DevOps: How Transformation Happens

DevOps:  How Transformation Happens

DevOps:  App development for the digital era

The era of transformation is upon us and disruption is omnipresent. Digitization has become imperative for all businesses – small, medium, and large. Digital transformation is not just about embracing new technology alone. First and foremost, it is about embracing change. Moreover, it’s about embracing change at the speed of thought. Businesses today must quickly and continuously adapt to dynamic market conditions, shifting business requirements, and ever-evolving consumer behavior.

Collectively, enterprise applications, the business processes they drive, and the consumers they serve constitute the target at which transformation or modernization initiatives are directed. Against today’s backdrop of constant change, the traditional, rigid, sequential and lengthy ‘waterfall’ model of IT delivery no longer suffices. It takes too long, costs too much and, ultimately, too often fails to deliver the expected benefits.

Today’s internet-of-everything, everything-as-a-service world demands application development and delivery at immense scale and scope, and at a blistering pace that was simply unimaginable just a decade ago. Those in charge of enterprise applications must look beyond established practices and accelerate the pace of translating business needs into application opportunities. This faster-paced, highly-disruptive, digitally-driven business climate drives the need to be more agile and deliver solutions faster with higher quality at a lower price, and with less risk.

The old “waterfall” software development cycle is no longer viable if enterprises wish to remain competitive. In connection with transformation, businesses are fast-tracking Agile and DevOps initiatives to improve speed-to-market while ensuring quality.  Most critically, Agile and DevOps methodologies are reinventing the way IT and business users (development and operations) work together to design and deliver applications. New practices, such as design thinking and Kanban, are elevating speed and time-to-value over lengthy, complex project cycles.

DevOps is all about increasing the feedback loop from idea to customer and back again. Adopting a “shift-left” approach helps teams focus on quality, work on problem prevention instead of detection, and begin testing earlier (and more frequently) than ever before.

DevOps brings IT and business together to investigate new technologies and trends, define the specific business opportunities they make possible for your organization, and continuously and quickly deliver iterative releases of multiple applications that delight end users and advance business.

The woeful failure rate of IT projects

When sophisticated technology is applied to complex business processes across global operations where hundreds or thousands of business end-users interact with an application or system, something is bound to go wrong. Implementing a new application is difficult enough. Making a change to a business application or enterprise system in use only increases the degree of difficulty and adds to the chances of failure by orders of magnitude.

Despite the inherent difficulty of enterprise technology initiatives, no one begins a project with the aim of going over budget, running beyond deadlines, or falling short of expectations. However, any number of factors can derail the best-intended project, including a lapse in leadership, insufficient planning or budgeting, poor communication, unforeseen complexity, or changing business requirements.

A project is typically deemed unsuccessful if it runs over budget, takes too long to complete, consumes too many resources, fails to deliver the business benefits promised, or is not embraced by end users.

This roundup of recent survey findings and analyst predictions paints a clear picture of the woeful failure rate (and high costs) of IT projects:

  • As reported in CIO, one leading analyst estimates that 30% to 35% of IT projects could be counted as failures as they fall short on delivering expected business value, take longer than expected, and/or cost more than projected.
  • Research conducted by McKinsey in collaboration with the University of Oxford suggests that half of all large IT projects—defined as those with initial price tags exceeding $15 million—massively blow their budgets. On average, according to the research, large IT projects run 45% over budget and 7% over time, while delivering 56% less value than predicted. In total, according to the McKinsey/Oxford study, these failed IT projects had a cost overrun of $66 billion, with every additional year spent on the project increasing cost overruns by 15%.

The picture is particularly bleak if we look at failure rates of IT projects focused on digital transformation or enterprise modernization:

  • A recent survey conducted by Geneca reveals that 75% of business and IT executives anticipate their software projects will fail.
  • Another top analyst firm predicts that 70% of siloed digital transformation (DX) initiatives will ultimately fail because of insufficient collaboration, integration, sourcing, or project management.
  • A new study conducted by Cisco shows that 60% of IoT initiatives stall at the Proof of Concept (PoC) stage and only 26% of companies have had an IoT initiative that they considered a complete success. Worse still, a third of all completed projects were considered failures.

DevOps delivers customer-centricity, speed and demonstrable, repeatable value

To be successful today, organizations must immerse themselves in their customer’s world, understand the nuance of their experiences, anticipate future needs, and constantly challenge existing business models and value propositions. As Peter Drucker says in The Practice of Management, “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” Ignoring Drucker’s truism is a recipe for failure, but what does this insight mean for IT?

Today, IT’s role is more strategic, and its value is measured by how well it serves in identifying and developing new revenue streams, how it helps create competitive differentiation and, most importantly, how it improves the customer experience.

In the context of next-generation enterprise applications, IT’s new role as a value-creator requires that wholesale changes be made to the entire development and delivery process.

Large projects that cost millions of dollars and take years to complete are a thing of the past. Applications must be delivered more quickly – in weeks or months, not years. Sure, initial iterations may not have all the bells and whistles, but the goal is to deliver as quickly as possible a viable version of the application for end users to test, validate, and provide feedback. Outcomes will be based on continuous modernization, not a multi-year transformation.

Huge risks are no longer acceptable. Enterprise application projects have shifted from cascading waterfall to continuous, iterative delivery, with multiple, short, well-defined sprints focused on specific outcomes running in unison. This new delivery framework eliminates massive overruns or complete project failures by assuring expected outcomes are met at every stage, while concurrently allowing for the inevitable changes in business requirements. Missteps are identified and corrected early, and a framework for sustainable, measurable value is established.

Speed, flexibility, accountability, and value are the new guiding principals in re-designing core applications and business processes, and leveraging emerging technology. Progressive, customer-obsessed businesses will lead the way.

Contact AST today to learn how our DevOps experts can help your organization keep transformation on track with fast, secure, and continuous application development and delivery.

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