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This post is from the XebiaLabs blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.

Last Updated May 23, 2018 — DevOps Expert

Avoiding the DevOps Culture Clash: 6 Keys to Success


When evaluating how to approach a DevOps transformation, most organizations start with technology.

Selecting, implementing, and using the right tools is obviously a huge part of the DevOps success equation — but it’s only a part. If you overlook the importance of the people and processes involved, your DevOps efforts will flounder and maybe even fail. In fact, without a healthy DevOps culture in place, your tooling may actually hinder your transformation.

To undergo a successful DevOps transformation, enterprises must encompass the entire business, involving people from across the organization, including as many applications as possible, ensuring steady communication among all stakeholders, and using metrics that support people and processes.

Below we take a brief look at the six keys necessary to successfully unlock DevOps culture.

For a more in-depth look at each key, read our new eBook, “Winning at Culture: The Keys to the Successful DevOps Organization.”

1. Get Buy-in from Everyone in the Organization 

Creating a winning DevOps culture involves getting buy-in from the entire organization--including executive management. When guidance comes from the “top,” everyone knows what needs to be done and what is expected of them.

Support from management also sends the message that the necessary resources will be available to get the job done.

2. Leave No Person Behind

Just because the technology is changing doesn’t mean the organization has to change the people who work for it. Instead, organizations should focus on updating skills and knowledge for people like Operations team members and developers on older platforms.

Continuing education allows your staff to grow and change along with the applications and platforms.

3. Communicate What DevOps Changes Mean for Everyone

As you introduce new tools and processes into your software delivery cycle, at least some of your employees will be thinking, “how am I going to do my job in this new world?”

Leadership needs to keep a constant, open channel of communication about changes occurring. Conveying to everyone how their roles will be affected and where their teams will fit will go a long way in quelling fears about job security.


Winning at Culture: The Keys to the Successful DevOps Organization

When many people think about DevOps transformations within an enterprise the first thing that comes to mind is a technology overhaul. It turns out one of the most challenging aspects of a successful DevOps transformation is changing how people work together within the organization. It’s about culture.

4. Use Metrics to Support People and Processes

All aspects of a DevOps transformation, including metrics, should be geared toward improving culture and collaboration.

Most organizations focus on high-level metrics, like deployment speed or whether they’re meeting release deadlines. While these metrics are important, they’re not enough to tell you whether your processes are effective.

It’s important to take the time to understand the dynamics of people’s behaviors and the way processes are carried out within the unique context of your business. From there, you can develop metrics that enable you to “see into” your processes and determine whether your pipeline is optimized to deliver high-quality software.

5. Leave No App Behind

When planning your DevOps transformation, think about the applications that will continue to require time and resources to maintain but are not part of your modernization initiatives. Mainframes are a good example.

Most enterprises use mainframe applications that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Therefore, the mainframes must be paired with modern software delivery methods. Without modern processes for both distributed and mainframe applications, IT can’t move quickly enough to meet business demands.

Bringing mainframe applications and the people who work on them into the DevOps process plays a vital part in building a positive culture.

6. Celebrate Successes in Production

Getting your software all the way through the pipeline and deployed to Production is the point at which your teams can declare a win. Once you get there, be sure to highlight individual contributors and successful teams.

Also share the business context of your wins. Find ways to tell the whole organization the story about the relevance of the transformation to the business and to customers and about all the people who made it possible.

"Tools are essential, but without a healthy DevOps culture in place, tooling will only segregate, frustrate, and negatively impact any type of transformation work you’re trying to accomplish."
Tj Randall, Vice President of Customer Success, XebiaLabs

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