HM Heath Solutions delivers new business applications in the healthcare industry to 35 million customers. In order to embark on their DevOps journey to improve software delivery, Valerie Scott, their Manager of Shared Services Division, had to show senior management an ROI on a successful project, before they would invest fully. On June 2, Val Scott along with Rick Slade of IBM joined Alan Shimel of DevOps.com in a webcast to discuss this interesting client case study. During their discussion, they illustrated in vivid detail how HM Health Solutions showed success in DevOps to their senior executives, for them to buy in and sponsor the project.
Val and Rick’s webinar parallels many similar discussions I’ve had with senior executives. To net it out, the bottom line is, as it was so clearly and unequivocally articulated in this amusing clip from the movie Jerry Maguire: “Show Me The Money!”
“All I want to do is buy a business outcome. I want to invest in an IT project, and have it pay back. Unfortunately for many application development (or other types of enterprise IT) projects, that pay back is illusory, and ROI difficult to measure.”
— Jane or John Executive, representing nearly every IT executive or CFO I have ever met
Unfortunately, many struggle to quantify, monetize and demonstrate the financial return on investing in IT projects. Yet as described in this blog, it is the primary responsibility and outcome of management; leading the economic performance of their department or unit. Show me the money! Fortunately, many clients experience positive returns, both operationally and economically. Ten (with links to more) client case studies with returns are highlighted in this blog, and summarized on this page.
As you undoubtedly have experienced yourself, senior executives respond to clear business value and benefits articulated as financial returns, as ROI. But how do you do that for DevOps, a set of technical practices and associated culture change? As Val and Rick described during their informative webcast, comparing productivity, time-to-market, speed of delivery, and quality, both before and after a DevOps pilot, are crucial. These operational metrics will be improved by adopting DevOps. However, to win the hearts and minds of senior executives, you have to monetize the results, in other words – show them the money! Technical techniques and practices such as those Val and Rick described to Alan, shifting left, test driven development, and automating application build, deployment, and test are absolutely necessary, but they are insufficient to win the argument with senior executives. The gains they produce are necessary, and impressive. The operational results have been stellar thus far at HM Health Solutions, per Val:
- a 67% reduction in resource demands on the release team & process,
- a 75% reduction in relative hours to repair defects per environment,
- an 82% reduction in application deployment time.
Yet as impressive as these operational results are, they are insufficient. As Val described, arguments about business value, technical value, or improvements to developer or operations staff productivity, alone did not persuade the management. The magic word is an economic and financial one: “investment”. Making a strategic investment to improve delivery speed and quality of business applications was the key to winning the hearts and minds of the senior executives.
In addition to the technical practices described above, Alan asked Val to describe the tools HM Health Solutions adopted. A continuous delivery solution with application release automation software from IBM UrbanCode was implemented, including application build, deploy, and release.
As a way of summarizing the webcast for the audience, Alan asked Rick and Val for their two key takeaways; the two most important messages and things to remember. Rick’s:
- Knowing which metrics are critical to your organization. There are many benefits to adopting DevOps, and many potential hard numbers that are straightforward to capture and measure. Deciding which metrics have the most impact and are most persuasive to your stakeholders is critical to making the case to invest in DevOps.
- Implementing tools and automation: automated testing, and linking that to build and deployment processes and automation.
Val’s: Rick’s two takeaways of course! And one more…
- DevOps is new in the industry, and is not yet well understood or common practice in enterprise IT or among its leaders. Understand your audience, and become good at explaining it in straightforward and clear business and financial terms to senior executives. Especially persuasive are other client proof points, and the results of pilots in your own enterprise IT environment. Make sure pilot results show that the solution works and delivers timely business value, and that the related facts and metrics clearly quantify the results.
This was a very informative, fast paced, and information rich webcast. I hope that you find the replay useful in continuing your DevOps adoption journey.
If you’d like to explore more about management responsibilities and know-how for establishing an ROI for DevOps and app release & deployment automation, see this ROI web page, and read this ROI blog for additional resources on method, approach, making the case, and calculating the ROI. And please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on twitter: @paspung.
I look forward to hearing your success stories in making the ROI case to senior executives, and delivering DevOps value to your organization!
Peter Spung, DevOps Deploy and UrbanCode Integration Executuve, IBM Cloud, @paspung