DevOps – Overcoming the Struggle

Everyone is ‘doing’ DevOps, but only a handful of people are getting the business value they expect. Why? The reason is very simple, those who are getting the business value know exactly what to focus on in getting the DevOps model right in the organization. They also know that business value is the ultimate goal of DevOps, and value begins and ends with the customer.

There are 4 key elements to get DevOps right in an organization. They are not only simple but the most ignored aspect. DevOps would be highly effective in bringing the business value to the customers if and only when these things are effectively followed.

2. Organization structure

3. Value stream mapping (VSM) in DevOps

Leadership

Leadership – the most uttered word in all organizations and industries today. My greatest inspiration for leadership comes from the leadership guru “John C Maxwell” and John says, “Everything raises and falls on leadership.” DevOps is no exception to it and in DevOps world, “Leadership” is the most overstated but under practiced phenomena today.

“People buy-into the leaders before they buy-into their vision” – John Maxwell

Before people in the organization follow any worthy vision or causes, they are keen to follow “worthy leaders” first. People in the organization do not buy into DevOps vision just because it is worth doing it or it is the “in-thing” to do it, until they buy-into the leaders first. So, the primary reason for DevOps success or failure in an organization is totally dependent on the leaders of the organization.

Characteristics of DevOps Leader

Here are some key characteristics every DevOps leader must focus on to have:

Influencing

According to John Maxwell, “Leadership is influence, Nothing more nothing less”. DevOps leader must have the influencing skills to be effective in the organization.

People Focused Rather than Privilege Focused

No-one becomes a leader automatically by the privilege or the title they have. Leaders need to be people centric and value them all the time. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Creating DevOps Culture

DevOps is a culture and the whole organization needs to be doing DevOps for it to be successful. Without the right mindset and culture, it’s hard to realize the full benefit of DevOps. It is the responsibility of the leader to create the right culture.

Patience

A greatest virtue, a leader can possess. DevOps transformation does pose lots of uncertainty and leaders true characters are seen based on how they can handle the tough times and showcasing patience.

See Beyond Possibilities

Leaders don’t just cast vision, but they are visionaries themselves. Leaders not only see things before anyone sees it, but they also see more than others see it

Organization Structure

Organization structure

An advantage of the functional structure is that grouping jobs by skills and knowledge and clear roles and responsibilities. However, the disadvantage is that each functional departments may become too siloed, often losing sight of the organization as a whole.

Why This Siloed Structure Wouldn’t Work for DevOps

  • DevOps is owned by just 1 division head in the organization, and he/she would need to sell or justify this service to the rest of the organization. There is always seller-buyer dynamics between DevOps division head & other division heads.

  • Not all the division heads are having the same level of KPIs to rollout DevOps. Unfortunately, It’s the direct responsibility of this 1 person to promote DevOps for the entire organization.

  • No synergy between DevOps teams and the rest of the organization as they are mostly operated in Silos.

  • Other enabler teams like Infrastructure, operations, tooling are not always together with DevOps teams in this structure.

  • Most of all, business don’t see the value in DevOps and they are always seen as additional overheads/cost in this type of organization structure.

Recommendations

  • Like any other scrum team, DevOps team should be a permeant scrum team in the organization. it is important to create a cross functional team for DevOps.

  • Appoint a product owner for DevOps. This person should have direct access to the organization leaders to influence the roadmap for DevOps.

DevOps scrum team
  • DevOps scrum team should always be the combination of DevOps engineering tooling architecture infrastructure operations and required business representation.

  • This cross functional setup should be replicable & increased to more number of scrum teams as the demand increases.

  • Topmost leadership in the organization should own up driving DevOps. As DevOps requires cultural shift in the organization, it should be driven top-down. DevOps success should be the KPI of CIO in the organization.

VSM in DevOps

Seeing is Believing – Value streams are a visual tool that enables organizations to objectively measure and track what is most important to the organization and what they believe will actually bring value to customers.

Measuring End-to-End Flow

Flow Metrics measure the flow of business value through all the activities involved in the process. It clearly represents the bottleneck in a end-to-end value stream and helps to determine the area to focus and improve. When we measure a subset of the flow, such as the time it takes for developers to complete an “user story” or the time it takes to deploy the changes to production, we can optimize that segment of the value stream

End-to-end process flow

Value Stream Mapping Can Be Done With These Simple Steps:

  1. Map out your as-is DevOps stream.

  2. Point-out waste.

  3. Build your to-be DevOps stream.

  4. Communicate the change.

Benefits of VSM in DevOps

  • Helps business to understand the value of DevOps.

  • Helps identify bottlenecks and pain points.

  • Creates visibility and traceability throughout the entire SDLC.

  • Highlights the waste clearly.

  • Reveals opportunities for improvement and automation.

  • Fuels feedback loops.

  • Provides context and process clarity with data and visual representation.

Today there is a strong focus to leverage DevOps value stream management platforms to drive DevOps transformation journey in the organization. This helps providing greater visibility to stakeholders and make the right technology investment decisions. It also enables real time reporting across your integrated delivery pipeline and facilitates greater analytics which helps to foster continuous improvement in the value stream.

Check the Pulse

Some of the key areas organization should be doing pulse-check on include:

1. How do people in the organization perceive DevOps?

2. Who’s really championing DevOps?

3. Who’s blocking DevOps?

4. Who are the dinosaurs in the organization slowing down DevOps in the name of “Stability first”?

5. Why certain divisions don’t show interest to adopt your DevOps practices?

6. Are you over-doing with tools for DevOps?

7. Incentives for early adopters of DevOps?

8. How open is your leadership to get industry experts to help your organization?

9. Despite many tools, is measurement of metrics looks like a mammoth task?

10. How often you have “show and tell” events with your business to showcase the benefits of DevOps?

Conclusion

DevOps journey may not be a smooth ride for many organizations to start with, however if they focus on the right areas and engage the right industry expertise, they would definitely reap the right benefits. It is the leaders responsibility to make “DevOps” happen for the organization.

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