The State of DevOps: Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Culture

Author

Chris Cancialosi

July 13, 2016

Imagine your business perfecting a method of working that allows you to enhance your performance exponentially faster than your competitors. One that helps keep your talent informed, engaged, and helps foster an open, collaborative culture that drives significant performance gains.

In tech this isn’t a dream, it’s happening via DevOps, the most recent evolution of working, and it’s something that the industry has increasingly been moving toward over the last few years.

Each year, the preeminent researchers in DevOps ban together to help increase the collective knowledge, culminating in the Annual State of DevOps Report -  a report that shares best practices and lessons learned that even leaders outside of the tech world should be paying attention to.

The 2016 report was launched just a few weeks ago by Puppet Labs and the DevOps Research and Assessment group (DORA). This is the fifth annual summary of their survey research findings, which studied feedback from more than 25,000 technical professionals globally over the last five years.

For those readers who are not intimately familiar with the term DevOps, think of it as the tech industry’s version of evolving the way in which firms produce applications and keep them up and running so you can access them 24/7.

By fostering an environment of teamwork and collaboration, companies can significantly increase their development velocity—the speed at which they update their software and fix performance issues that arise. Instead of deploying software updates every few weeks or months like was the norm only several years ago, tech firms who are evolving to a DevOps methodology are able to deploy new functionality at lightning speed; some companies are deploying hundreds of updates per day.

That velocity, unsurprisingly, is a significant competitive advantage for those that can make the leap to the DevOps way of working and its quickly going to become the new normal in the industry.

The DevOps Competitive Advantage

At its core, DevOps breaks down historical silos between functions in an effort to engage the right people throughout the process. And it works. The State of DevOps report goes into great detail, comparing the performance difference between firms that successfully deploy DevOps principles and those that do not.

For example, companies who have successfully adopted DevOps have:

  • Software deployments that are 200x more frequent than their competitors.
  • 24x faster recovery from failures.
  • Significantly higher rates of employee loyalty.
  • Higher levels of quality and reduced time and effort spent on unplanned work trying to fix issues.

And this is just scratching the surface.

If your business is reliant on your technical infrastructure (and, let’s face it—most of us are), any downtime can have a massive impact on your bottom line. Not to mention the sudden loss of credibility you generate with your customers.

But software firms that are able to rapidly find and address these issues are able to spend their time on value-added activities rather than reacting to problems, putting them that much further ahead of the competition.

An added benefit? According to this year’s report, “DevOps practices also improve organizational culture and enhance employee engagement.”

DevOps Culture and Organizational Performance

While the primary focus of DevOps is to increase the velocity of software development, successfully deploying DevOps has as much to do with people as it does technology.

I’ve previously cited Ian Head, Research Director at Gartner, who estimated that “by 2018, 90% of I&O organizations attempting to use DevOps without specifically addressing their culture foundations will fail.” Up until recently, organizational culture was acknowledged in DevOps discussions, but the focus was more on the technical aspects of the philosophy rather than the cultural aspects.

As I was reading the 2016 State of DevOps report, it’s clear the industry is experiencing a shift in thinking. “In short, we confirmed that there’s a lot more to IT performance than technical practices. In order to create sustained high performance, organizations need to invest just as much in their people and processes as they do in their technology.”

If DevOps promotes employee collaboration and empowerment, we can identify a clear link between this way of working and bottom line results.

In terms of employee engagement, for example, this report uncovered some significant data. “Employees in high-performing teams were 2.2 times more likely to recommend their organization to a friend as a great place to work, and 1.8 times more likely to recommend their team to a friend as a great working environment.”

The report goes on to explain, “when employees see the connection between the work they do and its positive impact on customers, they identify more strongly with the company’s purpose, which leads to better IT and organizational performance.”

Considering that research has shown increased employee engagement leads to improved financial outcomes, these are incredibly powerful findings.

DevOps, Grown Up

I’ve been fascinated by DevOps since I first learned about it last fall. Even in that short amount of time, it’s clear the conversation around DevOps has grown and matured.

The State of DevOps Report concludes by declaring, “DevOps is no longer a mere fad or buzzword, but an understood set of practices and cultural patterns. People turn to DevOps not just to improve daily working life and get time back for family, friends and beer, but to improve their organization’s performance, revenues, profitability and other measurable outcomes.”

The report adds a significant amount of data to this ongoing conversation, and clearly illustrates just how important this new way of working can be to an organization’s people, performance, and competitive advantage in today’s rapidly changing tech landscape.

The research and lessons that the tech industry is producing in this area is not just important for industry insiders, but for business leaders in general. Understanding where and how your team may increase the speed and quality with which your goods and services are delivered by evolving how people work together is something everyone should be exploring, regardless of the widgets coming off of your proverbial assembly line.

Chris Cancialosi, Ph.D., is a Partner and Founder at gothamCulture.

 

This article was written by Chris Cancialosi from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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