How Design Thinking can help with modern IT projects

A modern IT department must be as efficient and quick as possible. This is what CEOs and CIOs demand from their developers in most cases. They are, of course, not robots who, unlike artificial intelligence, have their own demands, ideas, and needs. Additionally, IT projects should be developed to be as agile as possible, which may initially sound like additional effort. The question now is, what ultimately are the tools of modern project management? How can projects be implemented in such a way that they meet the requirements of today? Design Thinking is one such solution.


The origins of Design Thinking

Design Thinking is not so much a concrete method of project management, but rather the interaction of many methods that have been tried and tested over a long period of time. “Design Thinking is a systematic approach to complex problems from all areas of life. In contrast to many approaches in science and practice that tackle technical solvability, the focus here is on people.” This is how the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) at the Universität Potsdam defines the terminology and even has its own School of Design thinking. The American David Kelly, founder of the IDEO innovation consultancy and design agency, first used the term ‘design thinking’ in the 80s and 90s. The creativity technique has been taught at the HPI since 2007 and thus arrived in Germany.

The basic idea behind Design Thinking is that all areas of life can be designed. Products are only good if they are based on people’s needs and solve their real problems. User wishes and needs as well as user-oriented inventing are at the center of the process. Collaborative work determines the success of a project. Most of the problems are very complex however, so only a targeted creative process can succeed.


Design Thinking in IT

In IT, the methodology is used as an agile approach in the implementation of projects. Over the course of digitalization, the importance of IT departments at companies will fundamentally change, in some cases this has already taken place. IT departments are less acting service providers, but are instead more integral parts of corporate processes and entire departments and diverse functions. In the future, IT will become the linchpin of structuring/optimizing/organizing company processes across all departments. CIOs are now tasked with continuing to digitalize processes, recognizing innovation potential, and institutionalizing this at the company[1].

In order to develop the software required for this, a method that meets the changing demands is required. Agility has long been relied on and the Design Thinking methodology offers the right approach and the necessary tools.


The Phase Agile Process Model as a method for Low-Code projects

As an alternative to the usual methods of agile project management, the Phase Agile Process Model was established at Scopeland Technology for contract projects/the creation of customer applications. According to the principles of Design Thinking, the focus is also on people and with Low-Code projects, it’s on the developers and the users. Low-Code platforms enable software development only through interactive configuration with almost no programming. This means that not only can applications be created faster, they are also much closer to the users involved from the start and their actual needs and requirements in terms of the application to be created. This does not mean of course that developers and users are constantly looking over each other’s shoulders. We have found it to be most practical for us to meet once a week according to the “Always on Tuesdays principle.” This allows the current work status to be analyzed each week directly on screen and the next steps to be discussed.

The tools of Design Thinking are not computer programs, but rather Post-It notes and pens, whiteboards and standing desks. According to the very variable phases of the Design Thinking method, the focus remains on “Is that really what we need?”

In the Phase Agile Process Model it is very important that project managers on both sides act more like moderators than owners of the products and projects to be developed. If this is successfully implemented, it opens up significantly more possibilities for users to have an influence than with conventional agile methods. The user is much closer to the actual design processes and new ideas can be tested much more quickly for their feasibility and suitability.



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Scopeland Technology GmbH

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