So your company is heavily investing in working Agile. Your teams are continually improving, and your company culture is focused on stimulating individuals and their talents. Your priority is adding value for your customers by delivering great products. But one thing keeps you up at night: why does it still take so long for those products to launch? Now that we’re fully Agile, shouldn’t we be delivering much faster?
Business owners have invested time and resources in new ways of working and are keen to see the results. Additionally, IT managers want to keep IT risk low and control costs. The good news is that it is possible to maximize business agility potential and speed up your product delivery. The first step is to start viewing IT as a strategic enabler for your business and introducing new IT capabilities into your teams. When business and IT work together, it equals a win-win for both the company and the customer. But how to get this done? I have formulated five IT capabilities that will significantly accelerate your product delivery. Each capability eliminates delaying steps in the process, including automating steps that are currently executed manually(for example, task integration, testing, and server installation). Steps where much expensive rework is introduced unnoticed (for instance, misunderstanding customer needs). Steps that are carried out too late and where belated feedback result in a host of expensive and time-consuming adjustments (such as compliance and security measures). Steps rife with delaying problems(like infrastructure and tooling). With the tools and techniques available to us today, we can redesign the steps and achieve tremendous acceleration in delivery. Keen to hold on to or even improve your market position? Read on!
Capability 1: Build the Right Product
What is it?
Most product errors only come to light at the very end of a project or iteration, during user acceptance tests. For example, it becomes clear that the functionality of the product does not match the needs of the user. These are expensive and labor-intensive errors to fix. Using techniques such as domain-driven design andspecification-by-example, users and product developers work together right from the concept stage. Together they define the desired product features in a language understandable for both the team and end-users. This way, everyone has the same expectations and understanding of how the product will function.
Adopting this method will minimize the chance that an end-product does not meet the needs of the users or the business at a later stage. Throughout development, automated daily user tests are performed to detect deviations and regression in the desired functionality. Manual user-acceptance tests in the final stages of development are a thing of the past
Capability 2: Continuous Delivery and Release on Demand
What is it?
Launching product features is best done without obstacles in the delivery pipeline. That’s why modern IT organizations and teams use the continuous delivery pipeline, where features evolve seamlessly from idea to construction to testing and finally to production. Once final, it’s up to the business team to decide whether to offer a feature to users by switching toggles, for example to "release on demand.”
All obsolete and delaying process steps are eliminated or automated, resulting in a continuous delivery pipeline. With the push of a button, a new feature can be automatically built, tested, and delivered.
Capability 3: Detect and Recover Fast
What is it?
Once your product is live, and your customers are using it, you want to fix any problems that may arise quickly. This means rapid detection of issues followed by fast and efficient repairs. Monitoring tooling for detecting issues is becoming more and more sophisticated. The most recent systems are even able to predict problems based on previously encountered issues (AIOps). Once problem shave been solved, features are quickly relaunched viathe continuous delivery pipeline.
Eliminating handovers between departments that detect the problems and teams that solve them speeds up the process significantly. Detection, repair, and relaunch now take place within the same team.
Capability 4: Easy Infra and Containers
What is it?
This capability entails moving your infrastructure to the cloud and making it available to teams through self-service. If a team member needs a server, that person presses a button, and the server is available, fully configured. Modern organizations also use “containers” to easily ship and operate applications onto this infrastructure.
No more requesting manually configured servers that never work as expected. Instead, pre-configured servers are available immediately. No delays. Using containers makes the whole process even faster. Installing products requires nothing more than installing a container on a server, which is straightforward and quick.
Capability 5: Always Compliant and Always Secure
What is it?
“Always compliant” means working according to the demands made by external stakeholders. These stake-holders often require proof of executed test activities, and to deliver this proof, you ensure there are automatictests connected to features. You also ensure these tests generate the desired evidence.“Always secure” refers to the idea that security should not be seen as a last resort but instead integrated into the development process. Security controls are built into the system architecture. Penetration tests are automated and carried out nightly.
Instead of lengthy (often manual) processes at the tailed of a delivery process, your work is always secure and compliant, without investing more time or resources.
You can significantly speed up your product delivery, improve product quality, and increase satisfaction among your colleagues by empowering them to work autonomously with modern tools. Ultimately, adopting these capabilities into your organization results in happier customers.
Convinced? Go and embrace your IT manager. Shake each other’s hands and stop seeing IT as a line item in your budget. Your IT team is strategically crucial to your company’s success, and by investing in these capabilities, you’re putting the customer first. Speeding up your deliveries through business agility; it’s in your hands.