Favor an agile Approach

But it is difficult to define the needs for increasingly sophisticated Solutions.

The Business Actors change their mind during the course of the project. Should I stop them from modifying the specifications document?

Adopt a linear approach for Commodity Solutions and an Agile Approach for Business Solutions.

The agile method is adopted.

  1. Agility: a major competitive advantage

    1. Reactivity and Agility

      Reactivity is the art of Operating fast and well, whereas Agility is the Art of Transforming fast and well.

    2. Being able to "Move Fast" is more important than "Seeing ahead"

      As it is impossible to guarantee that the innovations initiated in the Enterprise will be better than those of the competition, it seems that the safest strategy to increase efficiency is not only to innovate ourselves, but also to perfect more agile Transformation Processes than our competitors, to be able to rapidly implement innovations coming from elsewhere and to correct our weaknesses. In this sense, Agility becomes the main quality of an Enterprise: identify our weaknesses and benefit from our Agility to adjust things.

      To be agile, the Large Enterprise has to acquire start-ups, copy successful innovations from certain competitors, and obtain a real competitive advantage, not because it "sees ahead", but because it "moves fast". Strategy is no longer based on increasingly unpredictable forecasts of the future, but on seizing opportunities that the Enterprise knows how to leverage more quickly than its competitors.

  2. How can we be more agile?

    1. Agility: a question rarely tackled

      The Operational Actors identify domains where they are looking for more reactivity and better quality of service. We allocate budgets to these projects which aim to optimize the Operational Model. On the other hand, we struggle to identify that we can also improve the Transformation Processes to give us more agility and more quality. The main reason is that we do not think that we can Transform more rapidly and, anyway, the budgetary processes have no room for this type of investment.

    2. Adopt an agile Approach

      Do not force the Business to specify everything, proceed by successive versions, put the emphasis on the quality of the Building of the Solution so that modifications in future Versions can be accepted fast.

    3. Accelerate the building of Models

      1. A global vision of the architecture

        Rather than the exhaustive inventorying of needs, favor Building Solution Architecture that is able to integrate successive increments as, and when, the needs mature.

      2. Component-based Building

        A new form of reuse: no longer only reusing Software package Solutions that we can adapt a little, but also reusing Components that we can assemble to build innovative and differentiating Solutions, especially for the Business.

      3. Suitable tools

        The Agile approach is more efficient if it relies on a single Model of the Solution: any modification, be it from a Business or an IT change, updates the single Model and instantly modifies the views offered to each person. This is what we refer to as "Round Trip" tools.

      4. The power of Configuration

        Isolate the parts of the Solution that change frequently, to enable them to be modified as a Configuration: it should be possible to change a price, an eligibility rule, a commission... without having the skills of an IT developer.

      5. Care taken with ease of usage

        As users look for a uniform usage, the best way of respecting this homogeneity is by making standardized usage components available, which, when reused by Solution builders, will guarantee the standardization of usage much better than making documentation standards available.

    4. Attitude

      As also mentioned, other factors affect agility: multidisciplinary team and not separate teams, knowing how to take risks, suitable governance, not a lot of bureaucracy...

  3. From a linear approach to an agile approach

    1. A linear approach for Commodity Solutions

      To acquire Commodity Solutions, Enterprises have developed a Linear Approach which favors security or reliability over agility.
      This slowness of the internal Transformation, which results in an increase in the costs linked to it, is characterized by the drawing up of a Contract which contains the Business Model to be translated into an IT Model, the separation of Business and IT teams, and a multiplicity of Roles with their relations to be managed.  This heaviness enabled a Software package industry to rapidly develop, positioning itself as an alternative to custom Solutions, which are too long to implement.

    2. An Agile approach for Business Solutions

      In the Agile Approach, we do not detail the whole Business Vision of the Model before beginning the IT Modeling. The definition of the Functionalities is progressively refined iteration after iteration. This approach is preferable when the specifications are uncertain and we want to build Evolutive Solutions rather than final Solutions, which applies more to Business Solutions than to Commodity Solutions. This approach is quicker, it removes the tunnel effect, it does not force the Business to define its full Model before handing over to IT, it makes for a smoother Business-IT relationship, it allows for gradual verification, it lets Business and IT come together in one mixed team, responsible for the Solution, but it can only be chosen if the global Solution Model supports later additions.

      1. How do we succeed?

        To succeed, we have to follow the following rules:

        • In the analysis of a Business Process, separate the Core Business and the Organization: we define the "what" before we define the "who"
        • follow the sequence "Objects, Functions, Processes": to analyze the Process « the salesperson sells a Product » we first have to analyze what is a « Product », then the Action « sell », then define what is a « salesperson »
        • reuse a maximum number of Components
        • plan for all the elements of the Model to evolve (all Model elements must be integrated into Version management)
        • ask the best "Modelers" to focus on Building Solution or Foundation Models; do not overload them with pure management tasks, they are a rare resource
        • have the quality of the Global Model certified by experts
        • limit functional specifications by date and not by functional scope.
      2. Know how to stop a version

        As we do not define everything that has to be done before starting, it is important to define a rule for stopping a Version.
        We have to apply the following rule: "as it is easy to go to a new incremental version, deliver the first version quickly so as to offer a first level of service to the Actors".
        Naturally, if it is to replace an old Solution, we must at least keep the Functions offered by the old Solution.
        The right rule is to set a realistic timescale for the first version, which means that the project Owners have to appoint a leader who is able to select the progressive requirements to meet the deadline. This principle of "sobriety" is the key to a successful, agile approach.

  4. The agile method to design Goods

    The agile method is massively used today to Build Solutions or Services.
    Some have also decided to Build Goods Models, taking inspiration from agile methods.

    See this article.
  5. In a nutshell:

    The 10 commendements of agility

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