Enterprise Application Development - changes needed

While reading a recent Forrester research report on - The Top Five Changes For Application Development, I was attracted towards the suggestion that enterprises re-invent themselves to think and behave like startups.

In the changed business environment following the recessionary times we've been through, it becomes even more important for enterprises to learn from startups. The need to be nimble, quick and able to satisfy shifting customer requirements, rapidly respond to competition, quickly change tracks when things are not working, slow down when business is slow but move swiftly when the “tipping point” arrives – all attributes that enterprises, should pickup from their startup brethren.

Other significant attributes of startups that enterprises would do well to learn include the following.
  • For your developers to know the inner workings of your business and understanding what customers want, what competitors are doing, and what it will take to create a great user experience. Given that startups have very little resources, they have to be focussed on what will give the maximum return on investment, which in turn translates to doing exactly those activities that can be linked to their ability to generate revenue.
  • Discard wasteful, redundant and non-value-add process steps from your Development process. Continuing from the earlier point about startups being business focussed, we also observe that startups do not adopt elaborate development processes or expensive tools. Their focus is on having just-enough processes and tooling to deliver solutions asap. Enterprises can pick up a lesson or two from startups here and challenge the status quo in their organizations by questioning the need for heavy-weight processes vis-a-vis their value proposition.
  • Incorporate Agility into your DNA. Like startups who are glued to their customer requirements and competition, both of which have a common attribute – change, it is important for enterprises to align process, methods, resources and the organization itself towards agility. Being able to discard methods or even projects that no longer make business sense, being able to rapidly respond to changing customer requirements and market conditions while realizing that your organization's course is not set in stone, is key. It might make for sound business sense to explore Agile development practices for your organization.
  • Do more with less. It is easy to focus on doing one of them – either more or less. The challenge is doing both; do more with less … also known as being “Lean and Mean”. This isn't a totally new attribute but rather an extension of the previously mentioned startup attributes – focus on what is important and smartly organize all your resources towards projects that have the most business impact, discard waste and be focussed on value generation, ensure your developers know the business thoroughly and understand what matters most in a project – technical genius is useless if the user experience of your product or service is bad.
The quote by Niccolò Machiavelli: "Never waste the opportunities created by a good crisis", is very apt. The recessionary times have reinforced the theory of survival of the fittest. Organizations will need to adopt practices that will help deliver better, quicker and cheaper – while meeting customer requirements, reducing costs, innovating and  responding to market opportunities quicker than the competition.

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