Shift to an Adaptive IT model without leaving your Core IT behind
A Trimodal approach to becoming a market leading, software-driven organization
Enterprises today are aware that they need to proactively prepare for market disruption, and 78% now believe that becoming a software-driven organization will be a critical driver of competitive advantage. For some, it will be necessary to stay ahead of the unknown competitor lurking around the next bend.
To remain relevant, what the user wants must be identified before even the user knows it, and certainly before another organization identifies the magic formula for disruption.
The onus is therefore on exploration, prediction and experimentation. Hypotheses must be constantly formulated and validated, conducting fail-fast experiments to iteratively improve the understanding of user needs and turning uncertainty into opportunity. Broadly speaking, this is “Adaptive IT”, or Mode 2 in Gartner’s definition of Bimodal IT.
However, this rapid, and often frantic, fail-fast, evolve-fast approach is not applicable, nor appropriate for every delivery project. Some areas contain less uncertainty, and the focus of innovation is instead on updating these systems based upon what is known. This is Mode 1 in Gartner’s definition, and might also be called “Core IT”.
These Core Systems might be the legacy upon which all else is subsequently built, or might be the systems which the traditional user base depend upon. They cannot fail like a hypothesis formulated three days ago: too much depends on them and their failure would be catastrophic to the business.
Jonathon Wright, who will present on the upcoming Transform Your Testing for Digital Assurance webcast, adds a third delivery method, “Fluid IT”, in addition to Core and Adaptive IT:
Trimodal delivery: from Adaptive IT, to fluid IT and Core IT. Taken from Take a Requirements-Driven Approach to Better Software. Watch the recording here by Jonathon Wright.
In this Trimodal approach, Adaptive IT uncovers previously unknown information about the user needs, adopting a creative, experimental approach.
If an idea has been validated sufficiently to provide the assurance that its value outweighs the time and effort of delivering it, then it must be delivered before the user needs change. Fluid IT therefore harnesses all the insights and approaches which have grown from Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery, to move this idea as quickly as possible to a minimum viable deliverable.
Once this idea has been turned into a working system, it is absorbed into the Core IT. It can be maintained and innovated while allowing Adaptive and Fluid IT to continue to uncover and move along new and previously unknown areas of innovation.
In this approach, changing user needs are identified as quickly and reliably as possible, and are then incorporated into the core business model. An enterprise thereby proactively maintains a position of innovation in the market.
Accurately reflecting what the user wants in a working system is central to all three modes. Rigorous testing is therefore fundamental, providing the assurance that the captured user needs have been faithfully replicated in code.
Testing might look different in each mode, and validating new hypotheses before a line of code has been written will be different to testing legacy components. It might involve quickly building throw-away assets to test one or more ideas which the hypothesis depends upon and improving or scrapping the idea accordingly.
In the world of Core IT, by contrast, testers are reckoning with heterogeneous systems and a vast code base which can be impacted by the slightest change. Digital Assurance here involves functional regression test, integration testing, etc., which must all be performed rigorously within the same iteration as a change is made.
The emphasis of testing in all three modes is still on validating, verifying and uncovering as much information about the system under test as possible. Testing guru Paul Gerrard, who will join Jonathon on Transform Your Testing for Digital Assurance, sums this focus up well in the following diagram:
The New Model for Testing, © 2014 Paul Gerrard, Gerrard Consulting.
The approaches discussed here can be made possible using models. To find out more about Adaptive IT and how models can form the heart of testing, join the webcast on December 7th at 4pm GMT/ 5pm CET / 11am ET.