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Delivering Services- Between Empathy and Automation


When it comes to delivering services, Agilists embrace the idea of working in iterations which deliver value to their client after each cycle of about two weeks. When tackling a new idea, a coherent bundle of initial iterations is called Minimum Viable Products or MVP and promises a usable digital product that can be ideally presented to the client’s clients. This perspective on product delivery is part of the culture of companies leading the digital transformation. There’s more to these ideas though. Adopting methodologies suitable for digital transformation require capabilities to sustain the higher cadence. When reading about leaders in digital you are likely to find teams who:

  • have an empathy for the end-user and an approach to engineering an experience which goes beyond drawing wireframes
  • have adapted their toolchain to churn out stories without compromising overall quality and technical debt
  • have established a product evolution culture, building what is required and improvise. The digital transformation will expose users more and more to service touchpoints in situations which would have been hard to predict just a few years ago. Take for instance a large retail company’s use of Conversational User Interface (CUI) technology and machine learning to improve customer experience with voice and image search. Taking a user journey approach becomes essential to map the activities and derive meaningful stories, which form a whole that is immediately put to the test and generates valuable feedback for the next iteration. This approach ensures MVP stakeholders, who don’t know what they don’t know, address their actual user’s needs.

Delivering quality code against the stories selected for the Sprint (an Agile iteration in Scrum) involves often a larger number of software engineers but also UI designers, data scientists, DevOps and other contributors. Coordinating work requires the appropriate harness before the first lines of code is written. A number of practices exist which allow work in distributed fashion across time zones without sacrificing overall system quality attributes. What’s more, engineering excellence is backed by operational excellence which embodies the governance for orchestrating the multiple moving parts found in transdisciplinary projects. Delivering projects at fast pace to ensure valuable releases at each iteration involves data-rich project tracking while empowering team members with the right amount of discretion to decide how to progress in their daily activities. A departure from more traditional management approaches which is even shaking some traditional structures such as the military as shown in Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s book “Team of Teams”.

The combination of these two postures gives organizations a higher chance of succeeding in the digital transformation to leverage advances in, say, connected devices, predictive analytics, or indoor positioning. At Ness, we have the privilege of working with innovative companies for over a decade, including some leaders in the information economy who contribute directly to technology and methods. This cumulated knowhow goes to traditional organizations for a successful transformation towards the digital economy.