Covad CIO Cornelia Pool describes how her team worked with a outsourcer to successfully reinvent the companyâs software delivery process.
The "How-To" Boils Down to This:
1. Put the business at the center of everything IT services set out to do.
2. Define processes and communication guidelines.
3. Partner with a vendor that has the right DNA in how they approach their work, that will align with your culture, and that is nimble enough to change as your needs change.
4. Define metrics and exit criteria for each team to ensure operational excellence at all times.
5. Build and nurture a process of continued improvement and optimization. Part of this involves rewarding the right behavior and reinforcement of processes and guidelines
6. Reach a point of having repeatable successful results.
The Bottom Line
Our agile software initiative has resulted in a reduction in overall costs, as well as high uptime at lower costs, enabling us to reduce IT spend by 50 percent over three years. Availability of systems was consistently at or above 99.9 percent in 2008.
We have also substantially reduced time-to-market. Covad recently completed its 23rd on-time release since the beginning of 2006, when we started the initiative. In addition, we've reduced the release cycle to six weeks and delivered product introductions in a much more efficient and timely manner.
What's more, Covad's 2008 annual wholesale partner survey revealed greater customer satisfaction. Scores averaged 3.9 out of 5 in ordering, provisioning, installation and support, with ratings of "better/excellent" when compared to competitors' systems. Covad's online prequalification and ordering tools were rated an overwhelming strength of Covad's value to partners.
Making all of these changes without quality or availability issues affecting the business was a monumental accomplishment for us. Today the company continues to establish the benchmark for automation and integration capability.
We knew when we set out to become more agile that we needed to change not only our environment but the cultures of both teams. We have truly redefined the vendor relationship and recognize that our partnership with Persistent has been a key ingredient to Covad's success.
While the business landscape continues to present challenges, an emphasis on innovative technology combined with a willingness to try new approaches will create rewarding opportunities for enterprises and the customers they set out to serve. To borrow a phrase from Albert Einstein: "Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results."
Cornelia Pool is CIO of Covad. Previously she served as an IT executive with Laserlink.net, South African retailer Pep, and Parmalat.
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