Throughout two decades of professional services positions at enterprise software companies, I've consulted on change management to my clients' IT leaders on how best to structure their teams to incorporate the new technology and processes. Often my recommendation would be to identify a separate, dedicated team to learn, develop, and deliver the "new normal" to the rest of the organization.
Keeping the new from the existing would allow for the disruption to be, well, less disruptive. Nowadays, I work with clients who are adapting their web applications to be responsive to their users, and I recommend a very different approach.
Responsive design, RWD, ReSS, Responsive Delivery -- methodologies for delivering a web experience to multiple endpoints -- have, of course, “responsive” as the common adjective (and now used as a noun in tech circles). While "going responsive" is disruptive to the buyers of a technology platform, responsive techniques used in web development do not necessitate disruption to the people who implement them. After all, it's just front-end development with the same skill sets you already have on your existing web team.
I'm not minimizing the learning curve of a new development approach (media queries, fluid grids, device detection, tritium.io, HTML5), but the long-pole in grooming productive developers is for them to understand your business and existing processes.
Stick with the team that's delivering your success now.
Breaking out a siloed mobile development team (internal or external) that focuses strictly on the mobile endpoint (same goes for tablet) creates unnecessary redundancy in people, process, code, design assets, etc. -- and loses the connection with your proven desktop site strategy.
This goes for design folks too. Your existing desktop site designers know your functionality, brand, and end-users better than any specialized mobile design agency might.
Responsive approaches are a golden opportunity to unify your end-users' experiences with a unified internal team. Take back your mobile site from external vendors and build on a platform, process, and methodology that gets your team working in unison. You will realize immediate efficiencies in reacting to experience (A/B) testing results, iterative desktop-to-tablet-optimizations, and to your regular major release processes.
At Layer0, we're fortunate in that we were the early pioneers of Responsive Delivery, so we've experienced all flavors of implementation and development approaches. We distilled this knowledge into a simple methodology that is paying dividends to many of our customers -- a unified, responsive approach to web and mobile requires a unified team and process.
Post by Justin Megahan