DevOps corporate culture software development methodology

09.30.2019

business-management  |  12 min read

Supercharge productivity with DevOps methodology

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Matt Shealy

DevOps is the latest buzzword bouncing around the development space. However, the philosophy also works outside of the software development sphere. Executives, marketing professionals and sales teams can use DevOps to increase productivity. In fact, it's estimated that using DevOps methodology could increase productivity of individuals or groups by up to 51%.

These improvements are not just to development. The same study found that firms that used DevOps saw a 38% increase in business growth from new revenue services and also a 67% impeovement in customer experience. 

From these massive improvements it's clear that DevOps isn’t just about technology; it’s also about people. Today, DevOps methodologies, techniques and architecture are the driving force behind remarkable organizational change. In a technology-driven world, it's not hard to get people to embrace new software and hardware. However, convincing people to accept a new philosophy is a different story.

By learning the facts about DevOps, however, you can arm yourself with the tools that you need to compel stakeholders to embrace the practice.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is the latest evolution of Agile software development. The development method originated from the need for developers to keep up with the increased velocity made possible by Agile practices.

Over the past decade, the evolving Agile practice revealed the need for a more overarching approach for software development from concept to delivery.

In the beginning, the Agile method started with development teams. Eventually, QA and Ops teams adapted the methodology to keep up with the increasing velocity of software iterations.

DevOps builds on Agile development by streamlining the project management process. It empowers cross-functional teams to take ownership of a new product for the entire project life cycle.

Is DevOps a technology or a philosophy?

Technology is a part of DevOps. However, DevOps is also a state of mind. The practice promotes communication and collaboration supported by integration and automation technology.

The practice empowers software companies to deliver better applications quickly. However, executives can apply it to nearly any workflow, whether it’s for marketing, operations or any other mission-critical work.

DevOps empowers business units to resolve service and product issues, without relying on other stakeholders. At the same time, the philosophy supports standardized workflows, so that one business unit’s work complements that of another. DevOps is the end of passing the buck.

Some DevOps practitioners believe that the methodology is more culturally oriented, rather than technologically based. Others favor the tools over the culture.

The organizations that get it right are called pink unicorns among DevOps advocates. These enterprises are so rare that they make up only 5% of the world's corporations. A few examples are Netflix, Amazon and Google.

Beliefs notwithstanding, you need both to deploy DevOps effectively. DevOps doesn’t work without the tools, and the tools have no worth without organizational buy-in.

What can I do with DevOps?

DevOps methodology breaks down barriers between business unit silos and fragmented workgroups, which is why it's particularly helpful for organizations that rely on cross-functional teams. When the success of goals relies on members of various teams (like from marketing, development, QA, customer service or others), DevOps can help keep team members stay on the same page and communicating well. DevOps puts an end to finger-pointing and to the days of passing the buck to the next business unit in a workflow. The methodology enables business units to work together toward a common goal. 

Using DevOps, business units share responsibility for maintaining the frameworks that run the software. For example, both teams may prepare the software to run on a shared, centralized system with enhanced feedback and automated workflows.They replace finger-pointing with collaboration. 

DevOps can empower your organization to plan and test new concepts continually. More importantly, your group can acquire the ability to roll out continuous improvements using the practice.

DevOps philosophy is a bureaucracy buster. It puts an end to red tape and replaces it with collaboration and productivity.


How can you supercharge productivity using DevOps

Now that we have an understanding of DevOps, we can explore how various teams can benefit from this practice and use it to be more productive, efficient and successful.

**More efficient Dev time**A quick way to add time back to your team by using DevOps is by automatic tasks such as QA tests. Traditionally, developers must run a series of tests before releasing new tech. Often these tests are reputative and the same tests are run for each update. Your team can save valuable hours of testing by automating these tests. Many software solutions can be set up to allow for automatic testing. Your team will see the added benefit of fewer hours spent doing these repetitive tasks while also getting code that is more completely tested and with fewer errors.

Additionally, dev teams can save time with automated deployments. Manual deployments can require the dev to wait a long time for a bit of code to be deployed to production. By automating this step the team can reduce the risk of failure while also reducing the time it takes to actually deploy the code. 

Data-driven decisions

Another tenet of DevOps is to leverage data to make informed decisions. This can supercharge teams that previously spend hours or days laboriously making decisions. In large organizations, it's easy to push off difficult decisions to leadership which may or may not have time to understand the issue fully and make a well-informed decision. It is easy for key issues or considerations to slip through the cracks. This long process can also increase the time between identifying an issue and executing a resolution. If the issue is not addressed quickly, it can even tank customer satisfaction. By using data to make decisions, you can democratize big decision-making and provide transparency to the process. This minimizes the downtime of teams, products or features. Making decisions quickly and having the team's buy-in will speed up all processes.  

Increase team trust and smarter members

Another positive side effect of using DevOps is that teams must work closer and communicate better which will increase trust over time. By creating a mutual understanding between the teams, there will be less time lost to miscommunications, misunderstandings, or other errors. All team members understand they're working toward the same end goal, and how they contribute and aid the other teams. This leads to happier employees. Research has shown that positive teams are more productive, so increasing trust doesn't just prevent extra time, it actually helps you get more done with your existing team. 

Additionally, the DevOps platform encourages team members to share knowledge and insights within teams and across different teams. Over time this will help turn previously siloed team members into cross-functional superstars. Having team members who understand more parts of the project will help them make better decisions that will speed up work and reduce errors. Your organization will see higher employee engagement, and the effort will open team members up to greater professional development opportunities within the organization. Additionally, sharing information prevents know-how from being stored in a single person or team and allows it to be passed on to other members. 


Manage unplanned

As business needs change, organizations must be agile and able to respond to them. Critical time can be lost if teams aren't able to act quickly on a new opportunity. DevOps methodology can be very helpful when managing unplanned work.  

If left unmanaged, unexpected scope, work or projects can derail a team's productivity. It's easy for even a simple addition to a project to derail the project and put other larger goals at risk of missing deadlines and budgets. Additionally, constantly switching between planned and unplanned work can zap productivity as users may need to swing between different systems. This can create huge inefficiencies and distract from the key tasks. 

However, DevOps can help prevent small requests or unplanned tasks from messing up the road map. If all teams are using an established process with clear prioritization, team members are better able to manage unplanned work while still contributing toward the planned projects. 

Real Time Feedback

Organizations can lose a lot of time if actionable information remains stuck in a single organization. A DevOps structures overcomes this by providing regular feedback loops from internal and external customers. This allows teams to get vital feedback faster and make better decisions on features, products and bugs. It can prevent the usual bottlenecks that occur when information is only given to 1 department or worse, 1 team member.  

Better company and data security

Nearly all who work in technology, IT, CS or any development will agree that cyber security is a growing problem. Hackers are finding more ways to access company data. If your organization suffers an information leak, you can lose a substantial amount of time to recovery, repair, and cleanup. While DevOps promotes faster production and releases, it can also give organizations the opportunity to reduce overall security risks. 

By testing for security and automation, security becomes less of an afterthought and is instead planned for throughout the process. Instead of a huge test needed at the end, when software gets to the staging and deployment stage, all testing has been completed. 

Recovery from errors

Finally, no matter how diligent the team is on security or production, errors will occur. DevOps helps mitigate human errors but also allows for a culture of collaboration and quick solutioning when they occur. In an extreme example, a $400 million company went out of business in 45 minutes because of human error during the failed software deployment. This case highlights how human error can result in expensive – if not fatal – failures. However, what's important is how fast you recover from breaches. 

DevOps philosophy can help organizations recover from network compromises as quickly as possible. By creating a culture of collaboration, members who make errors may be faster to locate an error, admit to the mistake and then make a plan to fix it. 


Getting started with DevOps

The transition to DevOps doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time for organizations to embrace a new culture.

It's important to not feel discouraged if met with initial resistance to DevOps deployment and to transition toward DevOps philosophy over time. As Allison Arthur of Soliant Consulting points out, "Ultimately, successful DevOps comes down to building a custom plan for your organization. And it’s not just a plan to try on like a hat. True DevOps success stems from a complete culture shift. It requires a long-term vision, detailed planning, and support from everyone within the company."

To do this, you must work continually to promote collaboration and eliminate bottlenecks by rolling out small, digestible DevOps-oriented changes that will eventually reshape your organization.

Often, decision makers will see a shiny, new, DevOps technology tool and decide to invest in it. It would be nice if that’s all it took to supercharge an organization with DevOps. However, there’s a challenging social and human component to its deployment. 

Advocates for DevOps must show stakeholders what they will gain from the transition. Some stakeholders will like the idea of increasing team productivity. Others will see the benefit of transforming into an enterprise that attracts the best talent.

Still others, however, are more moved by fear of missing out. It may help to show those stakeholders that change is necessary because if your group doesn’t embrace DevOps – many of your competitors will.

Take the plunge: take your organization's productivity to a new level

DevOps is not an out-of-the-box solution. You'll need to develop a customized plan for DevOps to transform your organization.

The deployment of DevOps involves a complete change in corporate culture. It takes a long-term commitment, detailed planning and enterprise-wide buy-in. 

It takes even more time for your organization to grow into a supercharged, hyper productive pink unicorn. The most important thing is to start the process.



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