5 Proven Steps to Embrace DevOps Culture in your Organization

Introduction

DevOps – a series of practices that automates the processes between software development and IT teams – accomplishes an agile culture that enables you to build, test, and release software quicker and more reliably. DevOps is the way organizations extract the value of agile transformations they have started. By integrating software development and tech operations, and automating their processes from end-to-end, organizations can create an uninterrupted path from idea to production. But since DevOps impacts every control function, it challenges the way teams interact and primarily alters the roles of several people.

It takes a tremendous change — a cultural shift — to overcome caution. Every control function needs to re-create its work so that the organization can achieve agility without endangering its standing among regulators, law enforcement, customers, and investors. However, organizations should not ignore risk while focusing on speed; risk management is critical, but it must complement DevOps, not suppress it.

If you want to optimize the cloud, you should change your mindset to a more agile culture and seek to deploy software systematically several times a day. Several organizations make the mistake of adopting DevOps practices without completely understanding the complexity, dedication, and change required to achieve a mature DevOps culture.

DevOps culture overlaps among the roles of Development, Operations, and Quality Assessment. Implementing DevOps requires a significant change in the way individuals work with one other and the manner in which organizations enable their cultural shift.

A fundamental starting point is the attitude:

  • Maintain transparency in work
  • Develop a culture of trust for one other
  • Embrace non-conflicting goals
  • Accept failures instead of laying blame on others
  • Develop a sense of shared responsibility instead of the ‘not my job’ attitude.

From a process and organizational perspective, you have to:

  • Facilitate true autonomy among individuals and DevOps team members
  • Enable cross-functional collaboration
  • Minimize processes that cause waste and blockage
  • Maintain continuous flows across the SDLC pipeline, including integration, testing, deployment and funding, among others.

Most organizations cannot implement cultural shift suddenly. Hence, they have to start small and expand the cultural approach across multiple DevOps teams as a viable starting point.

5 PROVEN STEPS TO EMBRACE DEVOPS CULTURE

DevOps is rapidly becoming a crucial part of several organizational cultures for numerous good reasons. However, implementing DevOps practices in your company is not as easy as purchasing a software and directing all the staff members to use it. DevOps is not just a job title or a set of resources; it’s a culture of continuous innovation. Even though you may have the necessary technologies and process workflows in order, failure to embrace cultural changes of DevOps may trigger teams to face conflicting goals and may be unable to achieve the true progress and capability of DevOps. A journey that needs incessant, incremental improvement. DevOps is a requisite foundation that allows you to innovate, learn, and improve to impel your business forward.

STEP#1: Start with Top-down approach to DevOps and follow it up with bottom-up approach

A cultural change has to happen in the entire organization. Initially, begin it from the top and gradually take it towards the bottom. A cultural change, doesn’t happen without top-down motivation and coordination. DevOps culture needs the acceptance at the executive-level and immediate sponsorship. The right leadership to modify the software development lifecycle and promote automation over manual processes is also required. Leadership should inspire and stimulate experimentation and foster knowledge sharing. All these will ultimately nourish and nurture the DevOps culture in your organization.

To achieve a successful DevOps culture, everyone in your organization – from a junior developer to the CIO – should support the organizational change. Usually, it doesn’t happen. It really begins to happen when it is executed at the lowest unit possible (Bottom-up Approach). For instance, implementing DevOps at the team level gives teams the opportunity to determine what is possible, identify bottlenecks, and resolve them while the issues are still minor. It is a fact that successful cultural transformations are generally a continuous journey of improvement rather than a single one-time execution.

Employees may be fixated in the ‘normal way of doing things’ and be loath to shaking up the status quo. Sometimes, there’s opposition from the operations department. At other times, developers least care about DevOps, since they just want to code. Whatever the reasons, DevOps culture cannot be achieved until the entire organization comes together as a single well-knit unit. Usually, it has to begin at the top.

STEP#2: Automate Every Process in Your Organization

To aim for continuous improvement with high cycle rates and the ability to instantly respond to customer feedback, organizations should automate their processes. While it’s a fact that automating processes will initially consume more time than performing such tasks manually, making this change will save you time, energy, and resources in the long run. It will also minimize the risk of human error that may cause further problems. If you come across unexpected issues in production with the latest deployment of your software, just re-deploy the earlier version with the push of a button to fix the problem within minutes. With the time gained, you can replicate and rectify the issue in lower environments and write a test for your pipeline to run to cover the problematic case in future.

Ensure that security and governance in your automation is a priority, not a second thought. Write and include automated tests into all your new and current deployments. This includes both functional (unit, integration, post-deployment, etc.) and non-functional (performance, security, etc.) testing. Ensure that you have every test and deployment in all environments automated.

Automation is a vital step towards Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) or the ability to swiftly release new software to your customers. This includes automation of infrastructure maintenance, the creation of new systems, software deployment and a series of tests to verify everything from functionality to security compliance. DevOps teams can create their own automated process since computers are much swifter at creating and deploying software than humans. By automating all the necessary steps, machines can be trained to deploy software faster, safer and more reliably than ever.

STEP#3: Embrace Agile Approach to Software Development

Your software teams must not only practice agile approach to software development, but also practice CI systematically. This implies designing a software development flow that pushes code at least once every day. This means coding for simplicity and phasing out persistent feature branches (one-to-two weeks should be the maximum). Everything that’s not a secret value or parameter should be in source control management. Simplify deployments so that your CI/CD tool regulates source control for fluctuations and triggers the automated pipelines to update your software or infrastructure automatically as changes are committed.

STEP#4: Encourage Learning Via Extensive Experimentation

Implementing a successful DevOps practice comprises the ability to experiment – to learn, fail-fast, repeat – which is critical. High performers adopt tested practices for collaboration, testing and swift experimentation. They set an example of continuous improvement based on transparency among teams and depend on data-driven decisions for shaping the course towards long-term success for the organization and its customers. Experimentation begins with trust, which can be demonstrated by aligning everyone with general practices and criteria for advancing a candidate release through the pipeline. Teams must acknowledge, share and rejoice in the lessons from their fail-fast incidents just as they rejoice in successes. It is equally significant to share your knowledge with other teams within the organization so that they can develop their processes along the way.

To wholeheartedly adopt cloud computing through DevOps, an organization must change their attitude towards failure. By accepting failure, organizations promote a ‘conducive environment for learning’ that will positively impact organizational culture. When teams feel psychologically safe and are given the complete freedom to radically transform their work, failures can and will happen. When they do, it’s critical to transform those failures into learning opportunities. Learning from reviews encourages an environment of learning that can also impact organizational culture.

STEP#5: Measure & Reward Using the Right Metrics

Measure and reward the result, but not the process compliance. When people are measured and rewarded for the right things, the culture changes. Everything – from executive-level performance contracts to weekly objectives for system admins – needs to be aligned with strategic business outcomes and the behavior needed to achieve them. These traits substantially enhance the probability of success of any DevOps and agile transformation. Successful large-scale change starts small and establishes the organization on the path to accomplishing the vision.

When embarking on a journey necessitating organizational change, it is always good to begin with the end result in mind. Taking advantage of the metrics is the best way to be on track and ensure successful progress in the DevOps journey. Establishing the right fundamental DevOps metrics initially and not being scared to measure the things that might initially make you not look very good is the key to being able to show conclusive progress over time and real business benefits to senior leadership. The following are a few of the powerful metrics that help benchmark progress towards a DevOps transformation. Research proves that highest performing organizations do significantly better on all the following metrics:

  • Deployment frequency: The frequency with which organizations deploy code to production or release it to end-users.
  • Lead time for changes: The time taken to go from code committed to code successfully running in production.
  • Time to restore service: The time taken to restore service when a service incident or defect occurs, which impacts users, such as an unexpected disruption or service interruption.
  • Change failure rate: The percentage of changes to production or degraded service that requires rectification, such as a hotfix, rollback, fix forward, or patch.
  • Production failure rate: The frequency with which the software fails in production during a particular period of time.
  • Mean time to recover: The time taken by an application in production to recover from a failure.
  • Average lead time: The time taken for a new requirement to be developed, tested, delivered, and deployed into production.
  • Deployment speed: The speed with which you deploy a new version of an application to a specific environment (integration, test, staging, pre-production, or production environments).
  • Mean time to production: The time it takes when a new code is committed into a code repository for it to be deployed to production.

Once you have established the metrics you want to collect and have an idea of where you stand at present, set goals for each metric to ensure the team fully strives for it. Most significantly, always share your DevOps goals, metrics, and progress with everyone associated with it. Introduce metrics dashboards that exhibit existing metrics and progress toward your goals.

CONCLUSION

Cultural change does not happen in a single day. You have to continuously measure progress with your DevOps culture assessment based on continuous innovation and high performance in implementation. Organizational culture matters a lot. Remote working can aggravate siloes and difficulties in simplifying processes. DevOps enables organizations to eliminate these silos, collaborate, and deliver to customers in an expedited manner, even when teams are all working independently.

Ensure that you build your CD pipeline with visibility, collaboration and measurement to enable a high-performing DevOps culture. By incorporating the DevOps culture of continuous innovation and high performance into your organization, you too can safely sail over the unfamiliar waters and successfully reach the new destination.

About CloudFulcrum

CloudFulcrum with its mission of “DevOps as a Service” has been part of multiple successful Copado implementations across the globe with customers in BFSI, Health Care, Retail, Real Estate, and Technology verticals.

With our DevOps consulting, we help enterprises align their Digital Transformation goals to achieve higher efficiency, faster time-to-market, and better quality of software builds with early identification of arising issues, enabling continuous release of Salesforce applications.

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