Reading time: 5 mins
Audience: CIO, CTO & SaaS platform owners
Waste in software management
The reality of waste in software development has been there since the first software programming days, those days of the waterfall model.
In their classic work “Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit“, Mary and Tom Poppendieck identify 7 different types of waste; to mention but a few: extra features being added in the product, inefficient handoffs, defects and partially done work. Other studies include also software transportation, which essentially refers to inefficiencies in the release management activities.
In an article written in 2014 by Steve Arnold and Paula White from IBM about lean transformation, the authors defend that with a leaner approach and the right tools, waste can be reduced in 30%. If we consider that 45% of IT projects run over budget, the figure seems pretty acceptable.
The Low-code / no-code paradigm
But all those models are considering that IT people run development activities.
However more and more part of the software development is moving to the cloud and to low-code environments. This trend is driven by a number of factors, chiefly among them the fact that there aren’t enough skilled individuals in the market to cope with all the software demands from business. The irruption of platforms like Salesforce, ServiceNow (the workflow tool), Mendix, PowerApps, etc. helps to remediate this shortage, but unavoidable also brings waste in software development into this new paradigm.
Indeed, once business users become “citizen programmers” in these low code / no code platforms they become part of the software development ecosystem.
But while they are indeed experts in business processes, they can’t realistically be asked to do things like writing reusable reports, paying attention to performance problems, being mindful about avoiding out-of-the-box deviation, following best practices or in general avoiding the introduction technical debt. That’s not their job. IT people are still responsible for managing the SaaS-based configurations and developments in a holistic way and provide to the citizen developers the guidance about what can be done and what shouldn’t be done.
Also, when it comes to operating the SaaS, administrators have ‘the power’ of changing anything right into production. Again a terrible bad practice and another source of waste.
TCO can be reduced more than 20%
We have seen many Salesforce and ServiceNow implementations become way too over-customized, with very large amounts of tech debt, because for many years they were not being measured by anyone in the organisation. This always results in the performance and scalability of the platforms being compromised, and with them their ability to deliver value to the business.
Finally, the licensing model in these SaaS platforms is rather opaque. In Salesforce it is quite easy to jump into the next tier of storage, with the corresponding extra charges, if the admin is not keeping on top of these metrics. In ServiceNow, the new licensing model underpinned by new custom tables is also going to add more complexity for organisations to manage their licensing costs, since the deployment of a new custom app into production can result in additional charges by ServiceNow.
However, with the proper management and control tools, which allow automated inspection of all the pre-production and production instances of our SaaS platforms, the TCO can easily be reduced by 20% if not more. Managing all the stack in a holistic way will help reduce all the kinds of waste in our SaaS platforms, dramatically reducing the TCO.
SaaS and low-code / no-code platforms are here to stay. Adapt to the new times. Manage tech debt. Don’t be late. Act.