The pace of change and complexity in IT environments is increasing. This is fuelled by several megatrends: the most important being digitalisation, data becoming operational, cloudification and the emergence of microservices and generative AI. These trends affect everything; architectural guidelines, technology choices, development processes as well as how the solutions are best operated and maintained. Read more in our previous blog: Why IT service management must change.
Inspired by the changing environment and business needs, we have developed a new way of approaching IT operations through modern tools and ways of working. We based our approach on three guiding principles.
1. Holistic lifecycle thinking
Instead of concentrating on getting the project done and deployed to production, consider having a view on the product you are developing and planning for the lifecycle of your product starting from day one.
Environments are changing rapidly, and there are an increasing amount of microservice and “ship-early” deployment models. The product is developed based on user feedback to ensure and scale the value via new features long after the minimum viable product is launched.
Due to this, old models of separating application management services and development are no longer viable. Time-to-value and development productivity are at the core of the model, yet ensuring security and safe production usage processes are implemented before the first go-live. The lifecycle plan, automation roadmap, agile ways of working and lifecycle governance model bridges business and IT, development and operations, embracing collaboration rather than limiting to siloes, avoiding costs of misalignment.
By approaching the solution lifecycle holistically, you ensure the continuity aspect. In addition to having robust models for incident handling, your products should have predictive services preventing incidents and securing your data, adaptive maintenance making sure you stay up to date technically and perfective services continuously optimizing the costs, performance, design and usability of your product.
2. Value-driven approach
It is pivotal to drive the development of your digital product based on business value rather than merely adhering to budget constraints or fulfilling arbitrary organisational needs. We’ve observed that projects fixated solely on budget and ad hoc demands often lose sight of the core objectives that drive meaningful growth and innovation.
A business value-driven approach ensures that every decision, from feature development to resource allocation, aligns with your strategic goals, fostering a more efficient and impactful utilisation of your investment.
We recommend adopting a business value-driven framework that consists of the establishment and monitoring of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) specific to your digital products. These metrics serve as a north star, guiding your development and support process towards outcomes that resonate with your business objectives, and allow you to gain insights that drive continuous improvement and innovation.
For instance, a digital product aiming to improve customer engagement might track metrics like user retention rates, time spent on the app, or conversion rates. Similarly, for a product focused on operational efficiency, KPIs could include process automation levels, error reduction rates, or cost savings.
For us, understanding the solution and its business value is a collaborative journey, and because of that we advocate for a co-creation process involving key business stakeholders. This inclusive approach ensures that the digital product is not developed in isolation but reflects the collective vision and expertise of those who understand your business best. The synergy between your business domain knowledge and our customer insight, design and technological expertise culminates in a solution that is not only technologically sound but also deeply embedded in your business context, creating both business and customer value.
Due to this, we suggest going forward with fusion teams that have experts in business, development, operations and data to enhance transparent and continuous value delivery, and that leads us to our last point.
3. Productivity at scale
When approaching IT operations and application management from an enterprise point of view, where scalability is key, we believe that you should centralise what is necessary and allow autonomy as much as possible from a business perspective. Related to this, we have identified two important enablers.
Platform engineering refers to the discipline of designing, building, and maintaining the foundational IT infrastructure. The purpose is to create a robust and scalable platform that enables developer teams to efficiently develop, deploy, and manage applications. This can include designing APIs, building cloud infrastructure, implementing automation tools, and ensuring the overall reliability and performance of the underlying platform.
Utilising cloud platform engineering has proven successful in allowing managed autonomy to development teams and is one of the key enablers of data mesh at scale. As we see it, autonomous teams can organise more efficiently to deliver business value, and costly misalignment and non-productive waiting times can be eliminated.
We also recommend continuously developing the level of automation to both limit human error and to boost cost efficiency of operations. Automation can be built incrementally, and optimisation should be transparent to the customer.
You build it, you run it
We believe in the statement: You build it, you run it and the value it can bring. This approach has become increasingly popular lately, as Gartner has reported on the topic in recent articles. At Solita, we refer to DigiOps. DigiOps has its roots in DevOps and follows the same principles and builds upon the fact that the same team that has developed the solution is also responsible for maintenance.
This incentivises and gives the team knowledge to continuously improve the solution and decrease the number of disruptions. In addition to the core value of the team taking ownership of what they develop, DigiOps consists of best practices including tooling, continuous deployment (CD) and improvement.
The DigiOps approach is also closely linked to product thinking. One of the core aspects when moving to product architecture is the federated architecture, where the products are developed and owned by the business unit. With ownership of the product, also comes the maintenance of it.
Are these topics worth investigating further in your organisation? We are here to support and guide you in this change providing modern, agile and holistic partnership and competence for IT operations and development, what we call Lifecycle services. Solita’s roots are in agile software and application development, business-driven service design, integrations and data platforms and we are cloud native. We develop and maintain large, mission-critical solutions and offer holistic monitoring and governance solutions to a variety of services.