Greater than the sum of its parts – why learning is key to DevOps adoption

DevOps, a set of best practices to enable software delivery teams to consistently deliver high quality software at speed, has become an integral part of the modern enterprise. Utilised in industries ranging from automotive and financial, to retail and telecoms, recent research into the state of cloud technology discovered DevOps adoption within enterprise is continuously growing. Figures in 2016 highlight an 8 percent increase on the year prior, to 74 percent.

[easy-tweet tweet=”DevOps has become an integral part of the modern enterprise.” hashtags=”tech, cloud, DevOps”]

The benefits of DevOps are vast, and can be summarised as a means of creating more value for businesses by breaking down barriers and encouraging collaboration between departments to solve problems together. The popularity of DevOps is, however, also its most significant sticking point. The pace of technological innovation has magnified the success of this movement and its definition is often considered in terms of technology adoption alone.

A successful transition to DevOps will not only take technology into consideration, but people and processes too. Processes are at the heart of all enterprises – to minimise disruption during the transition to DevOps, teams must be empowered to respond to change. This requires teams not only identify a need and suggest improvements, but also have the tools to measure and action these new developments on a continual basis.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Successful transition to DevOps will take people and processes into consideration.” hashtags=”cloud, tech, DevOps”]

Learning as a tool to boost DevOps adoption

This idea of continuous learning is borrowed from manufacturing – more specifically, the innovation in process improvement that came from the Toyota factories in the 1980s. As explained by Mike Rother in his book The Toyota Kata (McGraw-Hill Education), an Improvement Kata is a fundamental pattern for improving, adapting and innovating. This is achieved through deliberate practice in daily working, where we are effectively taught how to learn until it becomes second nature.

To successfully implement this approach, however, the following points must be adhered to:

  • Firstly, understand your desired direction – create a shared understanding of what needs to be improved
  • Secondly, grasp the current condition – understand the state of play by describing processes as they really are. Create and measure a set of metrics that define the actual processes and the desired outcomes
  • Thirdly, establish the next target condition. Create a shared understanding of the target state in the near future, perhaps in four weeks’ time. Define the new process and the metrics that validate the process
  • Fourthly, run small experiments to help move the organisation towards the target
  • Finally, repeat this exercise until the improvements become self-evident!

These focussed iterations of incremental change encourage individuals to work in teams to learn about current processes, and to identify and solve problems and inefficiencies.

DevOps is no longer restricted to developers and operations. Instead, we have seen a shift towards educating everyone in the software delivery cycle on continual improvement – teaching teams to solve their own problems and boosting productivity in the process. To see greater industry adoption, addressing DevOps as a holistic enabler across people, process and technology is vital. DevOps continues to solve challenges within businesses, revealing waste and creating more value. Companies are becoming more aware of efficient ways of working; it will take a renewed push for them to realise it is DevOps.

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