Big Iron Software, Part 2

The Goals of Manufacturing:

  • Shareholders: To cast the vision for market share gains
  • CEO: To lead the corporation to the desired market share and revenue
  • COO: To operationally design, deliver, support and evolve the portfolio
  • CFO: To forecast and guide investment and return ratios
  • CMO: To market and sell the portfolio to existing and new customers
  • CIO: To manage corporate information assets internally and externally
  • CSO: To protect the operations and intellectual property of the corporation

Question: Who above should know that delivering software is completely different from delivering a car, truck, tractor, grader or directional drill?

Answer: Everyone. From the topmost Executives to the janitor and back up again.

Reason: The economic, organizational and software delivery models necessary for cadenced, iterative unbroken-flow software delivery requires something new of a manufacturing organization than has previously been experienced with big iron assembly lines. How the teams interact, what they deliver, how and when they deliver, inclusive of moving from cost accounting to throughput accounting will warp some people's minds. The organization, as a whole, needs to understand how corporate culture must change to include software. It is no small feat and will be underestimated by leadership, scorned by existing project management, calculated incorrectly by financiers and resultantly micro-managed thereby making things worse.

If the goal of manufacturing is to produce product that takes market share from competitors and increasingly generates more revenue, there must exist a method to the madness. The typical methods of lean manufacturing processes will not work with software.

People who have grown up, lived and breathed manufacturing success, and are the now current leadership must beware: you must wake up to the fact that achieving flow-managed software delivery is different than typical e-design hard-lines behaviors or you will watch your historical success disappear in direct proportion to your organization's ignorance.

Ironic in this situation is that manufacturers are outstandingly equipped and ready to blend flow-managed software deliverables with cadenced assembly line behaviors. Already accustomed to tooling, retooling, robotic automation, iterative behaviors and burstable delivery batches, the manufacturing industry is experienced enough to get it. Will they choose it?

So we're left with the question of how do manufacturers adopt software delivery behaviours with the same success they've achieved in manufacturing? The default behaviour will be to treat software like hardware. This approach will increase costs, create scope drift, increase waste and ultimately fail with the end-user.

The answer lay in six steps:

  1. Decouple software from hardware
  2. Eliminate old project management behaviours
  3. Implement an iterative software management method
  4. Implement autonomous design/development/test methods and procedures
  5. Recouple software and hardware deliverables for first-time iterative production releases
  6. Keep software releases decoupled from hardware releases, production through sunsetting

Sounds easy. It actually isn't that complicated, though does require an experienced team on the software side of the company, as well as, a willing team on the hardware side of the company. Unless top-down leadership chooses and commits to this organizational change, it won't happen.

Now that we've discussed what, we'll review how to implement the aforementioned five steps in the next post. Our goal is to recognize that combining iterative managed flow software deliverables inside historically successful big iron assembly line enterprises is possible. However, in order to achieve success that end-users care about, the organizational shift must occur from the top to the bottom and back up again.

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