Common Mistakes Made When Planning a DevOps Initiative
Hearing about the benefits of a DevOps adoption makes it an appealing prospect, but many make these mistakes that cause them to fail.
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Today, DevOps means many things to many people, just as “The Cloud” did a few years back. As an SME, a DevOps initiative can provide certain advantages to your organization, if implemented thoughtfully and in the right way. What should you think about before initiating DevOps? What are some common mistakes you can avoid by doing that preliminary thinking? Here are four.
Not Defining DevOps
It’s counter-productive to rush into a DevOps program for the wrong reasons, because it’s the latest buzzword, or because all of your competitors or the big players are doing it. The definition of DevOps today can range from a set of tools, to a type of workflow, to continuous delivery, to simply combining the Development and Operations functions of a business. But for you, the best way to define DevOps is to examine precisely what is driving your need to adopt the concept, in terms of what it can contribute to reaching your organization’s overall business goals.
The way to develop that unique definition is to look first externally at the technology environment in which you compete — will DevOps help you be faster, more efficient, more precise, more responsive in that environment in terms of development cycles? Then DevOps, in some form, is for you. If speed is not a huge factor in that realm, then you may want to re-examine your need for DevOps right now.
Next, it’s wise to look internally at your organization to assess whether DevOps is lined up with the objectives of your business, both short term and long term. Where are you in reaching those goals and will DevOps help you get there faster? If merely tweaking your current practices would help you achieve your goals, initiating a DevOps program now may not be the right move.
Proceeding Too Fast
So, you’ve assessed your organization’s internal and external situations and concluded that DevOps, per your specific definition, will help you reach your goals. One huge mistake to avoid is rushing into the DevOps initiative and trying to mimic what large enterprises do by instituting a comprehensive plan. What’s better, as an SME, is to follow a logical series of carefully-timed steps: first getting management buy-in to the concept and any accompanying budget implications initiation would require; defining goals for each phase of the initiation process; addressing the enormous cultural changes that DevOps represents within your organization; and then finally implementing the process changes like automation, continuous deployment, and quality assurance with precise attention to detail.
Neglecting Impact on Culture
Perhaps the biggest mistake an organization can make when implementing DevOps is to disregard how the change will impact the company’s culture. It’s easy to get caught up in the “academics” of DevOps and focus first on what can be a complex process of implementing those changes. But what’s wiser is to first fully examine what those changes will truly mean to employees: DevOps generally represents a melding of two very distinct functional groups with very different skill sets: development folks prefer to operate independently whereas operations personnel tend to be people/client focused. Changing the mindset from one where the two groups operate independently to one where they function smoothly as a collaborative team is truly challenging. Don’t underestimate that, and keep in mind that the transparency described below will help you get there.
Successfully shifting company culture demands that everything involved with the change to DevOps be transparent to all involved. Before the concept is implemented, be clear about who will be affected, how workflows will shift and why, what employee roles and responsibilities will be, and what goals and outcomes are expected. If this transparency is achieved, employees will feel a greater stake in the success of the transition, and be more likely to work hard toward making it happen.
Implementing DevOps may or may not be right for you at this time, as a SME. But with some smart preliminary thinking, you can assess whether it is, and if so, embark on the process while avoiding the common pitfalls described above. Accomplished successfully, a DevOps initiative can lay the groundwork for enhanced competitiveness in the marketplace, achievement of both departmental and overall organizational objectives, and greater growth for your company in the future.
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