An organisation is like a machine. A machine is a system with components that work together; i.e (think integration and automation to achieve the desired outcome). When one part of the machine has a constraint, it can harm the entire system. In this post I wanted to discuss how software development can be impacted by organisational silos and how DevOps elimitates these constraints.
Silos limit the effectiveness of collaboration by preventing information and resource sharing. Silos create inefficiencies as departments struggle to communicate with one another, resulting in reductions in productivity and costly delays. In cases like this, silos become constraints for software development teams as the outputs of many silos are responsible for software production.
This can be seen commonly when the software development team relies on a DevOps Tooling team for CICD and Build infrastructure and Hosting teams for non-production and production infrastructure. Any new requirements into the development team can have compounding effects on other teams. Independently the DevOps, Hosting and Software development teams are silos. The inefficiencies imposed by this organisational structure can be characterised as a constraint.
I first read about constraints 30 years ago in the brilliant book by Eliyahu M. Goldratt called ‘The Goal’.
Any manageable system is limited in achieving more of its goals by a very small number of constraints. Eliyahu M. Goldratt ( The Goal )
The Theory of Constraints (TOC), developed by Eliyahu Goldratt, is a set of principles that can identify and manage these constraints in organisations. The TOC recommends that any constraints with an organisation must be addressed at their root cause.
In the case of organisational silos, this means finding ways to break down the barriers that exist between departments. Enter DevOps - a shift-left approach focused on automation, integration and collaboration.
DevOps helps reduce the impact of silos by improving communication between departments. Automation removes manual processes and promotes collaboration as teams focus on shared goals. Additionally, integration between different components allows for greater visibility into development progress and facilitates faster feedback loops, which is essential for effective problem-solving.
Is shadow IT a problem within your organisation? Constraints can impact decision-making in silos, causing shadow IT to increase as teams try to solve a problem faster than they perceive possible with existing constraints: DevOps and the shift-left approach address these problems by hopefully reducing friction in inter-team collaboration. DevOps turns organisational processes from synchronous time-wasting into asynchronous just-in-time.
Understanding your constraints is key to recognising the importance of breaking down organisational silos to achieve higher productivity. DevOps provides the means to do this, and the results can be dramatic. By taking a shift-left approach and focusing on automation, integration, and collaboration, organisations can reduce the impact of silos and unlock their true potential.
In conclusion, utilising DevOps principles helps organisations address the root cause of organisational constraints by improving communication and collaboration between teams. Doing so enables teams to focus towards shared goals, leading to increased efficiency, improved cost savings, and better software products.
Finally, organisations need to shift their mindset towards a DevOps culture to reap the benefits of this approach. By making automation, integration and collaboration part of their DNA, organisations can unlock the true potential of their teams and achieve better results together.
With these insights on how DevOps unlocks organisational constraints in silos for software development, I hope you’re inspired to explore its power in your organisation.
Happy Developing! ;)
Goldratt, E.M. (1984). The goal: A process of ongoing improvement. Great Barrington, MA: North River Press.
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