4 bonuses of building a DevOps culture

Building a DevOps culture, with a focus on continuous improvement, takes hard work. But your organization will reap positive side effects - from accountability to talent retention
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DevOps is one of the most powerful concepts in the digital world. If deployed properly, it can dramatically change the way your organization’s IT operates for the better – a change that has been getting attention from the C-suite. Adopting DevOps practices helps teams at companies of various sizes work more efficiently, with a focus on speed, metrics, and continuous improvement at the core.

One of the biggest pitfalls discovered by early DevOps adopters was the idea of excessively focusing on the technology part of the equation. Though setting up the right toolset reduces friction between development and operations teams, we know that DevOps takes more than just tools. It requires rethinking silos, creating a value stream mindset, customer-centricity, and a cross-pollination/continuous improvement strategy. The cultural component of a DevOps implementation is extremely relevant to a successful deployment – and it's a lot of work.

[ Some common DevOps wisdom falls flat. Read 7 pieces of contrarian DevOps advice. ]

The good news is there are many positive side effects for companies that invest in their DevOps culture. Consider these benefits:

1. You’ll be more innovative

DevOps provides all the building blocks for innovation. Having helped many companies through their DevOps journey, we’ve learned that they ultimately become more innovative. In our experience, we found that the new culture helps to foster an experimentation mindset. Moving things to production more often allows your company to test new ideas faster and more effectively.

This process is very similar to the one used to transform bold ideas in a set of hypotheses that should be quickly validated.

Any company that deploys code several times a day understands the importance of breaking down big user stories into small, manageable pieces. This process is very similar to the one used to transform bold ideas in a set of hypotheses that should be quickly validated. Each hypothesis can be developed and deployed for a subset of your customer base. The collected metrics will help define the best next step.

2. You’ll boost efficiency

Improving efficiency affects not only productivity but also budget management. Whenever you move big batches of software to production, you are more prone to bugs, infrastructure disruption, and recurring issues, due to lack of early feedback. We call the sum of hours designated to fix this kind of situation “rework.” 

When you automate the whole deployment process and create a culture to move code to production many times a day, you will most likely reduce your rework. Therefore, instead of constantly having to put out fires, your team will spend more time implementing and testing ideas.

3. Teams will be more accountable

DevOps is a term originally coined to express the desire to connect the development and operations teams. Some cloud-native/modern companies are raising the bar in this sense. In order to optimize the connection between teams, they are blending the teams into a single one. Often times, members from the business side are also part of it.

This means that the team is responsible for understanding the business goals, translating these into digital features, coding, deploying to production, monitoring, and assuring that everything is running smoothly. Everybody shares the same goal and is responsible for the business impact of the value stream. They are all accountable for the final result.

[ Who’s holding up your DevOps success? Read also: DevOps for doubters: How to deal with 9 kinds of people who push back. ]

4. You’ll keep your best talent - and attract more rock stars

DevOps is good for developer experience. Engineers love to code and see the result of their work in production. They don’t like bureaucracy, long meetings with a lot of people, change advisory boards (CABs,) or any of the like. It’s frustrating for them to see their work sitting in a code repository or in UAT environments.

Instead, they are motivated by moving things to production and seeing the actual impact of their work. On top of this, they like to work with a modern technology stack, use software engineering best practices, and build their reputation. A DevOps culture will naturally bring more satisfaction to your engineering teams and make your company more attractive to the development community.

Will you survive – or thrive?

DevOps is about automation and speed. The cultural aspect of it, therefore, involves rethinking the design of your digital teams in order to remove bottlenecks and improve continuously. At first, it may be an intimidating process to go through.

But at the end of the day, becoming more efficient is good for the company and the employees. Innovation, accountability, and better employee experience are some positive side effects of this journey. The most important one, though, is being able to thrive - or even survive - in this insanely competitive digital arena.

[ Are you leading through culture change? Read also: Teaching an elephant to dance - a free e-book on the six stages of transformation. ]

Daniel is CTO at CI&T and has been delivering digital products for global enterprise companies for more than 18 years. He is responsible for client-facing engineering teams that are driving business impact for clients such as AB InBev, Banco Itau (the 7th largest bank in the world), Coca-Cola, Google, and Johnson & Johnson.