By Todd Cesaratto,

Watch your digital business idea evolve

Watching an idea leap off the drawing board into reality is an exhilarating experience. When the idea is the brainchild of a business team, it has many parents. Hence special preparations are needed to make sure that the journey from inception to realization goes smoothly. Instead of stewarding an idea through consecutive development phases, it is possible, and usually better, to run those phases concurrently. Then all the stakeholders can watch an idea for digital transformation evolve right in front of their eyes, giving their input every step of the way without ever letting it out of their hands. Sclable developed its rapid-prototyping method and technology stack to help businesses do just this.

 

1 team, 1 room

The Sclable Rapid-Prototyping Workshop configuration

Ingredient one: the power-team

Step one is to form a team that has the ability and authority to do the work that needs to be done. Each phase of an evolving digital transformation project requires specific expert knowledge and concludes with a decision (even when the phases are run concurrently). Should the project move forward or not? For the rapid-prototyping method to be effective, all the people able to green-light or veto the next step need to be in the same room. A typical power team includes:

  • The project owner (person on the client side who has the last word)
  • Business analysts – experts who understand both the customer’s world and how this world can be enhanced by digital resources
  • UI/UX experts – individuals with a profound understanding of how users interact in and with a given digital environment
  • Developers for every aspect of the project scope, as needed: frontend, backend, and mobile developers

 

ÖBB rapid-prototyping workshop

Real-life ÖBB-Sclable Power team: (L-R) Peter Kerschhofer (Sclable), Jennifer Loser (sedes), Peter Zehetbauer (ÖBB), and Jan Hilmar (Sclable) lay the groundwork for the project.

Ingredient two: lockdown mode

Once the team has been assembled, Sclable holds a 3-5-day rapid-prototyping workshop that puts the team in “lockdown mode.” Here the focus is not on discussion but on doing. One team. One room. No one comes out until real results are on the table.

In the workshop context, “real results” typically means a prototype for a digital business model or product that actually works and which therefore can answer the following questions:

  •   Business requirements – will the prototype do what it is supposed to do `for a business?
  •   User requirements – will the prototype give users, whether internal or external, “joy of use”?
  •   System Requirements – will the prototype work with the client’s existing IT infrastructure?

Thus, after just 3-5 days, project owners have something in their hands that would take months, even years to develop via conventional development channels. They can also immediately share the prototype with the intended end users.

Ingredient three: Parallelization

To a large extent, the success of rapid-prototyping workshops owes to “parallelization,” which means the ability to work on multiple tasks simultaneously.

For Sclable’s purposes, two things make parallelization possible: the rapid-prototyping method, which is the one-team, one-room philosophy underwriting the workshop, and the Sclable Tech Stack, which is the technology platform that makes the philosophy feasible. The team has already committed itself to bypassing the conventional linear process and approval logics, which govern typical digital transformation projects, but without the technology to support their commitment, they would not get very far.  

With the Sclable Tech Stack, the team can break out into mini-teams that each work on a different part of the digital business model or product. They are all building and altering different aspects of the same thing.

Furthermore, the Tech Stack allows changes to one part to be reflected through the whole. The project owner, frontend, backend, and mobile developers, business analysts, and UI/ UX experts are always up to date and no one is waiting for anyone else to finish his or her part.

Ingredient four: fail fast, learn fast

Each team benefits from every other team’s progress and input. Since they are all in the same room, everyone knows immediately when someone has hit a roadblock. Together they can respond to this roadblock. They either find a way past it or decide to go in a different direction. Failure is the best teacher of success. More often than not, a specific failure teaches the team how the original idea might work otherwise and better, and not that it won’t work at all. Speed of communication aids speed of development, and both enable the project owner to determine proof of concept quickly, at low cost and risk levels.

Result: A “culture of doing” is born

Failing and learning in rapid succession generates positive momentum, dynamics.  With Sclable, the momentum is sustained. After taking home a prototype in a matter of days, Sclable and the client move the digital business model or product through the sandbox phase to a roll-out-ready pilot in under 6 months. The evolution occurs on the same tech stack – so nothing is wasted and every investment Euro goes into the final product. When people witness things moving forward, they want to contribute to the momentum. Thus by doing – creating solid work together – a better culture emerges.