Why DevOps Realizes Exponential Results with an Advanced BRM Capability

InsiderPosted | Category: BRM Capability, Business Relationship Management Research, Professional Development | Contributed

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IT and Line of Business cultures are often touted as different as international cultures. Like the United States and Great Britain, or Germany and France. Given, IT management and staff essentially speak the same language as their cross-departmental colleagues. However, it’s as if they speak a distinct dialect which requires a translator to convey their messaging.

Therefore, businesses that want to rapidly accelerate the time it takes to realize the benefits of DevOps methodologies should look to business relationship management (BRM) practices.

DevOps Defined through a BRM Capability

If you are one of the many among us who remains unfamiliar with the definition of DevOps, Microsoft offers one of the most concise description:

DevOps is the union of people, process, and technology to enable continuous delivery of value to customers. The meaning signifies coordination and collaboration among formerly siloed disciplines.

If you’ve ever tried to collaborate with someone where barriers to communication cause issues, you may be perfectly poised to establish a BRM function.

A Business Relationship Manager can translate business needs into technical requirements. Additionally, they translate technical capabilities into conversations about business value. Moreover, BRMs leverage Agile methods and tools to plan and monitor Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery of Business Applications. Consequently, they approach this convergence from a combined viewpoint of business and technical priorities.

Putting People and Process First

DevOps guru Alex Honor asserts that businesses should “[…] prioritize people over process over tools.” Thus, deploying BRM experts with a macro-understanding of the people, processes, and technologies within a specific division, or enterprise-wide, remains critical.

Through an intimate understanding of internal and external relationships, BRMs help the organization evaluate the tools to converge with their needs.

Moreover, technology professionals in the microservices world demonstrate highly specialized I-shaped skills (meaning deep skills in one area) in a business function. Business professionals, like salespeople, often need Pi (general skills and two areas of specialization) or Comb-shaped (generalist with multiple areas of expertise) skills across several broad topics. Consequently, DevOps requires BRMs with broad technology understanding and deep business understanding, also known as T-Shaped skills.

Bridging the Perception Gap Through a BRM Lens

Pretend, the CEO of a national bank aims to reduce cost, provide public-facing departments with a single view of customers, and defend against emerging data security threats. Naturally, DevOps emerged to address these exact needs. Devops remains rooted in Continuous Feedback and iterative delivery, so that BRMs can play a strategic role as facilitator and translator of that feedback throughout the process. The CEO and CTO can direct application developers to:

  • Gather feedback from customer-facing teams on ways to tailor business applications, to provide better customer activity visibility across the business.
  • Find cost efficiencies such as migrating from siloed applications to integrated cloud platforms.
  • Demonstrate regular communication between IT security experts and users around emerging data threats. Along with best practices for detecting and avoiding phishing attacks, malware, and botnets.

Understandably, BRM professionals are critical participants in meetings that discuss business priorities. They take the business requirements above and help the CTO or VP of Technology define the tools which that best serve employees across the organization. The faster feedback from internal users and customers is translated into actionable deliverables through BRMs, the faster organizations will reap the benefits of DevOps.

Without a BRM capability, organizations may implement the wrong tools, unable to position IT capabilities against real-world process challenges.

IT management and staff essentially speak the same language as their cross-departmental colleagues. However, it’s as if they speak a distinct dialect which requires a translator to convey their messaging.

Non-technical business executives remain so close to their objectives that they lack visibility (or, often, the expertise) to define the technology roadmap which will meet their goals. Here, the BRM comes in. The BRM understands the big picture connecting business needs to technological value, and can thus educate non-technical leaders accordingly.

Where DevOps Initiatives Alone Fall Short…

Chasms between IT and business users emerge because business executives worry about IT slowing down, or halting, their strategic initiatives. In fact, IT sometimes cancels a project or contracts outside consultants because they often lack resources or skills to manage a specific application. According to CIO.com, the top 5 reasons DevOps initiatives fail are:

Top 5 Reasons DevOps Falls Short
  1. DevOps Initiatives aren’t grounded in business outcomes – Process changes only prove helpful to IT, without the ultimate vision of better serving users and customers.
  2. Organizational change remains an afterthought – Too much focus on tools, not enough thought about how technology will impact the organization.
  3. Restricted Collaboration – DevOps planning and monitoring don’t curate feedback from the entire organization, only certain sectors like operations and IT.
  4. Big bang approach to DevOps – Shifting to DevOps requires iterative planning, implementation, testing and feedback. Hence, flipping a switch on such a culture shift proves counter-productive, challenging, and chaotic.
  5. Mismanaged Expectations – Imagine the implementation of a new website, where the project managers had many epics and sprints documented in a system like JIRA. Therefore, they were led to believe “This is the most Agile project ever!” Meanwhile, the designers, developers and content creators received an overabundance of resources and demonstrated confusion about their project role. To prevent unequal perceptions, both qualitative & quantitative expectations should be identified.

BRM Helps to Bring DevOps Home.

BRM professionals mitigate each of these roadblocks where DevOps, alone, falls short. Particularly, BRMs play a strategic role in planning, facilitating interdepartmental collaborations, and presenting new workflow mapping for technical and business audiences. Ultimately, they define iterative rollout strategies to properly implement DevOps, rather than adopt the “flip the switch and hope” mentality.

Additionally, they help IT executives prioritize development initiatives, like mobile access to customer data for remote employees, for example.

Most importantly, BRMs implement user feedback to define the business outcomes of DevOps strategies for LOB executives. Faster release cycle times of business applications result from such implementation.

Is your organization looking to implement DevOps methods, but concerned whether it will have a meaningful, measurable impact in the short-term?

Perhaps, you hope to embark on a digital transformation journey and want to leverage BRM methods to ensure your success. Then join the global BRM community for a smooth DevOps transition by collaborating with your experienced peers across the globe.

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