Innovation, Over and Over Again
At many organizations digital transformation has become a fancy buzzword that just means “fix what is the most broken.” It’s difficult to realize digital transformation goals or address business needs when IT is stretched to the limit just keeping the lights on.
You have to move beyond that to be competitive – software can be a value driver if you have a system in place that enables rapid app development (RAD) and opens up the development process to the entire enterprise.
What you need is an Innovation Factory.
The Innovation Factory is a combination of the Mendix low-code technology and RAD methodology. It is the critical juncture where exploration meets real actionable results. It’s a process that uses constant and choreographed collaboration to produce enterprise-grade applications in an efficient, predictable manner.
From the ground up
The Innovation Factory isn’t a pop-up tent, it takes time to build it. It takes time to do it right. But it’s worth it. You start with these four foundational elements:
The people you choose to fill out your Mendix teams are crucial to the success of your digital execution program. You need more than just enterprising low-code developers on your team. You want to find the right people with the right skills, no matter their job title.
Success starts at the top, where senior executive buy-in is a must. You need a program owner to lead the program and mandate change. Architects are critical as well, because they will help establish a target architecture, infrastructure, and governance. Product owners are key players to a successful program, because they’ll have in-depth knowledge of the business, the product, and its users and will have insight into the value that it will create. Finally, an application development manager needs to spearhead the initiative and drive the program and the cross-functional teams who will deliver on those projects.
A successful rapid application development model is all about identifying the right projects and creating a project portfolio of quick wins and high-value initiatives. Quick wins allow you to realize immediate success and create a wow factor, while high-value initiatives justify broader organizational change, especially when the applications are tied to relevant strategic initiatives. Mixing use cases is important to increase your portfolio flexibility in the later stages of digital execution, so include new-market applications as well customer engagement and operational efficiency.
Successful digital execution means changing the way you work and establishing rapid application development processes. Agile methodologies like Scrum are a good starting point, splitting the work into sprints and basing them off user stories, but you also need to change from a traditional way of development and operations into a BizDevOps approach, speed up release cycles from quarterly to bi-weekly (sometimes even daily), and learn how to develop minimal viable products (MVPs) with fast-paced, follow-up iterations.
As you hurtle toward digital execution, the rapid application development platform you choose shouldn’t just be about new technology trends like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, or Blockchain, or whatever comes down the line. You need a platform that also helps you improve operational efficiencies, reduce time-to-market, and foster collaboration between business stakeholders and IT. Something that addresses the present and prepares you for the future.
Seek out a platform that helps you not only deliver faster, but more accurately, so that you can produce robust applications in a matter of weeks. This is the fail-fast learn-fast approach.
Big, Bigger, Biggest
The Innovation Factory requires going through three major stages: Start, Structure, and Scale. Each stage has its own unique set of objectives, all with the aim of scaling up your application development program.
Once you’ve built out the foundation and framework of your Innovation Factory with the right People, Portfolio, Process, and Platform your team is ready to see what they can do in the first stage of digital execution – Start. In Start, you develop applications that realize value quickly. The reason you begin building Minimum Viable Products (MVP) is two-fold:
- You’ll be spending more time building a team and putting the necessary prerequisites in place in terms of infrastructure and process.
- You want quick wins. Quick wins are important because you’ll use these to prove the value of your new approach, you’ll want to celebrate your first success, and gain broader support around the company.
Your objectives for the Start phase:
- Deliver first value
- Build and enable first team
- Develop and deliver first MVP
- UX design of the first app
- Begin architecture design
If the Start stage is about establishing and proving the benefits of rapid application development, then Structure is about building out predictability and continuity. Structure is about growing from your first set of apps to a portfolio with more apps addressing multiple use cases and expanding your first team into multiple teams.
Structure is where you start to formalize your rapid application development process — establishing an architecture, enabling continuous delivery, and creating governance. By establishing predictability and stability, you’re building the scaffolding for the Maker Center.
Your objectives for the Structure phase:
- Formalizing your processes
- Building more apps and extending your portfolio use cases
- Architecture design
- Advanced level development team
working within a defined process. They can build – and deploy- fully functional apps at speed. Now At the Scale stage your Innovation Factory is now ready to ramp up development and start delivering real value for your business. Your talent has been trained and activated in such a way that you can shift them around the organization to work on projects where their skills are best put to use.
You are applying greater automation to your processes to efficiently and rapidly deliver and manage hundreds of applications with strategic impact. With these capabilities in place, you maximize value and productivity by creating distributed innovation capabilities throughout the enterprise. You have achieved continuous productivity and efficiency.
Your objectives for the Scale phase:
- Talent portability
- Delivery velocity
- Team efficiency
Get the full story
This is just a sneak peek of the full Digital Execution Manual. The DEM is a guide, a workbook, and a roadmap to achieving your organization’s digital ambitions.
It will help you get done what you need to get done. (And maybe even dig into some of what you’ve always wanted to try).
If you’re ready for that, get the Digital Execution Manual: