Bringing Technical Debt and DevOps out of the IT Department


When you look at a company like Amazon, a company that is a leader in providing a smooth digital experience to its customers that leads to high satisfaction, its important to know infrastructure and operations framework that has been put  in place in order to make this feasible. DevOps plays an integral part in allowing Amazon to maintain its status as an industry leader.

DevOps is a term that is rarely used outside of IT departments, so why is it so important?

In laymen's terms DevOps integrates development and operations teams so that systems can be automatically managed allowing for new features and improvements to be deployed quicker in turn satisfying customers and resulting in a competitive edge. In order to implement DevOps as a strategy it requires acute problem recognition and flexible solutions from the teams involved.

As development and operations work together and learn from one another, the benefits of DevOps become increasingly clear. It improves delivery speed, reduces development and operations costs, allows for early defect detection, and provides flexibility to innovate upon demand.

But while company's like Amazon lead the way in DevOps as a strategy, financial services seems to be lagging. The use of DevOps experimentation using cloud-based and open source technologies is not new to the financial sector. However, in order to reap the full benefits of DevOps strategy, it has to become central to an organization not just something reserved to IT.

So how should executives focus on when looking at DevOps, particularly in the financial sector?

  • DevOps initiatives should go beyond just IT functionality but should truly focus on how to improve the customer/client experience
  • There should be support for the initiative from the CIO as well as non-IT sponsorship in order for those executing the DevOps approach have the resources to do so.
  • Since, financial institutions were some of the early adopters of IT, they are working with a lot of legacy code. This means working with mountains of technical debt that is inherently an inhibitor of innovation - so the benefits of DevOps can be dampened by the complexity of dealing with legacy code.

What is starting to become clear is that in order for DevOps to be effective need more than just IT knowledge but cultural change within an organization that will allow the implementation of such a strategy. While DevOps covers much more than technical debt, it is following a similar pattern to acceptance that technical debt management had to undergo.

For quite some time any mention of technical debt outside of core IT stakeholders was met with shrugs. Business stakeholders didn't understand that technical debt was not just an intangible IT problem, but that it had actual financial repercussions due to the effect it had on innovation and time to release. Once both technical and business stakeholders are on the same page in terms of technical debt can true progress be made in its management.

This is just what needs to happen with DevOps. All aspects of an organization need to understand that implementing DevOps isn't just isolated to IT but will benefit the value of a project as a whole and in terms the success of a business.

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Filed in: Technical Debt
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