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Sustainable development is the future of digital

Jon Tonberg
16 Jul 2019 · 3 min read

In the first in a series of articles, our expert Jon Tonberg explains how AmazeRealise thinks and acts with sustainability in mind and how this impacts on the long-term value of digital products and solutions.

A 2018 report by Couchbase stated that companies undertaking Digital Transformation activities risked wasting, on average, $22 million on failed initiatives.

Clearly the failure of projects in-flight is never a comfortable situation, unless you have adopted a fail fast, learn, move on approach. But surely it’s preferable to a badly thought out solution that isn’t fit for purpose, doesn’t scale and can’t be easily evolved?

We believe there’s a better alternative: using accepted engineering best practices coupled with Lean thinking to deliver sustained value.

Sustainable Development.

Long-term outcomes

At AmazeRealise we aim to develop relationships with our clients which are mapped out long into the future.

As part of Sustainable Development we make sure that every member of the team understands that the products they deliver are designed for long term value for our client’s business. This gives them a direction that leads to better decisions during their day to day work.

A great developer will take a step back and look to understand the context of the brief to provide a simple, elegant solution which addresses the ‘why’ rather than just the ‘what’ of a given problem.

— Paul Gruffydd, Technical Director, AmazeRealise

Collaboration wired-in

A common feature of unsustainable digital projects is the rockstar development team. This team is dropped in to build the solution and then disappears off to the next gig, often leaving chaos in its wake.

Our approach to Sustainable Development recognises that consistency and continuity is a determiner of long-term success. Wherever possible we ensure that our developers and engineers stay with a product from development to deployment and beyond. In this way knowledge is retained and enhancements delivered more quickly.

We always develop documentation and other collateral designed to reduce the risk of wasted time when new members transition onto a team. It may sound like common sense but we often inherit projects with next to no documentation.

Technical debt is the enemy of sustainability

Speed, agility, time-to-market. All of these are important considerations when delivering a new product, platform or solution. But we add long term value and quality into the mix by focusing on key principles such as:

  • Scalability
  • Quality
  • Extensibility
  • Re-use
  • Integration abstraction

Our focus is on producing working software which is well-crafted and sustainable.

This means developing features that deliver the most value for our clients and their customers. We look at what we can re-use from previous developments or re-use in the future to avoid developing irrelevant code.

In all this we balance delivering on time and adding technical debt (where the can is kicked down the road by postponing difficult technical decisions and implementing short-cuts). Technical debt can be necessary but the more that’s added, the less sustainable a solution becomes.

Sustainable Development in action

Our work with the English Football League (EFL) involved creating 58 websites in a very short time period. Each website would be owned by a club who needed to be able to adapt it to their own needs.

We took an agile approach to working through a prioritised backlog of features. A component-led, rather than page-led, approach allowed the clubs to easily and quickly develop their own sites with their own distinct identity.

The platform itself is highly scalable enabling us to cater for those times when traffic peaks, such as when fixtures are released or on transfer deadline day.

a EFL website across devices

Sustainable thinking has also been key in ensuring that the solution can be constantly evolved.

The EFL refreshes its platform every seven years. In the past this has resulted in a solution which has become unfit for purpose long before the end of the contract. By implementing a future proof, component-led, scalable solution we made sure this wasn't the case. Indeed, there were over 40 feature releases in the first year alone.

All this was made possible by our approach to Sustainable Development, ensuring that delivery of long-term valuable outcomes was at the heart of all our decisions around design, code and teams.

A focus on Sustainable Development gives assurance that your Digital Transformation efforts will be successful and that the money you spend now will result in products and solutions that will deliver long-term value for you and your customers.

— Jon Tonberg, CTO, AmazeRealise

Talk to us about how we can offer you sustainable long-term business value by filling out the form below.

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