Reacting to a Shifting Business Environment with Modernized Processes

Reacting-to-a-Shifting-Business-Environment-with-Modernized-Processes-336x336 Reacting to a Shifting Business Environment with Modernized Processes medical Intland Software’s recently published case study with Medtronic investigates how the world’s leading medical technology company was able to overcome their most pressing challenges using our integrated Application Lifecycle Management platform, codeBeamer ALM. While an interesting story, it primarily sheds light on the technical details of how this medical tech giant was able to make this transition – but it doesn’t answer why they felt the need to modernize their tooling in the first place.

Quite obviously, the story goes well beyond the question of using advanced software tools. It shows us how adequate IT infrastructure is fueling business process change in today’s software-heavy product environment. In effect, the story helps us understand how ALM is becoming a bare necessity for high-tech companies that wish to stay ahead of the curve in terms of innovation, speed of product delivery, and process maturity.

Abandoning antiquated processes

Sarb Singh-Kaur is a visionary software executive who has worked in software development all his life, with high-profile companies such as Symantec and BT. Mr Singh-Kaur joined Medtronic in 2013 as Director of Patient Care Software at the Neuromodulation department to execute his vision of transitioning this global leader in medical technology to state of the art processes. He is responsible for the development of all health software products, R&D, innovation and mobile, cloud and data Sciences infrastructure development.

While a highly successful part of a global company, accounting for 11% of Medtronic’s revenues in 2014, the Neuromodulation department was relying on processes that had proven to work great, but simply weren’t future-proof. Mr Singh-Kaur’s vision was to ensure that their internal processes were driving, rather than hindering or at best barely supporting the evolution of the company. It was obvious that in the era of cloud technology, mobile-based medical solutions, and innovative data-driven business models, a much more Agile approach to product development was necessary in order to stay ahead of the competition.

“I am transitioning the organization towards state of the art mobile, cloud, and data driven medical systems with Agile processes that support new forms of healthcare delivery and user experiences. For me, speed of development and innovation delivery will be the new currency in the healthcare digital transformation. Processes and tools that enable us to accelerate development in a highly regulated environment will be key to our success.”

– Sarb Singh-Kaur, Director of Patient Care Software, Medtronic Neuromodulation

Future-proofing software development

Mr Singh-Kaur’s vision of enabling his department to increase the velocity of development and responsiveness to change reflects his understanding of a shifting business environment. As advancing technology unlocks new sources of value to companies, innovative business models are necessary to take advantage of this evolutionary process. Reacting to the latest advancements in technology, regulations, and user (patient) needs in a timely manner is crucial.

The company’s legacy processes before this transition were nothing out of the ordinary. A large portion of companies today operate on the assumption that what has worked for so long will keep working in the future. They are able to develop new software-equipped products and market them the way have done for so long, while complying with industry regulations, and competing successfully with other players simply by relying on tried and tested processes – so why change?

Sarb Singh-Kaur realized that making the transition from clunky paperwork, endless meetings, laborious manual documentation, and antiquated processes to a fully digital, cloud-based, Agile way of working will be inevitable. Implementing this shift in culture and processes sooner rather than later brings a competitive advantage as the market develops. Therefore, upon joining Medtronic, he has made it a priority to execute this vision in a timely manner.

“I’ve been in software all my life and when I got here one of the biggest agendas was to transition the team to a much more Agile kind of environment”

– Sarb Singh-Kaur, Director of Patient Care Software, Medtronic Neuromodulation

Improving value creation and coping with tomorrow’s challenges today

Since Medtronic, a developer of medical devices, operates in a highly regulated safety-critical industry, maintaining compliance with international and local standards was a concern above all others. Therefore, the modernization of processes would have to be implemented with this in mind. Controlling and monitoring the use of mature processes would help ensure compliance in this high-velocity development environment. Using SAFe®, the Scaled Agile Framework, DevOps, and and incorporating the UX aspect in the work of his development team further supported Sarb Singh-Kaur’s goals of accelerating development, enhancing collaboration, and improving the quality of Medtronic’s end products by using mature processes.

But when it comes to the practical execution of these updated processes aligned with a forward-thinking vision, old ways no longer work. Similarly to a growing number of companies that recognize the importance of using integrated ALM solutions with advanced process management capabilities, Mr Singh-Kaur realized early on that his department’s old toolbox wouldn’t be able to support his vision. He began investigating integrated Application Lifecycle Management platforms that would enable his team to make the transition to modern processes, to accelerate development and innovation, and to enhance product quality while maintaining compliance. Medtronic Neuromodulation ended up choosing codeBeamer ALM to drive this process change, and deployed it in a month after making the decision.

“My job is to move the organization from the old way of doing things to the cutting edge way, and speed of development is everything. Being Agile requires a different mindset, and I can’t imagine using any other tool to help us get there.”

– Sarb Singh-Kaur, Director of Patient Care Software, Medtronic Neuromodulation

So that’s the story of how a visionary software executive found a way to create a powerhouse of innovation and improve value creation at the world’s leading medical technology company. But the reason it’s so interesting is not merely a question of tooling or processes – investigating this tool investment helps us understand how high-tech companies today are coping with challenges of an IoT-enabled, mobile, cloud-based future.

Merken

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Kristof Horvath

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Kristof holds a BA in Commerce and Marketing and is especially passionate about inbound and content marketing. On the Intland blog, he is covering topics related to application lifecycle management and agile methods.

Kristof Horvath has written 103 posts for Intland Software.

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