The modern business world echoes with the sound of time-tested business models being shattered by digital upstarts, while the rate of disruption is accelerating. Organizations that will win in this world must hone their ability to deliver high-value experiences, based on high quality software with very short refresh cycles. Customers are driving this shift; every experience raises their expectations and their choices are no longer limited. Like trust, loyalty takes years to build and only a moment to lose. The threat is existential: Organizations need to drive innovation and disrupt their competitors or they will cease to exist.  

The modern application delivery (MAD) strategy document of the MAD playbook that my colleague Kurt Bittner and I are co-leading, has a wealth of research to help transform IT led organizations in business technology leads to achieve high levels of continuous business innovation and to win, serve and retain customers.

In talking to hundreds of vendors, system integrators and end user clients that develop, test and deliver software and application every day we've come to realize that:

  • Your delivery strategy will depend on how much disruption you're living or will be forced to live soon. The key to success or survival will be building a continuous delivery pipeline process end to end from ideation to deployment, and optimizing the throughput of it. MasterCard at the Forrester 2014 AD&D event presented a great case study on how they are streamlining their worldwide and global delivery. Fascinating.
  • Success or survival or failure will depend on how fast you can align business strategy with application delivery. New business strategies focused on customer obsession require a holistic view, where app dev teams connect more directly to the business strategy and to customers. The more engaged delivery teams feel, the more motivated they will be to change their old practices, habits, and behaviors.
  • Business and application strategy alignment will be possible only if AD&D pros focus on eliminating barriers to make it all happen. In the same playbook the document  overcoming barriers to modern application delivery provides guidance on how you can identify and overcome barriers with focused and continuous assessment on 4 core areas: Business, organization, operational and technology. The 4 categories are at the core of the self-assessment framework you can download and use to focus on highest value business priorities for your continuous delivery improvement. 

With the assessment results in your pocket, your strategic plan should make you iterate over the following must-do steps:

  1. Identify Improvement Opportunities.  Charter your value stream mapping from client needs to delivery to define current and target status. Plan for removing the highest priority obstacles. 
  2. Implement Change.  Modernize mindset and behavior, and create a sense of urgency to make change part of everyone's job. Do this both top down, bottom up and side wise in your organization. 
  3. Deliver Results. You've identified and focused on the biggest improvement points. Choose the appropriate practices to execute your delivery. Systems of engagement that build mobile moments are probably the ones that will require small batches, continuous self service testing, cross functional teams, trunk based development at very short cadence times. 
  4. Measure impact. Track cycle time, throughput, process time and lead time. You want to see lead time decreasing and throughput augmenting.  Introduce value for the business into the equation. 

At each end of the cycle, go back to step 1, update your assessment data and pick the next problem to fix while you deliver more innovation. You might have noticed, we never used any of the magic words: Agile or DevOps – but at the core that's what you are doing – by making them means to the end.   Check out the full document to get more of the details. Hope you enjoy it, and let me know how you are doing !.