Executive Playbook for Getting Started with DevOps

By: Bob Schommer | December 22, 2020

You have probably heard about DevOps. You have likely heard about the companies who can release software changes to production hundreds of times per day without adversely impacting quality. While your company may not want new releases that often, you are getting pressure to get things done faster.

You are probably being challenged by your organizations to do some or all the following:

  • Shorten cycle times
  • Deliver high-value and high-quality faster
  • Readily adapt to changes in the market and business
  • Spend more time innovating and less time maintaining
  • Lead the digital transformation

While DevOps is not a “silver bullet”, done right it can reduce your cycle and lead times. DevOps is not a product that can be purchased. It is a journey that will transform how your company delivers value to your customers. How can you get started?

Getting Started

Assess Readiness

This includes readiness not only for your Development and Operations teams but also for business stakeholders and leaders. The assessment should be more than just readiness to adopt new technical practices like continuous integration, continuous deployment, version control, configuration management, etc. Existing business processes can seriously impede a DevOps transformation from getting off the ground. Culture will be impacted. Leaders will have to change how they lead. All these areas should be assessed to help guide your approach to the transformation.

Find a Passionate Visionary DevOps Product Owner

Identify a visionary who is passionate about improving your software development pipeline. Find someone who not only can create a DevOps vision and roadmap for your organization but can also clearly communicate their vision with other leaders and the team. Hold them accountable for delivering on their vision.

Provide Resources

Undertaking a DevOps transformation will require dedicated resources. Little progress will be made if team members are expected to fit in their DevOps work while maintaining their existing responsibilities. Bring in external experts if necessary to move it forward. Pair internal resources with the external experts to encourage knowledge transfer.

Demand Incremental Delivery of Value

Expect frequent and incremental delivery of value. The DevOps roadmap should include regular “releases” of DevOps capabilities. Drive improvements on your high impact applications that will excite business stakeholders. Encourage the use of pilot projects where teams can begin applying DevOps practices. These pilot projects can become excellent case studies for future endeavors.

Encourage Learning

Provide resources and encourage teams to learn new DevOps and agile practices. These are not only new technical skills but also a new way of thinking how software is designed, built and tested. Bring in experts to work with your teams. Allow time for your teams to experiment with different approaches. Celebrate victories and failures. Your teams learn something from both.

Remove barriers and provide support

There will be setbacks. Provide support to the team during these times. Help them to remove organizational barriers that impede their progress. Challenge traditional committees, processes and approvals. Listen to ideas that your teams have for reducing cycle times. Encourage them to improve quality as they increase speed.

Bob Schommer is a Senior Consultant with over 10 years of agile experience who has trained over 300 professionals on agile and DevOps practices. He has coached and advised large and small organizations to optimize their software delivery chain.

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