systems, it's necessary to identify which revenue-generating systems they support, then calculate the importance of service-like systems for the existence of direct revenue-generating systems and calculate the revenue as the resulting percentage.
- BVCP. This is the Business Value of a CTB project. In my book I divide IT projects into two main categories:
- CTB (Change The Business). These are projects thought to be game changers and revenue generators.
- MTB (Maintain The Business). These are maintainance projects, e.g. activities on Legacy systems, Evergreening Projects, Production bugs or small enhancements
- CPB. Cost of Production bugs.
- CEP. Cost of Evergreening projects.
- COLS. Cost of Legacy Systems.
- KTLO. Keep The Lights On (or infrastructure costs)
The PILS formula provides a single figure that represents the profitability of IT live systems. Broadly speaking, this is given by the revenue generated by IT systems minus legacy systems costs (by Legacy System I mean any IT system that has been in production long enough to pass its warranty period).
Once the PILS is calculated, the framework implementors analyse each of the component's figures and the PILS value itself and ask the following question: is there a performance problem with IT Operations?
If there isn't, then they can stop, as this means that the organisation is already working at its best. However, <ALT+F> becomes useful once performance issues have been identified.
In this case, we enter the Adapt and Plan phases of the MAPE lifecycle, by identifying how to resolve the performance issues, setting optimal operational targets and planning a transformation strategy that uses Agile and Lean methodologies to streamline IT operations.
The transformation strategy should touch every level of the organisation, from business management to IT development and the adoption of Agile and Lean practices help achieve that on two levels:
- Agile helps a cultural transformation at all levels of the organisation, leading people to think differently at the way they do business.
- Lean methodologies help the execution side of IT organisation, by providing IT leaders and developers with a tool that streamlines the implementation of business requirements and that eliminates waste.
The framework then enters the Execution phase of the MAPE lifecycle, where the transformation strategy is actually executed. After the transformation strategy has been executed for some time, <ALT+F> implementors should calculate PILS again and answer the following questions:
- Has the organisation improved its IT Operations performance?
- Has the organisation achieved the optimal targets set during the Adapt and Plan phases?
- If not, what are the gaps to reach operational excellence and best-in-class status?
Especially in the third case, the gap between actual and optimal IT Operations performance should provide the foundations for a Continuous Improvement culture, where the MAPE lifecycle and the <ALT+F> measurement templates are used again and again until the organisation reaches operational excellence.
In subsequent series of this article, I'll touch more in detail on the various PILS formula components, CTB vs MTB projects and Agile contracting and budgeting.
In the book, the <ALT+F> framework is presented through a novel, where a fictitious company is experiencing performance issues and the Head of IT, Neth, calls a friend of his, Sharon, to help him resolve them.
I hope you'll enjoy the book and if you do get a copy, I'd love to hear your feedback.