Organization - AWS Well-Architected Framework

Organization

Your teams need to have a shared understanding of your entire workload, their role in it, and shared business goals to set the priorities that will enable business success. Well-defined priorities will maximize the benefits of your efforts. Evaluate internal and external customer needs involving key stakeholders, including business, development, and operations teams, to determine where to focus efforts. Evaluating customer needs will ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the support that is required to achieve business outcomes. Ensure that you are aware of guidelines or obligations defined by your organizational governance and external factors, such as regulatory compliance requirements and industry standards, that may mandate or emphasize specific focus. Validate that you have mechanisms to identify changes to internal governance and external compliance requirements. If no requirements are identified, ensure that you have applied due diligence to this determination. Review your priorities regularly so that they can be updated as needs change.

Evaluate threats to the business (for example, business risk and liabilities, and information security threats) and maintain this information in a risk registry. Evaluate the impact of risks, and tradeoffs between competing interests or alternative approaches. For example, accelerating speed to market for new features may be emphasized over cost optimization, or you may choose a relational database for non-relational data to simplify the effort to migrate a system without refactoring. Manage benefits and risks to make informed decisions when determining where to focus efforts. Some risks or choices may be acceptable for a time, it may be possible to mitigate associated risks, or it may become unacceptable to allow a risk to remain, in which case you will take action to address the risk.

Your teams must understand their part in achieving business outcomes. Teams need to understand their roles in the success of other teams, the role of other teams in their success, and have shared goals. Understanding responsibility, ownership, how decisions are made, and who has authority to make decisions will help focus efforts and maximize the benefits from your teams. The needs of a team will be shaped by the customer they support, their organization, the makeup of the team, and the characteristics of their workload. It's unreasonable to expect a single operating model to be able to support all teams and their workloads in your organization.

Ensure that there are identified owners for each application, workload, platform, and infrastructure component, and that each process and procedure has an identified owner responsible for its definition, and owners responsible for their performance.

Having understanding of the business value of each component, process, and procedure, of why those resources are in place or activities are performed, and why that ownership exists will inform the actions of your team members. Clearly define the responsibilities of team members so that they may act appropriately and have mechanisms to identify responsibility and ownership. Have mechanisms to request additions, changes, and exceptions so that you do not constrain innovation. Define agreements between teams describing how they work together to support each other and your business outcomes.

Provide support for your team members so that they can be more effective in taking action and supporting your business outcomes. Engaged senior leadership should set expectations and measure success. Senior leadership should be the sponsor, advocate, and driver for the adoption of best practices and evolution of the organization. Empower team members to take action when outcomes are at risk to minimize impact and encourage them to escalate to decision makers and stakeholders when they believe there is a risk so that it can be addressed and incidents avoided. Provide timely, clear, and actionable communications of known risks and planned events so that team members can take timely and appropriate action.

Encourage experimentation to accelerate learning and keep team members interested and engaged. Teams must grow their skill sets to adopt new technologies, and to support changes in demand and responsibilities. Support and encourage this by providing dedicated structured time for learning. Ensure your team members have the resources, both tools and team members, to be successful and scale to support your business outcomes. Leverage cross-organizational diversity to seek multiple unique perspectives. Use this perspective to increase innovation, challenge your assumptions, and reduce the risk of confirmation bias. Grow inclusion, diversity, and accessibility within your teams to gain beneficial perspectives.

If there are external regulatory or compliance requirements that apply to your organization, you should use the resources provided by AWS Cloud Compliance to help educate your teams so that they can determine the impact on your priorities. The Well-Architected Framework emphasizes learning, measuring, and improving. It provides a consistent approach for you to evaluate architectures, and implement designs that will scale over time. AWS provides the AWS Well-Architected Tool to help you review your approach prior to development, the state of your workloads prior to production, and the state of your workloads in production. You can compare workloads to the latest AWS architectural best practices, monitor their overall status, and gain insight into potential risks. AWS Trusted Advisor is a tool that provides access to a core set of checks that recommend optimizations that may help shape your priorities. Business and Enterprise Support customers receive access to additional checks focusing on security, reliability, performance, and cost-optimization that can further help shape their priorities.

AWS can help you educate your teams about AWS and its services to increase their understanding of how their choices can have an impact on your workload. You should use the resources provided by AWS Support (AWS Knowledge Center, AWS Discussion Forums, and AWS Support Center) and AWS Documentation to educate your teams. Reach out to AWS Support through AWS Support Center for help with your AWS questions. AWS also shares best practices and patterns that we have learned through the operation of AWS in The Amazon Builders' Library. A wide variety of other useful information is available through the AWS Blog and The Official AWS Podcast. AWS Training and Certification provides some free training through self-paced digital courses on AWS fundamentals. You can also register for instructor-led training to further support the development of your teams’ AWS skills.

You should use tools or services that enable you to centrally govern your environments across accounts, such as AWS Organizations, to help manage your operating models. Services like AWS Control Tower expand this management capability by enabling you to define blueprints (supporting your operating models) for the setup of accounts, apply ongoing governance using AWS Organizations, and automate provisioning of new accounts. Managed Services providers such as AWS Managed Services, AWS Managed Services Partners, or Managed Services Providers in the AWS Partner Network, provide expertise implementing cloud environments, and support your security and compliance requirements and business goals. Adding Managed Services to your operating model can save you time and resources, and lets you keep your internal teams lean and focused on strategic outcomes that will differentiate your business, rather than developing new skills and capabilities.

The following questions focus on these considerations for operational excellence. (For a list of operational excellence questions and best practices, see the Appendix.).

OPS 1:  How do you determine what your priorities are?
Everyone needs to understand their part in enabling business success. Have shared goals in order to set priorities for resources. This will maximize the benefits of your efforts.
OPS 2:  How do you structure your organization to support your business outcomes?
Your teams must understand their part in achieving business outcomes. Teams need to understand their roles in the success of other teams, the role of other teams in their success, and have shared goals. Understanding responsibility, ownership, how decisions are made, and who has authority to make decisions will help focus efforts and maximize the benefits from your teams.
OPS 3:  How does your organizational culture support your business outcomes?
Provide support for your team members so that they can be more effective in taking action and supporting your business outcome.

You might find that you want to emphasize a small subset of your priorities at some point in time. Use a balanced approach over the long term to ensure the development of needed capabilities and management of risk. Review your priorities regularly and update them as needs change. When responsibility and ownership are undefined or unknown, you are at risk of both not performing necessary action in a timely fashion and of redundant and potentially conflicting efforts emerging to address those needs. Organizational culture has a direct impact on team member job satisfaction and retention. Enable the engagement and capabilities of your team members to enable the success of your business. Experimentation is required for innovation to happen and turn ideas into outcomes. Recognize that an undesired result is a successful experiment that has identified a path that will not lead to success.