Integrating Operational Requirements into Development

Don’t Treat the Symptoms, Cure the Disease

Integrating Operational Requirements into your Development Lifecycle

“The project has been delayed so that the Ops team can ensure that proper monitoring is in place.”

Those involved in software or application development projects over the last decade or so have seen a message like this at least a few times. I know that I’ve seen it multiple times: from being on the application development side, the operations side, and as an outside consultant brought in to help customers fix their operations practices. Successful system and application development starts with defined operational requirements from the beginning.

A checklist won’t cut it

To avoid delays, the Ops team implements a solution to update the development lifecycle with a checklist or testing that covers monitoring and operations. It’s a positive step towards giving the Ops side a voice in the development lifecycle; however, it stops projects in mid-production and “throws them over the fence” at an Ops team with no understand of how to monitor or manage the system or application. But if this checklist approach is your solution, you’re only treating the symptoms.

Start development with operational requirements

To cure the disease, include operational requirements from the beginning of the design phase. To be fair, it’s not that the big bad developers don’t care about the Ops team and their needs. The most common impediment to this integration is that there are no defined operational requirements. It’s impossible to integrate and enforce requirements that don’t exist! Thus, it falls on the Ops team to undertake the effort to define standards and requirements that they can then integrate into, and enforce, in the development lifecycle.

Operational standards mean a win-win situation for everyone involved. The business releases their products on time without infighting from “the IT department”. The development team no longer has to worry about project delays because the Ops team stops it right before they’re ready for production release. The Ops team integrates their requirements into any system that they monitor and manage. And in many cases, for the first time the Ops team now has standards and requirements for support; which leads to efficiency and effectiveness gains (you’re no longer monitoring everything as an exception). With repeatable standards and processes in place, automation is now in the realm of possibility; which leads to even greater efficiency gains.

If you’re having issues at your organization getting projects “through” operations, here’s what to do. Make sure that you’re not treating the symptoms by putting some check point in place late in the development lifecycle. It may take a little more front-loading, but “cure the disease” by defining your operational standards and requirements. Finally, integrate them into the design phase of your development lifecycle.

Operational scalability requires both lean and agile methodologies. Discover how DevOps can bring IT operations and development teams together.

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