Today many massive IT projects are started in many companies. Many of them are justified like changing the pipework in buildings: you just have to do it. The resulting improvement in customer experience is equal to that of a toilet seat after the pipework is redone.
Thus many – but by far not all – companies have already concluded that they cannot afford another project like this. Not because they lack the money, but because they cannot change their business during the project. They lose their ability to react and miss significant business opportunities during the project.
Think about these real-world examples I’ve come across:
- A fast food chain needs to have their eCommerce solution on the market in less than 6 months, otherwise they are already outdated when it goes live.
- A large European retailer rejects all 1+-year backend IT projects that don’t improve their customer experience. Instead everything is done in absorbable, understandable, incremental and value creating chunks.
- A medium sized retailer forces process re-engineering and faster time-to-market by implementing out-of-the-box standard software.
There are several examples on how thinking and doing the opposite have paralyzed many organizations and turned their focus inside rather than to the market and clients.
Agile, Lean and Standard Software
The last 24 months have taught me a whole lot about agile and lean software development. In the past, I connected these terms solely to IT but lately understood that rather than a single methodology it’s a mindset, a way to embrace change faster.
Today most business transformations are done with IT and the world around us is changing faster than ever before. Savvy business leaders have understood that
- IT is always present in transformation
- IT and standard software can be their best tool in transformation if used correctly
- Agile and Lean methodologies can significantly reduce financial and business risks while the benefits are reached earlier
- Changing processes is inevitable – customizing the solution is not.
Companies should stop buying classic IT projects
My conclusions are:
- The end of the classic, overwhelming, never-ending, waterfall programs. The speed of change will kill the companies that don’t stop doing them.
- The combination of Agile and Standard Software will become the typical way to change and make a difference in increments.
- Standard software is increasingly the basis and best practice. Starting from scratch is an alternative only for completely new types of businesses.
- The volume game is over for IT companies. Now it’s all about industry and solution specific knowledge. Focused teams supported by rigor in capability to carry through the continuous initiatives. The importance of talented people will increase.
- Winners build partnerships with trustworthy companies that have the right heritage and attitude to support fast change. Individual contract values become smaller but spend over time will rise.
I have had several very interesting discussions on these topics with colleagues and clients who have inspired me and others at Descom to rethink our delivery and business models. Many times I’ve thought we’ve found the right way, but soon realized that we only learned that there is much more to be developed – together with our clients.