Too many businesses believe that their digital business strategy is actually a roadmap, or a series of IT projects. Being digital is a capability – in your business it impacts the culture, metrics, organization, skills, and finally – the technology.
As a CIO, one of the most important roles you’ll play is helping to make the business FAST – removing friction points from processes and enabling new capabilities to be developed as required by the customer, partners, and business stakeholders. Too often technology is one of the (many!) bottlenecks in our ability to quickly meet customer needs or respond to changing or new competitive threats.
I recently had the chance to spend some time with some senior technology leaders in Sydney discussing the need for quality when delivering digital business outcomes. With the growing need for speed, many businesses sacrifice quality for speed. This is ok – to an extent – but there are also many companies with their own horror stories of delivering a mobile app that is unstable, a website that is slow, or a connected/smart product that doesn’t work as planned. It can take years to recover from negative feedback and bad mobile app ratings, and poor products can cost millions in ongoing customer support.
Unfortunately, QA and Testing have too often been afterthoughts in the rush to Agile development. Your Quality Assurance and Testing practices must adapt to digital business too – testing needs to be able to accelerate development – not slow it down. QA needs to focus on customer needs. The QA team needs to speak the language of the customer, get involved with new technology projects at the ideation stage, line up and manage test data before it is required, and empower developers to do much of the testing themselves.
Formula One has gotten us all used to amazing speed. In as little as three seconds, F1 pit teams replace all four wheels on a car and even load in dozens of liters of fuel. Pit stops are no longer an impediment to success in F1 — but they can be differentiating to the point where teams that are good at it win and those that aren’t lose.
It turns out that pit stops not only affect speed; they also maintain and improve quality. In fact, prestigious teams like Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Red Bull use pit stops to (usually!) prevent bad things from happening to their cars. In other words, pit stops are now a strategic component of any F1 racing strategy; they enhance speed with quality. But F1 teams also continuously test the condition of their cars and external conditions that might influence the race.
My question: Why can’t we do the same with software delivery? Can fast testing pit stops help? Today, in the age of the customer, delivery teams face a challenge like none before: a business need for unprecedented speed with quality — quality@speed. Release cycle times are plummeting from years to months, weeks, or even seconds — as companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Google prove.
I hear people talking about Agile 2.0 a lot. But when I look at what’s happening in the application development and delivery space, I see that many organizations are just now starting to experience Agile’s true benefits, and they’re not yet leveraging those benefits completely or consistently. So let’s stop talking about Agile 2.0 for a moment and instead digest and operationalize what’ve learned so far. There’s plenty to improve upon without getting into inventing new practices and acronyms to add to the Agile transformation backlog!
What I see is that app-dev leaders want to understand how they can optimize existing use of AD&D Agile practices like Scrum, XP, Kanban, improve the practices around the more advanced ones like TDD, continuous testing, CI and CD and leverage all with what they’ve learned over the years (including waterfall). Scaling the whole thing up in their organization in order to have a bigger and more consistent impact on the business is what their next key goal is. We fielded the 2013 version of our Global Agile Software Application Development Online Survey to find out how. I present and analyze this data in my latest report. The survey addressed common questions that clients ask me frequently get in inquiries and advisory, such as:
How can we test in a fast-paced environment while maintaining or improving quality?
How can we improve our Agile sourcing patterns to work effectively with partners?