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IT Service Build is not a Factory

It’s time for another rousing critique from Rob England, the IT Skeptic. Today’s subject: the idea that IT outfits are merely factories for computer code. England disagrees with the notion that IT groups are channeling standard components through a monotonous optimized WIP schema. By contrast, he compares IT service Build to an engineering shop, where components are made-to-order for specific company needs.

Value, not Conveyor Belts

The presence of production lines in IT (i.e. – request fulfillment) might lead to an inevitable association with the word “factory.” Yet England sees a huge variation in how value is delivered between each individual project:

It's not about how much code you crank out, it's about how much value you deliver to the business. IT value is measured in confidentiality/integrity/availability (CIA) of information as well as the quality of that information. One part of value is the cleverness of the apps that deliver it, but an equal part is the CIA if the information in the resulting system. Then I think a third – and equal – component of value is the service delivered to the customers: how well the information is improved, planned, managed, and supported: both Build and Run contribute to the service. 

Emulating Automation

Just try to avoid the factory association and you’ll run into some real hurdles. Even universal IT methodologies are replete with factory metaphors and models. From DevOps to Six Sigma, a genuine attempt on the part of the IT community is being made to emulate a sort of digital sweat shop. Are there aspects of the IT field that can be legitimately compared to a factory? Sure there are. The toils of software vendors and development houses are largely an exercise in atomizing code to speed the efficiency of development. 

Information Engineers

But overall, England thinks that IT professionals are more akin to the Army Corps of Engineers, building hurricane-proof levies or doing whatever project-specific tasks their position entails. Therefore, perhaps a proper metaphor for the IT professional is that of information engineer.

Read the entire article at: http://www.itskeptic.org/content/information-technology-not-manufacturing

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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