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Take DevOps to the Next Level With Integrated Product Teams

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Take DevOps to the Next Level With Integrated Product Teams

DevOps adoption is only the first step. Learn about integrated product teams, and how they can change the way you delivery software.

· DevOps Zone ·
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IT organizations are under relentless business pressure to deliver value faster. They have to do this while dealing with escalating complexity, bringing together many interdependent applications for distributed audiences who need to be reached across many new channels and devices.

At the same time, they have to manage the risk associated with deploying the avalanche of changes to their complex operating platforms.

DevOps is a fundamental ideology that aims to improve agility, speed, and collaboration to get software releases into production quicker by bridging the chasm between IT development teams and IT operations teams.

Why Only Bridging Development and Operations Isn’t Enough

Traditional siloed approaches do not work and are being replaced by more agile approaches,
emphasizing iterative processes with smaller increments of delivery and faster feedback loops
to catch errors earlier, establish customer fit sooner, and in general move faster and with more confidence.

While these agile approaches are quickly becoming the norm in smaller IT organizations with
discrete projects and loosely coupled applications and systems, the reality at large organizations is often that the efforts to move faster are stalled because it is too hard to manage the complexity and risk involved.

The concept of integrated product teams solves this problem. Digital businesses favor integrated product teams “that focus on developing particular business technology solutions”, according to report by Forrester, Organize and Staff I&O Pros For Successful DevOps Practices.

That’s why just bringing development and operations together is not enough. You should organize your teams into integrated product teams. Effective integrated product teams should include development and operations professionals to fuel the success of DevOps and modern software delivery.

What Are Integrated Product Teams?

“Integrated product teams include groups that contribute throughout the delivery life cycle*.”

The Forrester report points out the characteristics of integrated product teams:

Rely on Expertise From Former Silos

The most important aspect of integrated product teams is their eclectic makeup. They can pull expertise from all functional and technology areas within their team to create successful digital solutions. Application lifecycle management, developers, infrastructure and operations, portfolio and project management, and quality assurance come together to form a whole that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. An integrated product team really comes into its own when it uses a tool that makes it effortless to get everyone on the same page with end-to-end visibility and collaboration.

Set Customer-Centric Goals

The ultimate goal of an integrated product team is to enhance customer experience. The team defines metrics and KPIs based on that goal instead of relying on measures of success that only worked within silos. As a result, members are never at odds with each other and can work unanimously towards the same set of metrics.

Develop and Rely on Communities of Practice

There might be times when an integrated team is missing a certain area of expertise. In such situations, it can reach out to a community of practice within the company. For instance, the team may not include network engineers because the product doesn’t rely on heavy network changes. The team can look to the network engineering community to seek help.

Get Sponsored by a Leader

Integrated product teams need a sponsor from among the company leadership. The sponsor has “qualities of servant leadership, including removing barriers to change and fostering a high-trust culture.”

Qualities of DevOps Professionals in Integrated Product Teams

The Forrester report recommends looking within your organization for DevOps professionals to strengthen your integrated product teams because hiring outside resources “can be a futile effort.”

Here are the seven qualities that can help you identify DevOps resources within your organization:

1. Problem Solving

DevOps professionals in integrated product teams are natural problem-solvers. They are also highly skilled and have substantial experience.

According to Forrester, these skilled professionals have shown natural curiosity and a willingness to become very knowledgeable, and they’ll give you a jump-start on finding and fixing problems in the solution life cycle.

In the long term, these team members will take the time to learn new technologies and processes to keep up with the changes and improvements required throughout the life cycle.

2. Communication

DevOps professionals are excellent communicators and are able to provide constructive feedback. This is critical to building a high-trust culture where members of the integrated product team focus on solving problems instead of assigning blame on other people.

DevOps professionals will need to communicate requirements, report on status, point out possible areas for improvement, and work through issues. Look for individuals who show an aptitude for effectively communicating issues or status without offending or blaming.

3. Collaboration

All members of the integrated product team will have to work together across the software delivery lifecycle.

Each member will bring a unique set of skills and perspectives that should be respected, considered, and of course leveraged when required. Collaborative members will further strengthen the high-trust culture that is critical to their team’s success.

4. Innovation and Curiosity

The best DevOps professionals in an integrated product team can look at the big picture and zoom into details where necessary. Their curiosity compels them to tinker and keep on top of things to help the DevOps effort.

5. Courage

When you start organizing teams into integrated product teams, it’s a radical new approach whose success is uncertain. DevOps professionals who aren’t afraid of taking risks are a solid fit for integrated product teams.

6. Flexibility and Continuous Learning

Businesses are compelled to respond quickly to market changes and place increasing pressure on their IT teams.

Agility is part of the DNA of successful integrated product teams. They are nimble in dealing with dynamic customer expectations as well as learning new technologies, processes, and methodologies. Look for DevOps professionals who are eager and are quick learners.

7. Business Savvy

You want people who understand and appreciate the value their work brings to the business. You should also prefer people who are anxious to determine how they are bringing value.

DevOps professionals who can draw a link between their work and how it positively impacts customer experience will be an asset in an integrated product team.

Be Nimble or Lose Out

The market is in a state of flux. If you don’t respond fast enough, you are doomed to lose out.

“In today’s organizations, technology is rapidly dismantling long-established business models and creating new ones: Amazon is disrupting retailers, Netflix is disrupting video distribution, and Uber is disrupting the transportation segment. These disruptors have one trait in common — they’re digital businesses, perpetually in touch with their customers and constantly reimagining how to drive differentiation,” states the Forrester report.

Businesses must embrace digital transformation to fulfill customer demands for better digital solutions. Digital transformation can only happen if you change how you deliver software so your business can be nimbler and better than your competitors.


*Forrester report Organize and Staff I&O Pros For Successful DevOps Practices by Robert Stroud and Elinor Klavens (August 2017)

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