How to Introduce DevOps
DevOps. The word alone can confuse your staff, or, worse yet, make them cringe with fear. It can truly boost your business, however. It isn’t something to be afraid of.
The benefits of DevOps are easy to see. High-performing organisations effectively using DevOps principles report more frequent software deployments compared to competitors, faster recovery from failures, faster lead time for changes and greater customer satisfaction. These organisations are twice as likely to achieve goals financial and non-financial, compared to their competitors not using DevOps.
Knowing how to introduce DevOps can make all the difference in getting staff on board and seeing a cultural shift in your workplace.
The trouble lies in the fact that DevOps isn’t necessarily a tangible thing that staff will be able to understand right away. There is no procedure to follow, no program to install, and no checklist to mark off as you move toward a DevOps approach. Instead, you must shift your entire way of doing business, adjusting every part of your workplace to change the corporate way of thinking.
To introduce DevOps, you first have to understand it and why it works.
Understanding DevOps – An Overview
With DevOps, development and operations no longer occur in individual silos. Instead, developers and operations staff come together, marrying the creativity and spark of development with the constraints set in place by operations.
Without DevOps, you may often run into this scenario: your developers work hard to innovate and create an application, only to find that when it hits the operations department, there are too many problems with it, or something doesn’t fit the requirements and it has to go back. Your development team, and your operations team, get frustrated with the back and forth.
In a DevOps culture, that does not happen. Instead, everyone works together, adapting processes and requirements to bring an application through its first lightbulb moment up to deployment and delivery, with end-to-end understanding and collaboration.
How to Introduce DevOps
That all sounds well and good, but how to introduce DevOps in a way that works in the real world? Of course, not everyone gets along and not everyone collaborates well from the start, so you cannot simply throw your developers and operations people in a room together and tell them that they are now DevOps.
With strongly siloed teams in place already, you have some work to do. You will have to find a way to bring people together, even though they may have been in opposition in the past. One of the best ways to do this is through transformational leadership, approaching DevOps from the top down and reinforcing the benefits of this cultural shift, every day.
We enjoyed this Forbes interview, in which Puppet President and CEO Sanjay Mirchandani says:
“Leaders create and reinforce “what right looks like” in their organisations through the decisions they make—what they reward, what they punish, and how they structure their organisation’s systems and processes. All of these manifestations of their values guide behavior in the day-to-day and have a profound effect on the success or failure of DevOps in their organisations.”
Hire a Rockstar DevOps Expert
Some companies add to this leadership by empowering a staff member who displays an understanding of the DevOps culture and how it works. While DevOps is all about collaboration, if people are struggling to come to consensus, this DevOps rockstar can step in and help direct the way things are going, helping other staff members come to the right conclusion without dictating how things go.
Having a strong leader who can be a good DevOps role model is an easy way to show the rest of your staff what the culture should look like when it is in place. You may have to hire someone new for this role, but it’s worth it for the difference he or she will make in bringing the rest of your team on board.
Introduce a Just Culture
A ‘just culture’ works extremely well in promoting DevOps. This type of workplace environment ensures that any mistakes or issues are investigated thoroughly, without blaming the individual or individuals involved.
Any person involved with an action that has failed can explain what they did; what their expectations were; what assumptions they had made; and how things fell apart, all without being punished or facing retribution. Because of this, everyone on the team can understand how the problem occurred and take the right steps to avoid it in the future, with the person who made the mistake working to fix the issue alongside everyone else.
This is part of introducing DevOps, because it creates that collaborative, safe environment.
In Postmortem Culture: Learning from Failure, John Lunney and Sue Lueder explain, “Blameless culture originated in the healthcare and avionics industries where mistakes can be fatal. These industries nurture an environment where every "mistake" is seen as an opportunity to strengthen the system. When postmortems shift from allocating blame to investigating the systematic reasons why an individual or team had incomplete or incorrect information, effective prevention plans can be put in place. You can’t "fix" people, but you can fix systems and processes to better support people making the right choices when designing and maintaining complex systems.”
Get Help From the Pros
You are not the only organisation that has struggled with or wondered how to introduce DevOps, which is why it can be helpful to bring in professional experts to assist in making the transition.
DevOps consultants can help analyse your business to see what is working, and what needs to be adjusted to introduce DevOps effectively, breaking down silos and working with your teams to create a shared culture. It’s often easier for individuals on the outside to see where collaboration is lacking, versus trying to sort it out from inside your company.
The result is a strong DevOps culture built from the ground up, which will make a big difference in your collaboration, software delivery, your reliability and your business reputation.
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