Can Continuous Delivery Finally Break the Barriers to Continuous Innovation in Defense?
Organizations across industries recognize the vital role that software-as-a-service models can play in the quick and steady adoption of technical innovations and process improvements. Defense organizations – being the large and complex enterprises that they are – have historically lagged behind when it comes to continuous improvement and innovation of its enterprise systems.
The size and complexity of today’s defense organizations has led to long procurement and implementation cycles as well as conservative approaches to change management. And coupled with a lack of funding to support regular system updates, defense organizations often run on systems with outdated technology and processes. Systems that require constant customization to overcome the latest technical and functionality shortfalls that need to be addressed.
The software delivery process itself makes it difficult to deploy new innovation
While a more incremental and low-impact approach to organizational evolution would be ideal, defense organizations remain largely dependent on the traditional annual software releases of their vendors. Implementing these periodic upgrades require a major investment by defense organizations – and not only in terms of cost.
Before defense organizations can implement a new release, they must first carefully evaluate a wide range of impacts on their users, processes, and technical environment. In addition, the cost to implement such a broad level of change must be justified and managed. So rather than encourage change and innovation within the organization, the entire process is primarily focused on keeping to a base level of technical currency by maintaining systems at the vendors’ prescribed release schedule.
Defense can no longer align its own innovation needs to vendor release cycles
The reality for defense organizations today is that to take advantage of new innovation and functionality they have to adjust their own innovation road maps with the software release schedules of their vendors. The only other choices are to either implement a different solution that would be less optimal or to once again customize the existing solution to fill in the gaps.
Unfortunately, none of these choices are ideal for defense organization that must keep system landscapes fully aligned with operational readiness, and the ability to constantly – and seamlessly – improve system capabilities, agility, and speed.
Continuous delivery can break innovation barriers that traditional models maintain
The idea behind a continuous software delivery model is to overcome the problems caused by large and complex software releases, whether on premise, in the cloud, or both. Through continuous delivery, defense organizations can upgrade their solutions incrementally, and adopt desired features and innovations as soon as they are available.
That’s why SAP S/4HANA is designed for continuous, no-impact feature delivery and adoption, just like a mobile app. Instead of adding new system functionality in complex upgrade projects that can take several months, new functionality can be deployed on a regular basis with zero downtime. With tools and methodologies that deliver instant feedback and constant collaboration, SAP S/4HANA also brings user experiences more directly into planning and development activities. That way, any new functionality can stay fully aligned with the latest user requirements (see figure below).
Organizations can deliver new functionality instantly and disruption free.
Stakeholders and processes must be aligned to realize the full benefits
Adopting a continuous delivery model is more than a software release issue. To drive continuous delivery adoption enterprise wide and achieve the full benefits of this approach, defense organizations must align across an array of stakeholders and processes including:
- Governance models and mechanisms such as establishing joint design authorities to ensure communication and integrated planning
- Extended partner networks including software vendors and implementation partners to be provisioned and prepared to support continuous delivery
- Application lifecycle management tools and processes needed to be reconfigured to the new delivery approach
- Organization change management methods must be adapted to support a continuous improvement and innovation philosophy and workflow
Envision a future free of disruption, downtime, and delays to innovation
An effective continuous delivery model offers defense organizations the opportunity to maximize the value of their businesses systems by maximizing user adoption of those same systems. In doing so, defense organizations can move from being on the slower side of innovation adoption to establishing themselves as leaders in rapid process improvement and innovation adoption.