The success of any given company is only as good as its IT governance. IT governance (or ITG) is the process that controls IT resources, enabling an organization to achieve its ultimate goals.
CIOs are charged with bringing a beast to heel which can they no longer clearly see.
Where the Trouble Starts
The last time CIOs were capable of knowing everything that was happening in their company’s IT department was the early 1980s. Since then, the number of lines of code used for any given business exceeds what’s humanly possible to grasp.
Staying on top of a company’s IT involves two distinct aspects.
First is the structural aspect. This includes all of an organization’s IT resources and activities and the people who manage and execute these activities (a.k.a. coding) in support of the overall goals of the business.
Then there is the decision-making processes for the CIO: access controls, mechanisms and policies to measure and keep tabs on the way IT decisions are made and carried out within the organization.
The CIO’s task is to align the goals of the IT organization with the goals of the business. They must be clearly tied together. And that’s where the trouble starts.
Taking a Fingers Crossed Approach
Most development projects use an iterative development methodology to design, code, test, then repeat and repeat again. Businesses spend an average of five times more time modifying code than on writing new code, and new code becomes old code almost instantly.
Another three times more is spent on understanding code, rather than on original development. Before modifying code, the IT team must first understand what it does and how it is structured.
Multiply these efforts in any large enterprise and it is easy to become entangled in a mess of old, older and newer code.
If the lucky CIO adds a software development outsourcing firm to the mix of folks who have their finger in the development pie, it’s just the icing on the software cake. The common perception is that outsourcing saves money based on labor arbitrage — get it done and done fast. And while the enterprise definitely gets more software, probably faster and probably for less money (up front), it's of unknown or at least uneven quality. Not to mention even external resources need to be trained.
The IT landscape develops in siloes, several teams work on multiple, discrete issues. Spray and pray methodology usually rules the day: Write code to fight fires in the problem areas and hope for the best.
Detangling the IT Jungle
This general scenario is more common than most would suspect. Today's businesses, from small, single digit employee startups to massive global enterprises, rely on industry-specific digital frameworks in order to increase their productivity and profitability. Very competent CIOs are forced to fly blind. The costs of a system failure could outweigh any profits made.
New technology solutions are working to solve the problem and detangling the jungle of IT assets — some more successfully than others.
At the end of 2006, Freddy Mallet realized how critical quality management was becoming for software development firms, but that no enterprise software met this need. Together with Simon Brandhof, he developed the SonarQube platform by integrating best-of-breed open source tools for Java. SonarQube aims to be a world-class application to manage code quality and now counts more than 300 Java coding customers across the globe.
Semmle focuses on improving the quality and speed of software development, taking a more holistic approach than pure-play code analysis solutions such as Coverity and Cast.
Its patented technology uses all available data about the software development process (source code, trouble tickets, development costs, team location, etc.) to create a knowledge base that users can accurately and efficiently query. Semmle’s insights can interpret the change history contained within software repositories, leading to data-driven software engineering.
The B2B startup also looks at factors such as how much money the business is spending on particular software development projects.
Seerene provides cutting edge software analytics technology for CIOs. The company is a German engineering spin-off of the Hasso Plattner Institute, the academic leader in the field of software engineering and visualization.
Enterprises mainly use seerene to save the big bucks: for efficiency improvement, legacy modernization, vendor steering as well as risk mitigation. The software allows enterprises to instantly visualize their code landscape and related development efforts in a visual analysis which is reminiscent of Google Maps. It makes running an application landscape analysis for IT audits and due diligence quick and easy, identifying and assessing software development pain points. Its clients achieve cost savings of over 30 percent in application development.
Seerene offers a look into the code history, current progress and the future. Its unique insights touch the entire software ecosystem — from the way code is written and development teams are managed, to how IT Services companies deliver development services and even how regulators look at managing risk in mission critical software systems. The plug and play solution allows CIOs and managers to steer and control IT service providers and outsourcing companies, drastically reduce cost through transparency and manage the complete software application landscape.
Establishing a strong IT governance position provides an understanding of IT and related risks to business processes. Mergers and acquisitions can multiply the challenges businesses face — leaving the IT operating environment director or CIO to deal with new software and hardware that may be completely incompatible with the current environment.
Reducing losses and mitigating risk is the name of the game. With new business intelligence products for IT infrastructure, CIOs can tame the beast, businesses can stay aligned with both evolving business environment and the rapid pace of technological change.