iCore Ltd

Keeping businesses moving …

Case Study, Large Human Resources Provider – Digital Alignment with Production

One of the world’s largest Human Resources providers, whose focus includes provision of temporary staffing, permanent placement, career transition and talent development, developed a wide range of in-house Digital products using a Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) approach, supported by DevOps and traditional Service Management teams. As these products are transitioned into live support, several key challenges were identified:

Processes & People – Operational teams were using Service Management processes that supported traditional waterfall approaches to both project and service delivery. The teams were not accustomed to the high velocity and rate of change that results from products delivered through a CI/CD pipeline.

Tooling – DevOps teams were using Azure DevOps for software development, product backlogs and management of defects and bugs. Operational teams used ServiceNow for all service support processes including Change, Incident, Problem and Release Management.

Knowledge – DevOps teams lacked the understanding and appreciation of Service Management processes and how they underpinned their day-to-day activities.

As part of a wider global IT transformation programme, iCore were engaged to explore the above challenges and deliver a set of improvements to align Digital and Operational processes and ways of working across all teams involved in the development and support of these Digital products.

The engagement started with our lead consultant working with Group IT and Digital Management teams to understand the current Operating Model and ways of working, and then to define a set of stories related to the key challenges raised during this discovery phase of the project.

With a fully defined project/sprint plan and priority deliverables agreed, iCore was engaged to lead and deliver a set of targeted service improvements involving all Operational and DevOps teams, to deliver and support Digital products. Improvements spanned across a wide range of ITSM processes and Service Management / DevOps tools.
Approach and Deliverables
During the initial phase, a full review was conducted of all key operational Service Management areas that interfaced with the Digital teams, resulting in improvement opportunities for the following processes, enabling greater alignment between the two functions –

– Incident Management
– Major Incident Management / Operating Model
– Change & Release Management
– Test Management
– Knowledge Management
– DevOps Error Budgets

The use of toolsets across the teams became a primary focus, in particular opportunities for integration and automation of standard processes across ServiceNow and Azure DevOps. However, before this could happen, process and policy improvement and alignment across all Operational and DevOps teams was required to ensure consistency in ways of working as follows –

DevOps Change & Release Policy – Including definitions of what constitutes a Standard Change vs a Normal Change vs a Major Release for different types of CI/CD related changes.

Major Incident Operating Model – Defining the roles and responsibilities of Digital teams when engaged in a major incident, in particular the Site Reliability and Development teams.

DevOps Test Strategy – Defining and mapping different test types across the CI/CD lifecycle and how these apply to Standard and Normal changes, along with the definition of a test maturity model.

Service Management Learning Path – Identifying the knowledge and training needs of DevOps teams with regards to ITSM processes such as Incident, Problem, Change and Request Management.

Once the process and policy foundations were in place, attention then turned to specific toolset improvements. iCore worked closely with ServiceNow developers and DevOps teams to implement:

ServiceNow to Azure DevOps Integration
o Standard Change Request Automation – For a standard CI/CD release, Azure DevOps triggers the
. creation and approval of ServiceNow change requests for both UAT and Production releases.
o Incident Ticket Automation – A ServiceNow incident ticket triggers the creation of a bug in Azure
DevOps and enables a mechanism for Developers to provide incident updates that are copied back to the parent ticket.

DevOps Error Budgets
o Implementation of Dynatrace tooling with Service Level Objectives and Indicators in place for each Digital product. This provided a mechanism for DevOps teams to understand how much downtime can be afforded for a particular Digital product, before freezing future feature development, to concentrate on the reliability of the product.

At the end of the engagement, iCore worked with both the Digital and IT teams to ensure that the processes, toolset integrations and improvements were fully documented and could be supported and continuously improved. Additionally, a roadmap of further process improvement opportunities was created and handed over for consideration in any future improvement initiatives.

This engagement and transformation workstream, resulted in several key benefits and value outcomes including the following –

– Improved collaboration across Development, DevOps, and Support teams through integration of Azure DevOps and ServiceNow tools.

– Enhanced handling of DevOps Changes and Releases through optimisation of the Change and Release processes.

– Improved customer experience and engagement, through faster escalation and incident resolution times, where Development teams support is required.

– More focus on the reliability of Digital products, through the application of Error Budgets and Service Level Objectives and Indicators.

– Improved quality of testing across digital software releases, through the introduction of a Digital Test Strategy and Maturity Model.

– Simplification and streamlining of several operational processes by automating key activities such as “Raising and authorising change requests” and “Creation of software bugs from an incident.”

– Better clarification of roles and responsibilities for all Digital teams, particularly when dealing and responding to major incidents.

About iCore
iCore is a UK based IT Service Transformation consultancy, serving organisations across all market sectors, and has been in business for 25 years. We have a long and proud track record of delivering large, complex modernisation projects, both on time and within budget, resulting in the outcomes that our customers require. Because all our consultants are experienced IT and business change professionals who continually work on new and challenging assignments, we adapt to new environments at a faster pace than generalist consultancies and can deliver results in shorter time frames.
In all our engagements, we use a pragmatic blend of modern (and relevant), good practice frameworks and bodies of knowledge, i.e., ITIL®, Agile, DevOps, Lean Six Sigma, IT4IT, SFIA, and SIAM, along with our own first-hand experience of how to achieve business and technology change in complex environments.