“The new normal is lean and mean.”

So begins a report released yesterday by Forrester Research Inc. titled “The Top Five Changes For Application Development in 2010.”

Lean and mean, according to Forrester analysts Mike Gualtieri, John Rymer and Jeffrey Hammond, refers to cutting costs in the current difficult economy while making sure an intense focus is kept on the IT projects that will most help the business. “This will usually mean knowing what matters most in a project. Is it user experience, a process simplification, or a re-architecture?” the authors wrote.

The first change, according to the report, involves embracing cloud computing as an emerging platform. This will speed delivery of custom applications by enabling organizations to leverage infrastructure-as-a-service platforms, rather than having to buy, install, and configure servers, storage and networks.

“Teams can build conventional integrated development environments, deploy to rented resources, and configure their deployments using the IaaS provider’s APIs,” the report states.

The report suggests using the public clouds already up today (Amazon Web Services, Salesforce.com) to begin to put together a strategy for putting these platforms into operation for an organization. Among the questions to be answered are what will these organizations use the cloud for, how will the cloud platform relate to the rest of their architecture, and what coding and quality practices should be used when developing for the cloud.

The second change involves a company’s development shop becoming able to respond to changing requirements brought on by a changing market or a change in fortunes.

By “finding your inner startup,” Forrester’s report says, organizations can streamline processes, as well as the tools and platforms they use in development, and jettison those that no longer make sense to the business. To achieve this kind of flexibility, the report urges a review of development processes to see if they match up with the projects the team must complete. Forrester notes that many large IT shops are introducing agile development practices into their existing iterative and waterfall processes.