Five Things Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know About DevOps

Five Things Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know About DevOps

I know there are many entrepreneurs out there who aren’t funded to the gills. They’re no strangers to making every penny count toward realizing their vision. And if you can relate to this in any way, you’re probably like me— forever working to find ways to maximize efficiency and to deliver more value to your customers.

Whether eliminating waste in your processes or improving the user experience of your website, the entrepreneur is constantly striving to maximize value. Here’s a little secret: The tech world is making some really interesting strides in this effort, and they call it DevOps.

If you’re in the tech industry, you’re probably familiar with the transformation in software development known as DevOps. But, outside of the industry, this concept remains largely under the radar.

For those outside of the tech space, a DevOps style of working can significantly improve performance for businesses in every industry. I’ve previously written about Westpac New Zealand, for example. A bank that’s working toward a DevOps culture and seeing improvement across their entire organization as a result.

How Can DevOps Benefit Your Company?

The concept of DevOps has been around for a while now and several organizations like Puppet and DevOps Research & Assessment (DORA) have been working to understand the true impact of DevOps on business performance. Each year, they release the State of DevOps Report, which showcases the latest research and how DevOps work methods link to business performance outcomes.

The research is compelling and the advantages of adopting DevOps principles are hard to argue with. Some key advantages of adopting DevOps stemming from this year’s State of DevOps Report include:

  • Software deployments that are 200x more frequent than competitors.
  • 24x faster recovery from failures.
  • Significantly higher rates of employee engagement and loyalty.
  • Higher levels of quality and 22% less time spent on unplanned work.
  • Sizable cost savings.
  • 50% less time spent fixing security issues.

While DevOps is a tech-centric concept, it all comes down to removing the label and calling it what it really is: organizations adapting the way they work in order to deliver value to their customers.

Puppet Founder Luke Kanies suggests that DevOps is closely linked to Lean principles. “When thinking about DevOps from a Lean mindset, it’s easy to understand the connection to business process improvement. The amount of time spent on rework, the time to ship (i.e. the time to go from concept to customer adoption), the amount of carried inventory you hold (how much work and investment are tied up in process before you actually see revenue) and recovery time (the time it takes you to right the ship when a failure occurs) are all measures of success.”

How Can Your Organization Adopt DevOps?

So, what do business leaders need to know if they want to move towards a DevOps-style method of working in today’s ultra-competitive landscape? I asked several tech leaders close to the DevOps evolution to share their thoughts.

If you don’t embrace technology, you’re bound to be crushed by it.

Technology is no longer an option in today’s business world. Most people can’t fathom the idea of doing their jobs without the assistance of technology. And this fundamentally changes what software will be able to do in the workplace. Automation of key components help teams stay agile by speeding up development, avoiding human error and minimizing the need to fix problems.

Those organizations that successfully incorporate these ways of working will then be able to reallocate their human resources to other value-add activities that push the organization forward.

Technology and automation are critical, but they are only part of the solution.

While technology and automation are key components in driving new levels of performance, they are not the only factor. Evolving work processes to facilitate the integration of technology and shaping your workplace culture are also fundamental in creating increased value for the customer.

Andi Mann of Splunk, an operational intelligence platform, adds, “If we can help people spend less time on routine work by augmenting them with technology, people can spend more time doing the creative work while also minimizing errors that negatively affect other people further down the chain.”

Business and team definitions of success must align.

“If you ask teams in unsuccessful organizations what they value and how they define success, you will likely get a lot of misalignment in their responses,” Kanies suggests.

In order to drive unity of effort, stakeholders must reshape the way in which they associate their work to the collective definition of success. The days of simply doing your part and ‘tossing the pig over the wall’ for someone else to deal with are over. If we are not successful unless all parts of the system are working, our expectations and behaviors will have to change.

Everyone must have a more global mindset.

To the point above, in order for people within the organization to operate in this way, they must adopt a more global mindset. This requires many organizations to challenge the long-held notion that people are either unable to comprehend the bigger picture or they really don’t care about it. Increasing understanding of how peoples’ roles fit into the bigger picture is critical to help raise awareness.  

Evolving the way work gets done is a culture issue.

If we define organizational culture as “the way work gets done”, then the tools, processes, structure, and behavioral norms all combine to create a cultural system that drives certain values and behaviors. DevOps is about both people and processes and you must address both sides in order to be successful.

Andi Mann adds that, “All business is about people. It’s about how people interact with you and your brand, and DevOps addresses this directly.”

Continuous learning by sharing information is critical to the process.

Steve Brodie, CEO of Electric Cloud, a DevOps release automation company, feels that continuous learning is a key contributor to the success of organizations that have evolved their work methods towards a DevOps methodology. “When you make a transition like this you can’t possibly know everything when you start so you must be willing to learn, experiment, share information, and adapt along the way.”

Anders Wallgren, CTO of Electric Cloud suggests, “Getting all of the right people in the room to map out your end-to-end process—be it your software delivery processes or any other business operation—is critical, so you have a system-level understanding of all the tasks, resources and teams involved, and  are able to identify the major pain points or waste along your process. Otherwise, people are only seeing their piece of the issue.”

Closing Thoughts

“The real question is; how do you teach a culture to value agility?” says Luke Kanies. “How do you get everyone to agree that success in their individual role is contingent on the success of the organization as a whole?”

Like it or not, technology plays a role in your success as an entrepreneur and business owner. Even if you aren’t in the tech industry, there are some valuable lessons to be learned from the DevOps movement as it continues to redefine the relationship between technology and culture.

Chris Cancialosi, Ph.D., is a Partner and Founder at gothamCulture. This article originally appeared on Forbes.