Going formal with the applications strategy

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March 28, 2011 by Jim Morton

There has been a recent directive here that we all need to smarten up a bit, myself in particular. So I have returned to wearing a suit at work.  So instead of looking like some sort of  dodgy student in jeans and a dodgy shirt, I now look like some sort of dodgy student in a suit. Comments such as “Job Interview?”, “Court appearance?”, or even the especially hurtful “You look like a used car salesman” have been thrown at me with increasing regularity in the last few weeks.

In an incredibly weak link, we are also working on formalising our applications strategy.

This strategy has been different from other areas that we have been working on, in that it has been established through practical work, rather than a purely conceptual exercise. A chunk of our systems centre developers have been on real live projects using the principles laid out in our 2008 classic release “New Wave Applications Blueprint”. The Open Data site, the iphone application and the HR-Electronic Records system are all examples of projects that have both helped to develop (and have benefited from) the approach laid out in the bluepint.

Now we have reached the point where we have proved the vision achievable and now need to formalise the techniques methods and technologies that we want to roll out so that all new applications are developed in line with the strategy rather than a select few.

So each of the members of the team has been assigned a technology/best practice area to specialise in (examples include web service definition, presentation standards, use of GIT as a code repository etc) and are currently beavering away to produce the definitions, standards and processes that we will then roll out to the rest of the organisation through training, mentoring and violent brute force.

In concert with this I am writing up a more formal Applications Strategy document (hopefully to be released before the end of April) which will also help form the basis of our overall ICT Strategy refresh later on the year.

We are currently having all sorts of interesting discussions on strengths and weaknesses of specific development technologies. Although as our strategy is all about avoiding proprietary issues and embracing open standards – these discussions should have no effect on the way that we choose to work in the future, but may help to confirm the types of skills and training that we need to concentrate on.

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