If done correctly, agile is a great way to streamline your IT operations, deliver projects faster and respond more quickly to evolving requirements.
IT managers are always facing competing demands from business units and board members who often want different things. Those in charge of the purse strings will demand that any solution be cost-effective, while application owners will prioritize usability and functionality above all else.
Meeting these competing demands is tough, but agile often promises a way to solve this challenge. But if not managed effectively, it can create more confusion and leave businesses spending more money and wasting more time on initiatives that never deliver on their promise.
Agile IT operations means being able to respond to any change quickly, without causing disruption to existing processes. But achieving this will often mean a rethink of common management strategies.
With this in mind, here are five common operational mistakes that could be preventing you from achieving this agility.
1. Keeping operations in silos
Siloed operations that keep each department and process separate from each other can be hugely harmful to agile operations. Having separate teams for operating systems, servers and delivery method means information isn't shared efficiently and, in turn, this makes it impossible to deploy new features quickly, or support operations across the stack from a single location or team, undermining some of the key benefits of using agile techniques.
2. Organizing projects by IT layer
Similarly, keeping IT operations segregated by layer can also lead to issues if you're aiming for an agile approach, and it's an issue that can be particularly prevalent if you're utilizing the cloud. In these environments, it’ll feel natural to organize by service. So, for example, all IaaS-related equipment may be managed by one team, while another takes responsibility for SaaS applications.
While this is an improvement on fully siloed approaches, it can create its own problems, as it becomes difficult to determine how operations in one layer will interact with and affect those above or below them in the stack.
3. Letting security teams take control
Security should always be a top priority for any IT operations manager in today's environment, where the threats faced are more varied and sophisticated than ever. But ensuring these efforts don't compromise functionality and agility is always a challenge. If security teams were to have their way, everything would be locked down tightly as to be completely impractical, and overly-bureaucratic approaches greatly hinder agility, so knowing when to put your foot down and say no to security experts is vital.
4. Outsourcing your expertise
Effective agile operations require a comprehensive, in-depth knowledge of every aspect of your IT system. Professionals should be able to immediately understand what impact a change in a certain area will have on other integrated systems, and this level of knowledge simply isn't possible if you're relying on outsourced managed services providers. While such solutions may work well for traditional deployments, trying to apply it to agile environments will be doomed to failure, so if you're going to be agile, having in-house expertise is essential.
5. Relying too heavily on the cloud
On a wider level, relying too heavily on the cloud can also act as a barrier to effective agile IT operations. These operations depend on being able to make changes quickly and monitor any effects they may have, and this may not be possible with the loss of control that typically comes with the cloud.
Cloud services also usually come with no guarantees for throughput or latency, which can also hinder a firm's agility, while as there’s no 100% certainty for uptime, applications will have to be designed for greater resilience with no single point of failure. While this is possible if you're building a tool from scratch, it's very difficult to retrofit such requirements to existing applications.