In part 1 of this two-part blog series, I introduced the DevOps process and discussed the state of DevOps used in B2B technology organizations today. In this article, I’ll make the brief case for the establishing an alignment between the product management process and DevOps, explore what can be learned from such an alignment, and summarize the recommendations to promote a more effective Product Management DevOps engagement.

Why You Need to Have Alignment Between Product Management and DevOps

The case for aligning Product Management with the develop-publish process is compelling, as XaaS technology suppliers seek to maximize their gross margins and speed time to market. The order of the day is increased systems thinking, workflow visibility, fast fail and iteration, and delivery of value and outcome to prospects and customers. Adopting DevOps processes and principles can help with these goals.

TSIA research reveals that aligning the develop-publish process under a Product Management leader is a minority practice in technology supplier organizations today. This alignment is more likely in organizations with less than $1B in revenues, where it has been noted that it fuels adaptability and agility of these smaller organizations.

It is advantageous for Product Management to adopt the visible process flow mantra of DevOps, which can contribute to the visibility and optimization of the Product Management value stream. While DevOps has operationalized the “code to cloud” process, shifting that process both left and right to cover “concept to consumption”, would arguably inject more data driven tactics into the product management process and make product-led customer journeys more of a reality than it is today.

 

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The Project Management value stream.

One major theme at the 2018 DevOps Enterprise Summit was that the DevOps process needs even more business metrics attached to their initiatives to ensure added context for their work. Attaching success metrics to product requirements and initiatives is always an advised practice, giving context for the development and ensuring that the outcome is measured.

However, while Product Management has traditionally worked closely with development, defining functional specs and building Agile backlogs, they have been less engaged with IT Operations to get solutions to market. This traditional lack of engagement with IT Operations can leave teams vulnerable to the “whisper game”, where the objective or intent is lost in translation as Development is left to represent the business requirements to the IT Operations teams. In these cases, Product Management is well advising to ensure that the Operations teams are fully versed in understanding the product goals, success metrics, and functional requirements. To bring this point home, check out my blog post with Ajay Chankramath, Director of Development Operations for Oracle’s Marketing Cloud platform.

Traditionally, Product Management has not played a huge role in ensuring the customer consumption of the technologies. Since predictable revenue growth in XaaS is tightly tied to solution adoption, becoming increasingly more consumption driven is an imperative to drive scale into the business operational model. Bringing DevOps “into the tent” on this goal has great potential deepen the movement in this direction.

What Can Product Management Learn from DevOps?

In all great alliances, each partner brings strength to the partnership. In the world of modern organizational methods and XaaS, the partnership between Product Management and DevOps can be a match made in heaven. A well-executed Agile Product Management function fuels the performance of DevOps by delivering small batch workloads for effective handoffs and smooth work flow. An effective DevOps process can predict the performance of product management’s ability to rapidly prototype and test key concepts in market, make informed choices and increase responsiveness.

the relationship between devops and product management  

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The relationship between Product Management and DevOps.

In XaaS, the value stream from concept to consumption and the customer experience realized through the technology must be measured and analyzed and iterated. This is where the DevOps process can help. DevOps is used to monitoring, measuring, alerting, visualizing, and analyzing a myriad of different systems and making data-driven decisions. Additionally, DevOps knows that speed matters and continually optimizes to improve it. Product Management needs speed as they experiment on behalf of their products and the business.

Another clear example is in instrumenting the technology with the optimal telemetry and making collected information available cross organizationally to fuel data-driven decision making for Product Management, Customer Success, Sales, and Support. This can leverage the expertise of both the Development and the Operations teams to select and operationalize the right instrumentation tools. The Development and Operations team will be keen to contribute their expertise here once they understand the business context.

8 Tips for Achieving a Deeper Product Management DevOps Alliance

A point of new awareness recently was the fact that the community of Development and IT Operations have quite a low understanding of Product Management’s role, responsibilities, and challenges. This leaves open the question of how both teams might work together to accelerate time to profitable revenue growth. In a recent presentation to the DevOps community, I provided an overview of the remit of Product Management help the DevOps community understand more about the world of Product Management.

Like with everything new, it’s wise to take a crawl/walk/run iterative learning approach. There are several areas where DevOps strengths can be brought to Product Management and vice-versa. I’ve made a few recommendations in part 1 and 2 of this series which are summarized below. I am happy to share methods and practices to accomplish these recommendations and more with TSIA XaaS Product Management members at any time. If you’re not already a TSIA member, I highly recommend you reach out to TSIA today to learn more about the benefits of membership.

  1. Mutual understanding of respective roles
  2. Establish a shared goal of better customer experience with lower customer effort
  3. Establish visual dashboards of relevant business and product adoption KPIs, agreeing on boundaries of acceptable fluctuation and continuously analyzing the changes
  4. Expand the visible flow of work from concept to consumption
  5. In addition to Development, ensure IT understands the business goals and requirements
  6. Seek and apply the advice of the technical teams on the optimal tooling for instrumentation
  7. Go one step further and focus on arguably the most important workflow of all, the customer onboarding experience. Together, map the pathways and add instrumentation from first customer touch to realized value, i.e. the “wow” moment.
  8. Leverage TSIA XaaS Product Management research and advisory. If you’re a current TSIA member, submit an inquiry via the Member Resource Center or by sending  an email to your member success manager
 
 
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Laura Fay

About Author Laura Fay

Laura Fay  is the vice president of XaaS product management research for TSIA. She is a technology industry veteran with over 30 years' experience driving business growth in the enterprise software industry via leadership roles in product management, general management, product development, and customer success.

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