Information technology (IT) is part of most enterprises today. And that is exactly where IT stops: as part of the enterprise. The enterprise has its own vision, mission, plans and governance as affected by many factors not exclusively related to IT. In fact, IT is just one of the many players contributing to the enterprise’s ecosystem.
For most companies, IT is not the center of their businesses, although IT can inspire and motivate innovations of new business areas; improve operations and, at the same time, help to reduce costs; or provide the tools to enhance decision making in order to give the enterprise its competitive edge in the market or in the industry it belongs to. IT is a service and the IT organization simply serves it.
The enterprise is in control of its IT and never the other way around. IT Governance and, its key component, Enterprise Architecture in computing are important knowledge in making sure that the enterprise is in control of its IT organization. Accordingly, the enterprise must establish the IT organization with respect to its potential evolution and advancement. There should be a balance by which the ecosystem allows for growth. This balance should, therefore, be part of the principles in creating the enterprise’s IT roadmap.
The enterprise’s IT roadmap helps shape the management and style of software development. Waterfall or agile? Compact or distributed? Components or services? These are some of the questions that may be raised as the IT organization matures. Regardless, what matters is that the IT organization’s software development team is aligning their efforts to the plans of the business.
Software development for the enterprise is different from simply developing software products. Enterprise software development aims to deliver software products with the enterprise in mind. It should serve the current and future needs of the business. The readiness of software to survive the future is critical to its overall success. This challenge, on its own, is very difficult as it requires business knowledge, involvement and foresight from the software development team itself.
The ability of the software development team to plan its structure and processes is crucial. How it asseses itself and its growth affects the direction it takes in all aspects. There are pit falls to watch out for. There are pros and cons to consider. Still, what is important is that the team recognizes that it is existing and working for the enterprise — no more, no less.
The disciplines, principles, strategies, science, approaches and techniques to be followed by the software development team define itself in the enterprise. In reality, the simplicity and the complexity of all these depends on the capacity of the enterprise to support them. There are cases when the software development team should compromise for the sake of the enterprise. This is natural and should be highly considered and factored in to ensure success.
Enterprise software development is generally easy. Compared to Microsoft’s business to create generic software products to target various industries and enterprises around the world, enterprise software development focuses on a much more controllable audience. Although, this fact does not limit the IT organization to plan itself beyond the designs of the enterprise, the IT organization is, first and foremost, expected to prioritize the enterprise as its base customer. In line with the IT organization serving IT services to the enterprise, enterprise software development should, likewise, be a service to deliver software for the enterprise.