This Time it’s Personal

They say emotion has no place in business, but the culture change required for a successful DevOps transformation necessitates a re-evaluation of this old adage. DevOps is not a prescriptive set of processes and tools. It requires a paradigm shift in which previously siloed teams gain an understanding of the benefits of DevOps and of one another’s work and develop a passion that will drive the changes required to work in a more Agile, open, collaborative, incentive-driven, accountable and measurable way to drive service delivery excellence across the entire lifecycle. Organisations with a mature DevOps strategy are deploying code 30 times more frequently than their competitors and getting their code into production 200 times faster[1].  With these significant value-adds in mind, we all need to realise that before we were striving to align the goals of siloed departments to the requirements of the business, whereas now we are bringing people together collaborate, work towards common goals and change their way of thinking and working for good. Change and adaptability need to become the norm. This time it’s personal.

Cultural Characteristics

Culture is hard to pin down and describe so here is a checklist of what comprises a DevOps culture:

  1. Everyone understands why you are changing to a DevOps culture and the benefits for each team and individual including reduced time to market, faster deployment of releases, increased availability, earlier bug detection through test driven development and continuous testing, proper performance and user feedback resulting in a better product that clients love.
  2. A common understanding of the current culture in order to facilitate change more easily. For example, determining if you are a stick or carrot culture – and formulating a DevOps strategy that will eradicate the negative aspects of the existing culture and enable a more Agile and end-product focused way of working.
  3. Empathy, respect and trust between Development, Operations and Testing and across all non-technical teams of the company in regard to understanding one another’s roles, solving problems and delivering a better product.
  4. A dedicated DevOps team comprised of experienced operations people with a mix of skills and experience and the right tools and processes to facilitate continuous delivery and address pain points as individuals with a team mentality and shared goals.
  5. Clearly defined roles within the team but with a collective responsibility that negates a “blame culture”. Development isn’t rewarded for creating code and Operations isn’t blamed when the code doesn’t meet expectations in production. The whole team is accountable and rewarded when the product reaches fruition and is ready for the customer.
  6. Cross-functional team thinking in a DevOps way and cross-skilling to obtain a better understanding of everyone’s roles and a more efficient way of working by arranging resources around specific projects, rather than a more traditional approach of creating a core skillset.
  7. Understanding the problems that your customers are facing and cultivating a genuine passion to combat these issues and provide a better product and customer experience.

Cultural Challenges

The biggest barrier to successful DevOps is a failure to ensure that all your people are on board from the outset and the mistaken belief that your journey is over when you are finally working in a DevOps way. Everyone needs to understand the benefits to themselves and the whole business, while change and adaptability must be fluid and continuous.

Be aware that Operations may be concerned that automation will replace their role, leaving them redundant in the new DevOps culture. They may also worry that a shorter development lifecycle means increased risk. Developers may fear that they need to be available 24/7.  A common cry of resistance may be “that’s not how we usually do it” and a common mistaken belief is often that DevOps cannot be successfully applied to legacy systems in traditional enterprises.

Combating Cultural Challenges

These myths and challenges need to be recognised, discussed and overcome to achieve DevOps success and each success should be celebrated so that everyone knows what success and high performance looks like and is able and willing to replicate it. At Sogeti we advocate the following steps:

  1. Carry out a current state evaluation and assess where you are now compared with where you want to be. Create a clear Roadmap for change to a DevOps culture.
  2. Prioritise automating those things that lend themselves most readily to successful automation and continue to do the rest manually at first, until you have perfected the easy wins. This will help people to realise that automation is not stealing their jobs but rather freeing them up for more important work.
  3. Measure success with quantifiable KPIs that align to the wider business goals and give a clear indication of when DevOps is working for you. For example you could set a goal to reduce deployment by 33% from 12 hours to 4 hours or when testing for defects increase the number of bugs detected from 30% to 60%. These metrics enable you to pinpoint bottlenecks, banish silos and continuously improve. The metrics themselves should be dynamic and subject to change depending on your results and visible to every team member.
  4. Mentor and lead the way to successful DevOps by partnering with a company who has proven expertise and genuine DevOps evangelists who can engage with your executive leaders to help them better understand and disseminate the benefits and goals and create a DevOps vision that everyone can buy into.
  5. Train up existing staff, make new hires and utilise the expertise of your DevOps partner’s employees to scale your teams up and down on a per project basis.
  6. If you want to facilitate continuous improvement and innovation from the outset, consider a fully managed DevOps service at enterprise or program level.

It’s Been Emotional

There’s no doubt that if you are on your way to DevOps success, the journey will not only be about adopting the right processes and tools, it will start with the people, and it will be emotional. This needs to be inspired with the right leadership, passion and proven experience. Whilst DevOps is not simple to achieve, when it is done right, the benefits far outweigh the risks and challenges. This blog has focussed on the cultural and leadership aspects of DevOps but of course there are many other elements required to achieve success. To discover how Sogeti can help you make the change to a successful DevOps culture, take a look at our DevOps Services guide here.


Posted in: communication, Data structure, DevOps, Digital, Digital strategy, Innovation, integration tests, IT strategy, Opinion, Quality Assurance, Rapid Application Development, Research, Software Development, Testing and innovation, Transformation      
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Enhancement, Performance & Speed

As Igor Shoifot, an investment partner with TMT Investments recently told CIOonline “Most hot startups in 2016 won’t be trying to lead revolutions or usher in whole new industries, instead, they’ll be enhancing existing technologies, products, services, or transactional ecosystems by saving users time, money, effort, and helping them make better choices more easily.”

To achieve this level of performance and speed of delivery to meet customer’s changing requirements, startups and SMBs need to supercharge their DevOps strategies. FinTech startups for example, are moving into emerging markets such as Africa and Asia and rapidly creating telecom networks from the ground up, and as there are no legacy systems to circumnavigate, it’s the perfect environment for a DevOps approach.  We tend to think that startups automatically do DevOps well because their culture lends itself to Lean and Agile working, but this is not always the case. Certainly established SMBs with ingrained business processes seeking to capitalise on DevOps benefits such as a shorter release cycle, faster deployment, higher-quality products, and improved market competitiveness, often struggle to fulfill their DevOps potential after initial adoption. So what are the challenges to improving DevOps and how can Startups and SMBs supercharge their DevOps and sharpen up their test strategy to stay ahead of the game?


Good DevOps Bad DevOps

In an ideal DevOps world, you’re treating your infrastructure as code, using a configuration management tool like Chef or our partner SmartBear’s recommendation – Salt – and implementing a scalable strategy that enables version control, continuous integration, code review and automated testing. If DevOps is working effectively, you should be well on your way to eliminating regression and technical debt. In reality however it can be difficult to achieve the cultural change required for DevOps. You may also find the promises of improved communication, streamlined processing, earlier bug detection and faster time to market simply aren’t happening. If your start-up or SMB DevOps strategy is more “BadOps” than DevOps, here are some tips to get it back on track.

Culture & Adoption

Remember that DevOps won’t work if it is only applied in tech teams. It’s a philosophy that needs to be adopted company-wide. Start with a small to medium-sized, new and visible project and ensure you have buy-in from key senior management people who can become evangelists. Ensure that all teams and individuals are working towards clearly defined common goals. Take a leaf out of companies like Target and Movel’s books and host internal DevOps and hack days, create a lab and have demonstrations, breakout sessions and guest speakers to keep people inspired.

Define Performance

Brainstorm with key stakeholders and create your own definition of “Performance”. What does success look like? What is the definition of done? If you’re a startup you’ll want to use behavior-driven development and get your product to market as soon as possible to start seeing a return. SMBs may be more focused on quality through earlier bug detection and scalability for small and large projects. Once you know what you’re aiming for you can establish clear goals and objectives and apply DevOps principles to achieving them.

Banish the Bottlenecks

Review the current workflows for your operational and business units. Examine the business drivers at each DevOps stage and look at your business KPIs. From this you can objectively define how performance should be measured, create key metrics that give you insight into your development and deployment processes and communications and set common goals. Wherever the metrics reveal a bottleneck, streamline your process, build bridges over silos and open up the channels of communication and collaboration.

The Key to DevOps with Quality

The overriding principle to bear in mind is that quality is everybody’s responsibility and then implement the following quality processes:

  • Lifecycle test automation
  • Continuous Test
  • Lean and Agile process adoption
  • Test Virtualization
  • Test Optimization and Standardization
  • Continuous Monitoring
  • Acknowledge the role of Quality Engineer


Not everything is suitable for automation so you need to prioritise what can be automated, start small and then grow your automation strategy to include Build, Functional and Service automation to the highest possible level. This also needs to be continually monitored and adapted accordingly.


The DevOps Journey

It’s important to remember that once you implement your DevOps strategy and start to collaborate and automate in a more standardized and repeatable way, your DevOps journey isn’t over. One only has to look at Facebook to see how, although they have always had a DevOps mindset, it has consistently matured over time resulting in their migration to Chef and bi-weekly app updates, and creating new standards of rapid delivery and quality. The pillars on which DevOps is built are people, processes and tools and, to succeed, these 3 elements have to be dynamic; adapting and changing in alignment with new tech and customer requirements.

To discover how Sogeti can help you create a dynamic DevOps test strategy follow this link.


Posted in: Automation Testing, Collaboration, communication, DevOps, Digital strategy, e-Commerce, Environmental impact, Infrastructure, Innovation, project management, Quality Assurance, Requirements, Research, Software Development, Sogeti customers, Test Driven Development, Testing and innovation      
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