Delivering Effective Technology

Each year, the Standish Group, a software project research and performance advisory group, releases their CHAOS Report of software projects.  In this study of over 50,000 projects, less than 30%, are considered successful based on three simple criteria: 1) On Time, 2) On Budget, 3) with a Satisfactory Result.  The study further shows that those that do succeed share several key factors, including: executive leader support, stakeholder engagement, scope management driven by business value, and emotionally mature group behavior.

At IdeaCrew, our mantra is: “We know a dozen wrong ways, and one right way, to deliver effective technology.”  Over 35 years of practice, IdeaCrew’s leaders have refined a business driven software development process that brings predictability to technology delivery and project success.

Agile Development Process

Our Agile development process enlists client staff as co-creators: engaging stakeholders, identifying features and functions, and prioritizing deliverables based on business value.  Use Cases define user roles and system functions, with specifications and wireframe mockups provided to stakeholders for verification.  Development service cycles are iterative and short, with time periods between gathering Use Case requirements and releasing software measured in periods of weeks. Larger projects are broken down into two or more iteration cycles, each culminating in delivery of useful software.

IdeaCrew’s Agile process brings predictability and delivers high productivity solutions using lean principles:

  • See the whole
  • Build integrity in
  • Respond to change
  • Iterative and incremental development
  • Always on/always improving.

These tenets—applied in concert with IdeaCrew’s business-centered, Agile methods—not only reduce project risk, they result in project predictability: assurance of production system delivery that fulfills business needs, on-schedule and within budget.

IdeaCrew does Agile right. Learn more about IdeaCrew’s Digital Playbook.

DevOps Culture

It’s common practice in technology projects for software developers to concern themselves only with creating application software, passing responsibility for the entire system–software and infrastructure–to IT system operations following the release.  A significant downside to this approach is it incentivizes developers to use shortcuts, particularly as project deadlines loom and resources become limited.  In these situations, the result is incomplete or defective delivery.  Sometimes, these gaps are initially hidden and show up later as system operation issues.

In contrast to traditional approaches, IdeaCrew DevOps culture incentivizes the team to build integrity into all aspects of the system.  It does this by encompassing service delivery of the application and infrastructure interaction as a whole, rather than disconnected parts.  This is realized through two practice areas.

First, IdeaCrew IT engineers apply the same lean concepts that developers use to build application software to manage infrastructure.  They use automated tools—in practice known as Infrastructure as Code (IAC)—to provision, configure, manage and update computer servers, storage, network, security and related services (typically in cloud-based or hybrid data center/cloud environments).  Connecting monitoring agents with communication tools, IT engineers are able to observe and improve system infrastructure performance, maintainability, reliability, resiliency and security.

Second, our IT engineers support and manage IdeaCrew’s Development Workbench.  A combination of tools and processes, the Development Workbench institutionalizes the structures and controls that both maintain and accelerate our technology development process.  Tool examples include a ticketing system, code repositories, regression test frameworks, isolated development environments, continuous integration and communication services.  Process examples include change management, test-driven development, developer peer review, code promotion standards, functional and stakeholder testing.

Our Agile processes extend beyond application software development into technology operations.  Using a DevOps culture to automate IoC and incentivizing teams to build integrity into all aspects of the system enables IdeaCrew to become hyper-productive, providing clients higher quality deliverables and services faster and at a lower cost.

Cloud-based Infrastructure

You’ve already heard about the productivity and efficiency gains a Cloud-based infrastructure can offer, at significantly lower costs compared to traditional data center operations.  IdeaCrew has more than 10 years experience helping clients realize these benefits.  Our teams have built and operated Cloud infrastructure ranging from worldwide distributed systems to e-commerce scale activity.  Our IT engineers are experts at building and operating highly performant and secure cloud-only and hybrid cloud/data center solutions.  Amazon Web Services awarded the DC Health Benefit Exchange its 2016 Amazon City on a Cloud Award, recognizing our IT engineers’ excellence building and operating DC’s health insurance enrollment system infrastructure.

Open Source Software

IdeaCrew is an open source software community supporter and contributor.  Open source software offers opportunities for collaboration, transparency and open exchange that convey project productivity and financial benefits.  Read the National Academy for State Health Policy report to learn how a client used IdeaCrew-produced open source software to help save money, reduce consumer complaints, and address and improve technical functions.

IdeaCrew encourages clients not only to use but to contribute to the open source software movement.  Everyone benefits, including the contributor, when software code is published, used and improved by others.  Our clients at the Washington, DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority have fully embraced this concept. For a look under the hood of DC Healthlink, you can view the DCHBX project code repository on GitHub.

Interested in Learning More?

Would you like to learn more about our system design thinking, custom application development, Agile development process, Infrastructure as Code (IAC) DevOps, Development Workbench process and tools (Terraform, Capistrano, Jenkins, Chef, New Relic, and others), or approach to cloud security? Give us a call. We live and breathe this stuff, and we’d be happy to talk.


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