DevOps Capability Assessments: Here's Why They're Important
March 17, 2021

Jayne Groll
DevOps Institute

Enterprise teams need an accurate gauge on DevOps capabilities in order to improve organizational performance. However, for teams or the enterprise to fully understand their capabilities, they need to know their baseline DevOps state.

Assessments of DevOps Capabilities allow teams and organizations to self-assess their current capabilities, measure and accelerate continuous improvement as the DevOps journey moves forward. A DevOps Capability Assessment is critically important for any organization implementing DevOps practices.

Several DevOps Institute Ambassadors — leaders in the DevOps community who are dedicated to advancing the human elements of DevOps — recently contributed their insights into why DevOps Capability Assessments are important. Here's what they had to say:

Helen Beal
Ambassador from Chichester, England

"Peter Drucker was reputed to say: "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." I think you can, but how would you ever know? It's a bit like that old adage about that tree falling in the forest without being seen. DevOps transformations, and those that know me, know I much prefer the word ‘evolutions', are big business. The whole world wants to thrive, not survive or die, and it's universally acknowledged that in order to do so, organizations have to be better and faster in delivering outcomes powered by software technologies. But changing these ways of working is incredibly complex, involving culture, organizational design, leadership behaviours, distributed authority and autonomous, multi-functional teams, development and testing practices, CICD, IaC, ChatOps, AIOps, observability and telemetry, SRE, DevSecOps, cloud-native, microservices and APIs, value stream management — an endless, ever-growing list of moving parts. It's essential then, for people and teams to be able to work out where they are, where they want to go, what they need to do to get there and what to do next when they get there. This is what a DevOps Capability Assessment does. It shows us when that tree falls in the forest."

Marc Hornbeek, DevOps_the_Gray esq.
DevOps Institute Ambassador from Mexico

"Assessments are a required and critical step in the DevOps transformation process. Assessments embody the data, expertise, and alignments necessary to engineer a DevOps solution that realizes an organization's DevOps goals. Without assessments, the DevOps transformation solution is an ad-hoc effort instead of an engineered solution and will not accomplish or sustain goals. When combined with other transformation steps, including leadership alignment, team alignment, and solution alignment, assessments help with realizing, operationalizing and expanding well-engineered DevOps solutions across the organization. Altogether, assessments are a key component of a successful seven-step DevOps transformation process."

Mark Peters
DevOps Institute Ambassador from Texas, USA

"Multiple turn-of-the-century industrialists have been attributed to a quote stating: "Vision without execution is hallucination". In the same manner, building good DevOps models into corporate culture requires understanding the starting point and the desired immediate goals. Too many organizations look too far into the future and become victims of hallucination rather than committing to execution. Assessments help struggling institutions identify where they are today, and empower consultants to target small improvements based on creating value. Assessments need a broad category scope that offers a baseline, identifying clear flows between consultant and customer to create necessary feedback supporting continuous improvement. The step by step experiments to reach success can be planned as part of the precise language evaluation conducted. Those companies well into their DevOps transformation can still benefit from these tools, gaining the outside perspective to push internal and external experimentation. A great assessment illuminates difficult paths and highlights the potential for DevOps practitioners to help steer one's journey towards creating business value through accelerating quality-based customer deliveries.

Savinder Puri
DevOps Institute Ambassador from Reading, England

"Back in the day, we used to get into an enterprise on a consulting assignment, meet a couple of key people in a week or two, take another week to create a fancy looking report and that was defined as a good DevOps assessment! And it was repeated when "the boss felt like it". In today's fast paced world, when operating models and business get (re)aligned in a matter of weeks and DevOps transformation is big business, it's only natural that an enterprise class DevOps capability assessment is critical. How else do you prove the continual success of the transformation? How else does the CFO know that his money is being well spent? It all ultimately boils down to getting a good night's sleep!"

Felipe Duenas
DevOps Institute Ambassador from Quito, Ecuador

"Assessments are so important because they help organizations to understand if they really need DevOps and if they are culturally prepared to adopt a practice like DevOps. Assessments help identify what value DevOps is going to add to the business and what is likely to be a good strategy and approach for it. It's also critical to know what is happening with the technology infrastructure and how flexible it is, or where there are gaps. Finally, and so importantly, organizations need to find out what skills and knowledge IT and business people need to get to work in a cooperative way as real teams. Teams must be organized around value streams to get the most of this process."

Mitesh Soni
DevOps Institute Ambassador from Mumbai, India

"Assessments provide visibility in "as is" situations and help people to analyze and perform improvements to attain better quality with speed along with cultural evolution. It should be an essential first step towards transformation and it helps to spread awareness on what needs to improve. It can also catalyse, energize and accelerate organizational performance improvement during DevOps transformation. At times the current state is not fully understood by the people working in those situations on a daily basis. It is vital to ACT on the results of the assessment to achieve the next target state goals it makes visible, and assessments should be performed repeatedly to support continuous improvement."

Aparna Balasundar
DevOps Institute Ambassador from Hyderabad, India

"The purpose of a DevOps assessment is to ascertain people, process and technology related maturity focussing on speed, value and quality. Assessments provide a viewpoint on critical success criteria and enable us to know your customers (KYC) better and help our customers to understand their environment, process, technology and the current gaps. Assessment is a first step towards a continuously improving habit."

Biswajit Mohapatra
DevOps Institute Ambassador from Pune, India

"A DevOps assessment aims at understanding the current state of DevOps practices adoption within an organization and helps identify the focus areas for improving efficiency in the software delivery pipeline. Assessments create a transformation roadmap to deliver business outcomes, such as; accelerated software delivery for faster time to value, balanced speed, cost, quality and risk for increased capacity to innovate and reduced time to customer feedback for improved customer experience. Quick win work streams facilitate DevOps empowerment and enablement addressing current challenges in code, build, package, test, deploy and operations reinforcing DevOps culture. Assessing DevOps capability is an essential step on the journey towards improving organizational performance."

Peter Maddison
DevOps Institute Ambassador from Toronto, Canada

"Understanding where we are is a necessary part of creating a roadmap to move forward. Without a baseline to start from, it is hard for us to understand progress, identify areas of opportunity or demonstrate growth to others. Assessments give us a way to create that baseline and provide actionable insights and guidance. We often work with organizations that skip this step as "too expensive" only to regret it after some initial success they cannot articulate to their organization. Even the pattern of having people consider how their organization stands can be valuable for generating new ways of thinking or opening up possibilities about areas to explore."

Stay tuned for more ambassador insights on DevOps capabilities assessments! Learn more about the Assessment of DevOps Capabilities (ADOC) or expand your DevOps knowledge at a SKILup Day conference.

Jayne Groll is CEO of DevOps Institute
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