Technology companies often become victims of their past successes. Well-proven architectures become encumbered with patches, plugins, driver accommodations and a bloated codebase. Too many features become interdependent. Documentation becomes unwieldy, disordered or incomplete. Programmers familiar with key modules move on and even customer support may have been outsourced.
Not least, a culture of business management rather than technical management seems to take over as markets expand. That’s fine – until you need to re-develop your key products. When you need to transform these legacy architectures, the best way to begin is by upgrading your talent model.
Agile collaboration and iteration helps you to keep development in step with new or evolving customer expectations. It doesn’t separate your coders from other departments in the business and lets everyone get on with what they’re best at without waiting for landmarks to be signed off. Overall development is accelerated and documentation (with a little discipline) is constantly updated along with the code.
Introducing an agile approach can help you to reinvent your organisation, let alone your products.
…but is it enough?
The agile philosophy is supposed to protect you from hitting delays, obstructions, disputes, conflicts and disappointed customers, and it does – up to a point.
Agile teams have a finite size; they can’t embrace all players all of the time, so they stumble when they interact with or depend upon outsiders or newcomers. Outsiders can be another company team, a partner, or agency staff that come and go. Continual development doesn’t automatically guarantee continuity. Consequences include delivery delays, inadequate documentation, miscommunication and declining morale.
The biggest obstructions to truly efficient agile development are poor talent management and rigid expectations from senior personnel who don’t really understand agile and lean approaches to product development (which is basically the same thing).
Better talent management
Executives in high-tech businesses know they have to procure talent to be competitive, but they don’t always go about it the right way.
No matter how superbly your senior executives do business, it is ultimately the product that sells the product. If you don’t recruit executives who are sufficiently technically involved, your agility will decline. If you don’t promote experienced developers into management, you will lose them and your continuity leaves with them.
If managers lapse into thinking of product development in terms of finite “projects”, instead of as a continual customer service, there is a temptation to lean too heavily on temporary staff or external collaborators. No workload is entirely uniform, so agencies are great, but there is an ideal mix of permanent staff and short term assistance.
Outsourcing can weaken a business. How can you transform an enterprise that doesn’t actually employ the staff, or own all the data upon which it depends? Contractors can gain control of the intellectual property you need to stay competitive. Outsourcing customer service or telesales insulates you from your customers and sacrifices control of critical resources.
Headhunting for permanent technically adept staff who will stay and lead the company forward is essential for keeping both the production and wider company genuinely agile. RC&A can help you solve the senior digital resourcing deficits that are holding your company back.
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