Why horizontal teams facilitate DevOps
In any DevOps transformation there are 3 key aspects which are directly related to agility which impact achieving business objectives. These are collaboration, process re-engineering and continuous skill enhancement and all of these aspects span multiple domains. These 3 aspects could be thought about in isolation, however they are inter-related. The understanding of their relation to each other would eventually lead to practices which would be followed and become crucial in defining success of any DevOps implementation. The basic idea of ownership and cost allocations within different business units needs change to allow collaboration aiming at business objectives with least wastage.
When talking of collaboration, term is used for cross functional or multiple domain teams however the relation it has with respect to team structure is more crucial then picking a tool facilitating collaboration. Traditional vertical top down team structure will not work as they are detrimental to collaboration due to many reasons including political which mainly arise from costing associated with individual business units plus there is a perceived risk of role dilution. There is a need to allow horizontal teams spanning multiple domains which are either assigned or reported to single business function (DevOps as Business Function) or could be tried with multiple reporting which has it own advantages and disadvantages. Due to operational and requirement of top management buying to implement DevOps, considering the business function with new roles might prove challenging in the beginning, hence to start with, horizontal teams with multiple reporting is a way to start evolving, till its benefits are realized and finally evolving these teams to become part of single business function.
The alignment of team structure spanning multiple domains for collaboration automatically serves other 2 aspects crucial for any implementation which are process re-engineering and continuous skill enhancement. Horizontal teams also represent the organizational structure serving common objectives rather than each team working in silos and doing their own thing ( even claiming adopting DevOps but still in silos), and has direct impact on cost as well defining success or path to failure for implementation. Though organizations have vertical structure, customer experience them horizontally ( we need everything required for a solution to work, for solution to work).
About the Author
Director – DevOps and Cloud