Ceasefire between dev and ops for a digital enterprise

by Jaco Viljoen, Principal consultant for Digital Enterprise

In my previous three articles, I covered what the digital enterprise actually is (because it seems everyone has their own definition), how lean-agile is the digital enterprise’s skeleton and nervous system, and how automation is one of the keys to becoming a digital organisation, says Jaco Viljoen, agile consultant at IndigoCube.

They’re a logical progression through the stages to mature a digital enterprise. But you can only mature when two opposing parties in your business realise they must find common ground. They must relinquish selfish motives to enrich or empower their own fiefdoms within the larger business. They must collaborate so the business itself can survive at all.

On one hand are the development teams (bringing new ideas and systems and opportunities to the business people – essentially change), opposed – on the other – by the operations teams (trying to meet customer demands with a suitably stable environment).

Perhaps that context makes it clearer why I say DevOps must become a philosophy that embraces collaborative culture, continuity and automation. That’s a mouthful, so I’ll break it down quickly.

By philosophy, I mean how you think, your morals, values, principles, your view of the world, how you think things should be done; often, what people mean when they say, “we should all be on the same page,” or “pulling together”.

Collaboration’s a little more obvious – we need the opposing sides to collaborate – for the good of the business and ultimately the customer.

Continuity? Competition in the market demands that we do not wait for big projects to be completed anymore. We must deliver value to our customers continuously and on demand.

Automation is key to enable collaboration and continuity in the digital organisation. Manual work is slow and error-prone and results in fire-fighting and unnecessary rework.

There’s often a seesaw or pendulum between the outcomes the two sides seek. Sometimes the ops guys are in the lead and they have a stable environment with little change in which to meet their customer needs. Nearly everyone’s happy, including customers, but the development guys are sad because they can’t create all the new stuff that will ultimately make customers happy and therefore generate more revenue.

And sometimes the development guys are in the lead and nearly everyone’s happy because customers are getting the new stuff they want to keep them shelling out their hard-earned cash, and the development guys have all their new toys but the operations guys are sad because they don’t like this change that disrupts their daily toil trying to make targets.

What we want is to replace the seesaw or pendulum with a lift that sees both sides gain. This becomes possible by giving each team what they want and need and we help them to elevate their outcomes so they’re both simultaneously happy. Breaking down the barriers between the two, the silos that separate them, gets them pulling towards the same business goal: satisfying customers in a digitalised, disrupted world. But it means each side must give a little.

One benefit is the highly prized business agility. The second is speed to market. Being agile means gaining the ability to pivot when your radar spots a new threat. Speed to market means getting there in the six months or less it’ll take your nimble competitor.

In the old days, we thought: “Big fish eats little fish.” Today, we think clever: “Fast fish eats slow fish.” The digital age removes the barriers to entry so anyone can compete with you if they harness the right systems in the right way. You need to do the same thing.

Digitalising must encapsulate lean-agile (as a means of gaining the right systems, quickly) and automation (as a means of employing those systems to the benefit of your workforce and your customers).

The industry is slowly getting to this point. There are pockets of goodness out there, like the islands of automation, but we must stitch them together so they’re seamless, from end-to-end, the golden threads uniting our organisations for the customer’s benefit. Those that do will be unstoppable.

This article was first published by http://pressoffice.itweb.co.za/indigocube/PressRelease.php?StoryID=280214