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Information Technology Strategy Team

Quarterly Delivery

All new projects must deliver a functional product at the end of each quarter, at the absolute latest.

In modern IT literature organizations should be aiming to deliver software into production within minutes. In War And Peace And IT by Mark Schwartz, ex-CIO of US Citizenship and Immigration Services and currently a Strategist for Amazon Web Services, he writes that business or mission needs should be met in hours or days. It is in this spirit that IITB make it a top priority to deploy solutions to production quarterly, at the very least, as soon as possible, permitting us to achieve the long term aims.

In the DORA State of DevOps 2018 report on page 14 they define categories of performance as follows:

Aspect of Software Delivery Performance Elite High Medium Low
Deployment frequency
For the primary application or service you work on, how often does your organization deploy code?
On-demand (multiple deploys per day) Between once per hour and once per day Between once per week and once per month Between once per week and once per month
Lead time for changes
For the primary application or service you work on, what is your lead time for changes (i.e., how long does it take to go from code commit to code successfully running in production)?
Less than one hour Between one day and one week Between one week and one month Between one month and six months
Time to restore service
For the primary application or service you work on, how long does it generally take to restore service when a service incident occurs (e.g., unplanned outage, service impairment)?
Less than one hour Less than one day Less than one day Between one week and one month
Change failure rate
For the primary application or service you work on, what percentage of changes results either in degraded service or subsequently requires remediation (e.g., leads to service impairment, service outage, requires a hot-fix, rollback, fix forward, patch)?
0-15% 0-15% 0-15% 46-60%

Of respondents

  • 7% were Elite Performers
  • 41% were High Performers
  • 37% were Medium Performers
  • 15% were Low Performers

Given that low performers are able to deploy between once per week and once per month, within 5 years IITB will must be able to deploy into production within 4 months for all new projects.

Further, not only does ensuring quarterly production deployment align us with industry best practices, and enable us to more quickly respond to business needs, large scale projects with sizeable budgets and timelines run at a high risk of failure. For example, 18F reports that “Only 13% of large government software projects are successful” where large project is defined as ‘Projects valued at $6M or greater, in Europe and the United States, that were completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget.’

Ensuring regular deliveries also allows IITB to be more responsive to business needs by being able to address the highest value items from many different clients through iterating quickly over many projects throughout the year, rather than focusing on individual projects which lock up significant portions of IITBs capacity. In War And Peace And IT Mark Schwartz proposes an approval process which more closely resembles series funding from venture capital firms. Even if a project does not manage to acquire Series B funding, the value from Series A funding is still produced. Ensuring one prioritizes their priorities properly, ensures that the most value is delivered early on in the project. This allows for an alternate model of project management, on where we ‘always cancel successful projects, not failing ones’.

A world of opportunities awaits IITB in our long term plan if we are able to realize the benefits of treading the path that has already been laid before us by the high performers and world leaders from the IT community. Without it, in the world of running 10 year projects our 5 year trajectory is easily predictable – the organization will look identical to the organization that exists today.

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