There are many articles about what needs to be done to adopt DevOps successfully, but in this blog we’re going to focus on organisational readiness. The purpose of this blog is to highlight some of the key organisational factors and considerations which help to determine whether a DevOps initiative is really needed for your business – and whether it is likely to be successful in your organisation at the current time.
We will be looking at the following 3 areas:
- Business Dynamics
- Customer Needs
- Organisation culture
For a DevOps initiative (or any large business transformation movement) to gain momentum there must be a sense of urgency for the business to be nimble. There must be a real need for implementing change. Otherwise the challenge of undergoing organisation-wide change with such far-reaching cultural impact will be too overwhelming and will effectively be doomed.
Organisations with high frequency customer interaction, such as online marketplaces, media organisations and social networking sites, need to cater for the dynamic desires of customers. For them, there is an inherent need to be proactive and react quickly to the changes in the operating environment. These kinds of organisations have to create the capability to deliver more change, faster.
This is where DevOps plays a key part. Becoming agile and responsive without DevOps would not only be very expensive – it would inevitably require the organisation to compromise on quality and increase risk.
For slower moving industries like manufacturing (for example automotive) the business generally has a long lead time for each new product. There will be significant design time, capital outlay and production time, with long-lived assets and infrequent customer purchases. At a first glance it might seem like DevOps is not needed here. However, in recent years DevOps has started to creep into the processes of these slow moving industries as well. With the help of strategic planning and analysis, the business can identify the areas that will benefit the most from efficiency gains. This is the key to delivering tangible benefits with DevOps.
Another relevant factor when considering DevOps adoption is the frequency of customers’ interaction with the product and the sensitivity of customer information that is being handled by it.
This is also a factor that influences the business dynamics. For example, how often would a bank want to change their statement template, or update the interface for the bank account transaction summary? The general answer would be “not very often”. The reason for this is that the average user only accesses their bank account a small number of times in a typical month. If the way data is displayed was to change every week, the user would end up searching for information every time they log on.
In addition, bank customers typically wouldn’t want frequent changes to what they see. Their financial information is highly sensitive and comes with a strong personal attachment. When it comes to changes that are not visible to or felt by the customer, these are not driven by the customer need but would instead be technological changes. These would not be too many unless the organisation is transforming its technology stack.
Certain parts of your organisation probably have a bigger need for DevOps than others. It is vital to identify the need for DevOps across different areas as part of setting out your DevOps strategy, and set appropriate goals right at the start of your DevOps journey.
As in any change management programme, the organisation culture plays an important role in a large, successful DevOps rollout. An organisation can only run as fast as its slowest running team, as it needs every team to be aligned to deliver a product.
If the organisation has innovation in its DNA, it will often have a workforce that is willing to change. If the organisation is forward-looking and has a tendency to “take the bull by the horns”, then they will already be set up for success in DevOps adoption. An organisation that strives for top level standards, innovation, technical excellence, and customer delight will always be looking for opportunities to improve. This means that there is an inherent urge to adopt new tools, techniques and processes. This is where technology organisations that have already undergone a transformation, or have moved successfully from waterfall to agile environment, would have a fair idea of what kind of effort is required and their prior experience would act as catalyst.
When is the right time for DevOps?
In some organisations, it might not be the right time to adopt DevOps right now, but that time will almost certainly come in the near future. If your organisation is currently going through some big changes or pressures, it may be more practical to wait until there is bandwidth and appetite for DevOps among the employees.
But – on the other hand, DevOps might be just what you need to enable the business and facilitate the required changes more quickly!