- Richard Tyler
The Agile Mindset – Transforming Performance In Technology Asset Management (TAM)
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Melvin Conway posited Conway’s Law & Disorder in 1967:
“Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” Conway, 1967
He observed that the structures organisations create look like themselves in the mirror. He realised that the ways of working that establish limit the creativity of most organisations and as a result they tend to replicate themselves in every new project or endeavour. This means simply that if a non-agile company tries to create an agile system, they are likely to fail. This is because as Conway says, they will always be copies of the structure that already exist.
Many companies struggle to move towards a more innovative, transparent and accountable TAM system, only to find themselves repeating the same errors because the company is scared of change. This presents a real problem for leaders who see efficiency deteriorate and costs increase and cannot work out why. This is why so many organisations give up on it.
Agility Starts by Asking the Right Questions
Organisations want to make better decisions, and this starts with asking the right questions of what you’re doing, whether that’s what software you’re buying or your next big marketing campaign.
Asset Management is the governance of deciding what assets you need to run your business and once they’ve been bought, realising the value for the business.
The initial questions that TAM therefore needs to answer are:
Why are we buying this? What makes it the right choice?
What’s the benefit for the company, colleagues and customers?
How do we manage the asset to achieve that value?
What do we do with what we don’t need anymore?
The answers for these questions may be different for each asset, this means not assuming that the way you manage one asset will work for another asset; Or that one way of working will see you through the next ten years.
Asking the right questions allows you to focus on what’s important but also realise that you need to flex and reflect change in the organisation as the answers change.
Answering these questions also show how the systems you build to provide the solution needs to interact with different teams. For example, to answer the first question we would normally ask Architecture. In this way Agile TAM keeps architects honest as it is based on asking the right questions and everything is open to see. Agile organisations help keep everyone honest. It also means that if your architects (or marketeers) can’t answer these questions, then it might be worth sending them back to the drawing board before you buy the asset.
The Solution to functioning Tam is in building the System to answer the right Questions
The ‘technology’ part of agile TAM is misleading. Asset management can impact the whole of your business. It can give you the space to reflect on how what you own delivers on the value you need – across the bottom line, service and operations. The truth is that an agile TAM system should open your eyes to where processes aren’t working well across the business and allow you to expand Agile thinking further.
Agile TAM means creating much closer connections between technology and those who use it. Agility gives you lots of information quickly and expects you to respond to it. It means problems are identified more quickly, and with the right structures in place, can result in must better and faster solutions.
Agile TAM is about the organisation’s culture of communication and changing it to one which admits that failure is possible. However, more importantly, it acknowledges that unless you are willing to risk failing you will simply create systems that look like they currently do and thus you will be governed by Conwy’s Law.