Jodi Gornick professional photo

Jodi Gornick

Director, Consulting Expert

When embarking on a DevOps journey or merely aligning your SDLC (software development life cycle), evaluating how your tools fit into that journey becomes essential. There are many platforms to support DevOps in enabling best practices and visibility and a platform that enables continuous improvement. Feature-rich applications are everywhere, and teams now have many options to support their pipelines.

Look at any given team across industries, and you will find a plethora of tools out there and even a multitude of industry buzzwords to market their application. Many have similar features or try to capture a market niche to bring you to their doorstep. Comparing the various tools and wondering if they will work for your organization can be overwhelming.

Concepts like platform engineering, developer experience, and engineering enablement aim to increase developer satisfaction and deliver client value. However, understanding how tooling can enable your teams and business requires in-depth diagnostics to identify the work, its flow, and delivery mechanisms.

Aligning tools with business goals is paramount

As George Harrison once said, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there." (Any Road, George Harrison, 2002)

Without clear business objectives and strategic vision, introducing digital disruptors like AI can become a financial burden and weigh down innovation and value delivery. Strategic imperatives like cost savings, on-time delivery, agility, and measurable innovation require enablers like automation, AI, optimization, and innovation-fueling processes. So, how do you bridge the ability to deliver and innovate without disruption?

Lacking defined objectives, not clearly setting business goals, or implementing tools without understanding their purpose and the technology they enable will result in frustration, loss of business, and the inability to execute strategic goals. The addition of disruptors like AI—without clarity on your goals and strategic approach to implementing these newer technologies—can become a "money pit" and incur higher risks to your business.

The business has strategic needs to drive outcomes across a multitude of business processes (strategic alignment). We want cost savings and to deliver on time. We want agility across the enterprise and to build innovation that is measurable and highly visible for our clients. To drive success, we need enablers that leverage automation and artificial intelligence to provide optimization and processes that fuel innovation. We also need scalable technologies supported by an integrated toolset that drives efficiency and predictability, allowing a faster time to market and the ability to respond to market changes. These engineering enablement frameworks are critical to your strategic alignment and business agility models as teams and executive management are often misaligned on what engineering practices are in place, both in process and tooling. In-depth diagnostics will assist in driving to this alignment.

Anatomy of a business on tooling – Why should you be concerned?

Look around your company, and you might find a tooling landscape that is made up of a "best effort" to have a common platform (the vision of platform engineering) across the enterprise. However, this effort often falls by the wayside, resulting in highly customized tools with no standard practices or principles. Or perhaps your company allowed individual teams to pick and choose their own tools and configure them as desired.

The enterprise approach 

In the enterprise approach, companies benefit from lower costs due to enterprise tooling agreements and lower infrastructure costs. This starts with good intentions and the idea that valuable metrics and business value can be understood and measured with a common tool. In actuality, the complexity of the tooling increases, resulting in many duplicative configurations, decreased performance, and a lack of visibility into the work being done. Teams enjoy the flexibility, but the larger picture is missing.

Team-driven tool selection 

When programs or teams select and deploy the tools of their choice, they have the right tool for their purpose. However, their programs have the cost burden of infrastructure and licensing. With the tools in silos, there is no reuse, full line of sight across teams, or business driver measurements to understand value or success. The ability to collaborate, share knowledge, and scale as the business grows is impacted. With no line of sight or common ground across these programs, the total cost to the company across all the various tools significantly impacts the bottom line.

The result of either of these approaches drives a desire to change due to:

  • No standard integrated tooling landscape to manage work
  • Multiple tools used across teams/programs that are either disjointed and not integrated or are duplicative, both of which impact cost and performance
  • Difficult to move work across teams when multiple tools are in practice (i.e., hard to get work done and hard to visualize the work)
  • Difficult to support multiple tools
  • Not able to scale to an enterprise methodology view (e.g., PMO, VSM, SAFe, SDLC) with multiple tools 

Engineering enablement vision

There are several key principles in a tooling approach that, when considered, bring high value to companies. These include:

  • Alignment to standards and governance, with facilitation for team innovation
  • Consolidated, maintained and shared knowledge base to enrich teams through collaboration
  • Increased visibility into team performance and productivity
  • Increased accuracy of dashboards and reporting
  • Fully integrated system – knowing where the work is and where it goes next
  • Fact-based analytics to support decisions about application evolution and improvements
  • Application demand forecasting that aligns business priorities with team workload
  • Ability to bring new technologies and advancement to your frameworks
  • Agile and DevOps ready - bring your methodology and the tools to  enable the work

Across the delivery life cycle, there are many components that make up a successful delivery pipeline. As a result, choosing the right tools to support and enable your business becomes challenging. This is further complicated by the need for the right tooling standards and configurations that provide governance and alignment without limiting team flexibility and innovation.

Transparency, visibility, alignment and trust are desired across all parts of the business. These are the pillars of success in an organization. Without the right framework, platform and tools, the business operates blindly, falling back into old patterns and losing the ability to pivot and drive innovation.

The right alignment not only optimizes cost and schedule (we have seen a 3% cost savings by providing alignment and visual management capabilities) but also retains knowledge, drives innovation, builds quality and security into each step, and scales enterprise agility across all aspects of the business.

Taking the steps to accelerate engineering enablement

Your tooling landscape needs to support your business and the people conducting it. Understanding your governance model, key indicators, process drivers, and touchpoints is crucial in establishing the basis for enabling your tools.

This is achieved by establishing an integrated flow that aligns input models, captures requirements, allows the ability to plan and prioritize value drivers, and ultimately tracks the work through delivery across every touchpoint. This is fundamental to building a robust tooling landscape that enables business agility.

Tool enablement through automation provides consistency and telemetry across all contributors to the business model. Creating a tooling strategy that leverages automation accelerates delivery, drives predictability, and reduces risks. Finally, a platform designed for real-time collaboration increases adoption and visibility and allows you to be responsive to rapid changes in business needs.

While many tool choices exist in the marketplace today, no tool will address the road to strategic alignment and business agility out of the box. It takes understanding your business, the functionality of the tools, and what configuration will best support your needs. When the right tools are implemented, you will not only understand the telemetry of your products but also increase your time to market, experience efficiencies and cost improvements across your delivery model, and drive quality and security through automation and the adoption of innovation-driven technologies such as AI.

Our clients expect engineering enablement to improve productivity and outcomes; it sets the "where are we going" and "how we are going to get there," enabling success across the enterprise. Our approach (including in-depth diagnostics) focuses on the three dimensions of engineering productivity: speed, quality and value delivery, which are the cornerstones of establishing improved technical delivery. A principled, customized approach that aligns with your objectives and needs provides a better-aligned solution that will grow with your business as further innovations are implemented. The introduction of AI has caused clients to see the value in adopting more self-service options internally. These options are helping their businesses react more quickly when applied in the most impactful way. Taking the time to see where advancements in technology can best serve your business and a roadmap for implementing them will assist in ensuring long-term success in meeting your business objectives and continuous value delivery journey.  

Taking a principled, measured approach to how your tooling enablement strategies fit within your business outcomes gives you your pathway. Enabling your teams with clear alignment and the "road best traveled" with a partner ready to guide you along your journey will ensure that you are set up for success and get you where you want to be.

Learn more about our engineering enablement approach or connect with an expert to get started.

About this author

Jodi Gornick professional photo

Jodi Gornick

Director, Consulting Expert

Jodi Gornick is an IT professional with 23+ years of experience leading teams, driving product development and defining architecture requirements to support development activities across the system delivery life cycle. Over the past few years, Jodi has focused on building and delivering CGI’s Application ...