Are you suffering from Complexity Drag?

Posted on : 24-06-2011 | By : jo.rose | In : Innovation

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You have bought in the different software you need to run your business processes. Your system experts have pushed them to their limits as you have expanded.

To protect your critical production systems, you sensibly now have a series of environments (system integration testing, pre-prod, prod, etc.) which allow software upgrades to be fully tested and accepted before hitting your production environment.

However the various systems you now have are complicated with many inter-dependencies and your many environments have varied topologies. Even stopping or starting a small element or whole environment required specialist knowledge of the underlying systems.

When a required upgrade for some of your third party software comes in, it is a major event and the decision to deploy it through the environment chain is a big one. The system experts are now heavily involved throughout the deployment process. Even after their initial configuration work, their knowledge of the different configurations and dependencies within each environment is still required at each stage.

Instead of improving your systems or developing the next big thing, your system experts are now stuck in a constant cycle of pushing out software updates through the whole chain.

Stuck in a constant cycle

Stuck in a constant cycle

You are suffering from complexity drag. The effect when the greater complexity of your systems puts an increasing drag on future work. Further improvements or developments are slowed or stalled as your team is increasingly tied up with maintaining your current systems rather than driving forward necessary change.

Would it not be nice if your system experts could wrap up their systems knowledge and the necessary control along with a software update into a ball and then then just pass that ball up the chain with minimal further involvement?

Liberated experts and empowered users

Liberated experts and empowered users

The challenge is to move from the old model with its substantial knowledge silos to a more devolved system where knowledge is shared out and control delegated out to those that need it. This would empower gate-keeper users to maintain their own domains and push out any expert-approved updates themselves.

This can be achieved through use of a holistic system which encapsulates a repository of system knowledge including a store of all software and their updates. Each user can then receive customised views and control of the systems they require (as defined by the system experts), all of their actions can be centrally audited and the experts can be alerted in real-time to any problems.

Now that a lot of the support and maintenance work has been delegated to the relevant gate-keeper users and safe in the knowledge that they maintain close control of the entire system, the system experts are finally liberated to get on with those business-enhancing things that they were always meaning to do.

Contributor: Andrew Porrer – Technical Director – Heathwest Systems (
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