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Software Ownership Transfer: Evolving Knowledge Transfer for the Agile World
— —
Vinod Sankaranarayanan
Software Ownership Transfer: Evolving Knowledge Transfer for the Agile World by Vinod Sankaranarayanan at Abbey's Bookshop,

Software Ownership Transfer: Evolving Knowledge Transfer for the Agile World

Vinod Sankaranarayanan


Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc

Project management;
Organisational theory & behaviour;
Agile programming;
Software Engineering


224 pages

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This is the first practical, hands-on guide to knowledge transfer in today's agile environments. Using a realistic, large-scale case study, ThoughtWorks expert Vinod Sankaranarayanan shows how to elevate knowledge transfer from necessary evil to an activity full of agility and innovation, and bring together multiple organisations and cultures to make ownership transfer work.

Sankaranarayanan explains why mere documentation of error reports and processes isn't enough, and shows how to successfully craft a knowledge transfer program that's more substantive and effective. Along the way, he offers guidance on overcoming the commercial compromises and personal tensions often associated with transferring systems to new ownership; and on transforming mere knowledge transfer into something much better: taking ownership.

By:   Vinod Sankaranarayanan
Imprint:   Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 293mm,  Width: 119mm,  Spine: 12mm
Weight:   372g
ISBN:   9780134181011
ISBN 10:   0134181018
Pages:   224
Publication Date:   July 2016
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Preface xxiii Introduction 1 Chapter 1: The Challenge with Knowledge Transfers 5 Post Takeover 7 Contracting 8 Timing 9 Scope 9 True Cost of Transfer 10 Practical World 12 Competing Priorities 12 Rebadging 12 The Evolving Nature of the Program 15 Politics 15 Things to Know and Do 17 Chapter 2: Ownership Transfer: Bringing Home a Child 19 Ownership Is More than Experience and Expertise 20 Investment 20 Empowerment 21 Building Ownership Takes Time 21 Action 21 How Do You Recognize Ownership? 22 Things to Know and Do 25 Chapter 3: The Approach 27 Visualize the To-Be State 27 Things to Know and Do 29 Chapter 4: The Program 31 Purpose of the Program 31 Orbits of Influence 32 Cost of the Program 34 The Scope 35 Timeline 36 Program Structure and Governance 36 Risks 37 An Imperfect World 38 Team Retention 39 Effectiveness and Assimilation 39 Management and Measurement 39 Motivation 40 Production Issues 40 Miscellaneous 41 Things to Know and Do 42 Chapter 5: Being Agile 43 Pairing Interaction and Collaboration 43 Tools 44 Be Agile and Build Ownership 45 Code Comfort: Working Code over Documentation 46 The Product Principle 48 On Change 49 Things to Know and Do 50 Chapter 6: Culture 53 Power Distance 54 Cross-Organizational Cultures 54 Team Culture and Process 56 Retrospective Culture 58 Iteration Planning Culture 59 How Distance Impacts Culture 59 Capacity and Culture 60 Culture and Ownership 61 The Politics of Culture 62 Not Invented Here Syndrome 64 Culture in the Trenches-Pairing 66 Culture of Toil 67 Culture of Documentation 68 Ownership Is Taken 68 Pulling Them Together 71 Things to Know and Do 72 Chapter 7: Engineering 75 Transforming the Factory 76 Automating Quality 76 Versioning 77 Transformation through Ownership Transfer 78 Things to Know and Do 81 Chapter 8: Infrastructure 83 Ship the Shop 83 There Is Software in Infrastructure, Too 83 Engineering and Infrastructure 84 Distributed Hardware 85 The Infrastructure Team 86 Things to Know and Do 88 Chapter 9: Continuous Business 89 The Float 89 Releases 91 Releases Are Must-Haves 92 Business Value 93 What Not to Transfer 93 Business Stakeholder Management 94 Comfort through Continuous Business 95 Business Continuity 95 Production Support 96 Team Ramp-Downs 96 Ownership Transfer Must End as a Non-Event 97 Things to Know and Do 99 Chapter 10: Executing Ownership Transfer 101 The Process of Transfer 102 Pairing 103 Tracking Ownership Transfer 104 Teaming 104 Remote Pairing Checklist 105 Retrospectives 107 Ownership Transfer of BAs and QAs 112 Transferring Hardware 113 Colocation 114 Changing Equations 115 A Layered Experience 118 Things to Know and Do 119 Chapter 11: Process 123 Team Interdependencies 123 Team Structure Changes 124 Inceptions and Project Ownership 126 Skill Sets 127 Showcases 128 Project Execution 128 Defects 129 Release Process 130 Team Size Changes 131 Conway's Law 132 The Definition of Done 133 Production Support 134 DevOps Communication 136 Costing 136 Governance 137 Things to Know and Do 138 Chapter 12: Measuring Ownership Transfer 139 Purpose of the Transfer 140 Releases 140 Functional Projects 140 Incumbent Team Ramp-Down 141 Things to Know and Do 141 Chapter 13: The Three Bridges 143 Duration of Ownership Transfer 143 Functionality 144 Domain Appreciation 144 Cross-Domain Experience 145 Being a User 146 Skill 147 Contextual Ambidexterity 147 Quality Analysis Skills 148 Skill for the Future 148 Agile Fluency 148 Teams Operating at Different Levels 149 Things to Know and Do 151 Chapter 14: Putting It Together 153 Change Management 154 Individual 154 Reskilling 154 Recalibrating Expectations 155 Team Interactions 155 Team 155 Resistance to Change 156 Team Restructure 156 Organization 156 Wide Impact 157 Outsourcing 157 Global Village 157 National Culture 158 Things to Know and Do 159 Chapter 15: Conclusion 161 The Lean Agile March 161 Incentives 163 Start Early 164 Sign-Off 164 Things to Know and Do 165 Chapter 16: Epilogue 167 Bibliography 171 Glossary 173 Index 177

Vinod Sankaranarayanan, a Project Management Consultant at ThoughtWorks, has advised many organizations in the Finance, Travel, Retail, and Healthcare space. Along the way he has handled several large project delivery responsibilities. He has witnessed and driven several sourcing transitions for his clients. Vinod started his professional career in the pre-Agile era and later adapted to the Agile model of working. This has enabled him to empathize with and provide practical suggestions to clients who often find themselves making Agile transitions and sourcing transitions at the same time. Vinod has essayed the roles of a business analyst, tester, pre-sales consultant, program manager, account manager, Agile coach, and practice leader as part of his long IT Journey. Before ThoughtWorks, Vinod worked at Mindtree, a well-known IT services organization. At Mindtree he was one of the founding members of the Business Analysts Council and the Agile Council, focusing on creating organizational capacity to win and execute consulting as well as Agile projects. He lives in Bangalore with his wife Vidya and their children Dhruv and Dyuthi. An occasional blogger and speaker at conferences, his writings, talks, and contact information are available at

There are many shifts occurring today as companies implement their digital business strategies. One aspect of this shift-companies are adjusting their approach to outsourcing in part by reinsourcing systems critical to their new technology-driven strategies. The problem is that there is little research or information available on transferring application systems knowledge and ownership from one organization to another-until now. In Software Ownership Transfer, Vinod draws on his experiences, large and small, in making such critical transfers. I particularly like his distinction between knowledge transfer and ownership-not ownership in the legal sense, but ownership in the sense of a team taking 'ownership' of their new responsibility. Knowledge transfer is only the first step in ownership transfer. If you are contemplating the transfer of an application system-from a vendor to in-house or from one internal location to another (as happens often today)-then you need to use this book as a model for making your transfer a success. -Jim Highsmith, author of Agile Project Management, coauthor of The Agile Manifesto Software is becoming increasingly central to most modern organizations. Indeed, it has become trite to observe that one should no longer have a 'digital strategy' or a 'technology strategy': These strategies now form the core of the business strategy itself. This shift is seeing many organizations reconsider their software-sourcing strategy, such as, for example, bringing back in-house resources that they previously outsourced. The process of transferring the 'ownership' of core digital products is complex and can frequently be the source of disappointment, to say the least. In the worst case, significant investments can be lost in the transfer process. In this book, Vinod Sankaranarayanan draws upon his significant experience in digital product ownership and transfer, backed by copious real-life examples, and draws some important recommendations for any leader or organization overseeing a transition between teams, whether internal or external. A highly recommended read for any leader who is contemplating or is in the process of a digital product transfer. -Chris Murphy, group managing director, Europe, Middle East, and South Asia, ThoughtWorks Vinod has written a compelling book on a topic that is generating a lot of interest today but whose business outcomes are not yet clear. Combining his own rich experience as a practitioner of Agile techniques with a lucid narrative style, Vinod provides many insightful perspectives to address the challenging yet essential function of ownership transfer of IT projects. More importantly, Vinod has been able to bring structure and practical application to an area that most often than not is ad-hoc and ambiguous. This piece of work is an important step in addressing a question that will become more and more relevant in the complex world of IT outsourcing and offshoring in the years to come. -Rizwan Hazarika, CIO and cloud advisory services lead, ASEAN region, IBM Knowledge transfer is an area that too many executives are willing to throw under the bus (along with QA) when budgets and deadline pressures begin to loom. Vinod provides a compelling rationale for understanding why knowledge transfer needs to be planned as a normal part of the SDLC. We ignore his analysis at our own peril! -John Peebles, senior vice-president, digital media at Sothebys Every once in a while, the care and feeding of software assets changes hands in enterprise IT. This may be because of a decision to outsource, insource, or simply switch vendors. The quality of the handover is crucial, as Vinod points out in this one-of-a-kind book. But handovers receive less attention than required-in practice as well as in theory-as evidenced by the lack of books on this topic. Handovers are typically dealt with as a three-month transition exercise, usually irrespective of the size and complexity of the transition. Post-transition performance almost always dips as a result, and it takes years to recover. Software Ownership Transfer provides excellent insights on what it takes to avoid post-transition blues. -Sriram Narayan, author of Agile IT Organization Design and IT management consultant at ThoughtWorks Typically in a project-transition context, the environment is hostile as one team is losing the work and the other is taking it over, which leads to not-so-productive outcomes. Vinod has brought in a new approach to the situation, using Agile principles and values, making it a more collaborative effort. The book is a good read with rich elucidation of experiences and case studies of real-life engagements. -Vishwesher Hegde, partner, PM Power Consulting Every organization has to deal with ownership changes in software projects. Hardly any organization, however, consciously plans for such transitions to be successful. The costs of poorly executed ownership transfers are huge and have a permanent impact on the organization and its business. Vinod Sankaranarayanan, in this book, draws upon his extensive experience in the software industry to build a framework and a step-by-step guide for us to use whenever we execute ownership transfers in our teams, organizations, or business-units. This book is a must-read and a must-have for IT project leaders and architects. It is guaranteed to increase the chances of software ownership transfer success manifold. -Vishy Ranganath, director of product development at Intuit I would suggest this book for anyone transferring any IT service. No matter how many transfers you have been a part of (specific service, acquisition, divestiture, etc.), there's always a gotcha you need to look out for, and this book makes you aware of most of them. Personally, I found the areas of Agile consideration to be most beneficial because this is so relevant for today's mature development organizations. It's obvious Vinod took his time to make this book so clear even the most non-techy of techies can understand it. It's easy to understand if you are a developer, manager, PM, or exec. -Armando Morales, senior manager, Cisco IT Knowledge transition is one of the most important phases of a software development lifecycle. Vinod has very beautifully captured various aspects of the process and has given great suggestions so that other projects could benefit from it. The book has an interesting narrative based on real-life experiences and practical situations that keeps the reader engaged. While the book would be useful for any software development methodology, the Agile way of doing the knowledge transition makes sure that both the parties actively pair during the transition to ensure the ownership transfer and not just to complete yet another milestone. -Pravin Thakur, offshore development head, This book is a good reference for the ownership-transfer approach. It covers aspects related to both management and engineering practices. Vinod has very well explained his experience, to which we can relate. -Anish Cheriyan, director-quality, Huawei Technologies, India Ownership transfer is not an everyday affair in project delivery. Neither is it so rare that people in the industry can wish it away. It is a crucial phase of projects and lays the foundation for a new beginning. At the same time, it is a perilous path as this phase brings with it many unknown unknowns. It is also dangerous because leaders are not always in control of situations given the multi-party involvement. Vinod brings out much needed attention and focus to an underrated topic through this book. The book provides details on both hard and soft aspects that play out during an ownership transfer. It also brings an interesting angle on using Agile principles for such activities. A must-read for technologists who want to handle such transitions professionally. -Padmanabhan Kalyanasundaram, head of the delivery excellence group at Mindtree We are starting to see the influence of Agile combined with digitization in almost every organization. Ownership of these initiatives is a key criterion to making Agile successful in today's fast-paced tech world. Vinod has captured the essence of ownership in delightful detail, including the challenges and pitfalls, which are illustrated very well with real-life examples. He brings in a refreshing approach to taking ownership utilizing the fundamental principles of Agile. A very useful book for transition managers and all members in the delivery organization. -Jijo Olassa, CEO and cofounder, Verbat Technologies Project transitions are common in a multi-actor world. One of the key components of transition is knowledge transfer. Vinod provides a practitioner's multidimensional perspective on best practices to adopt covering technical and human-related aspects. It covers Lean Agile, the three bridges, and specific measurement metrics to quantify the efficacy of the process. These are based on real-life experiences from the trenches. If you are interested in quickly executing the insights in this book, you would find the Things to Know and Do sections extremely crisp and actionable. Overall it fills a much-needed knowledge gap and can serve as an execution playbook for effective project transfers. -Derick Jose, cofounder, Flutura Vinod has put together a compelling book that illustrates how not to be doing knowledge transfers. He has then married Agile philosophies to provide a completely different take on knowledge transfers, or ownership transfers, as he calls them. Since I had run a similar exercise, I could relate to a lot of the principles in the book. Coming from a product management background, I was particularly interested in the concept of 'continuous business.' The narrative-driven style ensures that the book is an easy read. The approaches given in this book will aid any IT organization as they execute their restructuring efforts or revamp their sourcing strategies. -Linda Taylor, product manager, This book addresses a topic missing in current literature. It provides a valuable addition to the professional literature. In particular, the text is based upon the actual experiences of the author and his team. Numerous real-life examples are cited and bring the text a rich sense of practical advice. More important, the author has generalized the team experience and shown how this knowledge may be applied generally. While the book focuses primarily upon the issues faced by teams who use an Agile approach, most of the topics can be applied more globally. I have participated in ownership transfer, especially in the re-insourcing of IT services from Electronic Data Systems to the Blue Shield of California client team. Almost all of that development had been accomplished in a more traditional fashion. We would have benefited greatly from having a guidebook such as this to assist us. -Daniel Scott, chief consultant, LD Scott Consulting A thorough and interesting account of a complex handover. This book talks candidly about a topic that the industry prefers not to address openly. This unique insight provides lessons for anyone thinking about taking over or handing over the development and running of a system. Seeing where others have succeeded and failed gives real practical guidance on everything from the structuring of contracts to the running of the teams. -Brett Ansley, CPO, Organizations constantly strive for operational excellence, which also translates into expensive initiatives in the form of business transformation projects. The most crucial aspect of these projects is not about going for the best solution but about ensuring transition into superior business processes with minimal disruption. Every servicing organization has a certain well-documented methodology for these transition activities. However, most of these methodologies suffer from near-sighted or one-sided risk mitigation strategies (for the vendor only) and often result in frustration and unhappiness on the client's part. Vinod is putting together a well-defined framework around this critical aspect of project delivery. This book will be a handy tool for novices as well as for seasoned professionals in providing a structured framework for transition with crucial business transformation projects. The emphasis on Agile methodology for knowledge transfer is very relevant right now as more and more customers are moving out of waterfall delivery expectations and are aiming for quicker payback from their investments. This book will help servicing vendors in delivering critical projects smoothly sans any operational risk or any cultural shock alike. -Gaurav Mishra, enterprise data architect, BMO Harris Bank Knowledge transition is important to any project. Vinod has shown how it can be made collaborative and effective while focusing on business continuity with his vast experience in ownership transfers. This book is useful for anyone attempting to move projects between teams located anywhere. -Pramod Sadalage, coauthor of NoSQL Distilled and Refactoring Databases: Evolutionary Database Design Each IT application transfer project has its nuances and while there is a framework and best-practice guideline-the success or otherwise of a project is based on a clear understanding of its nuances and challenges, which would then pave the way for a well thought-out transfer program. Vinod has articulated well the need to strike a balance between leveraging such a standard framework and chalking out a fit-for-purpose program. Vinod has further brought this out through some options, such as, for instance, by outlining the efficacy of DevOps model, a model that seems to stand a much better chance of succeeding. IT application transfer projects often go off rails due to a short-term focus. Vinod has again described the importance of defining a scope that looks beyond the short-term milestones and considers the overall needs of the business-that is, the sustainability of the outcome of such transfer projects. A critical success factor for an IT application transfer project is the need for upfront and continuing trust among all stakeholders, and more importantly, an alignment on the mutual benefit of the project. Vinod has articulated well the people dynamics and how an 'upfront foundation of trust' could cut out wastes in the process and ensure that teams are working for a common purpose. Blatantly obvious, but Vinod has stressed the importance of this dynamic in a very compelling manner. -Ravikumar MR, head of strategic operations - global markets, Allied World Assurance Company This book is not a theoretical dissertation on transferring ownership of a software project; it is a usable reference guide on how to set up a project to enable successful transition. Many of the ideas generated will lead to a healthy team environment and make for better all-around product delivery. -Sameer Deans, delivery partner (principal consultant) This book is an excellent treatise on a highly critical subject, which is often not only taken for granted but also done incorrectly. The book is even more credible as Vinod has expounded the topic based on his extensive practical experience. IT products and solutions are highly valuable knowledge-based assets, and therefore it is imperative that the 'ownership' of knowledge transfer be done diligently. The approach propounded by Vinod, which is based on Agile principles, will certainly help in significantly reducing the disruptions and uncertainties not only during the transfer process, but more importantly, after the transfer as well. -Sunil Mundra, Agile principal consultant, ThoughtWorks In a fast-paced world where knowledge transfer is often outstripped by the speed of business-with the next project often takes focus before the last project is fully embedded and sustainably maintained-Vinod provides much-needed practical insights that bring agility to this last mile of implementation. -Betty Enyonam Kumahor, managing partner, The Cobalt Partners This book breaks the misconception that software ownership transfer is confined to knowledge transfer. Through various anecdotes, Vinod takes us on a journey of the complete spectrum of software ownership transfer, discussing the technology issues, process issues, people issues, emotional issues, security issues, stakeholder expectations, etc. He also gives practical information on how to use Agile methodology in ownership transfer and how we measure progress. A good read if you are involved in any kind of software ownership transfer. -Dattatri Salagame, COO - digital transformation and enterprise solutions, Happiest Minds Technologies In an IT application knowledge-transition scenario, it is the ownership transfer that makes or breaks the day. This is seldom understood. Vinod has brought out this aspect with good anecdotes from other situations as well. -Ramesh Ramakrishnan, Tata Consultancy Services The book provides some excellent examples and food for thought to anyone who is considering or about to embark on the perilous journey that is software ownership transfer. Pulling from the concepts and principles of Agile development, as well as from the author's own broad experience, the reader will be well armed with a list of considerations to help them work through the handover process. A worthwhile read! -Cecile Diener, product manager, Equidelta

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