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Stuck in the IT Tunnel ?
Turn on the light with Agile Technology
Posted 29 March 2016 by Wim De Maeyer 
dark IT tunnel

Tunnel Syndrome ?

Having managed numerous IT projects during my career, I wanted to share a few of my experiences. Much has been written about the tunnel syndrome, usually associated with 'old style' IT projects. Maybe you recognise this chain of events:

  1. At the start of the project, the Business spend a huge amount of time writing functional specifications
  2. Then IT convert them into technical specs and the Business signs off
  3. Enter the tunnel: IT start developing, possibly off-shored and supervised by an external integrator
  4. Drive through the tunnel: developers may find the specs unclear or incomplete, and add their own interpretations. During this phase, visibility on progress and issues is minimal and the Business is not really involved
  5. Exit the tunnel: IT proudly present the result of their months of hard work, just a bit of testing needed and it's ready to go live - or is it ? The Business look at the result in shock: this isn't what they asked for, 6 months of work wasted, no they can't live with the proposed workarounds etc.

What's causing the Tunnel Syndrome ?

The first cause is the methodology itself. A project is not a linear sequence of events where tasks are fully owned and executed by one player or team in isolation. It should be an ecosystem where all players are engaged at all times and covering all aspects, with full visibility and continuous interaction.

Second cause is technology limitations. Classic development platforms are not built for continous sharing and visibility, as they need complicated versionning procedures to string the components together before the business people can take a look.

How to avoid the Dark Tunnel ?

Think of the tunnel as a pleasent journey from A to B, lights on, with everyone having fun and being confident about the destination and arrival time. There are two key enablers.

Agile Methodology: Define the scope and deliverables, group them in logical sprints, interact with all players and provide full visibility with frequent short interactions. Don't think of delivering a project as executing a cookbook, because functional requirements are never complete and technical specs are never accurate. A recipe for failure...

Agile Development Platform: Develop a first version fast, seek feedback from your user community, adjust quickly and move on to the next sprint. This can only be achieved if your development platform minimises overhead, automates the non-value adding processes and is truly agile and built for change.

ISB Smart Solutions recommends the OutSystems Agile Platform

OutSystems is the ideal platform for delivering great web and mobile apps quickly, for the following reasons:

  • Visual coding is quick and doesn't rely on specific technology expertise
  • The platform ecosystem, which includes multiple technology components, has advanced health and integrity validation, meaning that it doesn't allow developers to publish broken or conflicting versions
  • Overhead is minimal, you can publish a new version with one click and all dependencies are checked
  • It comes with a user feedback loop, letting users draw what they want to change or provide comments via audio recording
  • It covers everything out of the box, so business and IT can really engage and focus on delivering great apps instead of fire fighting self-inflicted technical problems

Visit us at to see how we can help your IT and your Business by using the right technology.

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