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Why should DevOps adoption be a key part of your digital transformation strategy and how do you build a business case for it in your organization?

I recently read Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, a book by James Clear. In it, he states, “Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.” This made me think about DevOps, the systems used in IT organizations, and how they contribute toward overall business goals. 

In the pre-digital era, the majority of enterprise  IT organizations existed as a cost center. Their goal was to securely provide services that met the needs of the business – assuming a supporting role rather than a key strategic role in meeting business objectives.

Traditional waterfall  IT operating models, used during this era, relied on plan-driven, linear processes. Phases of software development would be scheduled, documented in detail, and be handled by siloed teams. The systems would move slowly and precisely toward specific ends.

In the digital era, however, the goals of many enterprises have changed. In a time where established enterprises must be able to rapidly and continuously transform and adapt to nimble digital-first competitors, many businesses are turning to their IT organization to take a more prominent role in driving value.

With the systems relied upon in the pre-digital era lacking the flexibility to keep pace with today’s fast-moving world, many IT organizations have turned to Agile methodologies (read Agile manifesto here) to deliver software. These methods are based on principles of continuous improvement, iterative delivery, transparency, and developer empowerment.

This shift to more customer-focused systems, which place emphasis on collaboration and frequent software releases to ensure flexibility and adaptability, have informed and shaped the practice we know as DevOps, which aims to further enhance the software delivery process and improve velocity toward business goals.

In summary: if enterprises want to progress in the digital era they need to be more agile, innovative, and responsive to their market. This is why DevOps process needs to be a key part of their digital strategy.

Adopting DevOps yields far-reaching business benefits

A common assumption is that DevOps is all about technology. However,  the massive cultural shift involved in its adoption impacts the entire enterprise – extending across development, operations, and lines of business teams – and even to customers and other external stakeholders.

Improved collaboration is the most significant cultural benefit that DevOps can bring to your entire business. Due to the inherent and iterative approach to developing, launching, operating, and upgrading applications, a DevOps methodology helps unite teams to work towards common goals, often resulting in happier, more engaged employees. Higher levels of collaboration also support end-to-end responsibility for outcomes and present new cross-skilling opportunities.

Automation, a key element of DevOps, improves the efficiency and overall quality of application development, including:

  • Shorter development cycles and increased velocity of releases
  • Improved defect detection
  • Reduced deployment failures and recovery times
  • Lower costs associated with software design, testing and deployment

This helps to bring about a renewed customer focus and to more rapidly satisfy customer requirements.

DevOps fosters an innovative mindset – enterprise-wide. Yes, there are cost efficiency benefits but it mainly contributes to the ease and speed with which your organization can scale, adapt to change, take advantage of market opportunities and launch new products and services to customers and employees.

Building a business case for DevOps adoption? You need answers to these questions

If you’re considering adopting DevOps, use these questions as a starting point for building your business case:

Cultural Considerations
  • Do you have executive support and sponsorship to make sweeping cultural change – that is, eliminate silos, endorse collaboration and share responsibilities?
  • Are you willing to implement automation on a broad scale?
  • Can you view failure as a learning experience and embrace continuous improvement?
  • Can you become (more of) a customer-centric organization?
Current State of Applications
  • What value do your applications deliver? Can you quantify that value – for example, how much revenue do they generate?
  • How much time and effort – in numbers – do you spend fixing errors?
  • How long does it take to deliver new features?
  • How many disruptions or outages have your applications experienced in the last year? What does that mean in terms of revenue loss?
Ability to Innovate
  • How fast are your competitors innovating? Must you be able to keep pace – or outpace them – in order to grow your business?
  • What is the cost of continuing with business as usual and not moving to a DevOps model?
  • How could you optimize and increase your delivery capacity by moving to a DevOps model?
  • What extra capabilities could you gain by implementing automation into your delivery stream?
Customer Impact
  • How often do customers experience downtime on your site?
  • Have you experienced lost revenue or lost customers due to downtime or disruptions?
  • Do features inadequately fulfill customer needs? Are features underutilized?

While implementing DevOps requires significant effort and willingness to change the way you do things, there are big payoffs (read our tips for accelerating DevOps adoption). That brings me to one last thought from James Clear’s book… “A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems.”

Want to learn more about how Cloudreach can help your organization adopt DevOps so that you can reap the full benefits of public cloud? Discover how our new DevOps-as-a-Service offering provides support across architecture, development, and operations to help enable simple and scalable cloud transformation in your organization.