“I feel the need…the need for speed!” That’s the mantra that was chanted by Maverick and Goose as they swaggered out to their F-14 fighter jet in the movie Top Gun.
Lots of IT folks these days are also feeling the need for speed. But, they’re not looking for the adrenaline rush that fighter pilots seek by strapping into supersonic aircraft and blasting into the wild blue yonder. Instead, their primary motivator is sheer survival. Organizational leaders expect IT to accomplish more with fewer resources than ever before. It is for this reason IT organizations choose to adapt Agile principles in an effort to fulfill their need for speed.
Consider this imaginary, yet all-too-real and familiar, scenario: You are the IT manager. Executive leadership comes to you and says, “We heard the buzz about expanded analytics features with our Cloud vendor’s new release, so we want to upgrade as soon as possible.” You say, “Okay great, we can do that. It will take three months.” That’s when leadership drops the bomb. “Three months? We need it in two weeks!”
Do you feel the need for speed now?
Turning on a Dime
The above scenario notwithstanding, there isn’t an IT manager on the planet who doesn’t yearn for the ability to work faster and more efficiently without increasing staff size. You understand that slow and steady no longer wins the race. Agile methodologies provide IT organizations with the speed they need to remain competitive. And, true to its name, Agile also offers turn-on-a-dime, multitasking agility, providing the ability to shift focus quickly — a key to surviving and thriving in this era of fast-changing priorities.
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Money Pit or Money Machine?
Agile speed can even be the key to transforming your IT department’s reputation. Instead of being seen as a cost center, Agile can help you establish your department as a revenue builder. Implementing Agile processes can help IT to make money by saving money through increased speed and efficiency. As an example, let’s say your company is about to kick off a marketing campaign that requires a complex IT infrastructure. The faster your team completes the project, the sooner Marketing is able to launch the campaign, setting off a domino chain of benefits, including revenue flowing into the company sooner, and beating competitors to the customers.
Speed can be the key to changing the mindset about IT at your company. It changes the conversation. Instead of worry about how much money IT costs the company, everyone is able to see how much money IT saves the company.
Use the Right Tools to Avoid Speed Bumps
Speed can thrill, yes, but it can also kill (R.I.P. Goose). And that’s certainly true of the speed Agile enables — at least in a metaphorical sense. While Agile can get you the speed you need, your tools might not be able to keep up.
Monitoring software is a great example. The big push in monitoring software is faster configuration of newly added items on the systems monitor. If I bring up a server in 10 minutes, can I have it monitored automatically by my monitoring software, or can I manually set it up very quickly? Cloud services are much the same. It’s not enough just to say, “Hey, we can get you a new virtual machine quickly.” You need to know how quickly it can be configured, and whether the configuration process can be at least partly automated.
Customization presents one of the largest, most common speed bumps faced by many organizations. Whether you’re customizing methodologies, workflow processes, or software, customization tends to be antithetical to speed. And when it comes time to upgrade customized software? That can be a the biggest speed bump yet, as countless hours are poured into transferring the customizations into the new code.
Deploying the right tools can unlock the potential of Agile speed. There are three keys to speed with Agile tools:
- They should offer quick configuration/customization
- They should support quick testing
- They should provide easy adaptability
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The Right Tools Can Turbocharge Agile Operations
Companies often try to keep Agile operations nimble by either avoiding customization altogether, which means missing out on the associated benefits, or by throwing numerous resources at customization jobs in an attempt to assure quick completions.
But the better approach to achieving your need for Agile speed is to deploy tools that simply make customization easier. It’s like turbocharging an engine to get more horsepower without increasing engine size. Deploying the right tools make performing initial configuration, customization, and upgrades faster and easier. And, that enables fulfilling the need for the speed that Agile offers.
Tapping into the speed of Agile may not offer you quite the same thrill as flying an F-14 fighter jet. But, transforming your IT operation into a sleek and nimble machine can offer its own kind of thrill — one that keeps the paychecks rolling in regularly.