image

Digital transformation

Digital transformation: Three ways to gain an edge

The ability to develop and deliver new digital capabilities fast has proven vital for seizing unexpected and highly dynamic opportunities in today’s uncertain times. Nobody knows quite what’s in store for this year, but the organizations that can pivot fast will undeniably edge out their less agile peers.

On the other side of the spectrum are organizations in industries fundamentally altered by the pandemic. These industries will eventually come back—and when they do, the smartest and leanest players will be the ones leading the resurgence.

Whether your business is focused on accelerating innovation in response to immediate opportunities, maximizing efficiency to increase long-term competitiveness, or a combination of both, here are three commonly overlooked moves that can help you get ahead…

Unlock opportunities for collaboration and reuse across product teams and divisions

The trend over the past decade or so has been towards self-governing product teams—championing team autonomy and resulting in different teams with different development methodologies, tool sets, and even different cultures. This is great for motivation, culture, and ownership. But for cross-team sharing and collaboration? Not so much.

Teams working on interconnected applications in distinctly different ways creates an environment ripe for inefficiency. At the points of intersection, there are often overlooked opportunities to share code, test assets, and deployment artifacts rather than burn resources reinventing the wheel. Oppositely, the many process and tooling variations that evolve over time make it difficult to shift people across teams as project needs and priorities shift. All of this has the net effect of slowing innovation speed and increasing digital transformation costs.

You don’t want to take what each team has built and try to homogenize it. Different approaches and technologies make sense for different project types and application stacks. Your SAP team is not going to work in the same manner as the team building out your next-gen mobile experience.  But there are almost certainly untapped opportunities for collaboration and sharing—especially at the boundaries where different products and components interact. Abstracting what each team is creating, then making it available in a shared overarching layer, can help teams quickly discover synergies, avoid unnecessary rework, and focus on the specialized work that their team is designed to tackle. 

Identify and resolve your top application delivery bottlenecks

Without smart and efficient developers, you simply won’t be able to meet your innovation objectives. But unless speedy developers are working within an application delivery process that’s streamlined from start to finish, you risk being outmaneuvered by more agile peers. 

In report after report, software testing is perpetually cited as the #1 bottleneck to application delivery—largely because it fails to tap automation for the tedious, repetitive tasks required to determine if updates change or break existing functionality. This not only slows your response to urgent/emerging business opportunities; it also consumes an average of 23-35% of the overall IT spend.

Other common application delivery bottlenecks include:

  • Too much—or too little—time spent planning
  • Poorly communicated and constantly-changing requirements
  • Technical debt (shortcuts taken during one cycle) that makes change slow and risky
  • Discovery of defects and security vulnerabilities late in the cycle (or in production)

Practices like Value Stream Management and Software Delivery Management can help you identify your most pressing issue(s). Consult with analysts such as Gartner, Forrester, and IDC, as well as your peers and domain experts (e.g., in DevOps, security, software testing, etc.), for guidance as you chart the optimal path forward.

Jump on migration projects now

Change is always hard… but in terms of migrations, short-term pain leads to long-term gain in speed and efficiency. Let’s look at two examples in particular: cloud and SAP.

By now, everyone recognizes the advantages of moving applications and workloads to the cloud. Nobody denies that the resulting speed/agility gains, scalability, and cost-savings are needed now more than ever. Making the change inevitably involves some upfront investment and risk, but delaying the inevitable is a surefire way to get left behind in competitive markets. If you’re not ready to make the leap in digital transformation right now, at least start charting your path. To avoid costly delays and rework later, start prioritizing what should move first, understanding where your top risks lie, and exploring what’s really needed to achieve fast time to value.

The move to SAP S/4HANA (which could also involve shifting to SAP Cloud) is another opportunity to boost innovation and agility while decreasing costs. Everything about S/4HANA—from intelligent automation, to broader connectivity across the enterprise, to a new generation of insights and analytics—is targeted to enable smarter, more impactful business processes. SAP’s looming 2025 “migration mandate” places an increased sense of urgency on this initiative. Moving sooner rather than later not only gives you an advantage over slower-moving peers. It’s also going to be much easier (and less costly) to get top-tier consultants on board now than it will be when organizations worldwide are scrambling closer to the imminent deadline.

In conclusion

At Tricentis, we’ve seen how these strategies have helped companies like McKesson rapidly respond to urgent needs (orchestrating insanely complex COVID-19 vaccine distribution processes, for example). We’ve also witnessed leaders in hard-hit industries (for example, IHG in the travel and leisure sector) apply these same strategies to increase efficiency in the short-term in order to become more agile and competitive in the long term. Others, like Danone, are using them to respond to growth opportunities while keeping a close eye on cost pressures. No matter what your current focus is—or what challenges and opportunities 2021 brings—having leaner, modernized processes will most certainly provide a competitive advantage.

As Jeff Keisling, retired CIO of Pfizer, recently shared with us: “There’s no better deal that a CIO or an IT executive can make to their enterprise than to say, ‘I can help fund future growth by driving efficiencies and streamlining your operations.’”