Previously, I shared the results of a recent survey
of nearly 500 global IT and business executives. The findings illustrate a growing pain within IT departments and across the enterprise: 71 percent of companies aren’t equipped to meet growing internal business demand for new mobile and customer-facing applications.
The problems go beyond a lack of sufficient resources. The research also identified that more than two-thirds of companies fail to consistently meet key success criteria for the projects they pursue. These success factors include delivering apps on-time and on-budget, meeting business requirements and producing quantifiable business value.
While multiple factors play into these results, the bottom line is that if IT continues as is, this “app delivery chasm” will only continue to grow. In order to survive and thrive, IT teams need to adapt their practices and improve their ability to meet business demand.
The companies that have avoided or overcome the chasm – 29 percent of businesses surveyed – have many shared characteristics. The research revealed certain factors that correlate with higher performance and successful outcomes. Successful organizations implement the following best practices:
1. Adopt an Application Strategy
Organizations with an application strategy enjoyed 1.5 times the success of their peers. In addition to meeting business demand, these high-performing respondents actually experience more demand than those without a strategy in place. This correlation shows that positive outcomes lead to greater recognition and additional interest from across the business.
An example of this framework is Gartner’s pace-layered application strategy. The strategy provides an organized view of all existing applications and aims to categorize new applications as ideas arise. This can be based on a variety of factors like the distinctiveness of the capabilities, expected rate of change and the level of importance to the business.
Ultimately, an application strategy helps IT departments manage application needs and tailor their approach based on the unique criteria of each project. For example, a new system of innovation typically requires greater business involvement along with more iterations and flexibility than systems of record. Recognizing these unique factors will ensure that IT utilizes the appropriate development tools and methods for each project.
2. Get Business Users Involved
Involving business users and leaders (more than just maintaining alignment) will have a tremendous impact on project success rates. There are two facets of business involvement that correlate with improved delivery rates: IT-business collaboration and direct business participation in the development process. Respondents who involved the business in these ways are 1.8 times as successful in delivering business apps.
For all projects, especially those that impact innovation efforts, it’s important to have a development environment that fosters IT-business collaboration across the entire project lifecycle. This means implementing a common platform that can be understood by all stakeholders and encourages feedback throughout the design, development and iterate stages.
Beyond a common language and feedback mechanism, the platforms should also empower domain experts to take a leading role in app development. These individuals have a host of knowledge and can help boost productivity, provided they have the means to participate directly without the complexity and steep learning curve of traditional programming languages.
3. Modernize the Development Environment
Finally, IT teams need to update their development environments to support rapid app development. Respondents who modernized their development tools were twice as successful as their counterparts. Digging deeper into the data, it becomes clear that two main elements are critical to eliminating infrastructure distractions.
These factors include the ability to easily create and share working prototypes for user feedback and an integrated deployment environment for publishing instantly to the cloud. Combined, these modern tools increase speed and agility, and allowed for more iterative and collaborative development processes.
This new style of app delivery isn’t well supported by traditional tools and approaches. As companies look to innovate, they’ll need a single comprehensive platform that eliminates infrastructure concerns and facilitates a modern development approach.
Crossing the App Delivery Chasm Requires a New Approach
While it may appear daunting, crossing the app delivery chasm is possible. Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents are well positioned to manage growing business demand for new applications and successfully compete in today’s digital economy, and many more are already planning to make the necessary adjustments.
What brought us here will not get us there. Traditional development practices are important for many of scenarios, but will not work for app delivery projects that prioritize urgency or flexibility. In these instances, a modern approach that supports innovation and competition is critical, but even more so, is a framework that aids IT in determining the best development approach for each business need.
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