April 24, 2017

Macro trend: Microservices

Tech disruptors, such as Uber and Amazon, have placed huge pressure on businesses to innovate at an ever faster pace. To do so, organizations have had to rethink their traditional approach to development, leading many to embrace ‘microservices’ – an approach to application development in which a large application is built as a suite of modular services, essentially breaking them down into bitesize chunks that can be easily updated or 1216_blog_ppm_microservicesmodified as required.

However, this poses a potential problem: to make a success of microservices, businesses must be confident in managing a number of moving parts, essentially having a raft of miniature projects running all at the same time. One application that might have had a handful of elements in days gone by, now potentially has hundreds of granular parts that require specialist knowledge to complete them. If businesses want to reap the rewards microservices can bring, they must be prepared to spin a lot of little plates.

Tracking people as well as projects

In order to succeed at working in this way, businesses need an overview of the large amount of staff that are required to deliver an application—whether they are full-time development staff or freelancers brought in to work on specific tasks. As such, time and skills need to be managed in minute detail to ensure everything goes off without a hitch.

To ensure success, the planning stage is going to be more complicated, and more time will need to be allocated to creating a plan. This will pay dividends when teams aren’t wasting time trying to track down obscure freelancers that are key to the completion of a project with only days to a delivery deadline, or desperately trying to figure out when individual parts of a project need to be completed by.

Keeping things moving

Rather than a traditional end-to-end project, microservices create more of an evolving beast. Even after the initial application has been built, one of the key benefits of applications built using microservices is the ability to keep updating and managing individual elements as required to keep everything running smoothly.

But in order to successfully work on these applications, businesses must have a real-time and constantly updated overviews, even after the first version has been created. This will make it realistic for project managers to manage individual elements, making it easier to update and work on existing applications. Essentially, they will need to view one application as a portfolio of different smaller projects that makes the whole work, with each part being able to be changed to enhance the app.

Undoubtedly, microservices can bring huge benefits in terms of making a business more agile and able to pivot and change as required – just like Amazon and Uber do. Yet to really benefit, businesses must have the right processes and plans in place to make them a success and not a headache. Good project management platforms and visibility of everything that is going on will go a long way to smoothing out the added complication the microservices can bring by giving a real competitive advantage.

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