Once left out of business conversations, the role of CIOs or IT leaders is shifting from delivery executives to business executives. Why? Technology is used as a commercial advantage; organizations allocate significant budgets for technology initiatives and CIOs are the best person to justify investments and advantages. While delivery is still at the core of CIO responsibilities, but they need to put a bigger picture of technological and delivery trends to leverage them for business goals. DevOps is one such practice that requires immediate focus from C-suite.
CEOs seek answers on how technology investments will retain the existing customer base, how sales will increase by X% for online channels, how our competitor increased market share in XYZ geography as compared to last year. DevOps gives an answer for CEOs questions like:
- How we are planning to retain the customer base and engage them? –Introducing loyalty rewards and programs in our application. DevOps can help us in building and releasing these features fast.
- How sales will increase by X% for online channels? –DevOps will help to introduce frequent application features with no downtime.
- How our competitor increased market share in XYZ geography? –They are adopting DevOps that helps in continuous monitoring and incorporate feedback to release new features for customers every month.
There are scenarios where being agile is at the topmost priority and CIOs don’t know how to translate DevOps benefits into agility metrics. Sometimes we have seen that teams are already practicing DevOps but unable to quantify the benefits to convince the management about the success. In some other cases, management was happy about the success of DevOps pilots, but they didn’t have confidence to implement it across geographically dispersed teams or other reasons. These scenarios are common and bring up the need to convince funding for an enterprise scale initiative. CIOs should approach business leaders proactively with a business case that talks beyond application delivery and releases.
Organizations are at different stages of exploring DevOps practices, but are confused about the full-fledged implementation. At Qentelli, we have consulted organizations to advance their application delivery using DevOps, the pilot DevOps projects were successful and all reacted positively, but for funding a full-fledged implementation, organizations lack confidence.
Building a business case for DevOps
In current times, applications with limited agility are frail for competing with digital native applications. Technology leaders experience pain points like non-compliance, unsupported hardware and software components, integrations problems, lack of finding technical skills to maintain outdated technologies and difficulty in adding or updating new features with the old development practices. Businesses are caught up in deciding for the technical capital investment, with the less idea how competitors are using DevOps for commercial advantage. CIOs have to approach CEOs by building a winning business case to fund DevOps implementation.
Must-haves in the DevOps business case
Apart from your business case format of executive briefing, financial ask and support, DevOps business case should convey the message of being a business enabler using technology.
Businesses are less worried about the tool and technology stack used for the DevOps implementation. The implementation methods, phases and processes are also of less consideration for them. While preparing DevOps business case, the most coveted section is how DevOps translates into business bottom-line. Thus, DevOps business case should talk about numbers relevant to business bottom line, cost savings, optimizing operations, efficient cash flows and tech debt reduction translated to operating flows. Some of the ways to do it are -
- Translate the recent downtime you experienced in dollars and how we are losing customers. Show how DevOps reduces friction between Dev and Ops team.
- Present numbers to management on how your teams are spending times on fixing non-relevant issues of fixing and finding things. Talk about DevOps continuous loop that finds relevant issues early in the development and provide insights to fix them.
- Time wasted in finding irrelevant issues and fixing them because of lack of prioritization. This time can be used to increase test coverage and creating unique tests increasing software quality.
- Highlight how DevOps stresses on automation and this can save a lot of time by automating manual tasks.
- Educate them about the rising costs each year with the maintenance and inflexible systems architecture.
- Present success stories of how DevOps helped in advancing the application development life cycle. If you can present competitor case studies, chances are high that business leaders can relate to it easily.
- Highlight the competitive risk of losing market share to competitors who are already using DevOps.
DevOps Vision for business
If implemented right, DevOps brings immediate and measurable business benefits. But DevOps is a continuous exercise and may require C-suite to become brand ambassadors in promoting DevOps. As a forward-thinking business executive CIO should present the vision of DevOps to business.
CIOs should envision and present to the management how time and cost saved can be put to the best use in the company’s interest. For instance, customers are looking for a new solution/product, 10% of the engineering time saved will be used for it. These details assure management about DevOps as not a quick fix; usually demanded by Dev or IT but a business strategy for numerous benefits.
Unlike other technology initiatives, DevOps is a joint venture between business and technology teams. This requires management buy-in and budget for implementation. The pointers highlighted above will help CIOs to present the business case backed by relevant numbers, case studies and vision of the DevOps exercise. A winning business case for DevOps is crucial to the overall success of DevOps initiatives.
As digital future approaches, CEOs are looking to build deep digital businesses. More than ever, CIOs are tasked to guide CEOs to build these businesses. The CIO-CEO relationship has improved significantly but still CIOs are looked at as cost centres for getting rid of legacy systems, moving to cloud or rather multi-cloud, get new firewall, etc.
Qentelli’s DevOps assessment provides a complete overview of business costs, risks and impacts of adopting DevOps. This information is valuable for building a business case for DevOps and communication the benefits to executives and other stakeholders. Start the conversation with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to help in building your DevOps business case.