by Venkat Dandibhotla
Platform as a service is key to binding departments together. It can facilitate collaboration internally and with external partners, ease real-time data exchange across the company, hasten product and application development, and give departments the benefits of integrated systems.
PaaS capabilities can be hampered, however, by a non-agile organization. Executives must act fast to anticipate or react to market conditions and ever-demanding customer expectations. Companies will not be able to fully capitalize on PaaS capabilities if their decision-making is siloed or they continue to be organized around long product development and release cycles.
Here are six steps to creating an agile organization that aligns people, processes, and platform to deliver the maximum return on your PaaS investment.
Companies will not be able to fully capitalize on PaaS capabilities if the organizational decision-making is siloed, or if they continue to be organized around long product development and release cycles.”
1) Bust silos:
IT decision-makers must align horizontally across the company to understand the needs of their internal customers and non-IT stakeholders. Departmental system needs are often different. For example, you may have to consider specialized imaging, document management, or even payment systems as you make decisions about PaaS. Make sure everyone’s needs are understood. Review data-sharing needs across departments, identify collaboration technologies needed for team-based activities, and consider the challenges involved in integrating existing systems.
2) Create an agile task force:
New initiatives often get stuck in the “clay layer” of organizations. Endless discussions, debates, and meetings happen without any meaningful output. Company leadership must break this cycle by creating cross-functional, agile teams with executive sponsors. These teams must weed out decision-making bottlenecks. They must also assess if current platforms or systems can help support future business goals and objectives. For example, if an organization has mergers and acquisitions as a growth driver, the cross-functional teams must evaluate current platforms for scalability, supportability, and the ease with which the new acquisitions can be assimilated.
3) Leverage your current assets:
One of the main concerns that I hear from customers is that they already have a lot of on-premises and cloud applications in place. While they want to invest in new technologies and applications, they should also be able to keep using their previous systems. As developers use PaaS to rapidly develop new applications, that platform must also integrate with existing systems and allow them to easily incorporate data from those systems in real time. For example, building a new application may require pulling customer data from one application and sales information from another. The PaaS platform should be able to help bring this data into the new application and deploy quickly.
4) Contain shadow IT sprawl:
Shadow IT—systems and software built or adopted without official permission—exists in almost every company. Companies can expect that sprawl to increase given the ease of buying cloud offerings. Security, privacy, and supportability are an afterthought. Shadow IT can also create siloed decision-making and propagation of platforms that do not align with the organization’s goals and strategies. In order to contain or limit the sprawl, get vigilant about stopping departmental cloud purchasing. Avoid the temptation to buy a marketing-only or a financial-only solution. Broaden the perspective so the solution can bind departments and facilitate data sharing and smarter decision-making.
5) Assess application development maturity and culture:
As companies adapt to rapid changes, the efficiency of the application development lifecycle—the time from the gathering of requirements to feature or service deployment—becomes critical. Assess your current development process to identify ways for business and other departments—such as testing, deployment, and support teams—to work together to speed up the overall output.
6) Get an outside perspective:
Engage an industry strategy group to conduct an objective analysis of your organization’s agility and capabilities. This group can assess your capabilities, architecture, and development infrastructure; identify key technology enablers that tie to business goals; and help quantify the economic benefits. You can then take this type of business-case-ready analysis to your company’s decision-makers.
Company executives who keep these six strategies in mind as they plan their PaaS implementations will achieve an overall lower total cost of operation, extend the capabilities of current applications, and most importantly, change the culture of the organization to be agile and develop applications much more efficiently.
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