To be successful in the technology business, you need to have a culture that embraces change and innovation. For your company to succeed, everyone from marketing teams up to executive management must be on board with the concept of change management and innovation. For a technology company, there are many different strategies to achieve such a culture. The most prominent one in the modern era is called the DevOps approach.
Instilling a DevOps culture in your company enables you to move faster with less downtime and fewer security issues. In fact, according to Forrester, one of the strongest points of DevOps and agile methodologies is that they include everyone who has a stake in the game and involves them early on in the collaborative process. However, achieving success with DevOps starts with understanding its key business benefits. This means that, as a CTO, or some other member of the leadership team, you're going to have an important role in championing this culture within your organization.
This article will cover the diverse set of ways to champion a DevOps culture in your company. By striving to implement these points, you will witness a more dynamic work culture and identity that meets the needs of the high-paced tech industry of today.
Get Executive Buy-In
To embark on setting up a DevOps culture for your organization, it is essential to gain executive buy-in. After all, it is going to require significant resources and organizational rearrangements to achieve culture change.
To gain executive buy-in, start by demonstrating the incentives of adopting DevOps. Show them the potential productivity gains that a successful DevOps implementation will bring. One such example could be how DevOps can accommodate unusual circumstances like that of the ongoing COVID pandemic. There are also many case studies of organizations successfully adopting DevOps, and these very case studies can also guide the main plans of implementation. Championing DevOps starts here with gaining the backing of higher-ups and establishing a solid initiation strategy.
Start Small and Grow from Success
If you want to instill a strong DevOps culture in your organization, it is important to start at a smaller scale and ensure solid foundations. Such an approach is helpful in the implementation of any other strategy as well.
Research by Gartner has identified that one of the leading causes of failure to adopt successful DevOps practices is that companies try to do too much too quickly. To prevent such a caveat, it is essential to use an iterative methodology that builds on continuing improvements. In this way, collaboration across all different levels will also be much easier.
By having all the measurable goals outlined, the direction of and the right time to change can be determined to a reasonable accuracy. Once you have outlined all your goals, the direction of change and the right time to do it, building a game plan for growth becomes easier. These are some of the most common goals of a successful DevOps implementation:
- Increasing the availability of the product
- Using the hardware infrastructure more efficiently
- The product manager is receiving user and performance feedback more regularly
Championing a DevOps culture does not happen overnight and needs to happen through a step-by-step plan with clear goals. Once you’ve decided on your goals, it’s up to you and your team to scale further and develop a plan to achieve those goals.
Effective collaboration lies at the heart of successful DevOps implementation. The name ‘DevOps’ itself is made by the joining of development and operations. In a sense, it represents the collaborative synergy that DevOps is all about. However, DevOps isn’t only about Dev and Ops. It also requires collaboration from all the different levels of stakeholders. Otherwise, uncoordinated teams will prove to be an obstacle to the tremendous improvements that can be achieved by ensuring a DevOps culture.
Championing a DevOps culture will require you to encourage collaboration and provide the space for it. One of the main ways to ensure such collaboration is by integrating tools across a continuous delivery and release lifecycle. Research from Forrester has found that significant customer satisfaction comes through a robustly automated product lifecycle, as mentioned before.
Create A Game Plan
After ensuring effective collaboration, it’s time to form out a working plan. Such a plan needs to have clear business objectives along with the necessary metrics to measure success. Applications like Graphite and Statsd are popular in terms of logging, viewing, and storing metrics and data. Alongside that, many productivity tools help keep track of workflows and all the different responsibilities allocated to individuals.
A lot of the popular productivity tools have an in-built DevOps workflow that can be simply adapted to fit your specific needs and toolchain. It is also important to identify the biggest hurdles that can possibly hinder productivity. After identification, part of the resources can be focused on eliminating it incrementally.
Clarify Who Does What
While DevOps encourages cross-functional collaboration, as mentioned above, it is also important to have a clear idea of the chain of command and the overall responsibilities of each team. Keep in mind that each team member must understand they are all working towards the same goal.
A better understanding of the role of each individual involved can allow for the better assignment of duties and other responsibilities. In fact, all the different departments share responsibility for the product, sharing the lessons learned from its failure or its success. For DevOps champions, effective collaboration is necessary and it is important to make everyone’s responsibility clear.
For instance, by categorizing individuals as purists or pragmatists, critical or lateral thinkers, early bird or night owls, to give a few examples, you can ensure productivity and allocate responsibilities accordingly. After all, the DevOps product lifecycle is all about continuous delivery and release. So, it is important to identify and leverage your team’s strengths to ensure better business outcomes.
Encourage Continuous Improvement
The whole concept of DevOps is to enable a work culture where there is a continuous lifecycle of development, integration, delivery, production, and release. In a CI model, after new changes, automated tests start running on any changes that have been merged before deployment. Using this kind of continuous improvement model is what makes DevOps successful, which is why, to ensure the best possible results, leadership should encourage and enable continuous improvement across the DevOps lifecycle.
In order for the workflow to handle continuous improvements effectively, it has to heavily rely on the automation of the many tasks that come with each improvement. Championing DevOps culture means perfecting a smooth and dynamic workflow. As research from Forrester has pointed out, the speed with quality are the goals, and DevOps is the path to getting there.
Continuous improvement also means adding to the security and data integrity of the application while testing and developing the code. As time passes and new definitions appear, you also need to update your security. In a continuous improvement model, this becomes a routine part of the workflow and helps ensure a constantly safe-to-use application.
Focus on the Customer
Last, but not least, don't forget the central role of the customer in the whole DevOps planning and implementation workflow. Almost all DevOps guides stress the fact that often tech companies approach a product or solution as ‘technology first, customer later.’ Even if the aim is to champion DevOps in a company, the inspiration has to come from customers.
In the case of DevOps, all decisions and plans have one primary goal: to improve the experience of customers. That should be the main driving principle of a product team, and DevOps encourages this approach. By viewing the solution or product from the customer’s eyes, all of its must-have characteristics become obvious and the game plan starts coming to shape.
After deployment, user feedback is also crucial to the continuous development and release lifecycle of DevOps and should be integrated into it. It is also important to dedicate resources to securing the customer’s data while not taking too many risks with it. DevOps provides a framework that makes such a scenario possible.
The Bigger Picture Of A DevOps Culture
Based on what we discussed above, DevOps is a dynamic new approach to viewing software/product development, release, and improvement. Many companies are making the switch to DevOps and many nascent startups have already integrated it on a foundational level. All due to the massive improvement in customer satisfaction and product quality that comes with it.
As we saw, companies can implement an effective DevOps strategy with effective collaboration, gradual and continuous improvements, as well as customer-centric planning. Apart from these aspects, it is also important to ensure the core values of communication, respect, trust, and fair responsibility alignment among the team to become a DevOps champion and instill a successful DevOps culture in your company.