DevOps - a model for improving the way software is developed, released and continually enhanced throughout its productive life.
While Agile has been instrumental in product development teams regaining the trust of their business colleagues, it has unintentionally left IT operations behind. DevOps is the final piece of the Agile puzzle, extending the high-frequency releases of Agile development teams to the production environment.
But DevOps is constantly evolving, driven by a diverse community of practitioners. Its less formalised nature (compared to other IT frameworks such as ITIL, Prince and TOGAF) can lead to confusion as teams try to apply the key principles and figure out where to start. Having implemented DevOps for clients all over the world, we see three areas where organisations can get started:
By focusing on processes between teams, organisations can move more quickly from development to production operations, improving feedback at each stage in the process. We find the best way to do this is to use Lean practices to find and remove inefficiencies. In fact, it’s where we’ve started with clients across industries as diverse as retail, financial services and manufacturing. This means:
By implementing these steps, teams will naturally experiment and improve the process of developing software and releasing it to production.
Introducing DevOps tools (such as database or configuration management) to automate more of the release process can improve quality and speed up the cycle of developing, testing and releasing software. Having introduced many tools at clients in the public sector, financial services and utilities, we’ve found some great approaches in the booming DevOps tools market, including:
People are vital to DevOps - organisations must bring together development and operations teams, instilling the right leadership behaviours and building knowledge, understanding and empathy. In our experience of adapting cultures for DevOps, however, it’s notoriously difficult to change how people think, work through organisational politics and overcome fear. Some of the approaches we’ve found to address the people challenge are:
So, where should you start? The answer, unsurprisingly, is “it depends”. Ultimately the DevOps journey will need organisations to tackle all these areas to gain the full benefit.
But we’ve seen organisations start getting benefits by focusing on one approach, using the learnings from that to inform how they tackle the other aspects. For example, one client focused on creating a small cross-functional team to address a particular project need. This team adopted several approaches from the ‘Process’ section above and as they became proficient in those practices, they looked at tools to help them automate and improve further. The success of starting small created the momentum for the organisation to think about all the areas above and move onto a wider adoption.
When choosing which to focus on first, think about what you’re trying to achieve. Do you want to improve the speed of delivery? Your ability to experiment with customer preferences rapidly? The stability and resilience of the production service during change? Security? By working out what your aims are, you can find the path to take to begin your journey.
Did you know the top 10% of financial performers are 30% more agile than the rest?