Archive for April, 2007

Are Offshoring and Outsourcing Different?

Monday, April 30th, 2007

An exchange of blog comments has found me and Bill in agreement yet again.  Management’s sole reason for outsourcing is to save cost.  Period.  (Or may I say “full stop” depending on which side of the Atlantic you are?).

However, outsourcing does not necessarily prevent co-location (outsourced staff can remain on your site), so in theory at least, using agile software development is possible.

But what about corporate allegiances?  Once they were part of your organisation.  Now outsourced staff, at some point post-contract (and it can take a while) have to go native and support the outsourcers corporate objectives – which include making money out of the client.  This doesn’t sound very compatible with creating mutual respect between business and IT and it especially doesn’t sound like an environment conducive to delivering a high quality solution that meets business needs.

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It’s The Enterprise, Stupid!

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Once again I find myself in total agreement with Bill Barr in that businesses want Agile Enterprise Architecture, not Agile Enterprise Architecture.  In other words, what the business cares about is having an agile enterprise, not whether you used an agile process to deliver.

That is not to say that agile processes have no merit.  It’s a bit like using PRINCE2*, for example as a project methodology.  It may help the project team, but looking back, no business cares about the how.  They are only interested in what you deliver.

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Tesco IT Maturity

Friday, April 20th, 2007

I like reading CIO interviews and this one with Colin Cobain was particularly interesting.

Tesco has its knockers, for example see www.tescopoly.org, but you have to admire its business model and its success.

It looks like IT has played a central role in this.

Two themes from the interview leapt out and punched me in the face.  (more…)

British Gas Migration Nightmare

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Lest anyone had forgotten how centrally important IT systems are to an enterprise then this story from the BBC website should serve as a good reminder.

Implementing a new mission critical system is never easy, especially if it involves a significant data migration.

I just hope that British Gas went for a Big Bang changeover.  If they did, then probably the mess will get mopped up quite quickly.  In fact the level of damage could have been worse for such a major exercise.

However, if this is the start of phased migration then there are many months of misery to come for the call centre people.

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Offshoring Business Processes

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Last year Blue Prism sponsored some research into off-shoring business processes, front office processes – contact centres.

The shocking (not) conclusion was that Young People Don’t Trust Offshoring.

Blue Prism cartoon

It’s very clear that customers do not like off-shored services so why do it?

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Offshoring Software Development

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

I read a lot of IT blogs and many of them bemoan the off-shoring of software development to India and other “low cost” locations.

I’ve seen very few successful off-shoring experiments.  At Blue Prism we do not off-shore any software development.  We have a very small team who produce 5 times the quantity of code that a much larger team could produce and it’s top quality too.

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How old is a “Legacy” application?

Monday, April 16th, 2007

What do we mean when we use the term “legacy” application?

Jason Stamper talks about ageing technologies and speculates that even old Java applications could often be considered legacy.

I think we should take a business focussed view of this and I suggest we should ask the following question.

If we re-evaluated, today, would we buy/build this application again?  If the answer is no, then it’s a legacy application.

I have more than a sneaky suspicion that asking the business this direct question would yield some uncomfortable answers.  In fact I would go so far as to suggest that by this definition, many business reps would consider a large number of applications to be “legacy” before they are even live.

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Buy vs Build

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

The old argument for buying packaged software, I was reminded by Alan Inglis, is to benefit from industry best practice.  In other words, to benefit from the software author’s experience of solving your problem for other organisations, the benefits of which they have (undoubtedly) built into the package.

The theory goes that you can standardise your back office and equalise your cost per transaction (or whatever the key measure is) with your competitors, then your organisational strategy becomes one of marketing, i.e. differentiate your products with better R & D, advertise them and sell them better, always secure that your cost of delivery/administration etc is no higher than your rivals’.

Hang on a minute?  That doesn’t sound very ambitious!  It also means your costs are no lower than your rivals…

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On WordPress, Akismet, and Spam

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Being new to the blogosphere and having taken various recommendations to go with WordPress (which I must say I am very happy with), I was not initially concerned about spam.

Following the recent receipt of two spam comments, I decided to enable Akismet.  In the last two days things have gone wild!  Akismet has captured nearly 200 spam comments across the two blogs that I run.

Whilst I am delighted that Akismet has intervened, I am nervous about enabling people to leave comments without moderation.  I have never refused to allow a genuine comment, positive or negative but I am trying to balance the benefits of allowing un-moderated comments versus the risk of getting spammed to death for those that get through the Akismet filter.  Any more experienced bloggers out there with any advice?

Another Fallout Between Business and IT?

Monday, April 9th, 2007

My second comment on Bill Barr’s most interesting blog concerns his post Applied IT vs. Computer Science/Technology.

Wow – where to start – this post covers so much ground!

I hope he is not living up to his claim to be putting out ideas 5 years ahead of their time when he describes the “ever widening gap between the Business and IT” and “the miserable job the majority of IT has done with respect to delivering value to the business”.  I thought the gap was closing and that enterprise IT people these days are much more business focussed.

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