Four Don’ts When Scaling DevOps for Digital Transformation
June 26, 2020 | by Anjana Ramesh | Posted In DevOps
The global DevOps market is growing bigger as many organizations invest their efforts in scaling DevOps across the teams. According to a report by Statista, there was a 7% increase in the number of organizations that embraced DevOps for all the teams (17%) when compared to the previous year (10%). While it is important to scale DevOps across the entire organization, there are several roadblocks that make it an uphill battle. To succeed in scaling your DevOps practices, understanding the don’ts of it is more important than knowing the dos. In this blog, we discuss the four key don’ts to keep in mind when scaling DevOps:
Don’t impose the new practices on your employees
Any new initiative cannot become successful without employee buy-in. When you try to impose new practices on your employees without articulating why they should adopt them, it will only result in stronger employee resistance. Gartner predicts that through 2022, 75% of DevOps initiatives will fail to meet expectations due to issues around organizational learning and change.
Therefore, it is critical to incorporate an effective change management strategy as a part of scaling DevOps. You need to educate your employees on how adopting DevOps practices can make their work better and simpler. You can even go the extra mile to establish a program that simulates the experience of working in a DevOps environment.
The ultimate goal of this program is to make the employees learn what it feels like to work differently and also equip them with a bunch of actionable insights which they can apply to their work and observe the results. The positive impact of the program can most likely create a mindset shift that will foster the adoption of new DevOps practices. For instance, a reduction in the number of rolled-back releases or the number of reported bugs gives them a compelling reason to embrace DevOps.
A gradual and intrinsic change in the mindset of the employees yields better results than thrusting a practice upon them. Hence, getting your staff on board with the upcoming change is a prerequisite for the successful scaling of DevOps.
Don’t take a big-bang approach
Most often, DevOps initiatives fail as organizations rush headlong into a big-bang approach for scaling DevOps. However, such an approach comes with a huge risk of failure. When you try to do everything at a stroke, you will end up executing it in a haphazard manner, making the initiative a debacle. Simply put, it is like biting off more than you can chew.
Therefore, It is essential to realize that DevOps has too many variables such as people, processes, culture, tools, etc. for a big-bang method to be successful in a large IT organization. The optimal way to scale DevOps is to start small and employ an incremental and iterative approach that enables the organization to get a good grasp of the importance of DevOps.
For example, you can create a group on Slack or any collaboration platform that you use, to promulgate the value of DevOps within the organization and bolster the credibility of the initiative. To start, you can discuss how automating your CI/CD pipeline increased the frequency of releases or reduced the deployment time. You can also write a blog on your wins and share it with the rest of the organization.
Such pragmatic approaches can help you make a case for why your teams should adopt DevOps to make their work better and easier. However, to track the success of DevOps, you should first have a process in place to measure the various metrics of your DevOps initiatives that can prove how worthwhile your efforts have been.
Don’t overlook the importance of having the necessary skills
Expertise is a huge challenge in scaling DevOps as it catches teams off guard once the DevOps adoption curve spikes. Organizations that scale DevOps must realize that it takes significant time for employees to get acquainted with new methodologies and practices and develop expertise in the tools and technologies involved. Typically, organizations presume that the teams can acquire the essential skills on an ad-hoc basis. However, given the complexity of the tools and technologies involved, self-learning may not augur well for your goals.
One approach to reskilling your employees is to establish a DevOps training program that helps them become familiar with the various tools, methodologies, and technologies that are pivotal to DevOps. For example, when FedEx realized that it did not have adequate DevOps skills in its talent pool of engineers, it undertook an initiative to reskill more than 25,000 programmers with the help of a training program called FedEx Cloud Dojo led by its CIO.
You can even contemplate hiring new, adept talents who have remarkable expertise in DevOps. Nevertheless, spotting the right talent is a monumental task. Even if you meet the right talent, most of them might be expensive to hire and retain. Hence, it is always better to reskill your existing employees who, at least, do not have to start everything from scratch, unlike a new hire.
Furthermore, the “expertise” factor should also be taken into consideration when you choose a DevOps solution for your organization. After all is said and done, not everybody in your organization can become DevOps experts. Therefore, it is extremely important to choose solutions that don’t force a homogenous experience for all users but allow for some users to be experts in DevOps tools and practices while letting others simply benefit from the automation, without being required to understand the know-how of the tools.
Don’t set unrealistic expectations
Setting unrealistic expectations or goals can lead to surprising gotchas that result in employee dissatisfaction. In many organizations, there is always a disconnect between expectations for DevOps and what it can actually deliver. Hence, it is important to delineate what results your DevOps initiatives can potentially yield.
For example, the goal of the top management is to reduce operational overhead with the help of DevOps practices. Nevertheless, it is vital to articulate that scaling DevOps cannot result in cost savings immediately. The goal of DevOps is to accelerate quality software delivery with the help of automation. By doing this at scale, the benefits to the broader business are remarkable as organizations are able to better serve their customers and compete more effectively in the market. As you hone your DevOps practices, it will eventually lead to cost reduction. The more refined your practices are, the higher can be your cost savings.
The best way to manage expectations is to set definitive objectives and metrics, gain consensus from the key stakeholders, and ensure that it is communicated to all the employees. Also, it is important to remember that managing expectations and meeting them takes continuous efforts and is not a one-off activity.
To conclude, scaling DevOps is not a straightforward endeavor that can be wrapped up overnight. It requires you to understand the practical challenges that you will encounter as you get started. By taking into account the points discussed above, your scaling efforts are more likely to become successful rather than remaining a far-fetched goal.
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