How To Improve Collaboration with Development and Operations

IT managers struggle with getting development and operations (DevOps) teams working together more efficiently. Here are six ways infrastructure and operations (I&O) can improve collaboration.

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3. Educate app dev on the evolution of I&O as a services-centric organization

I&O leaders should extend ITIL and IT service management education and training to app dev and enterprise architecture in the context of why it's important to them and to the business service life cycle as a whole. With the 2007 introduction of ITIL v3, the framework is no longer ops-centric. It explicitly accounts for all phases of the service life cycle, including those driven and fulfilled by dev. This isn't intended to be brainwashing, but more of an introduction into modern thinking around IT delivery to meet business needs. The right approach will compel dev to desire a role in ITIL and not feel they're being forced into it.

4. Consider app dev as "service dev"

While a shocking and likely offensive statement from some app dev perspectives, the development of applications is ultimately a subcomponent of the overall IT service. Sitting alongside service design activities, any written code is ultimately part of a more broadly defined IT service that gets delivered to the rightful consumers of that service. I&O execs should therefore build on the aforementioned educational activities to position the somewhat isolated app dev role into a more central service dev role. Instead of isolating dev group members as the narcissistic "them" who look down on "us," embrace this team as partners in providing relevant services to your joint customers. Key service metric monitoring and liberal use of feedback mechanisms will need to be in place to ensure that mindsets, and resulting behaviors, are actually changing.

5. Understand and manage the diversity of views on IT delivery

There are reasons why some of us love to work in app dev and why others gravitate to the logical demands of programming. However, this isn't an excuse for not working together for the good of the business. Senior management needs to ensure that there is a better mix of skills and personality types within IT functional groups. Review people management and development processes and frameworks in conjunction with HR. This will identify issues and gaps in IT people and their knowledge, skills, and development.

6. Integrate I&O's mission statement with the business

Stop repeating the IT-to-business alignment mantra and get on with making IT a crucial business enabler and a valued strategic partner. IT doesn't align with the business; IT is the business! To this point, IT functional groups need to explicitly understand how their work fits in with the broader goals of the business. Start by abandoning the nebulous and ill-conceived alignment and become integrated. Revisiting the original 20-year-old mission statements (if you still have them) will also be an eye opener in terms of how far I&O has evolved in the last two decades. There should be no I&O employees, just employees of and contractors to the business that provide technology-enabled capabilities to the business.

Stephen Mann and Glenn O'Donnell are senior analysts at Forrester Research, where they serve Infrastructure and Operations Professionals. They will both be speaking at Forrester's upcoming Infrastructure & Operations Forum, November 9-10, in Miami, FL.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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