Digital transformation is top of mind for every organization now. The problem is, many of these organizations take the phrase too literally and think it’s all about adopting new technical capabilities and tools. Tech is certainly a part of it, but real digital transformation is also about changing company cultures and ways of working. Tech and culture go hand in hand for digital transformation; you can’t change one without the other.
Successful digital transformations mean redefining the way IT works, breaking down the silos between the development, production, UX and business teams in a way that cultivates greater collaboration, unlocks new business value and simply makes work better for everyone. All of that comes down to pivoting to a BizDevOps culture that creates more visibility, and positive reinforcement, for engineers and developers.
Building a Cultural Transformation Around BizDevOps
The goal for BizDevOps is to move development and production teams away from nursing applications and tediously staring at dashboards, and align them closely with the business side, so that they’re putting their time and energy toward delivering more business-relevant services. Shifting gears to a BizDevOps structure is its own culture transformation. Eliminating the silos between teams encourages better cross-collaboration and opens up new visibility for developers to see how their work is being received by users and impacting business value for the organization as a whole.
But, breaking down these silos to get engineers more engaged in production introduces another challenge: Those developers are already busy building products and features that they’re responsible for. Why would they want to get involved in production on top of all their other work? Overcoming this hurdle means making concerted efforts to give developers more visibility into production environments. More than that, it means exposing developers to more positive feedback.
Encouraging Engineers Through Constant Feedback
What makes engineers feel proudest about their work? When they see how it’s being used and enjoyed by their target audience. The problem is engineers rarely get that kind of feedback. The feedback that is typically sent back to the engineers are critical comments and complaints; they rarely see or hear the good things, just the problems they have to fix for the next iteration.
When you consider that, who could blame engineers for feeling discouraged or unwilling to want to take on more work? From their perspective, it’s not just about adding more to their plate, it’s also taking on more negativity and more criticism.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. What if engineers were provided with immediate feedback on all the new applications, features and services they were creating? Both the good and the bad, in real time? That’s part of the key to facilitating a BizDevOps culture: When engineers are seeing how the products they put out into the world are being enjoyed, as well as the positive impact they have on business value, they’ll naturally begin to feel more appreciated and also more reaffirmed that they are doing good, meaningful work and that they’re having an appreciable, positive impact on users and the whole business. This doesn’t mean putting on blinders to negative feedback, but it’s easier to act on negative feedback when it’s balanced out by positive feedback, too. Exposing engineers to more feedback about the impact of their work might also help inspire them to have new ideas and drive new innovations. The more information you’re armed with, the better position you’re in to innovate.
Organizations need to prioritize building easy ways for developers to have this visibility in their environments where they’re getting immediate feedback from end users, both the good and the bad. The more feedback they receive, the more encouraged by, and invested in, their work they become and, consequently, the more responsibility they feel for their contributions to the business. With that responsibility comes the culture change you need to digitally transform.
This culture change can’t happen without executive buy-in. The C-level needs to provide the necessary tooling and clarity on new organizational structures to break down silos between the development, operations, business and support teams, and then shepherd those teams into a more collaborative and visible environment. That support creates the foundation for a wider culture change, one that encourages a transition from operations to development and enables a bigger shift to BizDevOps.
Imagine the silos between teams as vertical walls. Now, shift those walls 90 degrees. That changes the structure so that your platform and autonomous cloud teams are sitting on the same level together, providing services across the organization, delivering software into production at faster speeds while simultaneously achieving visibility across the whole environment.
The democratization of data enabled by this level of visibility is helpful in another way. When all teams have access to the same data, and can see what each other is working on and how all that work moves toward a shared goal, it drives everyone to find new ways to make each team’s workload lighter–such as with automation. When teams are not just automating their own work, but automating each other’s because they see how lifting one group lifts the whole organization–and has a concrete impact on business value–that’s what BizDevOps is all about.
A Transformed Culture
In the end, every engineering team should think, feel and act like their own startup, responsible for everything from end to end. That spans from what they’re building, to how they implement it, to the impact it has on the end user and the business. Every engineering team needs to be working like this, keeping top of mind considerations like, how can a new application or feature or service be optimized so that it not only runs well, but also runs efficiently? Not just efficient in terms of performance, but in scalability as well.
Think about how cloud providers have potentially endless resources to deploy code. Just because something might run well doesn’t mean it’s running efficiently, and just throwing more code at a situation will inevitably raise costs and hurt overall business value. That’s something that engineers and developers should be keeping in mind as part of their work–not just how to deliver value in terms of new features or services, but how to bring down the total cost of ownership as well.
That’s what digital transformation looks like: A culture shift where new BizDevOps organizational structures, visibility across production environments and immediate access to feedback, both positive and critical, enables all teams to work together in a cohesive way, driven by what creates value for both the business and the end users.