Digitization challenges silo structures that have developed in companies over the past decades. Today, departments need to act in concert, not independently. [shutterstock: 784081678, bookzv]
Everyone's talking about DevOps, yet many companies still have their difficulties with agile development. Especially when it comes to their SAP systems. There's a reason and you can fix it.
DevOps helps companies achieve their goals more quickly with agile methods and automated processes. It’s about methods that do away with silo structures and bring teams together. DevOps also is about tools that help increase the quality of products and services, shorten development times and accelerate the time to market for a product. Why is that important? Because customer demands regarding speed have increased significantly, markets are becoming more dynamic and global competition is becoming tougher. I am convinced that those who rely on DevOps will gain speed and increase their competitiveness. Then, companies become more agile in almost every area of digitization. There’s a catch however: You have to rethink, learn – and be prepared to find compromises.
In short: The use of DevOps requires no less than a major cultural change. It is important to form compact DevOps teams and to set them up along the company processes, not according to departments. These competence teams then also need the freedom to make their own decisions. Developers, UX consultants and product managers are the best experts for all technical and operational questions. Even when it comes to budget and resources: If the competence team is free to make their own decisions, their work becomes more agile.
To achieve this change in a company, courage and vision are mandatory. Courage to break new ground and vision to see how to capitalize on it. An example: I look after trading companies and experience an open-minded atmosphere for DevOps. Why? Because these companies work with real-time KPIs. Anyone who sells his goods on a large scale via e.g. an online shop knows what a big impact small changes can have. Providers use A/B tests to find out which variant of a page layout sells more during ongoing business operations.
There’s a mantra that helps these companies in DevOps: “Always Beta”. However, that does not mean spending corporate life at the software construction site. It means understanding development work itself as a process that offers room for continuous improvements during live operations.
” (…) small DevOps teams with short development cycles and automated test procedures are delivering applications much faster.”
When it comes to real-time business processes, SAP comes into play. S/4 Hana makes time a new currency once and for all. How to get going with DevOps? For example with SAP microservices, UI5 applications and cloud foundry deployments. Instead of giving birth to an application using the proven waterfall method, small DevOps teams with short development cycles and automated test procedures are delivering applications much faster. Today, apps can already be assembled at the click of a mouse using tools. User interactions are also quickly simulated and problems identified.
When it comes to the core business processes, DevOps reaches a few limitations because at the heart of every ERP system, there is stability.That stability is manifested in the monolithic core that has often been customized for years. Anyone who changes documents and transactions carelessly, because they benefit one department, can trigger side effects that are detrimental to others. The problem: The SAP systems are too large, the necessary preparatory work is uneconomical. If you rely on DevOps, you have to trust in systems and test scenarios and define target results. This is easier to achieve with front-end applications – but not with a mature SAP landscape.
But: SAP is tempting entrepreneurs into a greenfield approach with S/4 Hana. Those who are willing to clean up their systems and orient themselves towards the SAP standard, also create new opportunities because they will be able to make decisions in real time. In addition, the new SAP system focuses on business processes, not on departments, which enables agile development. Then SAP and DevOps – even at the core – are not mutually exclusive anymore.