How do you structure your organization to support your business outcomes?

When looking for the best possible outcomes, it’s key to analyze the way in which your organization is structured. Everyone in the organization must understand their individual role in enabling business success as well as their team’s role and the roles of other teams in their own success and the achievement of the organization’s shared goals. This article will focus on best practices meant to achieve a clear understanding of responsibility, ownership, and decision-making processes.

Identifying owners for resources

Each application, workload, platform, and infrastructure component must have a clearly identifiable ownership structure. To achieve this, the business value provided by each component and how it supports business outcomes has to be clear.

The first step to identifying resource owners is to define what ownership means for each resource case in a given environment. The concept of ownership may be defined in different ways. It’s even possible that several definitions apply in the same organization in different use cases. For example, a “workload owner” might be defined as the person in charge of the risk and liability for a workload operation and the one with the authority to make decisions about this workload. Ownership might also be defined in terms of financial or administrative responsibilities. Another example might be a developer seen as the owner of their own development environment and, thus, responsible for any potential incidents caused by its operations.

Once the relevant definition of ownership in a given case is agreed upon, you can move on to defining who owns an account, collection of resources, or individual components. Ownership should be appropriately recorded and easy to access. Resource owners should be recorded along with useful information such as their name, contact information, and team. You can store information related to resource ownership using metadata such as tags to resource groups. AWS Organizations will allow you to structure accounts and implement policies to ensure resource ownership information is correctly captured. Best practices dictate that definitions and ownership details should be updated regularly as they change.

Identifying owners for processes and procedures

A good understanding of why specific processes and procedures are used enables the identification of potential improvement opportunities. One key aspect of this is to understand who has ownership to define individual processes and procedures, why they are used, and why that ownership has been established.

Individuals or teams responsible for processes and procedures in your environment and their definition must be easily identified. To achieve this, you must first identify and document the operations activities that are usually conducted in support of your workloads. As soon as that is done, the individual or team responsible for the specification of each activity must be recorded. Process and procedure owners are responsible for the successful performance of each activity documents by an adequately skilled individual who has the relevant permissions, access, and tools. Owners are also responsible for providing feedback in case improvement is needed.

Ownership should be captured in the metadata of the activity artifact. Metadata can be captured as tags in automated procedures in services like AWS Systems Manager and AWS Lambda. Tags or resource groups are, according to AWS Best Practices, the best method to capture ownership and contact information. In addition, you can create tagging policies using AWS Organizations to ensure ownership and contact information are captured.

Identifying owners for operations activities

When it comes to making sure that nothing falls through the cracks, it is important to understand exactly who has the responsibility to perform specific activities on each given workload and why it is that this responsibility exists. This will inform who will actually conduct the activity as well as validate its result and provide feedback to the activity owner.

You should keep updated and thorough records of the owners who are responsible for the performance of their assigned operations activities in your environment. Both the team and the specific team member responsible for each activity should be clearly defined and recorded. Along with the details of the activity, correct permissions access, and tools to perform the activity, owners should be informed about the conditions that need to be met when it comes to their performance. All of this information should be easy to access for everyone in the organization who might need it.

Ensuring team members know their responsibilities

In order to have a team of people who are able to recognize needs and respond appropriately, it is key that everyone has a clear understanding of their responsibilities their role entails and how they contribute to business outcomes. This information will allow team members to prioritize accordingly and remind them why their role is actually important to the business.

According to AWS Best Practices, everyone’s roles and responsibilities should be clearly communicated to make sure all team members understand the expectations of their role. By making this information available and easy to access, team members can identify who they need to contact for specific needs.

Mechanisms to identify responsibility and ownership

When ownership is not easily identifiable, there must be defined escalation paths that lead to someone in a position to assign ownership or create a plan for this need to be directly addressed. Accessible mechanisms should be provided so that the members of your organization can discover and identify ownership and responsibility, which will enable them to find the right person to contact for a given specific need.

Mechanisms to request additions, changes, and exceptions

Innovation can sometimes be stunted by standards that are too rigid. To avoid this, you must provide mechanisms for every one of your team members to request changes to processes, procedures. and resources. Request approval decisions should always be informed and determined to be appropriate only after a thorough evaluation of benefits and risks.

Predefining and negotiating responsibilities between teams

For a team to be able to respond appropriately and effectively prioritize their tasks, they need to clearly understand the impact of their work on business outcomes as well as on other teams inside the organization, and the impact of other teams on their own work. The best way to achieve this, in accordance with AWS Best Practices, is to predefine negotiated agreements between different teams in which their work and support of each other are clearly described. This might have to do with things like response times, service level objectives, or service level agreements.

To minimize delays, interaction and communication methods between teams and individuals must be clearly specified. In order for teams to make effective plans, expectations should be defined in detail and agreed upon by all parties involved. These expectations can refer to a variety of things, such as response time and fulfillment time.