- Part one: Setting the scene of COVID-induced digital transformation
- Part two: Keeping people at the heart of digital transformations
- Part three: Instilling a growth-focused digital transformation mindset
- Part four: Building proactive Enterprise IT environments
This series was produced by Mark Teasdale, Mal Stephens, and Michael Howard. Download the full series here or through the form below.
Sustained success found in flexibility
The pace of technological change and user expectation is causing both a headache and an opportunity for businesses. Cloud-based giants like Atlassian and Xero were early adopters of delivering infrastructure, applications and remediations with high rapidity. Their ability to adapt and iterate has not only set the standard in our region for speed, flexibility, and quality in IT practice, but they have also raised the bar for customer experience.
We have identified four key areas concerning how to deliver value frequently:
- Delivering value faster no matter your size
- The value of getting your frequency right
- The underlying approach to delivering value frequently
- A cautionary word on DevOps
Delivering value faster no matter your size
Enterprise businesses are often known for bureaucracy getting in the way of change, particularly with IT transformation. But this needn’t be the case. Jade’s internal benchmarking of our Australian and New Zealand customers across the finance, insurance, retail, energy and logistics sectors revealed a growing focus on enabling faster IT delivery with greater automation.
Established enterprises who often rely on embedded legacy mission-critical systems are quickly adopting these new standards to remain relevant, applying their growing pool of resources to the challenge of moving at velocity. This focus is delivering cost efficiencies and enabling organisations to provide better service and experiences for their customers and partners.
Several Jade customers have set ambitious targets to be able to release changes to internal and external facing applications with a sub-monthly frequency within the next 12 months.
The value of getting your frequency right
At last year’s AWS Executive forum, AWS Head of Enterprise Alex Nemeth de Bikal discussed the importance of leveraging the ability of enterprise applications (including legacy systems with a lower change frequency) being able to change within days or hours. And as time progresses, this will likely change to hours or minutes. Nemeth de Bikal identified that understanding the organisation’s application assets in this way as one of the five essential capabilities that support the minimisation of technical debt and protection against new and disruptive market entrants (Berry, 2019).
The need to learn from market disruptors is a consistent imperative from leading CIOs looking to not only defend against disruption but enable innovation and transformation within their organisation. In identifying the enablement of innovation and transformation as one of 12 core competencies for Australian executives, technology advisory ADAPT provides wise advice.
Enterprises should learn from start-up success stories who have highly agile processes that can cope with future changes. This requires a shift from large projects, rigid processes and methods, to small and nimble, continuous projects. ADAPT, 2020.
The underlying approach to delivering value frequently
A vital contribution of the technology organisation in this evolution is the building of a DevOps culture (Philipson, 2019) in which the planning, build, and testing of software solutions intersects with their deployment, operation and monitoring. Through the adoption of DevOps practices, software development moves away from the inflexible waterfall methods to extend further downstream and encompass the entire operational life of the solution.
In addition to optimising the development lifecycle of IT solutions, DevOps also aims to deliver the following benefits:
- Reduced management costs (in labour and tooling)
- Higher quality output with testing and validation executed with a view to ending monitoring
- Facilitating a culture of shared ownership, knowledge and accountability in the organisation
A cautionary word on DevOps
The competitive advantages of DevOps practices must be applied with expertise and caution. By drastically reducing stage gates and delays in the IT lifecycle, continuous integration and delivery (CICD) – a fundamental DevOps process – can exacerbate security risks that may not be front of mind for development teams tasked with shipping new solutions at high speed. These risks can be mitigated with the following steps:
- Ensuring security and other technical subject matter experts are consulted in the planning process so that more of the testing and verification can ‘shift left’ to be performed earlier in the project timeline (Boon, 2020)
- Relying on an experienced software implementation partner like Jade to signpost the key issues and ensure key stakeholders have adequate time and information to respond to risks
Prior to the COVID-19 situation and despite the competitive pressure to deliver value more frequently and the sustainability with which this can be achieved by leveraging appropriate expertise, 69% of Australian and New Zealand CIOs report that “legacy mindset and processes” is a top barrier to the successful delivery of IT initiatives. With appropriate planning, engagement, and an approach that delivers evidence of success early and iteratively, this barrier can be removed.
Understanding where you are on your DevOps journey is key to identifying the areas of improvement. Whether DevOps has even made it onto your radar or it’s a journey you’re well on your way to completing, we can provide some valuable insights into the process.
Key aspects of our work involving DevOps encompass:
- Continuous delivery capability assessments that use qualitative and quantitative research to gauge a business’s CI/CD maturity, and identifies a specific set of initiatives to evolve the IT organisation’s ability to enable competitive advantage
- Provisioning environments from source control via orchestration tools so that applications, databases, servers and consistent environments can be built efficiently.
- Implementation of containers across the deployment pipeline to allow the immutable setup of consistent services, applications and environments
- Embedding non-functional (performance, scalability and security) and automated functional regression testing throughout the deployment pipeline
- Implementation of full monitoring across the whole deployment pipeline
- Building platform automation capabilities in client organisations
- Reducing build and deployment time from days to hours, and in cases hours to minutes
Are you delivering value frequently enough?
As you’re either considering or undertaking your digital transformation, setting up your organisation to constantly deliver value should be one of your key focuses.
Don’t let the size or scale of your business impact your ability to deliver value faster. There is considerable value in getting your frequency right. Embrace DevOps practices and watch not just your IT department take off, but your whole business too. And they’ll have you to thank because you always deliver.
Want to read a copy of the series in its entirety? Download full digital transformation report here or complete the form below.