7 min read
Feb 27, 2020
IT Project Management

Prevent DevOps Failure by Avoiding These 5 Mistakes

You're setting yourself up for DevOps failure if you don't avoid these mistakes.

Ankita SinghSpecialist Analyst

Let's say you're an IT project manager. Your company is looking forward to deploying DevOps, but stakeholders are concerned about the initiative's success.

They know that efficient DevOps promises faster, accurate, and smoother software delivery, which positively impacts customer satisfaction and boosts business growth. But all this is possible only if DevOps is implemented and managed successfully.

Gartner predicts that 90% of DevOps initiatives through 2023 will fall short of expectations because of the limitations of management approaches adopted by leadership rather than because of technical reasons (full research available to Gartner clients).

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5 common mistakes that can lead to DevOps failure

To help you and your company successfully implement and manage DevOps, we've curated a list of common mistakes you need to avoid and paired them with tips for what you need to do instead to avoid DevOps failure.

1. Not conveying the need behind DevOps deployment

Often, businesses fail to communicate the real intent of DevOps deployment to their teams—which is to create value for the customer, faster. As a result, team members remain disconnected from the purpose of the project and are unable to provide complete and committed support to the DevOps initiative.

To ensure this doesn't happen to your team, follow these five DevOps rollout steps:

  1. Obtain a base understanding of your customer, their needs, and what they value.

  2. Evaluate your current business offerings and processes. Draw up a DevOps-driven improvement plan that will increase the value you provide to customers.

  3. Clearly communicate the impact of implementing DevOps to your team. Make sure they understand how the implementation will affect both overall business revenue and customer satisfaction.

  4. Clearly define your team's roles and responsibilities and your expectations in terms of a time frame for final delivery and releases.

  5. Ensure that your subsequent marketing efforts are consistent, clear, and pervasive. This will keep your team connected to the purpose of the change and your customers interested.

2. Not managing organizational change that comes with DevOps

Organizations need to acknowledge that DevOps success is not limited to having the right tools. For DevOps success, team members must have a change mindset and collaborative approach, and leaders must manage the change before, during, and after implementation.

Ask your team questions about their work style, preferences, and past experiences, and use their answers to guide implementation.

Here are a few sample questions to help you get started:

  • Do you prefer working on a team, or as an individual contributor?

  • Do you look for/prefer constant external motivation, or are you self-motivated?

  • Generally, how do you respond to change? Do you hit the ground running and ask questions as you go, or do you need some time to ask questions and fully understand before getting started?

  • Do you have any past experience with DevOps, or being a member of a DevOps team?

3. Not ensuring and encouraging collaboration

Collaboration between stakeholders is the backbone of DevOps. Ensure that your team members are collaborative, in addition to being technically sound. Your team must understand the importance of collaboration, and you must empower them to communicate effectively and smoothly.

Here are six communication and collaboration tips:

  1. Clearly communicate to your team (both one-on-one and in company-wide meetings) that collaboration is the only way forward.

  2. Provide easy-to-use collaboration tools to help your team members break down silos. Explore other solutions such as file-sharing tools, chat tools, and a social intranet.

  3. Ensure that your team members understand both their individual responsibilities and team goals.

  4. Establish rules for effective communication. Make sure your team doesn't spend time focused on delays or failures; their communication focus must always be on finding solutions and learning.

  5. Appoint a champion of the cause. Train this person in the DevOps process so they become the go-to person for your team, and facilitate smoother collaboration and workflow.

  6. Meet with your team frequently to understand anything preventing effective collaboration and communication.

4. Not adopting an iterative approach

DevOps entails huge workflow changes. It's important that these changes are iterative, or else you risk overwhelming employees and making them feel burnt out with changes coming too fast to handle.

Follow these four guidelines to manage and support an iterative approach in your DevOps projects:

  1. Pick a small project and create a small team as a pilot. Train them on all necessary tools and change management.

  2. Focus on continual improvements and sustainable organizational change instead of taking a single-day approach where you change all processes at once.

  3. Establish a learning mechanism from each iteration. Improve and course-correct processes along the way based on employee and customer feedback.

  4. Discuss customer value generated by each iteration to identify successes and maintain support for future steps/changes.

5. Not defining and managing expectations about DevOps initiatives

Set expectations at the outset. Make sure your team knows what to expect from your DevOps initiative and how improvements are going to be made. This can prevent inflated expectations, disengagement, or frustration about demands in challenging circumstances.

Follow these four steps to manage expectations:

  1. Document related business goals set for your team by company leadership.

  2. Ensure that your documented goals are widely available for consistent, ongoing reference.

  3. Meet with all core team members to ensure they understand individual expectations and how they tie into the larger business goals.

  4. Set metrics to demonstrate the progress of your DevOps initiative. Track things like cycle time, downtime, negative customer reviews, customer satisfaction, risk management, overall project delivery, etc.

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