Successful Devops Programmes

Once the big decision has been made to go for DevOps in your organization (or at least give it a go), what do you do next? Below are my suggestions for things which should be considered at this early stage if you want to get started with a successful DevOps programme.

1. Do a pilot – this can be a short piece of work to determine if embracing the DevOps principles will really bring you the changes you are looking for. Steps:

  1. Identify an application for the pilot
  2. Identify a quick win by following one of the DevOps principles
  3. Measure the current state of the application in the area you are focusing on
  4. Implement that change as quickly and easily as possible (at this stage it is ok to cut corners to get something done so that we can get some measurable results quickly)
  5. Measure the now current state of the application and determine the outcome of the change

Has the change provided any tangible business value? Hopefully it has. If so, then this success should be enough to get buy in from those senior stakeholders who are influential in driving an enterprise-wide successful DevOps initiative.

2. Identify business drivers – This is a very important step as the drivers identified at this stage will determine the whole direction of the DevOps programme. The drivers identified should complement the business strategy and be focused on bringing more value into the business. Some examples are: improve customer experience, or improve business agility to better be able to respond to market forces. The business drivers should be published and understood by everyone who will be involved in the DevOps programme.

3. Determine the current state of your organisation –Without having a deep understanding of your current state, it won’t be possible to measure your DevOps progress against your goals. Conducting a DevOps maturity assessment is a great way to do this as it provides you with a very thorough analysis of your current state which will serve as the baseline for all progress reports.

4. Determine the DevOps roadmap – This should be a long term roadmap, and for most medium and large enterprises that means spanning at least 2 years. It should clearly specify the end goals of the DevOps programme, the cultural ambitions, and the business value which should be achieved at each stage. The business value will match up directly with the business drivers identified in step 2. Having a clear, well communicated long term DevOps roadmap can really help to retain focus throughout the programme and keep the momentum going.

5. Determine the shorter term DevOps strategy per application – This should be a very detailed plan for how to get from where you currently are to the next stage for a specific application, all the while keeping the end goals (defined in the roadmap) in mind. It should address that application’s particular pain points and challenges, incorporating:

  • Change management to ensure that the changes are successful
  • Processes to be automated and process efficiencies
  • Changes to roles and responsibilities e.g. developers being on call for production incidents, dev-ops buddy pairing etc.
  • New tools to be implemented and implementation strategy
  • A prioritised list of automation tasks covering the end to end delivery – build, deploy and test
  • Environment end state and how to get there

Once agreed, this strategy should clearly define the order of tasks to be done, the application and team end state, and most importantly the business value which should be achieved at each step along the way.

6. Implement and measure the results! – If you can’t measure DevOps, you can’t manage it. Knowing which KPIs to track and how to manage them is critical in achieving DevOps success. Our Outcomes-Driven KPI Framework provides detailed information to help you set up a KPI framework to easily measure and report on your DevOps progress.

7. Revisit the roadmap – Lastly, once the changes defined in the strategy are in progress for the first app team and some success has been achieved, the roadmap should be revisited to incorporate any changes and lessons learnt etc. Now is the time to start on-boarding additional apps to the DevOps programme. The roadmap is there to ensure that changes are implemented consistently across the organisation and the end goals are always the target. A successful roadmap can help to ensure that the cultural changes become well embedded across the whole enterprise and should help to guarantee the long term success of DevOps.

Throughout all these steps, the key to well embedded cultural change lies in communication. Unless all employees have the same goals, the DevOps programme can never achieve the business value gains it sets out to. Business drivers, the short term strategy, as well as the long term roadmap should be published and well communicated from the start and need to be understood at all times by all stakeholders.

Want to learn more?

Download our solution brief on how we work with you to introduce a successful DevOps programme.

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Bronwyn Davies

Bronwyn Davies is a senior DevOps consultant at Sandhata Technologies. She brings more than 12 years' experience in application development to help clients achieve their DevOps ambitions. With in-depth understanding of the financial industry, she is able to draw on her experiences and knowledge to provide best practise guidance and practical tips to organisations looking to reinvent their application development processes.

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