The best recipe for business innovation is often hard to come by. Bimodal IT may provide the ingredients your company has been looking for.

Bimodal IT

How do you ensure you have the latest and greatest technology and software in your pantry without letting your legacy systems go to waste?

Like your grandmother’s apple pie recipe that has been passed down through generations, the secret to scaling agile software development without disrupting your current IT delivery model is all in the right ingredients and a lot of trial and error.

With a successful approach to Bimodal IT, your business can come out just right.

A Taste of Bimodal

Trends in digital and emerging business models (think Uber, Airbnb and AmazonFresh) are prompting businesses and development teams to reconsider their approach to innovation. At the same time, these disruptions are putting increased pressure on legacy systems to maintain stability so that transformations don’t slow the business down.

That’s where Bimodal IT helps stir things up.

According to Gartner, bimodal refers to the practice of managing two separate, but coherent styles of work: one focused on evolving legacy systems (mode 1) and the other on adopting new and innovative approaches (mode 2).

Mode 1: Legacy Evolution

  • More predictable and well understood
  • Focused on exploiting what is already known
  • Renovating the legacy environment         

Mode 2: New and Innovative

  • Exploratory
  • Experimenting to solve new problems
  • Optimized for areas of uncertainty
  • Begins with a tested and adapted hypothesis
  • Developed in short iterations
  • Takes a Minimum Valuable Product (MVP) approach

Of course, mixing the old with the new comes with challenges. Tensions arise when dev teams start adding different ingredients to the recipe legacy teams are accustomed to using. Culture and turf wars can erupt between DevOps, infrastructure, and architecture teams.

On the other hand, teams mixed too closely together can create dependency. Businesses might shy away from the upfront costs a dev project requires. And fear of failure can keep teams from innovating at all.

So how do you transition to Bimodal and reap the benefits without burning your business?

The Secret Sauce

Like all award-winning recipes, the answer is the secret formula that can take your innovation strategy to the top.

The goal of a Bimodal IT approach is to overcome obstacles in Mode 2 while balancing the slow pace of Mode 1. To maximize speed without sacrificing the integrity of your legacy system, this means:

  1. Building software faster with more efficient agile teams
  2. Embracing full automation and DevOps
  3. Leveraging new tools and technologies
  4. Adopting an agile approach in a traditional legacy IT organization
  5. Avoiding dependency caused by tight infrastructure couplings between Mode 1 and Mode 2, and instead aligning both teams with DevOps and agile
  6. Nurturing a company culture that has a clear vision, praises innovative thinking, accepts and learns from failure, and respects that every employee plays an important role.

By using the right ingredients, in the right order, at the right time, your Mode 1 and 2 teams can blend together seamlessly, resulting in smoother, more efficient business process.

Ingredients for Success

Like any good recipe, Bimodal IT takes time, patience, and the right combination of components.

1 solid team

  • Preserve your core team of SMEs team members, business analysts, etc.
  • Choose team members who know standard technologies and are curious learners
  • Conduct team and trust building exercise so team members can get to know one another.

A couple of strong tools

Don’t throw your whole pantry into the mix. Instead, embrace automation with a few of these items:

  • Digital team boards (Jira, Pivotal, Trello, TFS)
  • Distributed source Control (GitHub, TFS)
  • CI/CD (TeamCity, TFS, Octopus)
  • Testing (Cucumber, Selenium, Web Driver)
  • Coding (node.js, JavaScript, Java)
  • Cloud (AWS, Azure, Heroku)

A clean space

  • Remove distractions and only have what is needed
  • Avoid bureaucracy so everyone is on the same playing field
  • Provide snacks and drinks to boost morale
  • Foster a pleasant and welcoming place to work
  • Balance public and private spaces

A concoction of collaboration 1

  • Provide best tooling opportunities for screen sharing and video conferencing
  • Utilize team collaboration tools like Slack
  • Emphasize transparency with digital team boards
  • Use agile approaches and only build what is easy to change
  • Shorten feedback loop and embed the client
  • Conduct Show and Tells to demonstrate accomplishments
  • Set priorities regularly
  • Always allow client to change their mind
  • Abstract Mode1 coupling

Mixing It All Together

At Centric, we can help you create a roadmap and plan for a Bimodal journey, and assist in executing the project from Day 1. We will work humbly and seamlessly to integrate into your company’s culture and make recommendations based on your goals and vision. We can help you bring the application back into the enterprise.

We don’t like too many cooks in the kitchen, so we work together as one – ensuring that business needs are met and that both Mode 1 and Mode 2 teams are contributing. After deployment, we can return for seconds, checking that everything is running smoothly and offering application support if needed.

With us, you can trust that your innovation efforts will always come out well done.

Go Further

About the Author

Shawn Wallace is a Senior Architect in Columbus. He’s also a National Practice Lead in Custom Development, Application Lifecycle Management. Shawn has a record of successful development and implementation of large-scale, line-of-business and “software as a service” applications. Follow Shawn on Twitter.

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