Less DevOps Technology, More DevOps Savvy

Any organization looking to deliver quality software rapidly and reliably needs to care about DevOps. Companies that have adopted DevOps principles are disrupting industries, innovating faster and leaving their competitors in the dust. Has your organization embraced DevOps principles?

Business DevOps Savvy

As DevOps tools become more prominent in the IT landscape, it’s important to remember both the business drivers that shaped them and the consistent and repeatable business outcomes they produce. Otherwise, the DevOps message focused on it being a transformation engine risks being wrongfully relegated to the IT process bucket.

What can be misunderstood is DevOps’ pivotal role in dealing with business changes in the wake of digital disruptions. DevOps is about building the organization capability to do just that. It is a compliment to the strategic planning work, providing the approach for digital organizations to hypothesize, validate assumptions and adjust to changing conditions.

Experimenting towards Business Value

According to the World Economic Forum, new digital business models are the principal reason why just over half of the names of companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000. We could argue that the differentiator between the companies that endured vs. those that did not, has as much to do with their balance sheets as it did with their attitude towards experimentation. New entrants could experiment their way to business value whereas the incumbents dared not.

DevOps practices play a key role in enabling experimentation for a digital business. The organizational willingness to experiment and prevailing views of failure warrant a closer look.

Failure is critical to DevOps Culture

Somewhere along the way, under the pretext of risk management, failure was cast out of the club of viable business moments. Factors like organizational structure, processes, and workplace culture reinforced patterns of risk avoidance.

Today however, the pattern of an emerging digital business tolerates the risk of new customer interactions, unexplained online telemetry, usability feedback, unsuccessful builds, failed test cases, and new security vulnerabilities. Each situation not only offers learning moments, it demands them. It could be tempting to avoid the potential of these moments altogether and preserve a low-risk facade. Based on experience, if set-backs and learning are not visible in the initial stages of a project then little of business value or consequence is taking shape yet.

Of course, changing organizational culture is a monumental undertaking. While DevOps won’t change the culture, it can change the habits and practices surrounding failure, which is a big step in the right direction. DevOps assumes that things will fail and makes it safe to do so early in the cycle. Designing for failure and shifting left are DevOps practices that handle failure gracefully. Indeed, learning to fail forward is a key step in beginning to frame mindsets around failure. DevOps reduces operational risk without sacrificing the vital learning opportunities. This commitment to learning is a key enabler to the success of emerging DevOps teams.

Trust in Teams: Remove the silos

DevOps teams include all the necessary roles in the delivery process: from business leaders to process designers, security experts, quality assurance, as well as the developers and operations roles. The ability for DevOps teams to address cross-cutting concerns and deliver from end-to-end is what sets them apart.

The moment organizational leadership realizes the impact of DevOps teams on the current practices is a key inflection point. Will they be made to navigate existing processes or given the latitude to define new methods? For this reason, selecting the right initiative, and the right team, as an initial pilot becomes crucial.

One of the key benefits of introducing DevOps processes and culture is that it removes the communication barriers between teams and the reliance on the availability of an individual person or team for software delivery to progress.

More than a checklist exercise

Teams don’t “do DevOps”, much like they don’t “do Agile”. They adopt an Agile mindset and live DevOps. Organizational commitment to learning is crucial to success. It’s important to remember that:

  • A team cannot do this alone – they need a coach.
  • This will not be flawless – there will be learning moments.
  • Skillsets and responsibilities will change.
  • It is not for every product at first – and not intended for maintenance work.
  • It is not for everyone -the change can be overwhelming.

If you would like to understand the backdrop of process, technology and automation, culture, measurement, and outcomes then take the DevOps Self-Assessment.

Already in-flight? Ask Microsoft Enterprise Services how Premier Services for Developers (PSfD) can accelerate your DevOps journey to help to drive the digital transformation everyone is talking about, but few are able to execute.

Or perhaps the time has come to reconnect with the developer within? Discover the full potential of DevOps on Azure.