SAFe and Technology Business Management (TBM)
In various classes and contexts over the last six months or so, we’ve been asked about how SAFe integrates with Technology Business Management (TBM). For those of you who aren’t yet aware, “TBM provides technology leaders with standards and validated best practices to communicate the cost, quality, and value of IT investments to their business partners. In turn, IT is able to drive innovation for their organization.” For more on TBM, check out the TBM council website.
Personally, I interpret this initiative as the continuation of a significant movement from thinking of IT as a cost center, to a truly strategic player in helping the enterprise thrive and succeed in the digital age. I’ve also heard this described informally as ‘CIO++’, which represents the trend to view CIOs as true peers at the corporate exec level. After all, every business is a software business now, and many of the largest software development centers I know of today are the IT shops for global enterprises. This industry segment is a large consumer of SAFe and is fundamentally strategic to the health (and even survival!) of some of the world’s largest enterprises.
While SAFe is not fundamentally about IT cost and profit analysis, we certainly do hope to drive a more strategic vision—along with less friction and overhead—to IT portfolio investments. Lean Budgeting is a big part of that SAFe story.
Well anyway, a few weeks back, I was invited to attend the annual TBM Executive Summit & Board Retreat held in Richmond, VA. In addition to having the unique opportunity to see the digital transformation of large-scale shipbuilding (abroad a nuclear aircraft carrier, no less. How cool is that? Talk about longer range IT planning, think ten years!), I was asked to co-chair a special session on Agile development. Along with Theo Beack, EVP Products & Engineering, Apptio and Wayne Shurts, CTO, Sysco, we led a wide-ranging discussion with dozens of CIOs about the impact of Agile on IT, and how Agile development can assist the transformation from IT cost center to profit center/strategic partner. You can read more about that session here. And as you can guess, ‘project-based funding’ was a topic that I opined on. This is the quote they picked out of my session.
“That’s why we have to think about innovation as a test and why it has to be okay to fail. We have to change expectations associated with ROI. We have to move from temporary work and temporary people that can’t fail to more permanent work, long-life work from people that work together in teams working against a backlog that has some uncertainty. That changes the way you think about the work.”
But of course, that’s just the start of a potential integration/knowledge sharing of TBM and SAFe. We currently have a prospective whitepaper ‘Impact of Scaled Lean-Agile Development on IT Financial Planning and Governance with TBM’ as a work in process, so stay tuned.