DevOps top 5 tips: Securing management buy-in

In this guest post, Pavan Belagatti, a DevOps influencer working at automation software provider Shippable, shares his top five tips for securing senior management buy-in for your team’s agile ambitions.

With the ever-changing technology landscape and growing market competition, being able to adapt is important to give your organisation a competitive advantage and – ultimately – succeed.

While you might have a flawless product, customer requirements are constantly evolving, and if you don’t listen to what they want, there comes the problem. Instead, they’ll simply find a provider that does.

From waterfall to DevOps

Change is the only constant, and it applies to every organisation. In response, the software industry has evolved from following the waterfall model of software development to adopting DevOps methodologies, where the emphasis is on shorter release cycles, on-going integration, and continuous delivery.

And while there are many successful case studies on how companies are applying DevOps to their software delivery and deployment methods, there are many that are still yet to join the bandwagon.

They may be afraid to change and adapt, but risk seeing their growth stagnate if they are resistant to change. If you are a software engineer in such a company, what can you do to make senior management change their minds?

Here are five steps that you can use to persuade your manager and management to adopt a DevOps mindset.

1.  Offer some wider reading on DevOps

Compile a reading list of articles about corporations that have benefited from adopting DevOps, including industry-specific examples, and links to research reports that detail how organisations that have gone down this route have benefited

2. Solve a small, but meaningful problem with DevOps

Find a place where you think your software development is visibly lacking and try to improve it. If you have demonstrable proof employing agile-like methodologies helped fix it, senior management might be more inclined to start experimenting with it on other projects.

In this vein, try not to talk about abstract stuff (“we need to optimise the release cycle”). Instead, create a process with a continuous integration (CI) tool and show them how it works in practice. For instance, if the CI automatically tests the application for errors on every push, and the release to production has shortened from 2 hours to 15 minutes, make that known.

3. Measure the success

Find a way (beforehand) to measure the effect of your efforts (using KPIs, for example) and perform these measurements. That will guide the organisation’s efforts, and provide concrete evidence to your peers or managers to convince them that DevOps is the way to go.

4. Pinpoint business processes that can be improved with DevOps

Model how they can be enhanced and calculate an ROI based on this input versus the “legacy” way of doing things. You can start implementing some practices and create success first. Once that’s done it should be easier to convince the manager to go further.

5. Set out a strategy for introducing DevOps to your organisation

This should feature concrete suggestions to help you create a small but convincing implementation plan that sets out the benefits of adopting this approach to software development and deployment.

Ask your manager where they think the software project in question is heading and let them know you are keen on pushing the DevOps agenda, alongside carrying out your day-to-day duties. And, prepare a presentation for the rest of the organisation, and share what you think the business has to gain from embracing DevOps.

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Based on my observation, I am seeing the organization struggle with implementing DevOps.  There is a huge digital transformation initiative underway that spills over into every aspect of the organization.   For some it is just a buzzword, for others they are actively working to deliver it.  The opportunity, I see is a centralized strategy around people, process and tools.  The focus today seems to be on the tools.   I am confident tools alone with not get us where we need to be by 2020.   

What is a common sense approach to implementing DevOps in a fortune 500 organization?  
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