A common refrain that I hear is the statement, “I need a new content management system.” I often nod in understanding because most organizations have challenges with their current systems. Understanding that you have a problem is a great first step in determining a solution. It is during the second step of the procurement process when organizations introduce problems.
Skipping the Why
Most organizations skip over the why phase. They may automatically define “the why” as their system is broken. This overlooks many possibilities. Was the software implemented correctly? Were people trained? Has the system been maintained? Are there processes in place to modify the system as the organization evolves?
Last month, I attended the 2016 Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference with Jed Carr, Dominion Consulting’s Director of IT. I went primarily with a DevOps focus, trying to expand our continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) capabilities by picking up some best practices by a leader in the market.
While I did attend some excellent break-out sessions, the specifics of each could bear it’s own blog post, there was a singular idea that came up during every session, keynote, or chat around the coffee pot.
Software moves faster than ever.
Successful software delivery is no longer measured in years, quarters, or months. We measure it in weeks, days, and hours. According to Puppet and their 2016 State of DevOps Report, high-performing IT organizations deployed 200 times more frequently than their low performing counterparts. So if you’re an organization pushing out quarterly releases, you’re trying to keep pace with the front-runners pushing out twice daily.
It is hard to believe that Dominion Consulting is approaching its 14th year as an organization. It all started for some of us in 2003, when two Enterprise Resource Planning experts decided to build a company based on SAP, and its rapid growth in the Federal Government. Fast forward to 2013, a core capability was our SAP expertise and rapid growth into the Momentum Financials arena. Now, as 2017 begins, our Enterprise Applications solution area is at a crossroads. We are excited about the new direction it is taking us.
As far as conferences go, I have to say, Amazon puts on a pretty good show. Most sessions were interesting and on point. Attendees were smart and social. And the exhibitors provided more than enough products and solutions to fulfill my weekly geekdom quota. The icing on the cake was the free Echo Dot awaiting everyone on Day 1. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first re:Invent, but by the end of the week, I was leaving the desert with plenty of ideas to bring into the office on Monday. Here are a handful of my takeaways.
This year marked the 15-year anniversary of the writing of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Today, I can’t help but marvel at the impact this collection of simple, yet elegantly stated principles continue to have, especially here in Washington, D.C.. Agile has not only changed how we build working software, it has fundamentally changed how we understand our organizations and how we define the business value we produce. With agile, many of us have learned new approaches to prioritizing our work at an enterprise scale, how we can organize our businesses, and even how we can build deeper relationships in the process. Agile development has sparked a new wave of innovation, especially in the Federal market and it’s incredible to think what 2017 will bring.
For those who are doing it successfully, being agile requires the adoption of both an agile-mindset and the incorporation of new software architectures and delivery practices. At Dominion Consulting, we recognize that our clients have very specific needs and objectives for their implementation of agile solutions. We work closely with each client to provide their desired results. Agile is, of course, not without its challenges. Whether it is initial adoption, sustaining agility at scale, or breaking into a more effective CI/CD model, these challenges are significant. I’d like to share a few key observations and strategies that have helped our clients hit their stride with agile.
In January, Dominion Consulting began a quest to achieve ISO 9001:2015 compliance. The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is a multinational standardizing organization that has published over 21,000 international business standards. The ISO 9001 standard (last updated in 2015, hence the 9001:2015 designation) covers the requirements of developing and implementing a Quality Management System (QMS) within a business.
Organizations that are ISO 9001 compliant can show tangible proof that their products and services are high quality. It also shows that the organization actively monitors those products and services to assure their quality remains high. I served as Dominion’s Quality Manager through this quest. I’m pleased to report that this past week we achieved ISO 9001:2015 compliance certification.
One of our core solutions at Dominion Consulting is Information Management. It is a term that we, and the industry, use to encompass a large collection of skills and expertise centered around content and information. Information Management is also a critical part of everything organizations do every day.
How do we define that collection of skills? Stated from a high level:
Information Management (IM) is a strategy for the coordinated management of all information throughout an organization, allowing for people and systems to find and use information from within any business context.
The goal is to provide people the right information at the right time and be confident that nothing is being overlooked. We make sure that information flows as needed between every system and process. Whether we are talking about governance, content, or digital transformation, IM is at the heart of every project and sets up long-term success for our clients.
Earlier this month, we held our first company hackathon in our new office. It proved to be a great day and a tremendous learning experience for our company and particularly all of the employees who got the chance to participate. I had the opportunity to help facilitate the day’s activities. I thought take a moment to reflect on what I thought was a very successful event.
Dominion has gone from tinkering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2015 to a full co-location migration in 2016. As of July of this past year, we manage all of our computing resources within AWS, Azure, or a trusted SaaS provider. We continue to invest internally in cloud computing, and are committed to providing learning opportunities for our employees within our core solution offerings. When the opportunity arose to attend the 2016 AWS re:Invent, the business case for doing so was pretty simple. Dominion is committed to providing clients top-notch DevOps consulting services as part of our Agile Engineering solution offering. Additionally, as our AWS investments grow, it is critical we’re able to scale securely and efficiently. With practically no hesitation, our tickets were booked and the planning began.
It was below freezing the Sunday morning of November 13. That didn’t stop over 600 runners, spectators, and volunteers from showing up for what turned out to be a successful 5K Walk and Run. While this year’s 5K was technically the first Dominion Consulting Veteran’s Day 5K, this is the third year in a row our company has helped put on this race. This year’s event was just as successful as the previous two events. More than just the total number of participants that showed up, I personally am most proud of the number of Dominion employees who made it out to Fairfax Corner in Fairfax, VA on Sunday before the sun had completely risen to help ensure the event was a success.
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