From Agile Coach to SLO Coach

Posted by Mike Lauricella on March 11, 2021

Remember when Agile was the hot new thing? SLOs do something similar except they allow for your entire business to participate in the process – from the CEO on down. And just as Agile Coaches and Consultants enable software teams to evolve how they create software, Service Level Objective (SLO) coaches will change the way your company sets reliability goals and runs software. However, SLO coaching will be more impactful than Agile Coaching. With Agile, you have one audience – the developer. With SLOs you have the product manager, developers, operations, and SREs. Next you have the executive teams: finance (how much does this cloud cost), HR (how many bodies do you need) the CRO (if sales are declining, can this be an indicator), CMO (is the funnel full, are customers happy). SLOs are truly a team effort!

SLOs make metrics meaningful. Better, they make them meaningful to businesses.

SLOs make metrics meaningful. Better, they make them meaningful to businesses. By analyzing these metrics and turning them into objectives, businesses can create a conversation around precise indicators allowing them to operate effectively and efficiently. More than likely, it will be an SLO Coach who drives this education, essentially acting as technical advisor and corporate psychiatrist.

Running (Micro-services) Coach?

Agile produced the Agile Coach as well as a host of consulting firms working with businesses, moving them from a waterfall past to an Agile future. At the center of this transformation is developer tools from Atlassian, Github, and Gitlab. 

During this evolution, micro-services came on the scene. Micro-services provide better scalability and faster development cycles solving many challenges such as quicker code to production timelines and so on. However, now we’re dealing with “micro-service sprawl.” In order to keep track of every micro-service, we’ve even witnessed the birth of “micro-service catalogs”. Who will teach us how to manage all these services? 

Agile For Build, SLO For Run 

With an SLO Coach dividing SLO best practices between teams, integrating SLO teams within non-SLO processes and measuring results, businesses are able to “break up the monolith”.  SLOs help you run with reliability goals which tell you how many times out of 100, 1,000, or 10,000 operations your software can fail before a customer will change behavior (leave you) and you need to take action (automated or human). This is not just about running software in the cloud (run is the new build!), this is about how you run your business together as a team. You might have the greatest team in the world but without a coach you could find you’re missing a key element to bringing out the best from the best. The SLO Coach will play a critical and long-term role in making this happen. 

SLO coaches can help cross-functional teams discuss and move the business/technical feedback loop towards rational and systematic thinking. Using SLOs to translate business needs and the needs of engineers can drive improvement over time. This balances the tradeoff between delivering features to serve customers and fixing technical debt.

How to Get Coaching

As all companies evolve into cloud companies, the role of the SRE will expand and the need for SLOs will increase. This is the opportunity for the Agile Coach to evolve, providing value to companies looking to not only run their cloud but run their business.

Interested in learning more about SLOs? Contact me at Nobl9!


Image Credit: Alliance Football Club on Unsplash

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