2010 Priorities for Application Development and Delivery Professionals

Last summer, all the research teams across Forrester conducted a special “deep dive” research project to study the roles we serve, to find out more about what’s most important to you, and how we can do an even better job of serving you. We interviewed 32 application development and delivery professionals, and studied their responses. These folks were a mix of clients and non-clients, from North America and Europe.

Since we completed this project, we have been working to incorporate the lessons learned into our strategy for running the team, as well as our research agenda, and the organization of our client-facing site. Several pieces of research that we decided to produce as a result of this study have already been published, and even more are on the way, such as Apply Lean Thinking To Your Custom And Packaged Application Portfolios. The new site organization, primarily embodied as a tuned-up set of Success Imperatives (the current issues most critical to our clients’ success), will be launched in January 2010.

We hope you’ll find what we learned interesting, as it reflects the world you’re living in, the challenges you face, and the approaches you are taking to respond to them. Some of the most important findings of the research, and the way they are shaping our research agenda and strategy, include:

  • Product centricity is an important trend. Product centricity is emerging as a hot new trend, driven by the desire to get closer to the business — a.k.a. Business Technology and Lean, and to focus software investments more strategically to drive revenue. It is a distinctive, value-based approach to software development, led by high-performing “product-centric” development teams that are linked closely to the core profit-generating parts of their company’s value chain, who partner closely with both their customers and business stakeholders, and who own the business results that their software delivers. Result: I asked Roy Wildeman and Dave West to co-author a new report on this trend, titled Product-Centric Development Is A Hot New Trend. It will be finished this week, and will be published in December or January. This is just the start of a series of research on this phenomenon, which we found is being implemented by over a third of application development IT shops.
  • Delivery focus is the yin to the yang of product centricity. That’s not to say that product-centric teams don’t care about delivery, but delivering on-time, on budget, with a competitive value/cost profile, is what keeps the app dev leaders who deliver non-core applications “up at night.” Delivery focused app dev leaders are working to improve the effectiveness of their organization’s delivery capabilities, improving practices for project management, business analysis, portfolio management, and release management. Result: We have increased the focus of the relevant analysts – Mary Gerush, Margo Visitacion, and Phil Murphy – on serving these needs. Recently delivered research produced from this effort includes Define, Hire, And Develop Your Next-Generation Project Managers and Project Manager Assessment Workbook.
  • The PMO leader wants more directed research from us. PMO leaders are one of the important roles we serve under the “application development and delivery” umbrella, but you couldn’t always tell from what we published. Result: Margo Visitacion and Mary Gerush are producing more research to serve this community, for example: Making The Case For The Next-Generation PMO and Embrace Risk-Focused Project Management. We also have a newly updated Wave of PPM tools in the works, reflecting a new set of selection criteria that better align with the business-level concerns we see as central to the impetus behind the next-generation PMO.
  • App dev leaders want more help in finding and developing staff. We have already been gradually ramping up our work in this area over the last couple of years, as evidenced by Mary Gerush’s research on Business Analysts and Project Managers. But there’s more we can, and will, do. Result: Jeffrey Hammond has initiated an ongoing series of research to produce Developer TechnoGraphics, data on application developers that is informing our research in many areas, and which includes salary and skills benchmarks. We also kicked off a series on various aspects of staffing and skills, with Phil Murphy’s report Global Workforce Planning Through 2016: How Population Shifts Will Affect The Supply Of IT Skills, and Dave West’s report Case Study: Beefing Up Software Developer Skills.
  • App dev pros have trouble finding the right research on our site. We found that clients sometimes didn’t see themselves and their needs clearly reflected in our site organization. Result: We have reorganized our Success Imperatives to align with the segmentation and information needs we learned about from our deep dive project. We are also making sure that the vast majority of our research really does reflect these concerns, although there will always be some research that emerges outside the context of these planned areas of emphasis, driven by new discoveries or industry events.

The new Success Imperatives you’ll see starting in January, as the top-level structure of our role-based site, are:

  1. Manage projects, programs, applications, and portfolios to meet delivery commitments
  2. Choose and deliver applications, technology, and architecture to support the business strategy
  3. Bring a product- or service-centric focus to software development and delivery
  4. Improve the quality (including user experience, security, and performance) of application services
  5. Manage people, skills, sourcing, and organization to sustain an innovative global workforce
  6. Drive innovation in application delivery practices and business outcomes

I hope you found this interesting, to see a bit of how the sausage is made. If you have any feedback on these ideas, please just comment here in the blog, or feel free to send me a private message at mgilpin@forrester.com.

Sincerely,
Mike Gilpin
VP / Research Director