Innovate or perish: That’s the challenge facing nearly every organization. Innovation is the key to creating differentiated products and services. The question is how to do it.
One answer is to adopt emerging technologies using advanced approaches such as Lean, DevOps and Agile. Over the past decade, I’ve driven several Java and .NET client projects using Agile. I found that Agile’s iterative-enhancement approach works well in the context of new features and unfamiliar technology. But I also found that many clients still needed a methodology for introducing new technologies.
To help them, I’ve experimented with a new method I call Agile Technology Adoption, or ATA for short.
Using Agile, we talk about creating a minimum viable product (MVP). But how do we get to the MVP? That’s what ATA is all about.
Why is this so important?
CIOs and other senior IT leaders face a big challenge when changing the business. On the one hand, they’re expected to bring new capabilities and business models to the products/services of the organization through digital transformation initiatives. On the other, they’re expected to keep running the current business in an uninterrupted and cost-efficient manner. That’s like changing a car’s tires while speeding down the highway!
To make it easier, ATA offers a “fail fast” Agile methodology for developing an MVP. Done right, ATA delivers change with new technologies and business models, bringing new benefits to the enterprise.
Developing an MVP is an important part of any digital transformation. Digitizing an organization — from its front office to its back office — requires two important steps:
- Developing systems with a customer-centric approach
- Automating the entire deployment and delivery process
ATA helps by providing a framework to “industrialize” the adoption of new technologies thereafter. This is done through delivery processes that reduce time to market.
How ATA works
ATA addresses three main challenges that organizations face when introducing new technologies:
- Not enough understanding of the use cases the technology would best address
- Not enough architecting expertise among the organization’s architects
- Not enough technology experience among the organization’s developers
To address these challenges, ATA methodology iterates on the use cases and architecture, then arrives at a reference solution that’s essentially an MVP. Further development is then transitioned to the applications team. They, in turn, utilize the reference use cases, architecture and MVP to accelerate the new technology’s adoption.
The ATA methodology involves 10 discrete steps, all typically doable in just 6 to 8 weeks:
- Identify a problem of low or medium complexity for which a new technology seems to provide a complete solution.
- For each use case identified, define a high-level solution architecture.
- Create a mock-up to mimic how the solution would function.
- Present the use cases to candidate users. Solicit their feedback, then refine the use cases.
- Develop a proof-of-concept version in a 4-week sprint, implementing as many of the use cases as possible.
- Assess the suitability of the technology and its high-level architecture to address the use cases.
- Make a go/no-go decision. If you decide to go, refine the use cases to define an MVP. And if the decision is no-go, then fail fast and return to Step 1.
- Develop the next level of the now-stable solution architecture and implement the MVP.
- Once the MVP is ready to be transitioned, identify a project team, perform a knowledge transfer, and transition further development to the project team.
At the end of this process, you should have an understanding of the technology, a reference MVP solution, and a team that has learned quickly how to deal with the technology. This is Agile adoption of new technology.
Are you ready to apply ATA? To answer that question, ask yourself one more: Are you still deploying the dated waterfall approach when introducing new technologies and features?
If so, you’re ready to try the ATA methodology. It’s a valuable new approach to your digital transformation.