Guide to bimodal IT

Bimodal IT – it’s one of the latest Gartner-oriented buzzwords that has found its way into the vernacular of developers worldwide. However, what does it actually mean and how can it be applied to your business?

In this guide to bimodal IT we will examine not only its definition but the key stages to making it work and the pitfalls to avoid.

So just what is bimodal IT?

Let’s turn to the Gartner glossary for a direct definition of bimodal IT. It states that it is the practise of managing two coherent modes of IT delivery that are entirely separate – one focuses on stability and the other on agility. Mode one should be traditional and sequential, with the emphasis on safety and accuracy; while mode two is non-linear and exploratory, focusing on agility and speed.

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The idea is that by bringing the two together you can create an effective “fast lane” for an organization that will reduce the time it takes to bring digital applications to the market.  It’s a balancing act between those mission critical systems and making innovative applications a reality – ones that can help deliver a digital transformation.

So how do you bring the two together?

The first step to implementing bimodal IT is to ensure your project truly requires it. Remember that rapid application projects are by nature unique and therefore they should not be controlled in the same manner as a traditional development project. This will usually mean that the tools and team used are different for each mode.

To decide if your project needs a bimodal approach think about if it has fluid requirements and if it is business-driven as opposed to being a maintenance effort led by IT. Think about if it needs quick delivery – for example if you’re looking to capitalize on an opportunity in the market or secure some kind of competitive advantage – as opposed to a project that can move slowly. Also it should not be a waterfall linear project – it should be one that allows for rapid change.

If you are sure a bimodal IT strategy is the right one for you, then think about what you will need to make it work. For example:

  • You may need to modernize tools: It’s vital to ensure you have the ability to create working prototypes and share them quickly with an environment that will allow you to publish apps seamlessly to the cloud.
  • Developer talent: The correct platform should allow a number of users with expertise to take part in the process – therefore increasing the depth pool of your developer talent.

How to implement bimodal IT

So how do you bring bimodal IT into reality? There are perhaps four key stages to making it work.

  • Application portfolio: If bimodal IT is to work then you need to be able to identify the project ideas and put them into some sort of priority order. In addition, outline different stages of the project – such as research, pilot, etc. and make sure you have a clear budget and criteria guidelines for each stage.
  • Identify the right people: After the priorities have been outlined, think about the people who will be able to deliver. This should include creating a cross-functional team with business and tech savvy. Developers should be able to co-operate closely with users and bridge the gap from technical opportunities and business outcomes.
  • The right process: Many people believe that bimodal IT only requires a focus on agile development. In reality however, while this is crucial, you will also need to develop DevOp practices so that your project enjoys the deployment agility necessary for continuous releases based on feedback. In addition, these projects will need their own governance framework that outlines how the solution should operate and ensures these principles are embedded into continuous development.
  • The right platform: While cloud platforms often provide the speed and agility needed for bimodal IT projects, don’t forget that the platform should be suitable for the application’s landscape and deployment. Cloud is generally cost saving and speeds up the time to the market but be aware that it can be difficult to implement with some systems.

The bimodal IT mistakes to avoid

There are several misconceptions that are commonly made with bimodal IT implementation that you should try to avoid.

Firstly, remember that it impacts more than IT alone – it is about bringing business and IT together in order to introduce new concepts to the market. As such, the organisation needs to be actively involved every step of the way. It will also be necessary to have strong leadership in place that will focus on the mode two access of innovation to boost the chances of success.

Don’t confuse bimodal IT with agile. While iterative development is a key component there is much more to bimodal IT including DevOp practices as we outlined earlier.

In addition, remember to have dedicated teams for both modes one and two – with an individual who can create strong dialogue with the business. Both modes should be kept separate in terms of their reporting structures but they should not be isolated – in fact they should work together, especially to transfer and integrate mode two applications into mode one.

By avoiding these mistakes, bimodal IT can help your business integrate new digital innovations and stay ahead of the market.

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