How to determine if a DevOps transformation is on track

Article by the director of Micro Focus A / NZ of the South Amish Prajapati region.

To compete effectively and thrive in today’s business environment, organizations must innovate quickly and create software that generates high business value. When implemented successfully, DevOps practices deliver many benefits to organizations, enabling teams to identify potential issues earlier and innovate faster with less risk.

The 2021 Global Quality Report found that adoption of DevOps is increasing steadily, with DevOps-enabled teams seen as the orchestrators of quality within the enterprise. By using DevOps practices, organizations can deliver high performance applications in a shorter time frame than their competitors.

Getting DevOps right is easier said than done. While many organizations have decided to embark on a DevOps transformation, scaling it up in hybrid IT environments without compromising quality, security, and availability can present significant challenges.

Here are five key ways organizations can monitor if their DevOps transformation is on track.

1. Manage the ‘curve J’ effect

Right off the bat, it’s important to remember that deploying a DevOps strategy requires completely changing current approaches to software creation and delivery. Key stakeholders need to recognize that DevOps is not just about transforming technology, but also the culture of the organization.

A common theme for early adopters throughout their DevOps journey is the “J curve” effect. This describes a model of initial quick wins, followed by a slower and sometimes frustrating stage where teams are tasked with solving more complex problems. In many cases, this can have a negative impact on team morale, especially when new obstacles arise in an ever-changing environment.

The effective management of the J curve effect depends on a “Kaizen” approach. Kaizen is a Japanese term that refers to the practice of continuous improvement and a DevOps principle. This involves having a clear picture of the current state of the organization, establishing the desired future state, and making improvements until the gap is closed. To ensure teams have a clear view of each step of the transformation, these improvements must be incremental.

2. Understand the current state of the technological value chain

When a culture of continuous improvement has been established, companies need to determine exactly what needs to be improved. This requires a deep understanding of the current state of the technological value chain, i.e. the transition from a business idea to a technological solution.

A value chain can be divided into two sections: product design and product development / delivery. Many organizations start with the DevOps practice of continuous delivery. However, by focusing on the product delivery stage, these organizations ignore potential delays in the product design and development process. For this reason, making improvements earlier in the value chain can speed time to market and reduce costs.

As such, it is crucial that the entire value chain, and not just product delivery, is managed and optimized from the start.

3. Align outputs with outcomes

When it comes to measuring the performance of software teams, many organizations make the mistake of focusing only on results rather than results. This approach fails to capture the relationship between the product and the effect it had on the end user.

Building a product and putting it on the market does not guarantee economic value for the company. Likewise, creating the best product doesn’t necessarily mean business success, especially if the market is already flooded with cheaper and “good enough” alternatives.

Therefore, evaluating the success of a DevOps strategy should involve looking at both productivity and business results. This could mean examining the result of reduced cycle time, such as faster feedback, better customer satisfaction or fewer outages, or exploring the link between increased deployment flows and new online revenue streams. .

By aligning team results and the value delivered to end users, organizations will be in a better position to determine if their DevOps implementation is on track and make the necessary adjustments.

4. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) as a learning tool

To create a successful learning organization, KPIs should be seen as a goal. It means moving away from the mindset that performance can be assessed by measuring it against set numerical goals and simplified metrics. Not only does this method stifle creativity, it also removes a team’s sense of self-determination.

Tracking performance at the end of a release cycle / release or annually is of limited value given the rapid nature of modern delivery. Adding a culture of continuous review and feedback increases the value of all KPIs.

Leadership teams should view metrics as a learning tool, helping them find barriers to progress and implement processes to overcome them. In this way, they can better motivate DevOps teams and effectively foster a culture of innovation. Through continuous review, these barriers can be identified more easily and earlier in the delivery cycle.

5. Smart approaches

Like any transformational journey, implementing DevOps won’t be easy. While there are many positive outcomes, there will also be multiple challenges. Building smart approaches that encompass both technology and culture is fundamental to dealing with the ups and downs.

To understand the challenges that hinder value-based delivery, organizations must disassemble the value silos and view the end-to-end process as a single supply chain. Ideas and concepts fuel the start; commercial value is delivered at the end.

Companies can get the most out of their DevOps strategy by focusing on the entire technology value stream, applying continuous improvement practices, and continuously reassessing metrics, including the role of KPIs.

This will ultimately allow them to develop high quality software that meets the needs of the business, and at a level of quality that exceeds the requirements of the end user.

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