I think it is safe to say that “DevOps,” “Automation,” and “Azure” (or insert your cloud of choice), are well beyond the buzzword phase and now a way of life for both individuals and organizations. Maybe you have successfully led your organization to achieve an ideal state, maybe you have been talking about it for a few years and are ready to start executing or maybe you are putting a roadmap in place. Wherever you are in your DevOps journey I strongly recommend aligning the desired outcomes you want to achieve from a technical perspective with the business objectives of your organization. And if you are one of the ones in “camp one”, who has already been on their DevOps and/or Cloud journey and has wisdom to share with those who have not yet traveled their journey, I welcome you to comment below and share your tips and tricks with others.
One thing I have learned from our team at Nebbia and the many engagements we have conducted is the importance of aligning the business objectives of the organization with the technical outcomes you are striving to achieve. Why do I think this is important you ask? Whether your company views your technology department/group/team/silo as a profit center or a cost center I strongly believe that if you align your work to the business objectives you will have executive level buy-in to what you are doing. In a later blog post I will get into the “how.” Here I want to stress the importance of the why so you could learn from my mistakes (and hopefully save yourself time and energy).
There have been at least a handful of times this year alone that I have worked with our technical team on a new proposal for a company who wants to “automate all the things” or “leverage the cloud”. We peel back the layers to find out what could be most meaningful to them from a technology perspective, and I didn’t take the time to ask if that aligns with the business objectives. One example was for an Azure focused engagement where the VP felt like they could be overspending in Azure because they got started with a lift and shift approach and felt like they could now leverage some of the PaaS capabilities for more efficient scalability. Our proposal focused on cost savings on their existing solution so they could free up budget to leverage some of the PaaS options to increase performance and scalability. Come to find out the President cared more about revenue generating activity for their existing product line. That could have been achieved by some of the same deliverables but because I focused on the “cost savings” objective instead of “revenue generating” objective, they did not move forward with that particular project. This is because it did not resonate with the business goals they had as an organization.
When you think about the output of a process being automated and what you are measuring to show value, I recommend taking those two items one step further. How does that output and measured value tie to the business and help the organization achieve its mission and goals.
I read an article this morning about how Walmart is leveraging blockchain technology to track lettuce to pinpoint contamination quicker. (As a disclaimer, I am using this example because it is relatable, not because I think that blockchain is the solution to all of the problems in the world today.) I would imagine that some analysis was done as to how much money this could potentially save them to justify the ROI of this technology investment. I don’t think they would have had buy-in to move forward with this if they just said “we want to move forward with blockchain technology for the sake of technology and lettuce sounds like a good idea.” They identified a real world problem with food contamination and wanted to minimize that risk of revenue loss and general food safety to the public and then found a technology solution that could solve that problem.
There are thousands of case studies Microsoft has conducted on the problems companies are solving with Microsoft Azure that can be found here as well.
The point I want to articulate is that regardless of your role in technology or business, make sure that you are aligning a business objective or solving a problem you are facing today with a technology solution instead of picking a technology solution and then finding a problem to solve.