Chapter 9 : Aligning the Organization

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What is DevOps?

What is DevOps?

DevOps is the continuous delivery of prioritised value to an organisation. For more click here.

Atlassian Fastrack

This is a Summary of the “ninth” chapter of a book Daysha DevOps published titled 1Faat (one feature at a time). The book is an ongoing summation of our consultants' experience as they help our clients to transform digitally.


As customer-centric, multi-disciplinary delivery teams are established, there arises a need for supporting functions to adapt to these new structures. Departments like Finance and HR often operate with their own distinct processes, methods, and tools. In more challenging scenarios, customers may perceive this lack of cohesion within their supplier organization and become frustrated by the lack of integration. This blog reflects the practicalities of removing internal organizational blockers and bringing supporting functions into a more agile and urgent way of working.
Software delivery teams often encounter hurdles and inefficiencies, such as excessive meetings or outdated processes and tools hindering straightforward tasks. For instance, procurement procedures sometimes override practical business judgment. When teams require computing resources, they could navigate internal ticketing systems or opt to purchase what they need through a cloud services provider using a credit card. With modern cloud based applications waiting for approval could result in lost sales. According to studies, 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
In this example if procurement clings to siloed power, organizational agility suffers. To be effective, procurement should authorize credit card limits and embrace the concept that delaying 1FaaT is cost inefficient. Prioritizing learning over siloed policies is crucial for agile adoption.
In siloed structures, individuals may lose sight of the company’s values and purpose as each silo develops its own leadership, hierarchy, and culture. This organizational setup often disempowers individuals, with some companies featuring excessively hierarchical structures—up to seven levels between entry-level positions and top executives—where only the opinions of the highest-paid person in the room (HIPPO) are valued. Such power-oriented cultures can lead to fiefdoms, discouraging cross-functional communication.
Without value stream management, it’s challenging to gauge capacity or identify bottlenecks effectively. While some silos may operate at full capacity, others remain idle, resulting in overall work delivery being constrained by the slowest silo’s pace. Ultimately, one of the most significant drawbacks of organizational silos is the loss of project control. Value stream mapping is a Lean tool that identifies where value is being added and the waste in a process. It is a simple way to traverse silo’s as you bring customers’ pains and needs into the back office. At Daysha we talk about doing the right things – this means prioritizing your investment in technology by value (or cost reduction). Value stream mapping has given rise to a systemised approach to coined Value Stream Management. Ref Project to Product – Mik Kersten
Transparency through tools and new process
When individuals are organized into cross-functional teams it’s still possible for the individuals to exist within their silo from a career perspective (Tribe in Spotify language) once there is a mechanism for sharing work progress and maintaining transparency throughout the organization.
At Daysha, we leverage Atlassian’s tooling to improve business and technology integration. This platform integrates cloud based tools required by both business and technology functions, offering automated updates on task status so people working on the same task are synchronized in real time. This approach fosters collaboration and breaks down silos as everyone has visibility of their own and their colleagues’ work, regardless of their location.
Beyond tools Agile best practice includes daily stand-ups where team members gain insight into their colleagues’ activities. The “Voice of the Customer” or Product Owner should attend the more formal weekly “show and tell” sessions. These engagements eliminates the invisible work needed to synchronize silos: no more handoffs via tickets, or email exchanges. Superfluous meetings to ensure alignment become obsolete. When involving supporting functions like finance, HR, and operations, initiate straightforward messaging early and frequently. Share plans, seek input, and encourage colleagues to explore how they can contribute without assigning blame.
HR: Incorporate Agile processes within HR, as demonstrated by organizations like Sky and Novartis. If HR professionals assume that ‘Agile’ is a software process – you will need to explain that Agile can be applied to any business process. Consider recommending Matt Skelton and Manuel Pai’s book, “Team Topologies,” to HR professionals for insights on structuring delivery teams effectively. In larger organizations, HR often includes a dedicated internal communications role. Aligning change initiative plans and messages with these individuals’ objectives and communication strategies is crucial. They can play a key role in identifying organizational changes and managing the narrative.
Finance: Ensure software expenditures are matched against revenues in the same accounting period whenever feasible, rather than capitalizing spending on systems and depreciating it over time. Minimize time spent on extensive long-term budgeting exercises until after establishing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and include budget period terms for product life. Discourage the ‘use or lose’ budget mindset and prioritize Value Stream Management initiatives.
Marketing: Create a Product Owner role with responsibilities spanning marketing, finance, sales, and technology, including access to key executives on an informal basis to enhance urgency. Embrace experimentation to test ideas, prioritizing a bold vision while commencing with small-scale low risk initiatives.
Sales: Sales teams, often field-based, rely on technology to access real-time inventory and client credit ratings. Utilizing CRM data for diverse purposes, such as identifying emerging trends or behaviour patterns, requires sales teams to be aware of the possibilities and have a broader understanding of their role. It’s essential to differentiate between order takers and field salespeople who actively listen and can provide valuable insights for potential new offers.
Technology: Contrary to common belief, many clients find that the entrenched rhythms of their legacy systems are adaptable to Agile methodologies and should be challenged accordingly.
1. The function of a team remains unaffected by its operational methods: any department can break down tasks into smaller components, establish cross-functional teams, and prioritize based on value. Despite software releases occurring annually, multidisciplinary teams can still develop software iteratively every two weeks, with the goal of maintaining deployable status.

2. As customer-facing systems often interface with older back-end systems, it’s feasible to update the customer-facing aspect at a different pace than the legacy backend. Think carefully about how you build the API’s between the old and new systems.

3. When an IT system nears its end of life, further investment in the technology may not be justified. However, it’s essential to recognize that the primary risk lies with the people involved. Tribal knowledge should be transitioned into institutional knowledge to mitigate this risk.

Summary
You can implement changes in how work is conducted without necessitating a new organizational structure. Each team member should have a task manager responsible for day-to-day tasks, while their line manager oversees career development, compensation, training, and addressing obstacles beyond the team’s control. Task managers’ plans to deliver value should align with line managers’ strategies for professional growth. Begin with incremental steps to introduce Agile practices while maintaining ambitious goals. Early recruitment of leaders from supporting business functions to assist 1FaatT teams is crucial, emphasizing the abandonment of self-serving behaviours in favour of the organization’s overarching mission.

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