It would be hard to miss the sheer volume of applications being thrust into the market on any day. Apps seem to have grown to the point where everything you do in life requires an app to support it. Add to that volume of code being pumped into every device that you switch on and you are seeing an explosion of software the likes of which we have never seen before. Oil might be the commodity that the media talks about the most, but frankly software is the commodity that drives innovation in our economy. Unlike the commodity oil, software is not found by exploration; instead it is created by a select group of people. The number of people who can create, manage and deploy software has a direct effect on its price and value. It therefore comes as no surprise that a crisis is looming.
For many people reading this blog, crisis may seem too strong a word – After all the oil crisis in 1973 left Americans waiting in line for gas, and as a child I remember the coal miners’ strike in the UK in the 70’s that let me spend Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at home. They were real crisis’s – crisis that everyone is talking about. The situation with software surely is not of that magnitude! Well tell that to an employee of Blockbuster, Borders or Tower Records. The inability of those companies to exploit software fundamentally destroyed their business. And increasingly it is affecting companies in other sectors ranging from manufacturing, to retail. Software is eating your lunch, and you don’t know it!
As software development pro’s we are perhaps the best placed to see the change. A change in our economy that has our friends, parents and even our dentist talking about their latest app, or how Groupon saved them money on a fantastic dinner. But unfortunately, though we see the change we seem unable to accept that this means our lives will have to change. We accept that we will have to use different technologies and programming models, but our jobs, the process that we follow, and how we collaborate with other practitioners will also have to change. For many Agile defines that change – describing a set of practices that will fundamentally improve our lives, allowing us to adapt to the unknown in a much more effective manner. Agile does provide a great set of practices that help teams build software just a little bit better, but does not provide guidance for radical change of the complete value chain for software. It does not equip our management with the tools necessary to manage the software assets inside and outside of their organization. Application Lifecycle Management does. It provides a management discipline to the practice of software delivery. But ALM needs to change in response to the crisis.
Perhaps the only other industry that has gone through such a transformation is the automobile. In the 70’s a fundamental change happened to the discipline of manufacturing. In response to changes in the market, the practices of Toyota made their business much more effective than those of their rivals. This led to Toyota becoming the poster child of the automotive industry, and Detroit having some rocky times that it has only just started to emerge from. The practices that allowed Toyota to succeed have been described as ‘Lean’. The focus on reducing waste, whilst increasing value with empowered workers supported by information and techniques drove a different manufacturing process, but also sparked a revolution in many industries. It is time that ALM adopted those same principles. It is time for Lean ALM.
Still interested in the whole idea of Lean ALM? Come to the webinar on May 31 and hear a more detailed description of what it means.
Lets get the dialogue going…