Analyst Watch: Transform your software delivery
By Mike Gilpin
June 5, 2012 —
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Related Search Term(s): agile, continuous delivery
Forrester Research recently found that 81% of business leaders surveyed believe that technology is a fundamental element of their business model. Software is increasingly center stage in business' ability to deliver new products or services and to exploit new channels. This relationship has blurred the lines between business and technology innovation; where technology was once a servant, it is now engaged in a more symbiotic partnership with the business. But this increases complexity, uncertainty and urgency—technology must work in business time, requiring increased delivery velocity.
Being center stage is exciting, but also carries high risk. Business expectations are much higher, and your software delivery operation will experience the most powerful forces at work in the business technology world today, including customers that have more choice and voice, empowered (and demanding) users, and real-time business analytics that put data at the fingertips of people all over your organization, people who will demand smarter apps.
Minor tweaks to traditional approaches won't cut it. These traditional approaches sought to optimize technologies, assets and specialized functions in pursuit of efficiency and value. Their supposed efficiency, modeled on mass production, doesn't work when the definition of the problem keeps changing, because app delivery leaders find it difficult to change their processes, technology and team composition in response.
The intersection of new business models with new technology is the most fertile ground for new business opportunities, but succeeding at business technology innovation is not about automating known processes. Innovative teams must explore and observe more than they analyze or design. By delivering working examples early and often, teams enable business and technology sponsors to validate their understanding of the requirements and the solution, an approach that provides insight and enables course corrections.
Modern approaches to software delivery must reduce risk by delivering working software frequently, keeping it small to avoid costly mistakes, involving the right people in the delivery process, and empowering a decision-maker. One of the biggest sources of waste in traditional software delivery projects is waiting for the right set of decision-makers to meet to provide direction and review requirements or architectures.
Unfortunately, the reality for many businesses is that change is happening much faster than ever before. To keep up, software delivery organizations must adopt a continuous delivery approach, and increase the use of automation and tools. In the context of rapid change, quickly ensuring that everyone on the team knows what other members of the team are doing reduces miscommunication and increases synergies. It also enables teams to see problems as they happen so they can adjust in flight.
Few elements of software delivery are more crucial to succeeding at a product approach than quality. Expectations of internal apps' quality are also rising as users become more sophisticated. They want their internal apps to work more like consumer apps. Add to this the increased integration and complexity of modern software, and you have the perfect quality storm. Increasing quality requires an end-to-end focus on and a broader view of quality. It also requires that everyone be responsible for quality.