Transforming the Organization Using DevOps

As mobile customers become more empowered, businesses are under pressure to produce seamless, innovative mobile experiences. Organizations need to be agile. When you’re working on the mainframe, DevOps is the solution, aligning development and operation roles and processes for higher performance teams working on shared business objectives.

DevOps stresses culture, automation, measurement, and sharing. By removing barriers to delivery and collaboration and being smarter across the delivery cycle, DevOps is able to deliver better IT faster. High-performance IT teams deploy quickly with short lead times, have very few failures, and recover from errors quickly.

How do you transform your organization to a DevOps culture? For starters, there is no one “right” type of culture for DevOps, but characteristics such as open communication, collaboration, flexibility, alignment, respect, and trust are shared among many successful DevOps teams. Other DevOps best practices include shared risk and high cooperation. If operations is called in late at night, development should be called in as well.

In a DevOps culture, failure is typically viewed as a learning experience that leads to inquiry, fostering a culture of transparency and continuous improvement. Blameless post-mortems are essential, allowing team members to give details about their mistakes without fear of punishment or retribution, so they are more enthusiastic about helping the company avoid the same error in the future.

Improving mainframe collaboration and technical flexibility is challenging, and actually changing the culture of your organization may seem daunting as well. Here are some tips from Mark Levy of Serena International, given at last spring’s SHARE in San Antonio, on how to transition smoothly and successfully.

Start Small

No matter how excited you are about DevOps, transforming your company will not happen overnight. A good place to start is identifying specific, measurable, timely goals, like “Reduce deployment times for software from 12 hours to 90 minutes”. Find goals that will support the business, figure out a way to measure them, and make sure your venture helps drive it.

If there is any resistance or hesitation within the company, focus on developing a pilot project to allow you to experiment and smooth out the bumps before broad implementation. Starting small means that you can slowly create a culture of success, as knowledge spreads and employees and managers become more comfortable.

Create a Supportive Team Environment

Gaining executive support is key to a successful DevOps transformation. You may need budget allocation, move employees around, or change people’s workloads. An executive or a prominent team member can cut through red tape and make resources available, so be sure to set the right goals to get them interested and invested. Executives will also be able to help set the tone, modeling enthusiasm for DevOps.

Spread the Word

Once you have a pilot program going, it’s important to spread awareness throughout the organization. Use different venues to internally market the project to your peers. Set up brown bag sessions, formal workshops, or larger talks where you can explain your pilot project and how well it’s working. Collateral such as documents, videos, or graphs also help tell your story. Training is part of sharing: Make sure to train everyone on new tools, workflows, patterns and best practices.

A good rule of thumb: If you feel like you’re talking about the DevOps project too much, you’re probably talking about it just enough.

Click here to watch the full recording of Mark Levy’s session, “Creating High Performance Teams by Using a DevOps Culture” from this past summer’s SHARE in San Antonio event.

Interested in learning more about DevOps culture? Register for the upcoming SHARE San Jose, March 5-10, 2017, where you can attend DevOps sessions such as “DevOps for the Enterprise” or “5 Steps to DevOps”. 

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