Operations and Development Tear Down That Wall

Many IT organizations suffer from less than optimal communication between development and operations groups. This happens so often that a special term has been created to describe what happens during the transition process. IT people say that developed software is “thrown over the wall” from development to operations. The result is that in house development projects often fail to meet expectations as design and operations conflicts are addressed too late in the project lifecycle if at all. Too many times this leads to the perception that IT is unable to deliver services that meet business requirements.

ITIL describes an environment where operational groups have ongoing relationships with the business at all levels of the organization and where change management is a comprehensive process at the IT organization level. In this scenario requests for change to the production environment are reviewed and approved by both development and operations then managed through a common change management process.

Operations  facilitates requirements gathering through its business relationships. Once the RFC is approved, development becomes the primary party in the project. However, operations primarily in the release manager role and at major milestones remains involved throughout the development lifecycle. As the project gets closer to final release operations involvement increases while development involvement decreases.

This scenario highlights the benefits of following a structured development/project management methodology. Within each methodology there are clear milestones at each stage of the project. These milestones have formal meetings associated with them. These meetings provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to maintain control over the project and to ensure that the impact of project changes are understood and accounted for by all parties. This provides operations with many opportunities to ensure that the production environment will be prepared to receive the new release on schedule.

In this scenario once development has completed their testing the release moves smoothly into the production test environment where both groups work to ensure that production testing proceeds appropriately. Having a well defined and functioning production test process serves to make the transition period much easier for development and ensures that operations groups have adequate opportunity to prepare for supporting the release in production.

The operations group conducts pre-release production testing, with help as needed from development, and moves towards final roll-out. Development remains involved throughout this process primarily in an advise-and-assist role.

At a pre-determined point following final roll out, both development and operations will jointly conduct a post implementation review to determine how effectively the specific roll out and the entire process worked. Lessons learned will be incorporated at an organizational level for all groups involved. Successes and failures will be jointly owned by both groups. It is critical in modern complex and interrelated IT organizations that development and operations work effectively together. ITIL provides a blueprint for accomplishing this objective.