Prove the Value!
Once we've developed an in depth understanding and agreed priorities and a business case, it's time to prove the value. In order to do this rapidly we use the latest thinking on reference architectures and the latest technology approach. This means that before its necessary to spend time, money and effort on enterprise delivery, we're able to quickly demonstrate value to the stakeholders and build out evolutionary prototypes with low to no up-front investment.
Cloud provisioning now enables companies, IT departments and lines of business to work in a more agile and flexible fashion than ever before. Servers, software and applications can be deployed at the push of a button, enabling our delivery team to focus on proving value, rather than spending weeks on navigating governance processes.
Using dedicated market leading cloud-based technologies and partners, we're able to quickly circumvent lengthy processes, while retaining a focus on data security and governance.
Typically at least a quarter and a third of an analyst's time is spent on data preparation, with some estimates as high as 50%-80% . When you scale that up to an enterprise data and analytics platform it can be even more, with entire teams dedicated to this. In the proving value stage, this can be a huge investment and time cost, so we use proven Data Preparation tools and technologies to accelerate this process and enable us to get right to the user needs.
Traditional requirements gathering exercises in analytics have often proved to be inappropriate when trying quickly to deliver value, so we use a method called data storytelling, taking user stories and rapidly visualising them with narrative and direction. These help us quickly validate the stories and value and define the user experience. It also help us technically define the queries, data model and supporting transformations.
Our delivery model is slightly different from the traditional one of deploying a fixed project team. We believe that the breadth of skills required, the speed of delivery and the need to be agile requires a more flexible approach.
The way we do this is to deploy a core team, starting with a part time architect and full time lead, on a rolling monthly, quarterly or annual engagement. As the delivery moves forward we flex and adapt the surrounding team and skills as the project requires, with the core team providing a central point of consistency.
For example, in the early days of the delivery it might need a platform engineer to build your Hadoop clusters, connect up your data flows, install and connect your analytics tools, then you might need a data integration specialist, or modeller, or data scientist, and then a data visualisations expert. Instead of having to retain a huge underused team, or having people cobble together solutions where they lack experience or expertise, we rotate the individuals in and out, using the architect and lead to provide consistency, ensuring that you always have the right mix of skills to deliver successfully.
Once we've proven the value we work with your teams to deploy to your production process, working together to build governed and robust architectures and processes in line with your organisation's needs, working in iterative, agile and flexible 4-6 week cycles to keep the momentum up.
While we aim to deliver quickly, it's essential to monitor and manage technical debt and refactoring queue as it gets delivered. We use transparent delivery management standards and methods to ensure we continue to monitor and ensure it is tackled before it becomes unmanageable.
Having identified and engaged with the key stakeholders and process owners during the MDW Assessment, we work closely with each of these aspects of your organisation required to deliver an enterprise solution. This includes architects, infrastructure, technology, service delivery etc. to ensure we can align our methods to develop, package, test and release solutions in line with your processes and standards.
Governance and Production Hardening
Delivering value quickly is hugely important, but its essential to do so in a way that can fit with broader governance around data, architecture and business process. A major part of the embedded Solutions Architect's role is to review the governance, change, delivery and support aspects assessed in the MDW Report and work with your organisation to ensure that what is built has the most efficient and effective governance and architecture in place to ensure robustness and scalability.
Once delivered, it's vital to continue to optimise the solution across user experience, performance, usage patterns and change requests, while at the same time continuing to innovate and use the capability to drive further benefits.