Why Being Agile Is Not Enough Anymore

In previous posts, we’ve highlighted the urgency that today’s organisations face to bring Digital Transformation initiatives to their current operational models. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) – characterised by the increasing ubiquity of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds – every industry in every country the world over is facing disruption.

To remain competitive, businesses must bring new digital experiences and product offerings to market, as well as embracing a comprehensive approach to Digital Transformation, with a willingness to innovate all aspects of the organisational structure.

IT, of course, will be charged with taking the lead. In a digital age, IT is naturally at the centre of an organisation’s success. But, as the pace of market change continues to accelerate, teams must gravitate towards a new operational model of IT and fast. IT needs to be the factor that enhances the business – but if it doesn’t evolve adequately, it can just as easily be the roadblock to change.

Being successful in the past has meant development becoming more Agile. However, it’s no longer enough for this one department alone to embrace agility. Today, as we enter the disruptive age of the 4IR, agility is as important for operations as it is for development, and all other stakeholders along the way.

From Agile to DevOps

The beauty of Agile approaches to software development has always been found in the discipline’s ability to produce potentially better results and better products than perhaps had been originally envisioned. This was made achievable through a flexible and light-touch approach that focusses around getting software products shipped out incrementally, and bolstered by regular interactions with and demonstrations presented to the customer.

However, where Agile has historically fallen short has been at the execution stage. Since the Agile methodology was only implemented during the development phase, the operations department was left behind, leading to deployments piling up faster than it was possible to release them. This meant that users experienced delays in receiving any new value from the product, and of course the subsequent business rewards were also detained.

Although Agile also fosters principles of continuous learning, innovation and improvement that allows for a project’s requirements to change and new functionality to be added over time, in practice, as the system becomes more complex with each new functionality added, the system, too, needs to be flexible and adaptable to incorporate the continuous changes required of it.

In short, Agile fails to include operational teams early enough in the development cycle. As a result, Agile methodologies failed to improve productivity and ultimately, the bottom line.

DevOps Teams Are All-inclusive

This is the trend that has ultimately given rise to DevOps – a discipline that takes a more holistic approach to being Agile, and which, rather than focussing singularly on software development, incorporates the whole IT organisation and its relationship with the business at large.

DevOps builds on the best principles of Agile, with the key difference being that it seeks to synchronise development, operations and all other stakeholders to foster continuous collaboration, in the pursuit of bringing robust software to users faster and without deployment backlogs.

Importantly, DevOps is not simply a varied form of Agile with slightly more involvement from operations that is still charged with dealing with pile-ups in deployment. Rather, the aim of DevOps is to address the disconnect between operations and development through extended team interactions and service delivery right across the value chain. In essence, DevOps treats software delivery as a single, unified activity, bridging the gap between the creation of software and delivering a service to users.

How to Bring DevOps to Your Organisation

DevOps is a working culture that emphasises effective collaboration and communication between previously siloed departments, that enables optimised release cycles of thoroughly-tested high-quality software products.

Implementing DevOps in the enterprise, however, is challenging, and requires strong leadership to address potential roadblocks such as fear of and resistance to change, misunderstandings of what DevOps is and siloed departments.

4IR is here and it’s of vital importance that strategies are formulated to overcome these obstacles, for no matter how you look at it, the need for Digital Transformation initiatives is urgent. In our white paper, DevOps: Unlocking the Value from Digital Transformation, we pave the path to DevOps that will enable the transformations organisations need to make in order to stay competitive in today’s evolving markets.

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