Five DevOps Quick Wins

Jason Man 18th July 2016

Our most recent Whitepaper dove deeply into just how DevOps can bring value to organisations. Whilst there are many benefits that DevOps can bring to companies, effectively adopting DevOps does require a change in organisational culture, which can be a significant project.

There are many blogs out there that provide tips for cultural change during DevOps adoption, but few that suggest strategies for testing the methodology before investing.

So, we’ve compiled a list of “quick wins” that might help you realise value from the DevOps way of working, in a short space of time, before making that decision.

At ECS Digital, we believe that to effectively achieve DevOps, it requires as much investment in people and processes, as it does in tools. DevOps needs to be built upon strong foundations, beginning with the right people, followed by the right processes, and then the right tools (just take a look at our DevOps Hierarchy of Needs).

The following quick wins, therefore, focus on easy and effective ways to encourage a DevOps culture within our peopleprocesses and tools framework:

  1. Hold a tech-sharing session

The collaborative culture of DevOps starts with effective communication between teams. A tech-sharing session will provide employees with the opportunity to share ideas and collaborate, as well as offering them the freedom to generate new ideas, that may lead to great outcomes. Sharing sessions are also great for increasing employee engagement, which according to the 2016 State of DevOps report, is directly related to organisational success.

We have facilitated many of these sessions, all of which have had great outcomes:

  1. Increased engagement with other teams. This improves transparency across the business so that time spent working on new processes or tooling is visible to all teams.
  2. Identified any discrepancies between how different teams operate.
  3. Generated ideas to encourage new ways of working.
  4. Encouraged a greater level of collaboration and established a unified culture across different teams. 
  1. Turn your “Tech Talk” into “Business Talk”

DevOps works to align IT and business teams. In the majority of cases, the adoption of a DevOps culture needs to be initiated by senior leaders within an organisation. However, these senior leaders are often the ones that are less clear of the direct business benefits that technology brings, and so, are less well versed in DevOps benefits. Although the DevOps movement does often begin from the bottom up, for adoption to be effective across the organisation, senior management needs to be on board.

To bridge the gap between senior management and other teams, requires further communication. It requires objectives to be aligned for mutual benefit. We suggest that IT teams find a way of articulating the benefits of what they are doing in “Business Talk”: by which we mean translate words like deployments into profitabilitymarket share and cost.  Its about spelling out to the business that if the organisation can, for example, deploy software X times faster – it will make them Y times more profitable.

Senior business teams are much more likely to support activities when they can see well-defined business benefits.  If day-to-day technical activities are understood by business teams, the two are much more likely to work effectively together to better align their objectives.

  1. Question a process

A key part of the DevOps way of working includes optimising processes, so that quality can be built in at each stage. One of the best ways to begin this journey is to question existing processes that your organisation has in place. Often, we find that organisations stick to the same ineffective processes, simply because it’s “What we’ve always done”. Since the DevOps way of thinking encourages continuous improvement, asking questions like “Why do we do it this way” can be a huge step in the right direction.

Just some questions to ask yourselves, include:

  • Could this process be optimised?
  • Could we be getting more out of our processes?
  • Are we building in quality and testing at each step?
  • Could all teams along the process pipeline interact more effectively with one another? Could we increase visibility with other teams?
  • Could we release software quicker?
  • What reporting data can I gather to analyse how effective we are?
  1. Watch your definition of “Done”

When it comes to delivering software, companies should define a “definition of done” and apply it to all practices. An effective definition of “done” for development should include:

  • Code has been well commented.
  • Code style guidelines have been adhered to.
  • Tests have been written, run and checked.
  • Code has been peer-reviewed.
  • Relevant documents and diagrams have been produced or updated.

Checking software release against this definition will ensure that quality remains as high as possible when delivering. On top of this, a set definition of “done” will improve consistency. In our experience, client development standards are often based on the experience of individual developers. If everyone across an organisation follows the same criteria for the delivery of work, inconsistencies are removed.

  1. Allow time to trial a new tool

Providing time for experimentation is one of the key drivers of a generative culture, according to the 2016 State of DevOps report. There are a number of great DevOps tools (here’s just 30 of our favourites) that may be able to generate value for your organisation, that you’ve not yet had the time to experiment with.

Whilst trialling a new tool might require funding and extra time allowances, putting aside this time releases employees from habitual, repetitive tasks. On top of this, we often see great outcomes from tool introductions. Benefits include:

  1. Experimenting with new tools and technologies that may greatly benefit your organisation.
  2. Develop and understanding of how a tool works in an environment where there is no impact on day-to-day business activities.
  3. Generate a wider curiosity within the organisation around the benefits of new tools.

You can trial a new tool by spending just a few hours at a tool-introduction session. ECS Digital offers such sessions. We focus on a particular tool, explain what it is and how it can be used, and provide time for hands-on experimentation.

Interested? Come join us at our DevOps playground meetup.

We know that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the adoption of DevOps, and these are just some of our recommendations, that we’ve seen bring great benefit, with little effort.

For in-depth recommendations, specific to your organisation, we provide a DevOps Maturity Assessment. Following series of workshop discussions with key stakeholders in the delivery of software and software-related services, we make suggestions as to how you can adopt and realise the benefits of DevOps and Continuous Delivery.

To find out more about the DevOps Maturity Assessment, and how we’ve helped our clients, click here.

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