Tuesday, October 11, 2022

DevOps as a HR problem

I wrote about one way in which HR and IT can operate more closely, but there's another interaction between IT and HR that might not be so benign.

DevOps is ultimately about breaking down silos in IT (indeed, my definition of DevOps is as a cultural structure where teams work together to meet the needs of the business rather than competing against each other to meet the needs of the team).

However, in a business, individuals and teams are actually playing a game in which the rules and criteria for success are set by HR in the shape of the (often annual) review cycle. And all too often promotions, pay rises, even restructuring, are based around individual and team performance in isolation. And who can blame individuals and teams for optimising their behaviour around the performance targets they've been set?

It's similar to Conway's Law, in which the outputs of an organization mirror its organisational structure - here, the outputs of an organisation will mirror the performance targets that have been set. If you want to improve collaboration and remove silos, then make sure that HR are on board and get them to explicitly put those into the annual performance targets.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

On the intersection between IT and HR

A while ago I mentioned The three strands of Information Technology, and how this was split into an internal-facing component (IT for the business, IT for the employee) and external-facing (IT for the customer).

In a pure technology company, there's quite a mismatch, with the customer-facing component being dominant and the internal-facing parts being minimised. In this case, do you actually need an IT department, in the traditional sense?

You need a (small) team to do the work, of course. But one possibility is to assign them not to a separate IT organization but to the HR department.

Why would you do this? Well, the primary role of internal IT in a technology company is simply to make sure that new starters get the equipment and capabilities they need on day one, and that they hand stuff back and get their access removed when they leave. And if there's one part of an organisation that knows when staff are arriving and leaving, it's the HR department. Integrating internal IT directly into the rest of the onboarding and offboarding process dramatically simplifies communication.

It helps security and compliance too. One of the problems you often see with the traditional setup where IT is completely separate from HR is that it can take forever to revoke a staff member's access when they leave; integrating the two functions massively shortens that cycle.