Over recent years the importance of IT and the part it plays within the company has grown and it is now seen as an important enabler in achieving Business outcomes. In the same timeframe, market conditions have frequently changed, whilst customers have become more demanding as they embrace online / mobile capabilities. This has created numerous challenges across Business sectors, driving the need for:
- competitive pricing to win and retain its customer base
- current products that meet customer requirements, exploiting the latest innovations
- ability to rapidly change to meet changing market conditions
- cost efficient operations
The take up of mobile solutions has added further complexity as users expect a ‘safe’ but easy to use application interface, often used 365 days, 24hrs per day. This means that businesses have had to address cyber security risks and how to manage less predictable loading on their IT systems to cope with unpredictable demand.
Traditionally, organisations have struggled to adapt to such changing requirements due to operations being silo based and, in many cases, due to it being well distanced from the business. introducing ‘new’ technology and innovation into business products has also typically taken a long time, since waterfall methodologies and legacy infrastructure meant long development times which could be up to 12 months and beyond. With rapidly evolving technology, successful businesses have had to change the way they operate, becoming more ‘agile’.
In response to these changing dynamics many businesses have significantly invested in their IT solutions to enable them to compete in the market. with the introduction of modern IT solutions, businesses have had to transform their operations to fully exploit the investment. In many instances this has involved introducing agile operations and cloud based solutions to achieve continuous delivery, creating a devops capability. This intended to break down ‘silos’, moving it closer to the business, enabling the rapid delivery of ever-changing product requirements.
In reality, very few organisations have gained the full benefit from their investments and they are still struggling to transform their operations. the adoption of ‘agile’ methodologies is frequently misunderstood and as a result the business fails to see the results they were expecting e.g. product enhancements within a matter of days rather than months, along with unexpected costs. While businesses mature their ‘agile’ capabilities, many still need to use traditional methodologies with the intent to phase them out over a short period of time. A common pitfall is to fall-back onto the traditional processes during the ‘agile’ transition, eroding the investments that have been made.
For those businesses that do achieve their ‘agile’ / devops objectives, the benefits are immense. firstly, the the business becomes very close to it and the time frame from generating a business requirement through to launching an enhanced product ready for market is drastically reduced. Not only does this keep pace with customer requirements it also minimises costs, eliminating lengthy delivery. the removal of silos within the organisation also creates closer collaboration, ownership and an overall more efficient operation. Often there is a desire to supplement this with an offshore / nearshore capability to further reduce cost and increase pace. as the agile capability matures, team morale often improves as the focus becomes on launching and evolving products rather than focusing on bureaucracy and red tape.
Hence with the right mindset and focus it is possible to achieve the desired outcome and this is evident in some of the leading global organisations. The road to mature devops will have its challenges, the ability to navigate them, keeping a focus on the end goal is key to achieving success. Mindset and approaches often need to change but this should not be feared. agile doesn’t mean abandoning governance and taking shortcuts just to do things quicker, it means working in a flexible manner with suitable governance to achieve desired outcomes. For those businesses that don’t create such flexibility they will continue to struggle as technology continues to change and bring new opportunities to the global markets.