DevOps: 3 steps to plan and execute a successful project

Diligent preparation, clearly defined workflows, and watchful monitoring are key to delivering a high-performing DevOps project, says Szymon Piasecki, head of DevOps at STX Next
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While DevOps isn’t a new phrase or idea to anyone in the tech industry, it has become a buzzword in recent years. Such is its popularity that it is now crucial to understand how best to structure and deploy a DevOps team, and there are several different views and methodologies on this.

In layman’s terms, DevOps is the integration of developers and IT operations workers into a single group, with the shared objective of enhancing the speed and quality of software deployment. It was first created as a response to concerns over how teams were segregated and how this often led to communication breakdowns and a lack of cohesion.

Since the term was first coined in 1993, DevOps has only grown in popularity. 83% of IT decision-makers in 2021 stated that they have implemented this work style in some form.

Transitioning business focus in this way does not guarantee an immediate change in fortunes; however, this dynamic represents an IT culture shift, with increased emphasis on collaboration and interpersonal skills. For this model to work long-term, engineers should be open to this new way of working.

So, what vital steps must a DevOps team take to ensure the successful delivery of a project?

1. Understanding the brief

The preliminary stages of a DevOps project are crucial. Without clear direction and a shared understanding across the team, the initiative is doomed to failure.

[ Also read How to establish a DevOps culture: 7 tips. ]

The team and the client must therefore be willing to dedicate the time necessary to understand each other’s goals and ensure their visions align. This can be done through meetings and workshops, where participants identify objectives and team members establish a clear goal for how the final product should look.

When executed correctly, the DevOps team will exit the project’s first phase with a well-defined brief and a clear understanding of the client’s goals. If this step is rushed, engineers will be hindered by a lack of direction, increasing the likelihood that the finished product will not meet the client’s requirements.

2. Development

Phase two is when the development of the app begins. This is usually facilitated by using a cloud-based solution, where the team begins preparing the environment’s aesthetic, working out the components it should contain, and understanding how they should be configured to maximize efficiency.

The best DevOps teams are agile and multi-skilled, with members who can easily adapt to a new role or assist in various areas.

During this period, the team must ensure that the app's final version is as secure as possible. For this reason, the DevOps team needs diverse skill sets, including at least one cybersecurity expert.

A successful developmental phase is characterized by clearly structured workflows in which the project is mapped out, step by step. All team members should understand where they fit into the plan and how they can contribute.

[ Ready to advance your DevSecOps journey? Download A guide to implementing DevSecOps. ]

It’s important to remember that DevOps projects rarely sail from start to finish – development is often hampered by missed deadlines, bugs, and conflicting duties that pull engineers away from their responsibilities. For this reason, the best teams are agile and multi-skilled, with members who can easily adapt to a new role or assist in various areas. This agility is extremely important for ensuring continuity when workflows are disrupted.

3. Testing, monitoring, and improving

Once a product goes live, the work enters a crucial new stage. The best DevOps teams never rest on their laurels upon completion of the developmental phase. Developers must carefully monitor the app in its early stages so any bugs can be identified and immediately rectified.

Engineers should be in place to monitor the environment, including how it is affected and how it responds to varying rates of new users. The data obtained is a valuable resource and should be treated as such, with teams ordering and labeling results as soon as they are collected.

Once the baseline data has been gathered, the team should analyze the results to identify which parts of the app may need recalibrating or redesigning. After this, the final result should be a product that performs optimally and meets the client’s specifications.

Preparing for success

DevOps teams that follow the steps described above should have absolute confidence that their project is on the right path and set for success.

Designing a well-made product is much easier when your team includes specialists from various disciplines who are enthusiastic about collaboration and communication. Having the right team will also ease the transition between each stage of a DevOps project and ensure that the client is satisfied.

[ Need to explain key Agile and DevOps terms to others? Get our cheat sheet: DevOps Glossary. ]

szymon_piasecki_STX next
Szymon is Head of DevOps at STX Next and has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry. He leads teams at the largest software house in Europe, specializing in designing and creating digital solutions in the Python programming language.