In this blog, I share my views and experiences on NoOps. The usage of the term NoOps in this context, refers to a regime where downstream Application Development and Maintenance (ADM) and Business Process Operations workload is eliminated / reduced, based on a business-insight rich approach focused on delivering superior business outcomes, in addition to cost reduction.
1. Re-imagination of business processes to eliminate work while creating a different pattern of work:
Computing advances are triggering re-thinking of business processes, e.g., modeling of complex Risk scenarios in Banking which previously could not be computed, effective actions to manage Perishables Expiry at large Retailer, Cloud based applications for certain business use cases, usage of edge analytics, etc. As a result, quite a bit of ADM linked Business & Operations support, Bug Fix and Enhancement activity associated with previous definitions of business processes (that were approximate and less effective) are eliminated; while new ADM workloads emerge aligned to business value creation which increases the Operations footprint, e.g. data related activities to support advanced analytics, in the above examples, etc.
Progress in design of IT applications will exploit the strengths of two user groups covered below to make customer journeys and execution of business value chains faster-better-cheaper-and-smarter:
· Human users excel at relationships, creativity, judgment, connecting the dots (the reason why we don’t need to drive a million miles to learn driving or can anticipate the unanticipated, unlike driverless vehicles), etc. and are substantially more energy efficient than machines. Such users will perform judgment based tasks & take complex decisions in certain segments of the business value chain (supported by flexible simulations to deliver the right insight at the right place and at the right time with the right level of granularity)
· Robotic users (based on Artificial Intelligence and otherwise) of IT applications bring forward high productivity and can interact with screens, documents to extract and process data, provide human user like inputs, learn from previous transactions, interact with sensors in an automated manner, etc. and can deal with data overload far better than human users, so long as it conforms to patterns. They will undertake automated execution of tasks and decisions in the rest of the business value chain
2. Eliminate / minimize need for downstream Operations based on superior application design: to eschew Operations associated with manual reconciliations, data rekeying, associated bug fixes, etc. This can be realized by developing application capabilities in a manner that:
(a) exploits Digital capabilities to improve Straight Through Processing levels, real-time fulfillment, etc. and (b) increases effectiveness of business processes by ensuring cohesion of linked business functionality and data, while also ensuring low coupling of less connected business functionality. Implementation actions involve:
· Undertaking a Digital Readiness Assessment of each relevant application (under ADM scope), in-line with the "digital" vision of the company and the digital maturity of the Sector, with a view to enhance the P&L impact from Digital and reduce workload on Operations. This assessment should result in uncovering "quick-win" changes to application and database code, in a manner that leverages business and technical insights
· Usage of business-insight driven Application Assembly / Configuration approach than coding and Agile-DevOps principles, tools, etc. to: (a) reduce IT Operations workload associated with testing, building, deployment, etc., and (b) to accelerate speed-to-market of compelling new products and services, while also disruptively lower the cost per business transaction
3. Prevention and Correction of run-time faults to eliminate / reduce Application Maintenance work:
· Long-term actions: Future-ready IT applications will have capabilities for fault-tolerance / effective working in a degraded mode / fix-before-fail correction (based on deep monitoring, self-diagnostics to drive fault isolation, self-triage of resolutions-tests of fixes, etc.). In-built Virtual Assistants will support users with in-context, Just-in-Time FAQs and How-Tos?
· Near-term low-touch high-impact actions:
a. While versatile in-built Virtual Assistants in applications may take time to emerge, point automation solutions can be built for in-scope ADM applications to capture transaction steps that lead to errors (supported by screen dumps, etc.) with the capability to propose and apply scripted resolutions for certain errors, support users on How-Tos, etc.
b. Business-insight rich automation BOTs aligned to failure modes in business processes not only reduce the number of IT support tickets but also plug revenue leakages. Examples of this are:
§ For Utility companies, a BOT can proactively check meter reading orders against target / scheduled dates and time, detects meter reading unit (MRU) re-sequencing with incomplete coverage, missed MRUs, and provide fixes to prevent revenue leakages in execution of meter reading
§ For Retailers a BOT apply checks and corrective actions at the right points of data transfer, at the right time to ensure price and promotions are correctly passed on to the tills by beginning of business day, to prevent revenue loss
c. Automation in ADM has to be aligned to delivering impact across IT Inputs, IT Outputs and Business Outcomes
§ Within this automation capabilities around monitoring and deep-diagnostics are used to gain run-time insights on failures (associated with engineering /design flaws) to drive RCAs (Root Cause Analysis), FMEAs (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis), Application Revitalization actions, etc. efforts to raise the baseline code quality
d. Further Application Revitalization and Optimization activities on large scale enterprise systems are supported by insights gained from run-time mining of business process variants, to drive reduction in Operations workload besides improving business KPIs
e. Traditional preventive and perfective maintenance actions such as FMEA, SIPs
Indeed the NoOps paradigm makes cannibalization of traditional form of ADM contract revenue for vendors, a given! This just means vendors have to earn their revenue in a different manner that inseparably joins their actions with their clients’ success and driving lasting structural improvements. For driving such a virtuous win-win impact it is imperative for enterprises to gain valuable experience by commencing work NOW to structure their current ADM contracts to focus on delivering impact across IT Inputs, IT Outputs & Business Outcomes in order to secure the future competitiveness of their organizations.