Last Thursday we had a fascinating discussion with Suresh Bala, the head of Application Management at Wipro, Diego LoGiudice of Forrester, and Dr. Bill Curtis, the Director of the Consortium for IT Software Quality. Diego presented the latest trends in IT organizations in reference to splitting their activities and applications into systems of engagement and systems of record. This has been the Forrester view on IT, or what they call Business Technology (BT), for some time now. The systems of engagement being the fast-moving, often mobile-based, applications that are meant to disrupt competition and engage the customer in new ways. The systems of record being the traditional backbone IT systems that manage the core enterprise data and business processes.
Suresh Bala described how Wipro closely manages the software product in order to improve short- and mid-term agility on behalf of their clients. Suresh described an impressive system of tools that underlie their own Agile processes, while proactively managing technical debt. He also presented a pretty advanced scorecard, called AppInsight that they use in order to track how the applications under Wipro management are doing from a health and robustness standpoint.
Then, Bill Curtis took us to the conclusion by describing the metrics being standardized by CISQ, and how these measures can be used to manage the evolution of software, and to provide standard terms for software quality in application services contracts.
We had a number of questions in this webinar and of course we ran out of time. Our sincerest apologies for that – this seems to be happening to us more and more. We don’t want to schedule 90-minute webinars, though two thirds of you stayed 15 minutes past the 60 minutes for some of the Q&A. But, here we are again, completing the unanswered Q&A in a blog post. As always, if any of you want to get into a more detailed discussion on any of these points, please contact us and we’ll be happy to talk to you. Here we go:
1. As business partners are an important component of the cross-functional team, they also need to be trained- which is probably equally difficult?
This is an important point to consider in a number of ways. In terms of Agile, of course the business partners have to get involved and commit their time and resources to work more closely with the IT team. This requires training and commitment. Once you start thinking more broadly, into organizational agility issues, the business partner has to get a better understanding of technical debt and its impact on business productivity. Regardless of methodology, we see this as a major blocker to IT’s ability to build responsiveness over time.
2. How do you increase velocity on an Agile project when members of the team are also on other projects within our organization that are using waterfall?
There are many organizations that are in transition to Agile, with team members working on multiple projects. You can take one of two approaches – (1) to transition individuals to work on only one project at a time or (2) organize your waterfall schedules around the Agile sprints. Interestingly, we found that the projects that product the best quality tend to be those with a mix of development methods, but that’s a topic for a later post. From a quality control and technical debt standpoint, these mixed projects are the most challenging, because they typically involve the broadest technology scope, and have the most complex legacy components.
3. Is there a way to realize CISQ standard quality measures for small IT departments also?
The easiest way to follow the CISQ standard quality measures is to use a software measurement platform that adheres to these standards. CAST has been following the standard development very closely and our product team is committed to supporting all the standard CISQ rules and metrics. Smaller organizations will probably go with off the shelf capabilities, such as those provided by CAST. Larger IT shops might invest their own resources to build CISQ-compliant measurement systems from scratch, since they may be able to afford the additional expense of building and maintaining their own.
4. Does CAST support the quality of existing legacy applications, where you need to make enhancements using agile methodology?
The situation of trying to apply Agile to projects that enhance existing legacy applications is very common, and it’s precisely in CAST’s sweetspot. CAST is geared to automating analysis of large, complex applications, generating multiple snapshots that show where things changed and what new issues might have been introduced. CAST’s risk indices are incisively precise in showing architects and developers how their enhancements are introducing potential flaws, or misusing architectural constructs. For any organization doing Agile on top of complex legacy systems, something like CAST is a must.
5. How does CAST AIP quantify the technical debt present in an application?
This is a question we dealt with in our last webinar where we did a deep dive on technical debt. In a nutshell, technical debt is a measure of the effort it takes to improve the health of an application to make it reasonable to work with. That effort is measured by looking at the number of technical debt issues discovered through an analysis of the source code. A small portion of those issues is included in a calculation of the man hours that it would take to fix. First the calculations are made, and then it’s negotiated between various business or technology stakeholders.
This concludes our answers to the questions we did not manage to address in the 15 minutes we stayed on past the hour. We could post the answers to some of the Q&A that took place during the webinar, but that’s also in the recording. Feel free to sign up. Also, please send us comments and let us know if this webinar was of interest, and what else you would like to see on these topics.