Last post, we discussed the willingness to innovate quickly and fail fast as a component of implementing a digital strategy.
But many organizations have deeply entrenched legacy systems that aren’t built to move at the speed of digital, cutting into new products’ or services’ go-to-market time. The answer to addressing the challenge of the legacy environment may lie in implementing a multi-speed engine.
Part nine of a series
Defining the Mult-speed Engine
Gartner’s IT glossary defines Bimodal IT as, “The practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility. Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear, emphasizing agility and speed.”
In a recent article, McKinsey & Company also outlines how a two-speed IT operating model, coupled with a digital product management model, could work.
Regardless of the terminology, the opportunity is there for established organizations with legacy systems and processes to get to digital speed more quickly: By creating a fast-speed engine for developing and deploying customer-facing applications, without forcing the legacy application development to change to the new architectures and processes at the same time.
While the focus is on the IT-engine as the foundation, to truly get to fast speed the walls between IT and business need to come down and operate together.
Attributes of a Fast-Speed Engine
New System Development Approach/Methodology Supports Business Agility
- Agile development processes specific to the engine focus on iterative, incremental delivery
- Real-time data analytics and customer feedback loops feed directly into development process
- Supports multiple pilots, minimum viable product approach and build-assess-learn cycles to support innovation
- End-to-end process begins with concepts, ideation & solutioning through deployment and support
- Alignment of all business and IT Functions necessary to plan, develop and deliver
- Process to align and plug into slow speed engine development, when needed
System Architectures and Tools Aligned with Fast Speed Engine
- Decoupled, plug and play services, apps and APIs support contained development, testing and deployment
- Supported by automated testing, code management (DevOps), deployment architectures and capabilities to avoid downtime of online capabilities and faster development cycles
- Tools to support the process (Requirements, collaboration, communication, development, testing)
- Coordination between the slow and fast speed components as part of the overall enterprise architecture
Team Skills and Management Processes Support Fast Speed Engine
- Business/IT hybrid skillsets & players familiar with agile processes, technologies and the business
- Agile coaching, capability building, performance assessment and diagnostics
Governance (Funding, Development Prioritization and Backlog Management) Evolves Toward Product Orientation
- Digital Steering team comprised of key marketing, IT and operational leaders oversee definition of, funding and execution of the digital strategy
- Product orientation over project driven
- Digital product managers oversee digital platforms and initiatives
- Management of pipeline of product enhancements and features
Critics of the two-speed model have argued that creating a parallel engine sets up an organization for confusion and complexity – and this is a real risk to be managed. However, the model should be thought of as a means to an end: moving the organization toward Digital. Just as many companies created eBusiness units in the late eighties to create internet-based capabilities and then leveraged those capabilities across their legacy platforms and businesses, the intent here should be the same. Each organization will need to assess which path to becoming digital will have the highest chance of success for them.
John Zink is the Digital Strategy Practice Lead for Centric Consulting, responsible for client engagements, project methodologies and practices. He is passionate about aligning Digital Strategy with the overall business objectives and helping clients deliver change by leveraging enabling digital technologies.
John spent 13 years with a Big 4 Consulting firm and over 15 years in IT and Financial Service operations executive leadership positions. His experience in living on both sides of the business operations and technology spectrum in organizations provides him with a unique perspective that bridges the often too-wide gap in how these stakeholders look at their businesses and digital opportunities.