You may have read one of our recent blog posts about the importance of introducing an Automation Center of Excellence to roll out technology solutions quickly and effectively. Speed is important, and we often follow an agile approach. Today we’ll look at why that is, and discuss if that’s always the right approach.
I spoke to one of the researchers at Forrester Research Inc. recently to get some more insight, as it happens less and less that customers present me with an actual requirement document. But what determines whether there’s a need for one or not? To put it very simply, you need to ask yourself if you have a plan, or if you have a complete plan.
Basically, if you have a well-established problem and a clearly defined plan, it’s all set in stone, and you might as well write the documentation up front, as it isn’t going to change. Take what-ever traditional project approach and that’s it - you get the job done!
However, in an ever-changing world, which is the world you typically live in when you are responsible for automation, the above situation is no longer common. It’s much more likely you don’t know exactly what the problem is, and it’s also likely that whatever it is will change over time, so you need a flexible solution and a flexible approach. In this situation, writing a requirement document won’t get you very far, so what do you do instead?
Build A Prototype
You define at a high level what the problem is. It might appear a bit chaotic, and that’s OK.
You look for a quick win. Maybe a small part of the problem can be solved as a stand-alone. If that’s the case, you work on a prototype. You aim for fast delivery of this, so you can find out if you’re on the right track.
The prototype might require revisions, and this is where you encounter a whole new world. Agile doesn’t mean cutting corners and jeopardizing quality. As a matter of fact, Forrester highlight how this fast-paced delivery actually requires more focus on quality to be successful. Your prototype can have errors and need modifications, but you have to be able to recover from those errors and deliver the desired end-result.
You need the right people involved (again, that brings us back to the Automation Center of Excellence), you need the right software, you need to work together, and you need to be open to change.
That’s your agile approach to automation projects, and it works when it’s done right. It has the potential to deliver your automation projects at a pace we wouldn’t have been able to even imagine a decade ago, and according to Forrester it’s 10 times cheaper and faster to deliver.
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