Tough questions for enterprise developers who want to get ahead: Part 2

By Adam Seligman, VP Developer Relations at Salesforce.com

Every day, I look around and the world seems to move quicker. Events, news, commentary – it all happens on Twitter before BBC or CNN can even edit the tape. But the world isn’t just moving faster, it’s moving in parallel. A colleague of mine told me he keeps a mobile phone and iPad handy when he watches TV – which is on just for sound in the background.

Does your company move this fast? Does your company have a relentless drive for speed? Would it make them more competitive? As a developer, do you have a relentless desire for speed? Do you want users giving you feedback minutes after you build a feature?

Part two of my series: ‘Four tough questions enterprise developers should ask themselves’ when evaluating their IT culture, their path to innovation and value in the field looks at how the development lifecycle has changed.

Question 2: How often do I put code into production?

I tried to boil down speed into a simple question: How often do you push live code? Does that happen after a 12-month waterfall release? Or are you constantly pushing features out for feedback in a continuous delivery methodology?

Sure, automated testing and continuous integration servers are nice. But the principle of continuous delivery is bigger than just the technology. It’s a mindset shift. It’s about rapidly and flexibly building business apps that fit client needs and that deliver business results.

Startups are doing this – they know smaller and less tightly coupled is better. They expose and use APIs, both externally and internally. They decouple, they empower engineers, and they push features live. Over and over and over, always pushing new features and getting feedback.

What you should be doing

First, go read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Don’t believe the cover. It’s not about startups. It’s about running projects with a relentless focus on testing for success or failure. We were lucky to have Marcus Gosling, co-founder of IMVU with Mr. Ries, speak at a Salesforce Business App Bootcamp recently. He described how getting the first dollars from a customer generated extraordinary feedback – that having them pay some amount, any amount – provided a much higher quality of feedback than simply free users.

The analog for internal enterprise apps is business users actually using your apps. Not only do they see a comp or a demo (or a terrible requirements doc), but do they actually get work done with it?

This is what you do as an enterprise developer: pick a project and develop it the new way. Get features in the hands of your users every week. Get their feedback. Push every week, push every day. Go learn Force.com or Heroku or another platform that lets you go as fast as your users want.

Then share your story. Tell your peers, tell your department. Get your business users to tell the story. Drive change by simply doing – it starts with philosophy, then the technology is waiting for you.

For part one of this series, click here.

Connnect with Adam Seligman on Twitter - @adamse

 

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