Scaling DevOps? Don’t Overlook These Fundamental Steps

DevOps is a powerful methodology that drives continuous improvement. But for many agencies, implementing DevOps means a radical shift in how development and operations teams work together.

Atlassian Scaling DevOps Blog 2

Because DevOps changes how people work, agencies should be cautious about forcing teams into rigid, predetermined patterns. Instead, the best way to introduce and scale DevOps is to acknowledge upfront that there will be challenges.

DevOps isn’t a single approach to software development and operations. It’s a philosophy and framework that can be molded to fit the needs of an agency’s team and its culture.

The transformation to a DevOps environment is different for every agency. Nonetheless, there are steps that every agency thinking about DevOps will benefit from taking:

Know How Your Teams Work Now

Agency leaders can overestimate the role of technology tools. Sure, technology exists to support DevOps environments, but simply having the technology doesn’t guarantee success. That’s because the top barrier to DevOps adoption isn’t technology. It’s people.

The first step to a successful transformation is to know your people. Find out how your teams work now. Document the process and people involved. Understand what isn’t working in your software development process, so you’re clear about what a DevOps approach is meant to fix.

From there you’ll clearer picture of what it means to transform your organization. You might even find that what you thought was broken works quite well. And what you thought was working has room for improvement.

And finally, you’ll have a better sense of which technology tools will help support your transformation and how.

Build on your Peers’ Success

Many agencies have successfully implemented DevOps. They underwent the transformation and, through trial and error, discovered what works and what doesn’t.

An agency new to DevOps should learn from its peers. Take time to arm yourself with examples of teams that are executing DevOps with success. Preferably, the models you choose will have similar org charts, capabilities and resources.

This doesn’t mean you should cut-and-paste another organization’s plan. Despite similarities, no two agencies or missions are the same. The key is to gather ideas and use them to inform your transformational journey.

Start Small, Then Scale

Instead of a single transformation that happens all at once, imagine your journey as a series of smaller transformations that build and grow and scale over time.

The goal of DevOps is early, frequent and ongoing collaboration among software developers, project managers, knowledge managers and other stakeholders. Getting everyone on the same page doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, your agency might start by getting the operations team involved in the release process. Or you give the development team visibility into the process for responding to outages, so they can see the pain that operations has on a daily basis.

Either way, the point is to incrementally evolve your culture in a way that it accommodates continuous collaboration.

The opportunity to develop policies and tools for collaboration is another benefit to starting small. It gives teams time to experience the benefits of DevOps methodologies and toolsets before scaling. When something works successfully on a small scale, it can be made available for use across your agency.

Customize Your Experience

DevOps isn’t standard or a set of rules. It’s a mindset that allows agencies to solve critical problems by working differently. The problems that need solving vary from agency to agency, so there can be no one-size-fits-all approach. The real key to success is adapting and applying the principles of DevOps to your agency’s particular circumstances.

Download our Guide to DevOps in Government Today, a whitepaper from GovLoop and Carahsoft, for more tips on mapping your agency’s DevOps journey.>

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