How to create the right DevOps culture in your organisation
DevOps is a cultural shift. It’s not a matter of simply adopting agile planning or continuous delivery, although those practices are certainly important. Creating a DevOps culture in your organisation is about having shared understanding, communication and collaboration between software engineers and operations, and sharing responsibility for the software they build.
Creating such an environment is a challenge. It requires assessing and realigning how people think about their teams, the business, and the customers. People don’t often welcome change, but it is doable by following these four steps to developing a strong and effective DevOps culture in your organisation.
1. Get leadership on board
Ensuring you have management buy-in is the first step. Without it everything else will fail. Bringing DevOps into your organisation involves cultural changes that are usually more difficult for management to adapt to than staff. Taking a DevOps approach requires being comfortable working more transparently and requires management to be comfortable with seeing certain team failures as growth opportunities. A top-down approach to initiating a DevOps culture is the ideal way to ensure that teams experience smooth integration.
2. Start simple
As with adopting any new practices, it’s important not to overwhelm teams with sudden, unmanageable changes. Explore the DevOps process with a viable pilot project and constantly field feedback from team members along the way. This will allow you to encourage collaboration between teams and introduce reliable measurements to frequently improve before rolling it out to bigger projects.
3. Use DevOps to create a culture of growth
Implementing a DevOps culture is an opportunity to grow team members, expand skillsets and expand responsibilities. Ensuring end-to-end responsibility for products is essential in an integrated team environment. This will allow software engineers to not just do repetitive coding, but to take more accountability for the whole solution including infrastructure, support and tooling.
4. Break down silos
Encourage forming horizontal connections in your company to break down silos, and increase transparency, communication and collaboration across teams. Discussions between teams lead to valuable insights and inputs into the development process, allowing teams to avoid certain issues and inefficiencies right from the get-go. Great software is built by great teams, which are built on great relationships. It drives down response times and pushes sprint velocity (and talent retention) up.
Teams who get DevOps right have done so on the back of a strong, reliable culture, driving them to take accountability and ownership of the end product. This culture has to be supported by managers who are willing to learn alongside their teams. Software Engineers should feel comfortable to reach outside of the “develop” step of the SDLC and across into other areas like design, testing, configuration, infrastructure and deployment. Mixing these roles and responsibilities promotes the shared accountability that a successful DevOps culture requires.