Uncharted Waters

August 31, 2015  10:20 AM

IT department could vanish from organizations forever?

Smita Mishra Smita Mishra Profile: Smita Mishra

Yesterday I came across an article that was called – IT doesn’t matter; written by Nicholas Carr around 2003 (almost 12 years old). It was published in Harvard Business Review. Back then, he was ridiculed for the thought, which now seems to be proving right and apt in the current business situation.

Start-ups are coming up in a big way and lot of new businesses are either generated or driven by or driven through these. And looking closely at quite a few of them , one can see that most employees use all sorts of tools, apps, networks, devices – however, there is no central IT team .



They store their work on cloud. The tools are used on SaaS model. The hardware is supported by virtualization and IaaS. And in this scenario, as observed, – there are frequent interactions between developers and business teams, they are developing for. Changes are responded to quickly since the technology and platform are already live on cloud. The work is managed in small agile sprints and continuously and iteratively developed, leaving less space for any delay due to communication or technology. Thus, there are low turnarounds for the results to get delivered and the feedback is quite instant too.

For all practical purposes, with these scenarios – why not have the developers work directly with the business team and be a function of business team instead of being a separate department. This will help developers get a hang of everyday changes and updates. So, when there is work – the developers respond to their part of work immediately, instead of the work being officially given away from business team to IT team and then taken further from there adding a lot of work and delay that’s not adding value to the final product and is costing too.

Though there are times, there is a need for central IT teams. Often for reasons like compliance to IT policies, or governance or overseeing the work, the IT work is done by a separate department. How would it be if the business teams they are aligned to give the required oversight. What else does IT team do?

In an organization, the IT department is typically involved in doing these major activities

  1. IT Support and helpdesk – supporting the teams with device and software support. With most of the organizations moving towards BYOD policy, the need for IT support may reduce drastically. Even if the organization provides devices, more often they let employees choose their devices, which also reduces the need for support, since most people are pretty comfortable with the machines / devices they use and there is ample support available from the manufacturers and resellers or the user support groups. Most of the software are SaaS model and come with support services. Also – having your own machine puts more part of support, maintenance and upgrade of the machines / software on the employees themselves.
  2. Building the internal applications for the business team and organization in general – Example ERP systems, Payroll, HR systems, Team communications , social engagement within teams – Business teams now are more and more considering buying SaaS products and they are being allowed to take their calls based on their needs instead of a different IT team trying build or buy for them.
  3. Organization’s customer facing apps – As per Gartner, over the last 10 years, 50% of IT spend on applications is being managed directly by the business teams, bypassing IT. That’s in the large companies. In the small companies, it is 100%. Business teams are taking lead in building / buying / outsourcing such customer facing apps and are owning the process. They are directly engaging with the vendors, partners and agencies that offer the services they are looking for and the software, thus by-passing the IT . The business teams are also leveraging their expertise to buy Commercial Off the Shelf products or software in SaaS model.
  4. Partner apps –– Business partners and Mergers and acquisitions are situations where teams may not have complete choice of the technology they are suggested to use in future and may need more support. However, with more and more applications being COTS /SaaS – and on cloud, integrating with newer applications becomes a joint exercise between the business teams and the tool support teams. However, there shall exist some specialized roles that shall take care of such IT integrations due to M&A.
  5. The implementation and use of the applications need operational support from DBAs , system admins etc. However, with the rise of Devops, and the cloud, the internal / customer facing / business partners apps are all being deployed, managed and supported by developers who built the applications (software), thus reducing the need of external IT team supporting the operations. In cases like above, where there are integrations of various applications to be done –Devops is an upcoming model to support operations.


What we are seeing is not drop in the functions of IT, needed, but most of it going back to the business teams. Even the vendor management or managing outsourcing partners is increasingly becoming the function of business teams.

There is one part of IT team that does risk assessment and works as Disaster Recovery & Backup team that evaluates various aspects and identifies best possible backup locations for keeping the operations on, in case of emergencies where primary locations are to be shut down. This is something that may take even more important role in the new age of needing 100% uptime and business critical applications. But the work could be limited to ensuring connectivities to all the offices, cloud and SaaS applications that are needed and are sufficient to operate an entire new setup. Hence, though the need is critical and much needed the work shall be limited and hence not have huge teams and may be more automated.

Impacts :

With the kind of restructuring foreseen, Organizations are shifting in the IT skills they are hiring for. With most infrastructure migrating off-premise to third party clouds and applications being COTS or software in SaaS model, the developers will need less of the “coding” skills and more of business understanding and business analysis, so they can deliver value to the business teams, in automation and streamlining of the processes.

Another area that shall get impacted heavily is outsourcing , specially off-shoring, majorly because of the time zones and the distance. Technologies have evolved and quite a few help but it’s difficult to work alongside a business team from a distance, especially in their timezones.

Though this kind of setup will take some time to be mainstream, industry is already looking at alternatives to the factory mode of working where the work is packaged and sent offshore to be worked upon and delivered later someday. In the current setup, it could be difficult, for the IT work to be a function of business teams. One of the alternate options to offshoring could be “Cloud ” sourcing.

Business teams are beginning to play more active role in automation of business processes and hence lot of skill transfers as they try to do so.

August 31, 2015  8:11 AM

Lean Development Flow

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

There are quite a few ways to figure out how long a task I am working will take. Some people use estimates, some people abandon estimates all together and just do the work, and some use an idea that Matt calls Yesterdays Weather where we base next month on what we have been able to complete in the past.

Right now, I use a mixture of those techniques to figure out what I can get done from month to month. For the most part, that has been working well. It is definitely early in my independent career to call this a trend, but I have not missed a deadline yet.

The problem is, my flow is really wacky.

Continued »

August 28, 2015  3:52 PM

A Neat Little Trick To Encourage New Speakers

Michael Larsen Michael Larsen Profile: Michael Larsen

Yes, the title is cheesy, but it is not click-bait, I really do think I have an idea to encourage new speakers, new talks and new avenues of exploration and experimentation. The added benefit, it often involves food or, at the bare minimum, hot or cold liquid.

Over the past few years, I have traveled to and participated in a variety of conferences covering a variety of subjects. In almost all of them I’ve been able to participate in an event that goes by different names, but meets the same purpose. Lean Coffee(tm) was started by Jim Benson and Jeremy Lightsmith as a way to discuss Lean business techniques without having to make a big structured bureaucracy. The idea is that the group doesn’t rely on anything or anyone, just people showing up and deciding what matters to them.

Sticky notes set up as a Personal Kanban board.

A simple Lean Coffee Personal Kanban board.

Continued »

August 24, 2015  9:19 AM

The Disappearance Of Stack Ranking

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

No one really likes performance reviews. They are uncomfortable for managers and usually disappointing for the employees getting reviewed. If you work at Accenture, then you recently got lucky.

This is probably more of an experiment at this point. Accenture is trying this out to see how they can manage promotions, reviews, and management without formal review. My guess is that they will be successful, they aren’t the first to try this out. There are plenty of studies pointing to data that says performance reviews aren’t all that useful. But, I think their success will hinge on abandoning other forms of snake oil management at the same time.

Continued »

August 19, 2015  9:52 AM

The Present of Work

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser


In 1969, the lead engineers at Boeing were busy on the future, designing the 2707. They left competing for today to a separate team, what Maciej Ceglowski called the “B-Team“, on a little project called the 747. The 747 inspired everything that came after it, while the 2707 is a footnote, a prototype that never got off the ground.

That’s sort of how I feel about the #FutureOfWork crowd.

My experience with #FutureOfWork begins in Toronto, Canada, last summer, when I saw an advertisement for a (mumble company) futurist, telling us that in the future we would be able to speak computer programs into existence. Or maybe it was ‘think’, or, perhaps, predictive analysis would generate the program before we could ask for it. I’m not 100% sure.

Sometimes I wish the futurists, especially the #FutureOfWork crowd, would leave those of us doing the work alone to invent it ourselves.

And that’s what I’d like to talk about today. Not a grand vision of how things might be, but the changes I see actually happening in the world today, and what that might mean for us.
Continued »

August 17, 2015  1:33 PM

Managing Your Job

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

Amazon made the news yesterday in a way that most companies don’t dream about. I’ll save you a little, probably enraging time. The article is a detailed description of the culture fostered across what seems like all departments at Amazon. There are quotes from Jeff Bezos that describe an ambitious company striving to do very big things. They really aren’t all that different from any other tech CEO that wants more than anything to be successful.

Combine that with quotes from former employees (named, not anonymous) about people getting poor performance reviews immediately after returning back to work from a bout of cancer treatment,  people working anything less than 80 hours a week being thought of as sub-par and not trying hard enough, and regularly seeing employees have breakdowns at their desk.

Employees are completely replaceable in companies that foster cultures like this. It is a sort of Taylor-istic nightmare where managers think employees must be controlled and manipulated to succeed.

Continued »

August 14, 2015  11:58 AM

Taking the Multi-Task Myth to Task

Michael Larsen Michael Larsen Profile: Michael Larsen

Over the years I have had a love/hate relationship with RescueTime. I love it because it tells me what I do while I am online. I hate it for the same reason. When I scan my weekly or monthly log, a common reaction is “Ugh! Really? I spent [x] hours this month on that web page?!” I really shouldn’t be surprised.

I’m not talking about the hard work of work, but instead those breaks we take, here and there, a “sugar pill” to give us a smile, or think about something else for a change. That’s OK. The danger is when we look back and find the sugar pill is too large a percentage of our time … if we look at all.

So I decided to bring back the idea of “punching the clock”, the way I did for my jobs of yesteryear. The only person that tracks this is me, and the only person that knows if I am actually keeping true to my word is me.



Continued »

August 11, 2015  9:39 AM

Show, Don’t Tell

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

I remember watching Steve Jobs, live, when he announced the iPad. I was enthralled, and boy, did I want one. It was as if Steve cast a spell on his viewers to make them fall in love with the product – a glamour of sorts. How did he do it? I’ve examined the speech, and noticed something about some of the words he used.

Continued »

August 10, 2015  11:38 AM

Being Diplomatic: You Catch More Bees With Honey

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

Last week, I spent 7 days in Grand Rapids Michigan hanging out with friends and attending the best two conferences in software testing — TestRetreat, and CAST. It was a great week and I enjoyed meeting new people and seeing old friends, but by the last day I was ready to sleep in my own bed.

Matt and I had decided to head to the airport around 4 to get there early and avoid last minute stress. We both got notifications that our flights had been delayed, but went anyway, just in case the time got bumped back to the original. That has happened more than once.

Things got complicated once I got to the ticket booth.

Continued »

July 30, 2015  11:46 PM

Changing landscape of testing business: Emerging business drivers

Smita Mishra Smita Mishra Profile: Smita Mishra

Somewhere in the last century, organizations began to slice off testing from the rest of software delivery, packaging it as a “process” that could be outsourced. Today, I see this changing even more, and faster, and I’d like to cover five specific areas of change: Culture, emerging business models, technology, emerging markets, and the economics of diversity. Continued »

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