Building a Culture of Full-Service Ownership

In recent years, our reliance on software has exploded. It has been more than a decade since Marc Andreessen made his prophetic observation that “Software is eating the world.” Today, nearly every interaction is mediated through a screen and backed by software. With the massive shift to remote and digital interactions due to the pandemic, enterprises that were already in the process of acclimating to a digital-first future had to quickly pick up the pace to survive today’s increasingly complex tech landscape, putting an inordinate strain on IT teams.

Building a Culture of Full-Service Ownership

Developers obviously deliver the most crucial component of the software development life cycle; however, ownership of their developed services and applications is no less important. The idea of ‘full-service ownership’ means taking responsibility for supporting the software and services you deliver at every stage of their life cycle. Excellence in continuous delivery and innovation on them is about speed and velocity while maintaining quality.

At its core, service ownership is about connecting humans to technologies and services and understanding how they map to critical business outcomes. Achieving this level of ownership requires an understanding of what and who delivers critical business services. A clear understanding of what the boundaries and dependencies are of a given service along with what value it delivers is the starting point. And once it’s in production, a clear definition of who is responsible for it at any given time and what its impact is if it isn’t running optimally or, worst case, fails altogether. Empowering developers with this information brings DevOps teams much closer to their customers, the business and the value they create which, in turn, leads to better application design and development.

Building a culture around a full-service ownership model keeps developers closely tied to the applications they build and, therefore, closer to the value they deliver. Within the organization, this type of ownership breaks down long-established centralized and siloed teams into cross-functional full-service teams. For enterprises with deeply ingrained processes, this may be easier said than done—but the outcome is well worth the investment. Following these guidelines will allow even legacy IT teams to create a culture of full-service ownership.

With the pressure to innovate already weighing heavily on software teams, you may be wary about the burden more responsibility might cause. However, the end goal is mutually beneficial: Create clear ownership at real-time speeds. Not only does this allow engineering teams to ship features more quickly but it also empowers them to stay engaged and connected when something goes wrong—reducing hand-offs and mean-time-to-resolve (MTTR). In other words, no panic, no uncertainty and minimal customer impact.