How to cross the app delivery chasm – three steps to success

A a recent Mendix survey of nearly 500 global IT and business executives illustrates a growing pain within IT departments and their broader organisations. According to the data, 71% of companies are ill-equipped to meet growing internal business demand for new mobile and customer-facing applications.

The survey results suggest that the problems aren’t just down to companies simply lacking sufficient resources to deliver against the demand. The research found that more than two-thirds of companies fail to consistently meet key success criteria for the projects they do pursue. These success factors include delivering apps on-time, delivering on-budget, meeting business requirements, and producing quantifiable business value.

This dreary reality, coined the App Delivery Chasm, is the outcome of a number of factors. The bottom line, however, is that if IT continues as is, the chasm will only grow more severe. IT teams already struggle with negative perceptions; any further derailment could be disastrous. In order to survive and thrive, IT teams must look to adapt their practices and improve their ability to meet business demand.

> See also: The three enterprise app snags still catching IT teams

On a happier note, our research also highlights that some 29% of companies currently reside on the positive side of the App Delivery Chasm. These high-performing organisations have many shared characteristics. In fact, our research revealed those factors that correlate with higher performance and successful outcomes.

This article outlines the top three success factors employed by these respondents on the positive-side of the App Delivery Chasm. Find out what they’re doing—from their strategy, to their people, to their development tools—so you can position your team for success in 2015 and beyond.

Implement an application strategy

Respondents who cited having an application strategy enjoyed 1.5 times the success of their peers. In addition to meeting business demand, these high-performing respondents actually experience more demand than those who did not have a strategy in place. This correlation may simply show that with positive outcomes, comes greater recognition, and then additional interest from across the business.

One such framework is Gartner’s pace-layered application strategy. The strategy provides an organised view of all existing applications and aims to categorise new applications as ideas arise based on factors such as the distinctiveness of the capabilities, expected rate of change, level of importance to the business and more.

Ultimately, an application strategy helps organisations manage application needs and tailor their approach based on the unique criteria of each project. In other words, such a framework helps ensure that you don’t tackle every project with a one-size fits all approach. Not only can a strategy help prioritise projects, but it can help IT teams to identify the appropriate development tools and methods required for each project.

For example, a new system of innovation typically requires greater business involvement along with more iterations and flexibility than systems of record. Recognising these unique factors will help ensure that you utilise the appropriate development tools.

Involve the business

Utilising a strategy to keep all stakeholders aligned is the first step to take. Involving the business (more than just maintaining alignment) will also have a tremendous impact on project success rates.

More than ever before, the business must play an active role in development projects. There are two facets of business involvement that correlate with improved delivery rates: IT-business collaboration and direct business participation in the development process. Respondents who involve the business in these ways are 1.8 times as successful in delivering business apps.

For all projects, especially those that impact innovation efforts, you need a development environment that fosters IT-business collaboration across the entire project lifecycle. This means that you need a common platform that can be understood by all stakeholders and that enables feedback throughout the design, development, and iterate stages.

And beyond a common language and feedback mechanism, you want a platform that empowers domain experts to take a leading role in app development. These individuals have a host of knowledge and can help boost your team’s productivity, provided they have the means to participate directly without the complexity and steep learning curve of traditional programming languages.

Eliminate infrastructure distractions

Finally, IT teams will need to update their development environments. Today, most IT teams lack the proper development environments to enable rapid app development. And the importance of improving development infrastructure is best articulated by our high-performing segment.

> See also: The four mobile application development stumbling blocks

Those respondents who have modernised their development tools are twice as successful than their counterparts. When we dug further into the data, we found two main elements that were critical to eliminating infrastructure distractions.

These factors include the ability to easily create and share working prototypes for user feedback and an integrated deployment environment for publishing instantly to the cloud. Combined, these modern tools increase speed and agility, and enable more iterative and collaborative development processes.

Unfortunately, this new style of app delivery isn’t well supported by traditional tools and approaches. As companies look to innovate, they’ll need a single comprehensive platform that eliminates infrastructure concerns and facilitates a modern development approach.

A new approach is needed to cross the app delivery chasm

While the App Delivery Chasm appears daunting, it is possible to cross it. 29% of respondents have already made the necessary adjustments and are well positioned to manage growing business demand for new applications and successfully compete in today’s digital economy.

What brought us here will not get us there. Traditional development practices are important for a multitude of scenarios, but will not work for app delivery projects that prioritise urgency and/or flexibility. In these instances, you need a modern approach that enables the business to better innovate and compete. But more so, you need a system in place to determine for each development need, which approach is required.

It starts by understanding the unique app delivery projects on your plate. Then farming each project to the right group of people who have access to the right tools. To understand where your organisation ranks against its peers, take the Mendix App Chasm Assessment. You can benchmark your team against the industry average and gain customised insight into how you can move forward with a stronger plan.

Sourced from Gottfried Sehringer, Vice President, Mendix

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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