Whether your budget is based on the fiscal year, the school year, or the calendar year, we are nearing the end of the cycle. Are you lucky enough to find yourself with leftover budget? Here we offer twelve ideas based on the four categories in which we measure success: value, collaboration, quality, and delivery.
1. Conduct a design thinking workshop
Design-thinking isn’t just an activity, it’s a mindset which creates better products. It gets you to think about your customers, their use cases, and the way your product helps them. Use this time to conduct a focused workshop and get your team into a design-thinking mindset so you create better products.
2. Conduct a buy vs. build analysis
The best decisions involve making tradeoffs. Often with technology, this involves deciding whether to buy or build. Spend time investigating your needs, potential offerings and the benefits and risks. Find people with market analysis and business process analysis skills – either in-house or outside expertise. We’ve helped clients such as the Compressed Gas Association and MyEyeDr evaluate their needs and choose the best path.
3. Research a new technology or technologies
Ultimately, we are all about achieving business outcomes. Spend time investigating new technology or technologies in your field which can improve business outcomes for you. Talk with others in your field to learn what others are exploring.
4. Send your team to training
People are your most valuable asset and investing in their skills will return substantial dividends. To help with next year’s top priorities, select a training class which suites your team’s interests and needs. If you’re looking for Agile training, check out NextUp Solution‘s upcoming classes.
5. Develop your Artificial Intelligence use cases
Whether mandated by the President or your Board, you probably have an AI initiative on next year’s roadmap. Set your team up for success by defining specific use cases, desired outcomes and success metrics.
6. Build a Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery pipeline
DevOps practices such as Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) increase collaboration, directly leading to faster delivery of value and shorter feedback loops. Help your team do that by building or improving your CI/CD pipeline. You can gain further improvements by hosting a DevOps Simulation Workshop designed to help your team collaborate more effectively.
7. Investigate your code quality and architecture
If your codebase is large and complex, your team may deploy as many bug fixes as new features. Use this time to assess your code quality software architecture and help the team identify improvements. You can use a tool such as SilverThread or find an expert in your tech stack to conduct an in-depth review. Author and Google Expert Doguhan Uluca did just this for a complex, Federal system. Prioritize what you find, then host a challenge to tackle technical debt.
8. Improve business processes
Whether your key initiatives next year involve AI, Cloud, or new product development, you will be changing business processes. Spend this time conducting a thorough business process analysis to understand your current state, identify areas for improvement and map out a path to realize a better future. For a legal client, Excella created recommendations based on impact, cost, effort and risk that became a roadmap for improving project management, establishing clear roles and responsibilities and increasing customer satisfaction.
9. Create more automated tests
A great way to increase product quality is through automated testing. Using automation effectively requires time, energy, and many different skill sets. Dedicating your extra funds to increase your level of automated testing will lead to faster deployments, lower technical debt and happier customers..
10. Understand your current level of agility and identify how to improve
Teams adopt Agile to increase end-customer value and speed of delivery. The question for you: Where is your team, and where do you want them to be? If there’s a gap, consider conducting an Exploration to understand your opportunities and build a continuous improvement backlog.
11. Prototype a machine learning algorithm
AI initiatives are high priority. You can use your extra budget to build a prototype and test your ideas. This gives you an opportunity to explore what works, what doesn’t and what impediments stand in the way of your vision. Engineers at Excella built a prototype to explore sentiment analysis using Raspberry Pi and Twitter feeds on Azure.
12. Automate pipelines to improve your data visualization
Excella pulls data from multiple systems of records into PowerBI for business reporting. At first, this was a manual process with many steps, but we invested in creating automated data pipelines that extract data, transform it for the specific format and load it into the PowerBI tool. This led to immediate savings, increased the quality of the data and enhanced the feedback loop, allowing faster responsiveness to end-users.
There are plenty of options for you to choose – don’t let this opportunity go to waste!