Adopting DevOps? You Need A Partner, Not A Vendor

15 Sep 2019

By Mohammed Abubakar


Most enterprises work with multiple vendors that supply various technologies and services to them, these can include application vendors, infrastructure vendors, software development vendors etc.

Many a times these vendor relationships are transactional in the sense that the enterprise requests a set of deliverables which the vendor delivers for a given fee.

These type of relationships work perfectly for quantifiable deliverables but when enterprises try to deliver software faster, more frequently, and better — i.e. DevOps — these transactional relationships become a challenge. They become challenging because they go against the core foundation of DevOps, which is all about working iteratively to a common goal with aligned incentives.

Implementing DevOps successfully in an enterprise is a big enough challenge on it’s own even without the additional challenge brought about by how traditional vendors work.

For enterprises to successfully adopt DevOps ideals and ways of working, both enterprises and vendors need a huge shift in mindset from vendor to partner if they are to achieve it.

Taking A Closer Look

For a vendor to become a partner or be classed as one, they should be:

  • Less transactional
  • More fluid and agile
  • Embedded in the client organisation and team
  • More outcome-focused and aligned with the goals of the client business
  • More collaborative, building trust on both sides of the transaction

For enterprises embarking on digital transformation journeys, they need to make the shift from a vendor to a partner mindset and service providers need to do this if they are to grow their own businesses and remain relevant.

Finding A Friend

A considerable amount of vendors are so busy serving their current clients and markets, that they don’t have the time or resources to innovate. Why would a vendor be proposing generational step change in approach if they can’t deliver it?

In contrast to a vendor, a trusted partner can be a reliable source of the changes that are happening in outside world. A partner challenges you to be better, even when it’s a hard conversation and against their interests. They’re a critical friend, if you will.

Vendors will never do this, but with a partner you will learn and evolve together.

Breaking Dependency

DevOps and digital transformation goes deep into internal operating model and processes. Enterprises need partners to help them transform themselves!

If you are bring in a new vendor into your organisation, ask yourself the following key questions:

  • How does this supplier improve our capability and upskill our people?
  • How does this supplier give us an experience of new and better ways of working?
  • How does this supplier change our culture?
  • How does this supplier help us raise our game?
  • What legacy will the supplier leave when the project is finished?

DevOps partners help you build your own capability. They don’t tie you up further. They’ll come in and lead from the front in the early days, but they’ll transition to leading from the back by empowering your own people and putting in place processes that enables you to lead the charge yourselves going forward.

Making The Right Choice

When embarking on a digital transformation and require a partner, use these factors to gauge them:

  • Right skills
  • Right approach and vision
  • Right personalities and personal dynamics
  • Right contract and aligned incentives.

With these ingredients in place, your supplier relationships will evolve into something much more aligned with DevOps ideals such as collaboration, empowerment, agility and empathy.

Our experience at AltoStack has shown that if we consistently approach our work as partners with a relentless focus on capability building within our clients, it results in more success both for our partners and us.

Implementing DevOps is no small task. Yet given the right framework, effort, and tools from AltoStack your organisation can undergo a DevOps transformation that yields significant benefits. Please contact us here.

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