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Make IT improvements that benefit the business, not just IT

Point automation, daily scrums and blameless postmortems enhance IT, but it takes more than individual changes for IT improvements to yield business-side ROI.

Nicole Forsgren, CEO of DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA), addresses the various efforts that enable IT improvement at organizations in this video interview.

IT performance -- also called software delivery performance -- is the ability to develop and deliver software with speed and stability, Forsgren said. It underpins modern business performance, but you won't get overnight success from a new IT tool, a trap that's snared many companies.

"Let's just do automation. Let's buy technology in a box. ... That's not really how it works," Forsgren said.

The IT group can get code to market faster in several ways:

  • technology and automation, including the application stack, version control, trunk-based development and other pieces;
  • process, which covers work-in-progress limits, small batch development and other Agile best practices; and
  • culture, which informs how the IT organization works, as well as the approach taken by the business as a whole.

"You don't get from [automation and tooling and Scrum and Agile] straight to dollars," Forsgren said. "You have to go through the ability to develop and deliver code first."

Organizations that prioritize IT and software delivery performance in their DevOps agenda improve business performance, from revenue to customer satisfaction to compliance with evolving regulations.

Make IT improvements today

Any aspect of technology, process or culture could serve as the jumping-off point to deliver faster and more stable code. The right place to start depends on an organization's state of IT when it begins improvement efforts and the context of its IT-business relationship.

Many organizations can't achieve high IT performance because of their architecture and cumbersome change approvals.

A loosely coupled architecture and DevOps culture will propel IT performance, according to data from the 2017 State of DevOps Report, presented by DORA and configuration management tool vendor Puppet. Forsgren also cited data from the DORA Technology Performance Assessment, which compares organizations' DevOps capabilities to industry averages. Architecture is a major stumbling block to IT improvement, as are arcane change approval processes.

Forsgren presented "The Key to High Performance: What the Data Says" at DevOps Enterprise Summit 2017. The 2018 conference will take place October 22 to 24 in Las Vegas.

Forsgren co-authored Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps with Jez Humble and Gene Kim, published by IT Revolution Press in March 2018. The book describes software delivery performance, as well as the underlying technologies, processes and cultural changes that make the most difference.

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