DevOps is key to Agile delivery

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The pace of product development is accelerating. New technological tools and methodologies enable teams in bringing updates and features to market in a rapid fashion. Additionally, customers are increasingly expecting regular upgrades to their products.

These trends, however, conflict with the way organisations and processes are currently set up. “Gatekeeper” functions, such as Legal, Human Resources, and even IT, usually follow procedures by the book. IT in particular is sometimes structured in silos, with different teams taking care of different Software Delivery Lifecycle (SDLC) steps without collaborating with each other.

DevOps breaks silos down

Agile methodologies and thinking can help in overcoming these problems, but that is not sufficient. Companies must implement new operating models, encompassing governance, roles and technology. DevOps is key for this. DevOps is a software engineering methodology that puts the emphasis on automation and monitoring and can be considered as the “technology” side of the Agile coin.

DevOps can help in breaking down silos and speeding up delivery, integrating all SDLC activities, from development, to testing and deployment.

Companies need to upskill internal resources or hire people who possess different skillsets and must be comfortable with new tools, such as Jenkins (Continuous Integration), GitHub (version control), Docker (containerisation), Ansible (orchestration), etc…, ensuring that teams work collaboratively throughout development. These technical capabilities underpin two fundamental DevOps concepts: continuous integration and continuous delivery. These two are the cornerstone of Agile delivery, enabling companies in accelerating deployments, while maintaining high level of quality.

Empower teams and streamline governance for the DevOps paradigm

DevOps practices need a profound cultural shift. The pace of innovation is often stifled by corporate bureaucracy. DevOps often requires “changes” that need to go through a lengthy service management approval process, leaving development teams waiting for days something they could have done in seconds.

Therefore, a high trust environment is needed. Empowered teams must be able to make decisions by themselves, without requiring centralised approvals. Low risk decisions can also be pre-defined and pre-approved, so that only the most urgent/risky are taken care by senior management, streamlining the governance process.

Seeing it implemented at the clients I worked with, decentralised decision-making significantly fosters experimentations and innovation. Teams can try new things quickly and test their hypothesis and assumptions without needing top management’s authorisation.

Technology is part of the transformation, culture is pivotal

As in any transformation, technology is an enabler for the shift. Tools are easily implementable; however, governance, processes, and culture in particular, need to change as well. Agile thinking, along with DevOps tools, create a safe, de-risked environment where innovation can flourish. Teams can experiment quickly (and fail/learn fast) without resorting to shadow IT, while management retains a complete view on what is going on within the organisation thanks to reporting features embedded in the tools used.

Author


Andrea Barbesta

Andrea Barbesta

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