A common misconception in the executive suite is that an organization can reap all the benefits of DevOps without fully embracing the change necessary. That’s understandable, given that a DevOps transformation is a lengthy, costly disruption for companies of all sizes. DevOps requires businesses to transform, from team organization to culture to development processes. This shift often sparks reallocation of power and influence, which sometimes can make high-level executives uncomfortable. While most companies have begun to recognize the overall business benefits of DevOps, few are fully committing to such a large undertaking. As a result, a hesitant executive suite holds an organization back from realizing the full potential of DevOps.
The key to successful DevOps implementation has four facets. Executing against one element just isn’t enough—an organization must combine all of them to realize the benefits of DevOps:
- Training: Once executives have educated themselves on the importance of DevOps and accepted the disruption that comes with it, they must make sure the individuals are properly trained. Everyone involved needs to be open to learning new skills and new ways of functioning. A big part of DevOps is breaking down team silos, so individual contributors need to be willing to work across functional boundaries.
- Tools: DevOps adoption can be viewed as a cultural and methodological change, and therefore teams also need the right tools that help them work together to create scalable and secure applications efficiently. The executive suite should invest in platforms that support automation and collaboration.
- Support and determination: To provide support and guidance throughout the shift to DevOps, organizations should consider hiring a DevOps expert or bringing in a third-party consultant. This person can help the executive suite map out a DevOps strategy and help train the teams involved. Lack of expertise is one of the reasons businesses often fail to complete a DevOps transition.
- Cross functional and accountable teams: A DevOps team should have all of the resources necessary to implement and deliver functionality to the customer. They should also be accountable for operating and supporting it.
Another important consideration is security. The CISO and security team are responsible for security in most organizations, but developers need to understand the critical role they play in creating secure applications. They need to be accountable for the security of the software they write. It’s up to the security team to train and nurture them until they are self-sufficient. The development organization as a whole must be willing to make security part of the annual goal-setting process and to report on progress transparently at each level of management.
Every DevOps implementation begins with education, from management to the individual contributor. Educational resources increasingly are available as DevOps continues to gain momentum in the industry. If faced with a hesitant executive suite, teams should leverage proof points from other companies that have successfully implemented DevOps. Leadership should be ready to measure, experiment, iterate and, most importantly, stick with it. When armed with the right training, tools and support, organizations can gain a competitive edge with DevOps.