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Evolve Your Software Development Lifecycle Into a Solution Delivery Lifecycle

It’s "solution delivery," not "software development."

  • Delivery groups respond to immediate business concerns without understanding how or why they are doing what they are doing.
  • Organizations lack the critical capabilities and resources needed to satisfy their growing backlog, jeopardizing solution success.
  • Groups are locally successful in delivering changes but rarely aligned with enterprise priorities.
  • Release communication and operational support are missing from delivery cycles.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • The tent is bigger than just your SDLC (software development lifecycle).
  • A solution delivery lifecycle encompasses the people, processes, and tools needed to deliver value to the end consumers of the solution. Expand your approach to drive your software delivery lifecycle (product delivery) to include intake, product management, operations, and value measurement.

Impact and Result

  • The solution tent is bigger than just development: Take a holistic view to include people, processes, and systems.
  • Transition to smaller iterations and more frequent releases to support organizational agility.
  • Embed adaptive governance between phases and within the steps of each phase.
  • Tune your solution delivery lifecycle (Solution DLC) to your organizational needs and goals.
  • Take a methodology-agnostic approach to empower teams closest to the problems.

Evolve Your Software Development Lifecycle Into a Solution Delivery Lifecycle Research & Tools

1. Evolve Your Software Development Lifecycle Into a Solution Delivery Lifecycle Deck – Expand your SDLC to a Solution Delivery Lifecycle documenting intake, product management, operations, and value measurement.

A solution delivery lifecycle encompasses the people, processes, and tools needed to deliver value to the end consumers of the solution. Expand your approach to drive your software development lifecycle (product delivery) to include intake, product management, operations, and value measurement.

2. Solution DLC Playbook Template – Document your solution delivery lifecycle with implementation and support plans.

The Solution DLC Playbook is your guide for common delivery steps with overlaying governance, quality, and RACI.

3. SDLC Diagnostic Tool – Analyze your current SDLC and determine the root cause of common problems.

The Software Development Lifecycle Diagnostic Tool provides a self-assessment of your current SDLC to identify opportunities to improve your overall solution delivery lifecycle and playbook.

4. Evolve Your SDLC example flows – The SDLC examples are sanitized versions of process flows and related deliverables from other member workshops. You can use these as a starting point or to help validate your steps.

This tool is intended to be completed with Info-Tech's Evolve Your Software Development Lifecycle Into a Solution Delivery Lifecycle blueprint. The examples are sanitized versions of process flows and related deliverables from other member workshops. You can use these as a starting point or to help validate your steps.


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Workshop: Evolve Your Software Development Lifecycle Into a Solution Delivery Lifecycle

Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Diagnose Your Current Software Development Lifecycle

The Purpose

  • Assess your current SDLC

Key Benefits Achieved

  • SDLC assessment and actionable insights

Activities

Outputs

1.1

Build your SDLC diagnostic framework

1.2

Diagnose your current SDLC using your framework

  • Customized Diagnostic Framework
1.3

Diagnose Your Solution Delivery Lifecycle

1.4

Investigate the root cause of important issues and challenges

1.5

Investigate the root cause of important issues and challenges

  • Solution Delivery Lifecycle assessment and actionable insights

Module 2: Define Your Solution Delivery Lifecycle

The Purpose

  • Modernize your SDLC to a full solution delivery lifecycle framework.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Common Solution DLC
  • Embedded quality and governance
  • Expanded awareness connecting product development with product management and operations
  • Support for Agile DevOps
  • Iterative development

Activities

Outputs

2.1

Document Your Solution Delivery Lifecycle

2.2

Document business objectives that your Solution DLC impacts

2.3

Identify the practices and metrics to modernize your SDLC

2.4

Define your guiding principles

2.5

Define your documentation approach

2.6

Create your RACI chart

2.7

Intake – Document the current process

2.8

Intake – Identify role participation, control points, and artifacts/tools

2.9

Analysis – Document the current process

2.10

Analysis – Identify role participation, control points, and artifacts/tools

2.11

Design – Document the current process

2.12

Design – Identify role participation, control points, and artifacts/tools

2.13

Development – Document the current process

2.14

Development – Identify role participation, control points, and artifacts/tools

2.15

Testing – Document the current process

2.16

Testing – Identify role participation, control points, and artifacts/tools

2.17

Deployment – Document the current process

2.18

Deployment – Identify role participation, control points, and artifacts/tools

2.19

Maintenance – Document the current process

2.20

Maintenance – Identify role participation, control points, and artifacts/tools

  • Documented Solution Delivery Lifecycle framework
  • Solution DLC framework RACI

Module 3: Implement Your Solution Delivery Lifecycle

The Purpose

  • Develop your Solution DLC implementation plan

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Solution DLC stakeholder communication strategy, implementation plan, and metrics

Activities

Outputs

3.1

Identify stakeholders and participants

3.2

Visualize relationships to identify key influencers

3.3

Group stakeholders into categories

3.4

Classify and prioritize stakeholders by level of support

3.5

Analyze the relationship between your solution teams and stakeholders

  • Solution DLC stakeholder communication strategy
3.6

Plan Your Solution Delivery Lifecycle OCM

3.7

Define your messaging for each stakeholder

3.8

Start your “now/next/later” roadmap

3.9

Mitigate the risks of implementing your Solution DLC

3.10

Prioritize initiative sequencing

  • Solution DLC implementation plan
3.11

Implement Your Solution Delivery Lifecycle

3.12

Define the metrics that will gauge your success

  • Implementation metrics

Analyst Perspective

Evolve Your Software Development Lifecycle Into a Solution Delivery Lifecycle

Pure Waterfall is vanishing. It’s time to move on.

The world, our organizations, and customer needs are changing too fast for monolithic projects to take months to years to be implemented. We need that value and those improvements – now! The shift to product management and product delivery (using Agile DevOps) was intended to provide methodologies to deliver work in smaller iterations focused on higher ROI changes. Few teams can operate in a pure Agile methodology (e.g. Scrum), and those challenges magnify with scale and the rising complexity of our solutions. How do you ensure quality, value, and compliance across many teams all operating differently?

Now is the time to shift to a holistic solution delivery lifecycle approach. Solution management is more than throughput and quality within your traditional software development lifecycle that only addresses product development. Expand your framework to include improving intake (product management) and operations (connected through DevOps). Your Solution DLC is the backbone for quality and governance while allowing for localized optimization within the teams’ methodologies.

Photo of Hans Eckman, Principal Research Director, Application Delivery and Management, Info-Tech Research Group. Hans Eckman
Principal Research Director,
Application Delivery and Management
Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

  • Delivery groups respond to immediate business concerns without understanding how or why they are doing what they are doing.
  • Organizations lack the critical capabilities and resources needed to satisfy their growing backlog, jeopardizing solution success.
  • Groups are locally successful in delivering changes but rarely aligned with enterprise priorities.
  • Release communication and operational support are missing from delivery cycles.

Common Obstacles

  • Mounting market and leadership pressure cause delivery teams to release new features quickly with insufficient quality.
  • Increasingly complicated solutions require more resources to work together in lockstep.
  • Teams focus on localized feature delivery and don’t have time to think about what enterprise success looks like.
  • Teams move to doing Scrum, rather than adopting an Agile mindset, missing the key advantages.

Info-Tech’s Approach

  • The solution tent is bigger than just development: Take a holistic view to include people, processes, and systems.
  • Transition to smaller iterations and more frequent releases to support organizational agility.
  • Embed adaptive governance between phases and within the steps of each phase.
  • Tune your solution delivery lifecycle (Solution DLC) to your organizational needs and goals.
  • Take a methodology-agnostic approach to empower teams closest to the problems.

Info-Tech Insight

A solution delivery lifecycle encompasses the people, processes, and tools needed to deliver value to the end consumers of the solution. Expand your approach to drive your software development lifecycle (product delivery) to include intake, product management, operations, and value measurement.

Insight summary

Overarching insight

The tent is bigger than just your SDLC (software development lifecycle).
A solution delivery lifecycle encompasses the people, processes, and tools needed to deliver value to the end consumers of the solution. Expand your approach to drive your software delivery lifecycle (product delivery) to include intake, product management, operations, and value measurement.

Phase 1 insight

Waterfall SDLC is done. Shift from start-and-stop “projects” to a model of iterative solution enhancements and continuous delivery of value to meet the needs of your customers, teammates, and enterprise goals. Understand the gaps in SLDC performance to create a stable Solution DLC backbone.

Phase 2 insight

Put “solutions” back as the focus of your delivery lifecycle. When teams focus on “software” we miss that software is a tool contributing to a capability. Teams should focus on the overall solution space (people, process, and tools) to ensure we are delivering the highest ROI changes.

Phase 3 insight

Business unit integration is not optional. The business units must be involved in guiding solution delivery efforts, measuring value realization, and aligning roadmaps to strategic goals. A culture of continuous improvement and value alignment is critical for proper solution delivery.

Tactical insight

Your problem isn’t the wrong or missing SDLC. Embed quality and compliance standards into each step of your delivery team’s methodology using definitions of done.

Tactical insight

Delivery quality and throughput go hand in hand. Focus on meeting minimum process and product quality standards first. Improved throughput will eventually follow.

The highway to success is wider than just development.

Visualization of a highway disappearing into the distance. There is a green bar across all lanes titled 'Solution Target State', the left lane is labelled 'Product Management', the dividing line is 'Today' and 'SDLC Software Development Lifecycle', and the right lane is 'Operations'. Underneath are too arrows pointing right: the first is under the left lane and dividing line 'Potential Value', and other is under the right lane 'Realized Value'.

Info-Tech Insight

A solution is broader than software and software development. Solutions connect consumer needs with the systems and operations that fill the need and provide perceived value.

Close the gap between IT services and business goals

43% of CEOs believe that business goals are going unsupported by IT.

60% of CEOs believe that improvement is required around IT’s understanding of business goals.

80% of CIOs/CEOs are misaligned on the target role for IT.

30% of business stakeholders are supporters of their IT departments. (N=32,536)

(Info-Tech CIO/CEO Alignment Diagnostics N=124)

Even with delivery improvements, organizations are still not able to keep up

73% of organizations report they do not have enough resources to meet incoming demand. (Source: Planview, 2017)

46% of organizations report they do not collaborate well on projects. (Source: Planview, 2017)

Download Build an Application Department Strategy for additional assistance.

The way you deliver solutions needs be grounded in how you do business

Your priorities and requirements continually change. Leverage a process that embraces this reality; don’t simply ignore it!

The Traditional SDLC Process with steps 'Intake', 'Analyze', 'Design', 'Build', 'Deploy', 'Operate', 'Retire'.

Traditional SDLCs are often interpreted as a sequential process that creates siloed, one-and-done thinking about product delivery. Today’s products are subject to volatility and change, especially those with long shelf lives. This reality implies continuous product improvement, but it doesn’t explicitly call it out, resulting in resource mismanagement for enhancements.

Your solution delivery lifecycle (Solution DLC) connects all aspects of your product delivery lifecycle, development, and operations. This lifecycle must accommodate today’s realities: changing business priorities and constant product modifications. Execution should be flexible and interpretable to use the optimal methodology.

The Solution Delivery Lifecycle seen as a cycle. 'Intake' feeds into the cycle to 'Analyze', 'Design', 'Build', and 'Operate', and then leaving the cycle is 'Retire'. Each step has a 'Test' cycle.

Connect all phases with a solution-centric approach that goes from the first idea all way through to maintenance.

A large diagram of phase circles. The main circle in the center is 'Product Delivery' with the four cycle steps incl. an extra 'test', to the left is 'Product Management' with Intake, and to the right is 'DevOps. Ci/CD' with the output 'Maintenance & Operations'. The first two circles fall under 'Potential Value' and the final one is 'Realized Value'. There is a legend defining different icons and line-types.

Take a full solution approach to transform into a partner and innovator

“Solutions” doesn’t just mean technology! Solutions can involve multiple systems, applications, platforms, and operational areas

Collage of multiple systems, applications, platforms, and operational areas that make up solutions.

The Info-Tech Reasearch Group Maturity Model, a color-coded tower with five levels 'Unstable', 'Firefighter', 'Trusted Operator', 'Business Partner', and 'Innovator'.

Make your Solution DLC methodology- agnostic

Your Solution DLC is the framework that holds your entire product lifecycle together into loops of continuous improvement. It should allow teams to optimize how they complete the phases and steps.

Solution delivery lifecycle

  • A complete framework to manage and deliver value to a group of consumers.

Software development lifecycle

  • Common processes to develop and implement changes to a solution.

Methodology

  • Prescriptive steps define how to complete the steps within a phase or multiple phases.

Same diagram of phase circles, but with the center circle 'Product Delivery' highlighted and a two-way arrow beneath it labelled 'Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC)'.

Methodology examples:

  • Agile: Scrum, Kanban, DevOps, etc.
  • Scaled Agile: SAFe, Disciplined, Scrum of Scrums, etc.
  • Rational unified process
  • Extreme programming

Infographic titled 'Evolve Your Software Development Lifecycle Into a Solution Delivery Lifecycle'. It includes the Solution DLC. The main circle in the center is 'Product Delivery' with the four cycle steps 'Analyze', 'Design', 'Build', and 'Deploy' incl. an extra 'Test'. To the left is 'Product Management' with Intake, and to the right is 'DevOps. Ci/CD' with the output 'Maintenance & Operations'. The first two circles fall under 'Potential Value' and the final one is 'Realized Value'. There is a legend defining different icons and line-types. There are various other notes in the corners of the infographic.

Deliver what’s right by always delivering

Minimum viable products (MVPs) should be engrained in your Solution DLC as a valuable approach to both deliver value and validate that you are delivering the right value at the right time to your users and stakeholders.

Delivering in Waterfall/All-At-Once

Four-part image with 'Angry face - 1 wheel', 'Angry face - 2 wheels attached', 'Unhappy face - car frame', 'Happy face - full car'.

Delivering via Agile/Iterative - Makes it easier to deliver the right thing.

Five-part image with 'Unhappy face - skateboard', 'Unhappy face - scooter', 'Neutral face - bicycle', 'Happy face - motorcycle', 'Ecstatic face - sports car'.

Info-Tech Insight

Increasing solution value requires ensuring the changes add value and delivering that value as soon as practical.

Other considerations for MVP include:

  • MLP - Minimum Lovable Product
  • MMP - Minimum Marketable Product
  • SLC - Simple, Lovable, Compact
  • (Auvee, Earteza. “Alternative to the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) Founders May Consider.” Impala Intech. 14 April 2023.)

  • SMURFS - Specifically Marketable, Useful, Releasable Feature Set
  • (Barcomb, Matthew. “Instead of MVPs, Maybe We Should Be Releasing SMURFS” Agile Connection. 18 September 2016)

Prepare for the end of pure Waterfall delivery

Waterfall is not aligned with how organizations wish to define and deliver solutions.

Waterfall is an inefficient approach for reducing risk and accelerating value delivery with many drawbacks, including:

  • Lack of flexibility
  • Difficulty in measuring progress
  • Difficulties with scope creep
  • Limited stakeholder involvement
  • Long feedback loops

48% had project deadlines more than double.

85% exceeded their original budget by at least 20%.

25% at least doubled their original budget.

Becoming more agile does not remove any steps; the focus changes from the project to the backlog item

Each backlog item goes through each phase and step during its lifecycle; however, the process of all backlog items is iterative. Groups of backlog items can move through the phases as a team where dependencies or a common release is needed. To enable organizational agility, our goal is to reduce complexity, interdependencies, and waste (LEAN) in the process to deliver backlog items sooner.

Diagram of the steps along one central line labelled 'Each individual backlog item must complete each step'.

Diagram with a 2-way arrow above reading 'Solution Delivery Lifecycle (Solution DLC)' and many iterations of the cycles creating 'Intake' for the next as you 'Deploy' each iteration to 'Maintain and Operate'.

Info-Tech Insight

One of the primary confusions for teams shifting to iterative delivery is between the steps needed for individual backlog items and the need to complete the same step for all backlog items at the same time before proceeding.

Solution DLC requires adaptive governance

A pyramid of governance styles beginning with the more 'Traditional' at the bottom and 'Adaptive' at the top. From the bottom, '1- Ad Hoc Governance: Governance that is not well defined or understood within the organization. It occurs out of necessity but often not by the right people or bodies', '2- Controlled Governance: Governance focused on compliance and hierarchy-based, authority-driven control of decisions. Levels of authority are defined and often driven by regulatory requirements.', '3- Agile Governance: Governance that is flexible to support different needs and quick response in the organization. Driven by principles and delegated throughout the company.', '4- Embedded/Automated Governance: Governance that is entrenched and automated into organizational processes and product/service design. Empowered and fully delegated governance to maintain fit and drive organizational success and survival.'.

Apply adaptive governance to your Solution DLC

Adaptive governance in the Solution DLC is defined and enforced through the Definition of Done. Each team’s “Definition of Done” is adapted to meet the risks and complexity of the solution and changes. Governance shifts to be outcome-based and a validation that the team is following their Definition of Done. This ensures accountability and empowerment for the roles that should be accountable. Defining a model RACI will help with adoption.

Solution DLC, but with Primary and Secondary 'Definitions of Done' added in via types of cycle arrows. The label below says 'Adaptive Governance and Quality = The Appropriate “Definition of Done”'.'

Handoffs represent the highest risk and opportunity for errors. Solution DLC adaptive governance (purple arrow) is primarily applied and validated between phases. Within each phase, governance and the Definition of Done apply to the handoff in each step.

It’s "solution delivery," not "software development."

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

MEMBER RATING

10.0/10
Overall Impact

$34,519
Average $ Saved

34
Average Days Saved

After each Info-Tech experience, we ask our members to quantify the real-time savings, monetary impact, and project improvements our research helped them achieve.

Read what our members are saying

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Guided Implementation 1: Diagnose Your Current Software Development Lifecycle
  • Call 1: Scope requirements, objectives, and your specific challenges.
  • Call 2: Build your diagnostic framework.
  • Call 3: Diagnose your solution delivery lifecycle.

Guided Implementation 2: Define Your Solution Delivery Lifecycle
  • Call 1: Document your solution delivery lifecycle.
  • Call 2: Document your solution delivery lifecycle phases (7).

Guided Implementation 3: Implement Your Solution Delivery Lifecycle
  • Call 1: Implement your solution delivery lifecycle.
  • Call 2: Summarize results and plan next steps.

Author

Hans Eckman

Contributors

  • Scott Ambler, Scott Ambler + Associates
  • Phil Barth, International Paper
  • Jennifer Bedell, CBAP, Mariner Innovations
  • Sterling Bjorndahl, eHealth Saskatchewan
  • Jack Bowersox Jr., Mutual Benefit Group
  • Barbara Carkenord, CBAP, IIBA-AAC, PMI-PBA, PMP
  • Emilio Chemali, MRE Consulting
  • Paul Crosby,The Uncommon League
  • Paul Dowman, OK GROW!
  • Trevor Farnum, Data Recognition Corporation
  • Emir Hasanbegovic, TribalScale
  • AJ Hawley, Trendsparency
  • Michael Hofweller, OK GROW!
  • Scott Ion, Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO)
  • Amit Jethani, Pivotal Labs
  • Steve Jones, CBAP, ISO New England
  • Nico Krueger, Helix ALM and Hansoft at Perforce
  • Jim McCormack, Farm Credit Financial Partners, Inc.
  • Avraham Mordoch, TOC Solutions
  • John Munro, Scrum Masters Inc.
  • Benjamin Palacio, County of Placer
  • Ken Piddington, MRE Consulting
  • Ian Prinsloo, Central 1 Credit Union
  • Matt Rowley, Wipfli LLP
  • Kofi Senaya, Clearbridge Mobile
  • Eugene Sokhransky, ALM Works
  • Fernando Valera, Visure Solutions
  • Michael Yokota, Made with Magnolia
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