With enterprise software platforms like Encanvas, it only takes ONE business analyst to take an app from concept to deployment. When a scrum of one becomes pointless, how do firms adapt their agile methods to meet modern software development demands?
The changing landscape of enterprise software development
At one time, companies would buy an IBM AS/400 computer and a bundle of software and expect to find everything in the box to run their enterprise. Not today. Enterprise computing has become fragmented, complex, and more virtualized. Even with all the latest tech tools, it’s still not enough to deliver up all the software applications that hungry departmental managers want and expect.
This has led to enormous growth in demand for functional and task-specific Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. So-called ‘SaaS sprawl’ accounts for a growing proportion of technology spend, with the average company now relying on over 200 unique SaaS apps. According to insight platform Productiv’s 2021 State of SaaS Sprawl report, most departments now have 40-60 tools each. This results in companies lacking visibility into potential security gaps and the true value of their apps and data assets.
The biggest loser in the adoption of SaaS are data-driven businesses. Adoption of SaaS tools creates tens, if not hundreds, of discrete data repositories with each operating a data model designed by a vendor. Harnessing this data becomes a nightmare for departmental and business leaders who find themselves running blind on business-critical decisions.
Faced with the need to originate high-quality real-time enterprise data insights, companies have resorted to creating in-house development teams; their ambition to become innovation factories in their own right.
Today, the state of the art in software development is agile. In concept, agile differs from traditional waterfall software development projects by encouraging cooperation between developers through daily dev team stand-ups and scrums. In this ‘must do it well and fast’ world of app development, digital leaders have encouraged the use of fewer, more capable tools—with many adopting cloud platforms with built-in tooling to assist rapid application development, deployment, scaling, containerization, security, and such like.
But that innovation in methods and tools still doesn’t cut the mustard.
Even today, most companies have to rely on additional layers of data aggregation and business intelligence tooling to make sense of the data squirting out of the myriad of apps used across the enterprise. And the trusty spreadsheet is hanging on for dear life to retain its stature as the accountant’s friend, and the first and last port of call when professional SaaS apps aren’t still numerous enough to solve the many and varied data processing problems of users and teams.
From Rapid to Low-Code, to No-Code
Cloud delivered software development tooling is more holistic and comprehensive in its design than the desktop tools that preceded it. Industry watchers have seen the enterprise software development industry transition from Rapid Applications Development (RAD), to Low-Code, to No-Code in less than a decade.
Today, No-Code cloud-delivered enterprise platforms like Encanvas are fast becoming the state of the art. They remove the visibility of software code and script from the app design interface which means businesspeople can be directly involved in the applications development process, to steer priorities, and quickly identify shortfalls in User Experience (essential in a world that priorities customer experience above practically any other competitive strength).
From scrums to fusion teams
The use of No-Code development tools has presented organizations with the means to re-think their designs to foster dedicated change teams, something that Gartner describes as ‘Fusion Teams.’ These new ad-hoc structures in organization design appear as and when a new application development is needed; bringing together business stakeholders, change professionals, security experts, and business analysts together to create a solution for the new requirement. Once the solution is delivered, ‘the team’ dissolves.
In the context of a Fusion Team, the entire software development team (as was ‘the scrum’ in the previous team design model) is represented by a single Business Analyst, who, with the support of an IT architect, is empowered to take an app concept to delivery using No-Code tools and plug-in technologies.
Such a fundamental change in operational behaviors dictates that project management processes keep up. Fusion Teams today are experimenting with new approaches to project management, like Agile Codeless that have been purposely engineered to keep up with the development cadence of Fusion Teams and No-Code app development, that today are creating apps in days and weeks that would’ve taken months and years only a few years ago.
A natural evolution in enterprise computing technology
What makes this transition possible is Enterprise Applications Fabric technology. An Applications Fabric (AppFabric) is a cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) equipped to design, deploy and run countless software bots and applications. It facilities the replication, scaling and operational performance management of published applications, while managing their life-cycle from birth to death. Using an AppFabric, it is left to the IT team to frame the fundamental user experience design rules, together with end-point security, core data tables, etc. This means Business Analysts operate within a suitably constrained and monitored ‘creative bubble’ determined by the IT experts of the enterprise.
This new approach to enterprise applications developments offers organizations the means to engineer their own built-to-fit digital ecosystem, without having to rely on spreadsheets and third-party SaaS tools, or the need to glue data together afterward. Fundamentally, all apps created in an Application Fabric bring data together in a single place, allowing organizations to fully leverage and re-use their accessible data.
Ian Tomlin is a marketer, entrepreneur, business leader and management consultant. His passion is to help make great ideas happen. Relentlessly optimistic about the potential of technology for good, Ian’s 30+ year career has focused around the intersect of strategy, technology and marketing. He writes on subjects including enterprise computing and organizational design. He also works as a consultant and advisor to the executive teams of PrinSIX Technologies, Answer Pay and INTNT.AI, helping to rethink their marketing in order to tell their brand story.
Ian has founded a series of successful businesses including NDMC Ltd (2003), Encanvas (2006), and Newton Day Ltd (2019). He has written books, articles and guides on brand, digital transformation, enterprise applications, data science, workforce management, and organizational design. He can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter.