Careers: Interviews
Jeff Kempiners, Top-ranking IT and Business Strategist, Leading Global Executive and Visionary, Avanade Inc.

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., ITCP, MVP, DF/NPA, CNP has an exclusive interview with Jeff Kempiners.

Jeff KempinersMr. Jeff Kempiners leads the strategic direction and growth of Avanade globally. Avanade has more than 7,200 professionals in 22 countries, including more than 230 in its Canadian business, which has offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal. Recently, the company grew its business by 25%.

A seasoned leader, Mr. Kempiners has more than 12 years of experience in IT management and consulting. Mr. Kempiners joined Avanade in August 2000 as a Solution Architect in the US-Central region. Most recently, he served as Avanade Canada Capability Director for Infrastructure and Application Solutions, and then Chief Technology Officer. Prior to joining Avanade, Mr. Kempiners was employed with Accenture in a variety of roles, including Systems Analyst, Project Manager, and Engagement Manager for large customer accounts in all industries.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:37: Can you provide your insights into application migration and how that fits into a modern software development lifecycle and the 'software factory' approach.
"....For me 'software factory' means taking the specialization of development to a slightly higher level so that it's going to encompass all aspects of the software development lifecycle. From business driven requirements gathering to coding standards and practices, testing, governance of the process, along with (and very importantly) accountability for performance - this should really be a metrics driven process. Your software development lifecycle should definitely allow you to take a 'big bang' approach to modernizing your software portfolio rather than the 'one step at a time' approach...."

:01:44: What is the 'big bang' approach? Can you describe this in more detail?
"....It can effectively be done in a variety of different ways. The most obvious approach is to modernize things as they become aging legacy or in some cases new legacy....Usually we would want to do that with as little dollars spent as possible so we would take a long time solving the problem - taking it off in bite size pieces. The 'big bang' approach is quite different because what you do there is to select a platform (we will use VB6 as an example) and you choose to do all your VB6 apps as quickly and as efficiently as possible....Having a software factory and a continuous improvement mindset allows you to constantly keep your software up-to-date and make maintenance just a part of doing business but not on the burning platform side but rather you're staying ahead of the curve...."

:06:59: Jeff shares the experience of a business using the 'big bang' approach.

:14:00: Some say that high performance companies don't need the services of a consulting company. What are your views on that?
"....Once your company is in the continuous improvement mode ideally you don't really need a consulting company - unless of course you choose to do that continuous improvement with an offshore capability or a near shore capability or some delivery center capability in order to keep your costs lower. Certainly there are some companies out there who use a consulting company to augment their staff around their software maintenance or their software migration...."

:17:29: Excellence in the Software Development LifeCycle (SDLC) is a prerequisite to what kinds of success?
"....Excellence in the Software Development LifeCycle is mostly a prerequisite to keeping your application management and your application maintenance costs low. It's certainly a prerequisite to having a metrics driven application lifecycle process.....Keeping away from the very high costs of long term aging legacy...."

:19:36:  Where does SOA help?
"....If you have a truly segmented service based application....It gives you sort of an encapsulation of projects. You can do them in manageable chunks one service at a time...."

:22:21: How and where is Application modernization an opportunity?
"....New revenue opportunities and a gain of efficiency or cost take out on the supply side..."

:24:25: What do you see as the top opportunities and innovations as an outgrowth of our discussion today?
"....Bringing people back to the table to talk about SOA....People starting to get a good handle on governance of their application portfolio....We are going to see some tools start to crop up around some of these ideas....We are going to see more comprehensive management tools for managing the end points of service calls so that we can more easily migrate or modernize composite applications and service calls in between. We also see more tools around developer efficiencies...."

:26:50: Can you delve into the top risks for businesses today?
"....To do nothing....Another risk is support...."

:28:30: If you were to design an ideal curriculum what kinds of things should it have?
"....It certainly should be technology agnostic (we shouldn't focus on one platform)...Have a focus on governance....You need to be metrics driven and have a really good governance model in place...A very thorough understanding of the day-to-day activities of the organization...."
:31:27: Jeff gives his current thoughts on the International Standard for IT Professionals initiative which Avanade is supporting formally. Can you provide an update of your work involvement with global certification and professionalism programs?
"....We are trying to take a 'think globally act locally' kind of approach where we are putting out global level thought leadership and understanding but really leaving it up to each locality to do what is right for them. The last thing we want to do is to force everybody down a road where in some cases doesn't make sense. We also don't want to leave that road untraveled because there are a great many places outside our portfolio of locations where that kind of standardization and certification processes are a very valuable thing...."

:34:44: What questions would you ask and what would be your answers if you were doing this interview?
"....Why is there such a deep seated need for metrics driven?....Don't I run a risk of alienating or potentially making some of my developers a little bit nervous with this approach?....Is it really necessary to move to this metrics driven model?...."


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