iqnite South Africa 2011
Earlier this year Allan Rees, a colleague and friend, and I submitted a proposal to iqnite to present at their 2011 conference in South Africa. The iqnite conferences focus on software quality; check out this years programme here.
What follows is the proposal we submitted to iqnite.
Assuring Value from Quality Initiatives
Traditional project management targets Quality, Cost and Time. Under perfect circumstances, two of these project dimensions would be fixed and the third adjusted in order to deliver an agreed body of work.
In software development Quality is a subjective attribute that stipulates an output level that is at least what the customer expects, and which preferably superior to a competitor. To achieve this desired level of quality, governance, known as Quality Assurance (QA), is put in place in an attempt to prevent defects. QA is coupled with Quality Control (QC), which is conducted to ensure that software defects are detected and remedied before they can affect the customer.
Despite these processes and controls numerous IT projects still fail to deliver adequately to business. It is our belief that in today’s environment of scarce resources and narrow windows of opportunity a focus on Quality, Time and Cost is no longer sufficient. The Project Management Triangle must be supplemented to include two additional dimensions, being Benefit and Risk.
Businesses must selectively apply their scarce resources to satisfy customers, and by extension increase shareholder value. It is crucial that each IT initiative optimise the use of these scarce resources to deliver tangible business benefit.
Even with a focus on benefit, projects remain under threat. Business and IT seldom agree on a common language with which to communicate ideas. The resulting ambiguity creates havoc during the requirements gathering stage of a project and often leads to incorrectly stated and misunderstood business requirements.
When a project delivers low business benefit, either through poor strategic alignment or misunderstood requirements, it is technically a failure, even if the delivered product met all quality requirements. The bottom line is that scarce resources have been wasted, and opportunities squandered.
In order to drive success it is important to start looking beyond quality, time and cost. Strategic decision makers must drive IT initiatives. Any investment in IT must be strongly aligned with the overall goals of the corporation. The core focus of any program of work must be delivery of business value, to the extent that quality can be sacrificed, to a degree, in order to achieve a stated business objective given the limited amount of resources.
We will present the merits of Business Architecture as a discipline that drives the strategic alignment of Business and IT, prioritises the IT project portfolio and formulates a common language with which to engage all stakeholders.
Business Architecture is underpinned by 4 key models, being:
• The Value Map;
• The Benefits Dependency Network (BDN);
• The Capability Model, and;
• The Heat Map.
Business value is assessed by measuring how well an IT initiative delivers in terms of one or more business drivers and objectives. The stated company strategy is distilled into a Value Map and a Benefits Dependency Network. These models form the lens through which existing and planned initiatives will be scrutinised.
Using the Capability Model we build a blueprint business. This blueprint identifies WHAT the business does to deliver products and services to its customers. Making the blueprint visible to all stakeholders sets the stage for the adoption of an unambiguous language that is used to clearly state any problem, to express any requirement, or to identify any opportunity.
The Heat Map allows us to focus our Benefit lens on our business blueprint to identify high-value capabilities that are performing poorly. Using this view, a project portfolio can be objectively prioritised into a roadmap.
The discipline of Business Architecture focuses us on undertaking the right project at the right time. This supplements the pursuit of Quality, which ensures that the projects on our roadmap are built right.
Through the practice of Business Architecture we can measurably justify the application of our scarce resources, objectively evaluate and priorities IT initiatives and drive strong alignment of Business and IT.
As can be expected, in constructing our presentation we found that we needed to make some changes to the delivery content. We have substituted value streams for the value map. The value stream model ties in quite nicely with the capability model, and we believe adds real value to the business architecture toolbox.
If you have the time, are in Johannesburg and can afford the time away from the office, why not join us at the conference? It is being held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosebank on the 19th October 2011. The conference opens at 09h00.
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