For many businesses, the traditional IT development cycle and transition to production has historically been one of waterfall design and testing processes followed by resilience and failover testing, before delivery to live through change management. Stability is the watch-word; no impact to live. Safe, in other words.

The new world of cloud, social media and mobile is one of fast-paced change and short development cycles, iterative releases, new functionality, often in response to customer feedback.  Many challengers and innovators in this area are used to operating at a pace that limits exposure to delivering in a highly regulated environment or in dealing with data protection, assurance issues or security.  The demands of this approach on the sheer pace of the propagation of change through an organisation (and its test environments) can be a culture shock for organisations unused to iterative and agile development.

Trying to ensure that you stay involved with the “cool and fun” digital developments while still supporting traditional IT can prove challenging but here are three things that might help.

Be involved

Make it easy to try new things.  Your ambition should be that the IT department is the easiest route to create a proof of concept.  Today where all you need to get access to Cloud computing resources (like Amazon Web Services) is a credit card this is not easy.   However, it is possible to quickly set up a proof-of-concept within a virtual environment – with a fixed-duration, naturally.  There are many “proofs of concept” that can be tested when your organisation wants to try something new.

Be adaptable and innovative

IT and solution design and delivery is inherently a creative problem-solving activity, housed within a structured approach.  You will no doubt have experiences of programmes where the ultimate successful delivery hinged on a new way to do something that nobody had tried before.  However, you will also have built up a wealth of “near misses” and a healthy caution towards the cavalier.  We need to move away from “that won’t work because …” and “we tried that before and it didn’t work” to a mentality that is more: “How can we make that work in a way that is supportable?

But be rigorous

To be responsive to the needs of the business requires good (and slick) internal processes in the IT department.  Standard images, virtual builds and automation.  It can’t take three weeks to give some developers a POC environment when they can get one from a cloud service provider with a credit card in three hours.  And the more involved you are at the start the more easily you can ensure that the discipline of things like release processes between environments, test data integrity and security are adhered to, instilling the rigour that you will want later when transitioning into live.

In summary, be ready and prepared for the challenge to be more nimble and responsive, or you might find yourself just keeping the show on the road while all the cool stuff is happening elsewhere.

 If your objective is managing innovation, transforming with digital technologies, minimising complexity or developing new mobile or IoT apps, our consultants can help design and deliver the appropriate plans and architectures. If you’re seeking expertise to support your existing initiatives, contact Exception today.

David G Luke

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