In unprecedented times, business and technology leaders are tasked with leading under extreme duress, developing and deploying change management and business continuity plans while guiding their organizations through fast-changing business dynamics. The harsh, "new normal" reality requires a significant focus on connecting business metrics and outcomes to every IT product and project. To accomplish these objectives, IT leadership teams require pragmatic operating models and frameworks that reduce business risks and increase operational and team efficiencies. The need to adjust business models and act quickly to limit risks, drive growth, and establish a foundation for productivity that delivers business outcomes requires a modern perspective.
One framework, called BizOps (business operations) enables efficient and effective decision-making building from existing Agile and DevOps practices to deliver business outcomes, notably for time to market and faster operations. Why aren't DevOps and Agile practices enough? Quite simply, they are technology, organizational, and cultural transformation philosophies and practices that are limited in their ability to focus IT on business functions and outcomes. While DevOps and Agile took important steps towards continual improvement for software quality and delivery, they still don't fully connect technology investments to business teams and outcomes.
Why? Both ideas focus on collaboration, project management, fast software iteration, new organizational and political models, process management, and greater demands on development teams that dictate management's attention. The tight integration with business functions is typically unmet and gets overlooked over almost all of the project's lifecycle. The BizOps framework offers to bridge the gap towards achieving optimal business efficiency, and related important and relevant outcomes.
What Is BizOps?
BizOps isn’t a product or technology, but a framework to optimize software development and delivery practices to meet or exceed business objectives. According to IDC's research titled, BizOps: The CIO's Guide to Multiplied Business Transformation, February 2019, BizOps bring a new layer of business hygiene into a DevOps mindset and involves collaborating with line of business executives and selecting goals that deliver a great customer experience. BizOps (business operations) is a decision-support mechanism for connecting business functions together (sales, marketing, finance, operations, etc.) to deliver efficient business operations.
BizOps uses data-driven, cross-functional teams to optimize operations, restart stalled or failing digital initiatives, combine siloed digital projects, explore new ideas, or accelerate existing digital strategies. BizOps is an enterprise methodology; it is not an approach that IT can do on its own—the business (and related operating functions) is integrally tied to BizOps. The term BizOps is, obviously, related to and expands on the concept of DevOps—a cultural impactful set of changes that enable tighter alignment and collaboration between IT infrastructure and operations and development teams. BizOps teams often function as internal consultants and work within, in parallel, and outside company organizational structures. They are usually deployed to do one or more of the following:
Optimize processes, teams, and operations
Drive strategic initiatives like digital transformation (DX)
Answer strategic questions—the why, what, how, and when—related to major new enterprise undertakings in core areas of talents, tools, and practices
Optimize costs reduction and containment strategies
Identify business outcomes and relevant business and technology metrics to gauge and measure outcomes
Help define customer journeys, experiences, and outcomes
From the same IDC report, successful BizOps organizations have three common attributes: 1) Clarity of strategy, purpose, and value that is understood across the organization, 2) Rapid cycles of continuous learning and fact-based decision making, and 3) Empowered teams with the competence and autonomy to execute within the context of the enterprise strategy.
How to Get Started
The CIO, senior IT leadership, DevOps, infrastructure and operations, and SRE teams can play a major role in driving success from creating BizOps teams. Teams typically consist of change-oriented employees from across business functions, project management, business analysts, and select technology teams depending on the project and objectives. They have the responsibility of informing, communicating, collaborating, and influencing LOB and IT teams.
BizOps teams must collaborate, and will work with engineering, business, customer experience, and product management teams to drive best practices and operational efficiency using data driven models and expertise. They will also develop use cases and metrics to drive new technology adoption across IT and business teams, isolating projects that drive operational cost containment and new growth opportunities. Many BizOps teams focus on IT and business strategy execution, using analytics to decide optimal paths forward, and opportunities for a unified path for the business and technology teams.
As history indicates, there are always companies and executives that take advantage of difficult economic environments; and upon the return to growth, have created sustainable competitive advantages for their organizations. Now more than ever, the technology architecture must become the business architecture. IT and business leaders who adopt BizOps have a great opportunity to win now, drive more team collaboration, deliver business outcomes, and thrive in the future.
Stephen Elliot is the Program Vice President, Management Software and DevOps at IDC where he manages multiple programs spanning IT Operations, Enterprise Management, ITSM, Agile and DevOps, Application Performance, Virtualization, Multi-Cloud Management and Automation, Log Analytics, Container Management, DaaS, and Software Defined Compute. Mr. Elliot advises senior IT, business, and investment executives globally in the creation of strategy and operational tactics that drive the execution of digital transformation and business growth.