Self-Assessment: Are You Already Doing ERP DevOps?

James Roberts

Part of the “Agile ERP” series

DevOps is a key element of many enterprise IT strategies as digital transformation drives the need for greater efficiency and higher speed. However, teams responsible for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software sometimes feel like they’re not surfing the same wave.

Do you think DevOps isn’t for you? That it’s not relevant? Perhaps you understand the value and are trying to achieve a culture of DevOps for your software environment but find yourself unsure if you’re succeeding. Maybe you’re even thinking “What is DevOps?” If so, check out a previous blog for more on this and laying the foundation for DevOps success.

In reality, DevOps, in general, isn’t quite as black and white as whether you “are” or “are not” doing it. DevOps is unlikely to look the same in any two different organizations, and adoption is typically more of a journey with lots of different potential milestones along the way.

The majority of companies we work with say they’re not doing DevOps in their ERP environment, but when we talk to them, we see many are already applying DevOps concepts into their software delivery approach. They just don’t label it DevOps.

Those companies might not tick all the boxes for the complete and “ideal” DevOps methodology. But the common ambition is to deliver more value to the business – whether that’s through a “big bang” or, more commonly, via incremental and iterative change.

To find out whether you’re already on the path to DevOps, consider these questions:

1. Do your developers, testers, and operations engineers work together?

Traditionally, ERP applications are supported by a number of individual teams who work in silos (development, QA, operations, security, etc.). In a DevOps delivery model, these walls break down and new cross-functional teams are created. These new teams may be part of a formal org change or be informally driven by groups of individuals who work in multiple “virtual” teams.

Answer = Yes? You understand that communication and collaboration are key to efficient delivery of change. You’ve started to build one of the key foundations of DevOps.

Answer = No? Leadership buy-in will help break down organizational silos to create cross-skilled teams who constantly interact with each other, and automation tools will help to increase collaboration across the business.

2. Do your developers, testers, and operations engineers have common, business-oriented goals?

Your various teams not only need to work together, but they should also be closely connected to representatives of the business (often known as “product owners”’) in order to understand shared goals and provide feedback on the feasibility of requested requirements. Business goals might seem a secondary focus to some, but ultimately, they are what everyone should be working together to achieve.

Answer = Yes? You recognize that reorganizing and focusing teams on business outcomes is key to increasing efficiency and accelerating the throughput of work in the delivery pipeline.

Answer = No? Defining common metrics for teams to benchmark against can be a good first step to aligning delivery around what the business needs.

3. Does the team have full visibility into change?

If you have a full audit history and structured approval workflows set up, management will have the confidence to approve or delegate to team members as required. Delegation of responsibility increases resource efficiency; enhances collaboration, transparency, and knowledge sharing across the team; and improves overall delivery speed and quality.

Answer = Yes? You’ve overcome the situation where code changes are delayed (or in extreme cases ignored) because it’s difficult for approvers to understand their importance and implications.

Answer = No? Implement an integrated change-control process that gives full visibility into all changes across all teams with comprehensive audit history.

4. Is your software development agile?

Shorter, more iterative development cycles increase business agility by allowing functionality to be delivered more quickly and frequently. Many organizations have adopted an agile development methodology such as scrum or kanban to enable them to get new features and functions to market more quickly.

Answer = Yes? You’re already building one of the key pillars that supports DevOps for ERP. DevOps simply cannot succeed without an agile development approach.

Answer = No? Investigate which agile approach would work best in your organization. Start small to prove the concept, then consider rolling it out to additional teams and to cover more areas of development and delivery. This recent article shares more detail on about why you should adopt agile development.

These are just a few of the questions to consider as you self-assess where you are on the path to DevOps.

Ultimately, if you’re trying to:

  • Increase deployment frequency and achieve faster time to market
  • Lower failure rate of new releases
  • Shorten lead time between fixes
  • Improve mean time to recovery

then you have a DevOps mentality.

If you want to learn more about adopting DevOps in ERP applications, check out this e-book.

This is an abridged version of a blog that was originally published on Basis Technologies Dzone and is republished by permission. Basis Technologies is an SAP silver partner. Read the full article.

James Roberts

About James Roberts

James Roberts is chief technology officer at Basis Technologies, responsible for driving product vision, strategy, and direction across the company’s innovative automation portfolio, and for ensuring that the engineering teams deliver world-class solutions. He has 30 years of experience in the software industry and nearly 25 years of SAP expertise working in a multitude of roles at major multinational companies.