There are many things that come together to make a digital product or service delivery a success. Knowing your users and their needs. Understanding your organisation and how it functions. And either having the in-house technical expertise to deliver digital solutions, or working in partnership with a firm like us.
But there are other considerations: things we’ve learned that might provoke you, but will result in successful digital product delivery. Here are seven of them.
1. Ignorance is bliss
If you accept you don’t know everything at the start of a software delivery project, it’s no bad thing. It can lead to a thorough and comprehensive discovery phase, which identifies how people actually do things or what users really want, and could unearth hidden influencers who could scupper the project later on.
2. Failure is fine
It’s fine if you fail early. It’s okay to live with uncertainty at the start of a new endeavour and test out hypotheses to see if they work. That way, you don’t have to waste time and money later on, which is a major disadvantage with the waterfall approach.
3. Freedom not fear
For ignorance and failure to yield positive results, you need to create an open environment where individuals and teams feel safe to experiment, get negative outcomes and make mistakes, without fear of reprisals. The aim should be to learn and improve continually. Also, good ideas should be able to reach the surface from anywhere in the organisation, but that’s down to your culture.
4. Distribute decisions
Also down to your culture is the ability to make decisions at every level. A lot of organisations think along the lines of command and control, where important decisions are pushed to the top. The challenge is for you to move away from slow-moving command and control, top-down structures, and empower people to make appropriate decisions at every level. So, if you want successful IT delivery, structure your whole organisation around making decisions faster.
5. Kill your silos
Operating silos for different stages of development no longer provides the speed and efficiency the modern world demands. So, open them up. It’s good practice to incorporate different disciplines and functions into your teams. Product, design, engineering, test, security, UX - it’s an approach we’ve found to be highly successful. It reduces transition noise. It utilises a broad set of skills and perspectives to solve problems. And it minimises loops and accelerates timeframes.
6. Be radically user focused
For some businesses, it can be a huge shift to focus on the user, instead of what the organisation, the executives, or a particular department thinks. But it can be a shift that enhances delivery. We take clients on a journey of being more user driven which involves researching users, and testing and interacting with them. We find it leads to a better end product, with valuable feedback that the development team can incorporate into their work.
7. Agile isn't everything
Agile development practices are great for so many things: requirements discovery, collaborative development, self-organising and cross-functional teams, an end user focus, evolutionary development, early delivery, continual improvement, flexible responses to change. The list goes on. But guess what, it doesn’t mean agile is good for everything. While it’s good early on, there comes a point when you want to stabilise things, and bring other techniques to bear. Software delivery is all about using the right tools in the right context at the right time. And we can help with that.
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