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March 13, 2017updated 28 Mar 2017 4:09pm

Moving agile beyond DevOps

Agile development has pretty much conquered how software is developed. It makes the process far faster and easier to manage, especially with improved tools like HPE’s Agile Manager to oversee and manage the process.

By John Oates

But it only solves part of the problem. it’s a bit like upgrading your car tyres but not the engine or the gearbox.

It accelerates part of the process, but not all of it.

What IT needs is for the rest of the business to adapt a version of agile thinking.

Think about how an enterprise deploys a new server.

Part of the process is slowed by the IT department – building up the box takes time. It will need an operating system installed, configured and possibly upgrading. It will need security software installing and there will probably be changes to be made to enterprise management software before it can become a working part of the business’s infrastructure linked to storage and networking functions.

It will need testing and all these jobs will need timetabling around other tasks.

Agile practises, and automated tools, have accelerated this process beyond all recognition.

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But there is a strong likelihood that the rest of the process has not changed for years.

Getting financial approval, filling in forms for procurement will all take time – even if they’re done online now instead of on actual paper.

There is probably more bureaucracy to deal with power, cooling requirements and even getting a contractor in for the day to help.

It doesn’t matter how agile the IT department is, if it still has to deal with immobile finance or human resources departments.

Of course any enterprise still needs controls but to really accelerate development there need to be changes across the board, not just in the IT department.

As business reliance on applications increases so does the need for faster DevOps, but it might be that to accelerate this process you need to look at how another part of the business is working, not the actual software developers.

To be truly agile you need to track how new services and software are developed from beginning to end – from first thought to full roll-out. It is hard to think of a new business service which does not rely on software development to make it real.

That means every stage down to final testing is moving at optimum speed.

There’s no point creating almost instant applications if they get held up in testing – and agile strategies like partial roll-outs can help here.

Business advantage relies on speed to market, which means marketing must move as quickly as every other part of the process.

To work effectively this means involving people from different business areas from the very start of a project. You need to empower everyone involved to feel able to honestly contribute from the very beginning.

But you will also need agile project management tools to help run the process without bogging everyone down with endless meetings.

The process won’t be speeded up by trying to get everyone to do everything at once. A truly agile organisation will have tight control on workflows so people can concentrate on what needs to be done at that precise point in the process.

Flexibility is also vital which can be achieved by business culture as much as business process.

Agile development is a continual process which absorbs feedback as it goes. To be truly successful that means the process itself is flexible and reacts to staff feedback in exactly the same way as software developers should react to user responses.

A genuinely agile company puts its people before its processes.

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