May 07, 2021
Shifting to a DevOps Culture with a Partner’s Help
External experts can identify bottlenecks, improve processes and set a solid foundation for sustainable change.
Many organizations are eager to employ DevOps to shorten the time between application development and production, but often they aren’t sure how to start. A useful analogy would be a group of people who have watched soccer on TV but never actually played it. Imagine gathering those people together and saying, “Now you’re a soccer team. Go play a match!”
Would they be able to figure out how to play effectively? Or would they be better off hiring a coach, who could teach them the moves and strategies to progress down the field and score goals?
IT teams adopting DevOps face a similar challenge; they’re being asked to play a new game. This is especially true with DevOps, because it isn’t a tool but rather a set of behaviors and processes — essentially, a culture, as our colleagues Rachel Arey and Mitch Krombach often point out on the podcast Simplifying DevOps (Krombach appears in the Automation episode).
Getting people to change their behavior isn’t easy. A partner can be a valuable ally, providing insight and guidance as organizations make their way toward their goals.
A Partner Can Find and Fix DevOps Bottlenecks
Numerous bottlenecks can occur in the process of creating an application and putting it into production. They may exist because executives want to see and approve every step, or may arise because operations, security and analytics teams don’t communicate well.
Often, an organization figures out the mechanics of automated pipelines, only to come to a screeching halt because its change advisory board hasn’t met yet, so a release can’t happen. In situations like this, when we ask about the board’s criteria for approving a change, we often hear a different answer from everyone involved. But if organizations can document their processes — the policies and rules for releasing new code or features — they can automate appropriately and eliminate this hurdle.
A partner can help by analyzing the entire process, identifying places where automation can provide immediate value and guiding the organization toward culture change based on DevOps principles.
A Partner Can Identify the Best Change Strategy for Your Team
When we first start working with customers, our interactions with stakeholders help us determine the best way to proceed, based on the unique circumstances of each organization.
Sometimes, change management is best achieved through a grassroots effort. If an organization can get its developers and engineers to practice new behaviors and create automated pipelines, they can achieve and build on small, iterative progress. Elsewhere, change must come from the top before it takes hold. Some organizations may need to deploy both approaches at once.
A DevOps partner who recognizes that change management is essential can craft the right strategy to achieve success.
Look for a Partner Who Focuses on DevOps Processes
A big part of culture change is helping teams create processes and patterns for behavior. The tools that plug into those processes should be interchangeable, because tools come and go. Changing a tool shouldn’t disrupt an organization’s processes if the processes are appropriately resilient. That’s why process, not tools, should be the starting point for a DevOps partner.