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When setting out to build a new DevOps process for their application, many teams are filled with excitement and optimism about what they can achieve. But, months into an implementation, they're later frustrated when they can't secure the budget, buy-in or resources they need to put their new DevOps process into action.
By involving key stakeholders early when building a new DevOps process, these blockers can be avoided. And, you'll be able to build a DevOps process on your platform that really delivers for your internal and external partners.
Delivering value to your customers should be your main priority — it's how you generate revenue for your business and generate customer loyalty. While you may not necessarily need to communicate to your customers about the way you do DevOps, they will feel the impact.
Customer priorities may stall you implementing your new DevOps process, because of:
■ Timeline - Some months may be better than others for your DevOps implementation. For example, if you run an ecommerce business, Black Friday or the Christmas rush is a ludicrous time to make drastic changes to software delivery processes. Not only do you know your customers value good service at this time, but the risk of bringing down critical systems, forcing rollbacks, or losing critical data may irreparably damage customer confidence.
■ Other digital priorities - Your customers may be waiting for much needed quality improvements or new features on your application. These may be an immediate priority before you introduce a new DevOps process. Though this may be a Catch 22 — improvements to your DevOps process should aim to speed up overall delivery.
But when it comes to implementing the DevOps process itself, you'll want to consider customer needs like:
■ Release frequency - Ask the business: what's the best cadence to deliver for customer needs? If you're serving a fast-paced industry where change is constant, such as the software community, weekly or even daily improvements may be necessary to build trust and reputation.
■ Customer forgiveness - Customer sentiment can make or break your business. Customers can be very quick to hit review sites like G2 or Trustpilot when things don't go quite right. Think about what your average customer tolerance is for bugs or downtime in production. Build a DevOps process that mitigates those and you'll be set.
The big bosses
Your C-suite sets business objectives and key results (OKRs). Technology has an overarching impact on almost every OKR a business can set. But, it's important to understand the specifics of OKRs, and be able to speak to how DevOps impacts them. This gets you a signature on the contract or the purse strings loosened for your project. You'll need to:
■ Show them how improved DevOps can factor into hitting business goals - For example, an objective may be to improve customer retention. A key result may be improving application stability, performance, or creating a frictionless UX/UX. Improving your DevOps process will be a key factor in achieving that.
■ Show how DevOps will improve ROI on an application - Take Salesforce, or other CRM systems, for example. These applications are expensive and responsible for important customer data and customer workflows. The faster you're able to customize and expand your CRM use, the quicker you're able to generate useful data driven insights. The C-suite loves data and making decisions from it. Show how this is possible with an improved DevOps process.
Business application end-users use your tech-stack day-in, day-out, so they're the ones you rely on most for feedback on system performance and ideas for improvements. But, you also need to engage them, which you can do if you:
■ Understand their needs - How do they use the application, where's the friction, and where is optimization possible? Fixing these end-user needs should guide your priorities for your DevOps implementation.
■ Highlight the benefits of a new DevOps process to end users - Take the chance to explain how you plan to reduce lead time for changes, increase release frequency, and reduce bugs to get buy-in from this group. A common gripe of end users is that change is too slow, or that new changes break things. Gaining buy-in from end-users makes them support any disruptions or lags that may come during the implementation if they know it'll be better in the long run.
■ Give a forum for feedback - End-users will be better engaged if you give space for feedback. If you're improving your DevOps process you'll be able to iterate on feedback faster, so encourage it, act on it, and reap the rewards!
The IT team, beyond those working on your application
One of the main benefits of DevOps is breaking down silos between teams. While you're all focused on your priorities, cross-team collaboration is wonderful for productivity and encouraging shared ownership of processes. When considering the rest of your IT team, this is what to look out for:
■ How will our new DevOps process fit with their wider application infrastructure? - A DevOps process is hugely customizable, so you should be able to bend to established preferences for structural priorities like version control or testing strategies.
■ Who's partnered with our team? - A DevOps process should also bring in team members beyond those developing on your current application. Having a great DevOps process should have the input from other teams that may not be specific to your application like compliance for security best practices, or UX, who will be considering end-user experience.
■ Consider a Center of Excellence - A multitude of roles will be involved in your DevOps process once it's implemented. DevOps breaks down silos and encourages collaboration. To design a DevOps culture and process that supports all these roles, be sure to involve everyone early. Get champions from each business area to drive your applications growth with a holistic overview of business, technical, and personnel objectives.
Early alignment makes for a successful project
Software teams are always answerable to a multitude of different stakeholders, ranging from the customers to the CEO. While this adds pressure to a DevOps implementation, it also creates a unique opportunity for software teams to show how their work provides real business and customer value. By involving stakeholders early, you'll get the support you need for your DevOps project and be able to tailor your approach so you deliver value beyond the software process.