Thursday, 16th July 2020

Taking DevOps to the next level

Businesses will always strive for faster, bigger and better. It often makes sense to adopt software that can really move the needle on making those broad goals a reality – optimising systems, internal processes, and customer interactions. Every business has unique processes, so a one-size-fits-all approach won’t deliver the best results here. For this reason, numerous businesses are now building bespoke software applications – either internally or through suppliers. By Nick Ford, Chief Technology Evangelist at Mendix.

  • 11 Apr 2019 Posted in

Building the idea

That’s where the application development process kicks in, and it’s here where the difference is made. IT projects are still plagued by high fail rates, and basic errors in the development process itself are often the root cause.

At its worst, the process happens in isolation, with developers being briefed on the app purpose and going away to build the required software. DevOps has emerged as a better way to bring ideas to life, bridging development and IT operations to ensure the app development cycle considers the entire service lifecycle. From initial software design, through production and into day-to-day operational support.

In today’s software-driven world, more and more businesses turn to DevOps to quickly create and bring ideas to life. It’s about bringing together two siloed teams to facilitate continuous integration, app monitoring and the automated, frequent delivery, testing and updating of app portfolios. In a nutshell, this means putting agile methodology into action at speed.

Fine-tuning the process

Despite this progress, numerous organisations have identified a need to facilitate better business outcomes from software development. All too often, the delivered software doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head. The ultimate aim of all IT projects is to deliver meaningful business benefit. When that doesn’t happen, it’s often down to a lack of communication between the IT team and the wider business.

That needs to change. We need a new way to run IT projects, with the business needs at the heart of the process. DevOps is evolving to become BizDevOps.

What is BizDevOps?

While fairly new, this operational process brings solid benefits to the business by bridging the gap between the business, development and IT operations teams. Collaboration across the development cycle can steer projects towards a speedy and efficient outcome. More importantly, this group effort can achieve a more successful conclusion from a business value perspective.

There are of course challenges to taking this approach. The fact that few business stakeholders understand app software code, the language of developers, is a significant hurdle. There is a workaround here, and it’s simpler than teaching everyone how to read and understand code.

Understanding the development process

‘Low-code’ is a visual development approach to app development. It opens up the development process to everyone – enabling everyone to share, experiment with and build on initial ideas. Low-code platforms like Mendix can also allow the app to be previewed during development, so the wider business team can review and feedback before the end product is delivered.

Keeping the feedback loop open is vital to maximising the best result, with developers able to discuss and demonstrate desired functionalities with the wider business. Ultimately, that open dialogue helps to balance technical and business needs to unlock better outcomes, lower development costs, and shorten production times.

Meaningful results

Open collaboration is a great thing but with numerous stakeholders, working out how to work together is critical. The most successful BizDevOps teams usually consists of three main roles:

·Business representatives – these business users or product owners provide input from the wider business. That might mean advising on requirements for the app, or providing mid-stage feedback.

·Developers – this team builds the app, focusing on the technical work required to build the required integrations, data models, security, and performance.

·Business analysts – these team members talk to the business and work together with developers to run the entire app delivery lifecycle. They are key in interpreting the requirements and feedback from the business correctly, verifying the user experience, the underlying app logic, and the conceptual development model. In other words, they act as a translator for the business representatives and developers.

All of these roles are important, and help facilitate seamless delivery of multiple apps across organisations and enterprises.

Better results for everyone

DevOps has been widely adopted by the software development community for its ability to bring together the day-to-day and strategy sides to IT teams. BizDevOps simply takes that ideology one step further, bringing the DevOps team together with the wider business. Bridging that gap can open up improved results for everyone. Better working relationships, fit-for-purpose apps and tangible business benefits.

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