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Every Company Should Act Like a Software Company

Every Company Should Act Like a Software Company

Every Company Should Act Like a Software Company

As part of Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Seriesa collection of contributed articles written by our enterprise tech thought leader communityCameron van Orman, the Chief Strategy Officer at Planview, explains why every company should start acting like a software company.

In a world increasingly dependent on technology, software, and digital transformation have become essential components to organizational success. Some business leaders may think their IT department bears complete responsibility for digitalizing the organization, but digital transformation is a two-way street. It must be a top-down, comprehensive undertaking that permeates the entire organization to create organic, tangible value for customers, investors, and employees. 

The best way organizations can put this idea into practice is to think of themselves as software companies, regardless of their industry—if they don’t, they will fall behind and lose market share to digital natives. Embracing a true digitalization mindset requires agile frameworks and connected processes and systems that increase visibility between the business and technology facets of the organization.   

Agile Emphasizes Delivering Value Together 

Native software companies are in dogged pursuit of value, and there’s a reason why so many of them fully embrace the integrated adoption of agile frameworks. By design, agile frameworks involve a specific approach to planning, managing, and executing against strategic priorities. They often fall into one of two categories: frameworks for particular teams or frameworks for entire organizations at scale. Specific approaches include Scrum, extreme programming (XP), and Kanban. 

Scaling agile across the organization positions software teams to focus on delivering value together. Far beyond a mere work style, agile is a cultural mindset. If an organization wants to prioritize digitalization and act more like a software company, it must be prepared to undergo a paradigm shift. 

As with most fundamental business shifts, adopting agile frameworks cannot be done overnight. It requires authentic executive buy-in; it will change the way an entire organization functions. Company leaders might consider starting with one department at a time—coaching them through inevitable hurdles, showcasing their initial results, and gradually bringing new teams into the fold. After all, any sudden, sweeping change in workflows would be antithetical to the agile mindset. 

Once teams have grown accustomed to the new workflows of agile frameworks, they’ll start reaping the benefits immediately. Executives can spend more time on the work they value most: leading and strategizing. Teams will be empowered to take more ownership of their work and have a clearer sense of how it fits into the organization’s big picture. Getting there won’t be easy, but the result will be an organizational team laser-focused on their collective mission to deliver value. 

It must be stated that an agile framework alone isn’t enough to make a company as efficient as the best software companies—it is just one piece of the puzzle. To master the entire value-delivery process, businesses must also embrace value-stream mapping. 

Leadership Should Have Maximum Visibility Into Development 

Successful software companies prioritize full-scope digitalization and generate maximum visibility between leadership and software development teams. Communication and synergy are crucial for long-term digitalization success, as leaders need a keen, continued awareness of how executive-level decisions and investments shape the organization. Development teams, for their part, need to ensure they have buy-in from key stakeholders. How can traditional companies achieve this win-win? 

One formal framework that encourages cross-departmental visibility is Value Stream Management (VSM). VSM helps teams understand how value and delivery flow from within the organization to the end-user. It can help an organization identify roadblocks, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies – and once you identify a problem, you can begin to address it. 

With VSM, silos between business and technology functions are broken. Pre-existing software teams may be deconstructed, but new, value-driven teams will be reconstructed, giving employees a more aligned and productive mission where outcomes are prioritized over outputs. 

VSM is taking root across industries ranging from telecommunications to automotive, and its detailed insights can benefit any organization that wants to harness the benefits of digitalization to compete and thrive in its market. VSM helps companies visualize all the people, processes, and technology involved in a software development lifecycle, which is helpful for both grasping minute details and understanding big-picture perspectives. 

By adopting VSM, organizations can optimize communication between leadership and development (and all teams, for that matter) and keep their eyes on the prize: delivering value. 

Connected Work Ensures Organizational Alignment 

Embracing connected work can also help organizations channel their inner software companies and focus on digitalization. Connected work synthesizes the whole data lifecycle across the strategy-planning-delivery-results journey into one platform, with a holistic view of value and deliverables. All teams should be aware of all Objectives and Key Results, no matter how different their respective responsibilities may be. The more visibility that exists across teams and up the ladder, the better an organization can stay aligned with its goals, mission, and value creation. 

It can be easy to fall into the mindset that working in silos keeps teams focused and cuts out distractions; however, silos can easily stall digital transformation or even cause transformation initiatives to fail altogether. Teams can use fit-for-purpose tools, but the data needs to be aggregated and shared for collective benefit. Leadership will have much better cross-departmental visibility and oversight, and teams will have a clear picture of why their work matters and how it fits into the big picture. 

A bonus outcome of connected work is enhanced company culture. If all teams can see each other’s priorities and workflows, they will understand each other better and appreciate their efforts. Connected teams are happier and more productive; they root for each other, celebrate wins, and offer support during challenges. With one mission and laser focus on delivering value, teams will unite across departments to achieve their digitalization goals. 

Digitalization Means Connection 

Not every software company will adopt agile frameworks, value stream management, and connected workflows—but the most successful ones always find a way to prioritize collaborating and delivering value. Between the proliferation of technological innovation and ever-evolving customer expectations, any organization in any industry can gain from a holistic focus on digitalization. Digitalization makes companies more competitive, efficient, and resilient to change or challenges.

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