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6 Questions to Help You Decide If You're Working With Your SI in a DevOps Way

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6 Questions to Help You Decide If You're Working With Your SI in a DevOps Way

Do you have the right engagement culture with your system integrator that enables working to the benefit of both organizations? Read on to find out.

· DevOps Zone ·
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If you have been following my blog, you will know that I am disappointed on how little the cultural relationship between companies and their systems integrators is being discussed in blogs, articles, and conference talks. As I am working for an SI, I find this surprising. Most large organizations work with Sis, so why are we not talking about it? If we are serious about DevOps, we should also have a DevOps culture with our SIs – shouldn’t we?

When I speak to CIOs and have a discussion about DevOps and how to improve going forward, I often get a comment at some stage like, “Mirco, you seem to get this. Why is it then that not all projects with your company leverage the principles you talk about?”

A good question, and one that a few years ago I didn’t have an answer to and hence made me a bit unsure of how to answer. I have spent a lot of time analyzing in the years since. The truth is that often the relationship does not allow us to work in the way most of us would like to work.

The other week, I had a workshop with lawyers from both my company and lawyers from a firm that represents our clients to discuss the best way to structure contracts. Finally, we all seem to understand that there is a lot of room for improvement. We need to do more of this so that we can create constructs that work for all parties. I am looking forward to continuing to work with them (how often do you hear someone say that about lawyers?).

Coming back from yet another conference where this topic was suspiciously absent, I thought I would write down this checklist for you to test whether you have the right engagement culture with your system integrator that enables working to the benefit of both organizations.

1. Are You Using ADR as an Indicator of Productivity and Value for Money?

Plus one if you said no. You can read more here as to why ADR is a really bad measure, all things being equal.

2. Do You Have a Mechanism That Allows Your SI to Share Benefits With You?

Plus one if you said yes. You can't really expect the SI to invest in new practices if there is no upside for them. And yes, there is the “morally right thing to do” argument, but let’s be fair; we all have economic targets, and not discussing this with your SI to find a mutually agreeable answer is just making it a bit a too easy for yourself, I think.

3. Do You Give Your SI Wiggle Room to Experiment? Do You Manage the Process Together?

Plus one if you said yes. You want to know how much time the SI spends on improving things, on experimenting with new tools or practices. If they have just enough budget from you to do exactly what you ask them to do, then start asking for this innovation budget and manage it with them.

4. Do You celebrate (or at Least Acknowledge) the Failure of Experiments?

Plus one if you said yes. If you have innovation budget, are you okay when the SI comes back and one of the improvements didn’t work, or are you just accepting successful experiments? I think you see which answer aligns with a DevOps culture.

5. Do You Know What Success Looks Like for Your SI?

Plus one if you said yes. Understanding what the goals are that your SI needs to achieve is important – not just financially but also for the people that work for the SI. Career progression and other aspects of HR should be aligned to make the relationship successful.

6. Do You Deal With Your SI Directly?

Plus one if you said yes. If there is another party like your procurement team or an external party involved, then it’s likely that messages get misunderstood. There is no guarantee that the procurement teams know the best practices for DevOps vendor management. Are you discussing any potential hindrance in the contracting space directly with your SI counterpart?

A lot is being said about moving from vendor relationship to partnerships in the DevOps world. I hope this little self-test helped you find a few things you can work on with your systems integrator. I am living on the other side and often have to be creative to do the right thing for my customers. It is encouraging to me to see that many companies are at least aware of these challenges. If we can have open discussions about the items above, we will accelerate the adoption of DevOps together. I promise on the side of the SIs, you will find partners that want to go the way with you. Find the right partner, be open about the aspects I described above and identify a common strategy going forward. I am looking forward to this journey together. Let’s go!

devops ,devops implementation ,system integration

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