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How to Leverage DevOps Processes for Digital Transformation

DevOps is about more than just tools and technology. It's about helping organizations do more and be more efficient doing it—and it can play an important role in ensuring digital transformation success.

To see the other technologies and approaches highlighted in our Digital Transformation series, read our report: An Enterprise Guide to Digital Transformation in 2021.

Because of DevOps' capability to help organizations become more efficient and optimized, it can play a key role in their digital transformation efforts.

At the foundation of DevOps is a desire to align development and operations practices to reduce any potential friction as applications are developed, deployed and then maintained in operations. As organizations engage in digital transformation efforts that seek to remove analog processes and introduce digital processes and automation, the right DevOps processes can play an important role by helping with technology and a framework approach that fits the bill.

There are many different tools that organizations can use for DevOps. Five top types for  software development that can aid digital transformation efforts include continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), cloud IDEs, containers, low-code and AI-assisted development services. While technology is a key part of DevOps, when it comes to digital transformation, relying on a few tools isn't enough.

Here are a few key recommendations to make the most of DevOps processes for digital transformation:

Every Successful Transformation Starts with Culture

The recently released 2021 State of DevOps study identified culture as the key to DevOps success at scale. It's an idea that Divanny Lamas, CEO of DevOps processes vendor Transposit, strongly agrees with. While there are as many ways to implement DevOps practices as there are organizations, every successful transformation starts with culture, Lamas said.

"Too often, DevOps initiatives focus myopically on tooling," she told ITPro Today. "Instead, focus on replacing silos with DevOps culture – an approach that prioritizes people, rigorous metrics and collaborative processes."

Leaders can help by defining clear ownership with well-understood success criteria and metrics that tie back to customer outcomes, according to Lamas. Maturing DevOps practices require a product development approach to operations. She suggests that organizations bring operations-minded folks out of silos and encourage a product-minded approach.

Balance Autonomy with Experience

Self-service technologies are a hallmark of DevOps, giving users the ability to easily use tools. While Lamas said teams should have the autonomy to make technology decisions and drive rapid changes, she added that, that needs to be counter-balanced with well-composed teams of experienced operators. This helps ensure the stability of services, and avoidance of security risks and siloed data.

"Teams who succeed put people and process at the center of their transformations," Lamas said.

Don't Create New Silos

A key goal for DevOps is to bring teams together, which is critical for organizations undergoing a digital transformation.

According to Jayne Groll, CEO of the DevOps Institute, the biggest digital transformation pitfall is proliferating IT’s silo culture under the veil of DevOps. Historically, each team adopted its own set of tools, processes, frameworks and vocabulary and didn't align or integrate with other teams or practices, she said. That resulted in bottlenecks, confusion and delays.

"Digital transformation is dependent upon multiskilled humans, common vocabulary, aligned processes, shared accountabilities and interoperable automation for success," Groll told ITPro Today.

Time and Quality Are Key Metrics

While digital transformation is often an aspirational goal, there are metrics that can be applied to DevOps to help measure progress. Key metrics for DevOps are the amount of time it takes to execute a given task and how well that process was executed.

Groll noted that the high-level objectives of time and quality can be broken down into more discrete metrics for development cycles, testing, building, deploying and operations. In a digital landscape, the measurement strategy has to be holistic with multiple lenses, including internal performance as well as the external experience.

"To my mind, time and quality are the most significant indicators of DevOps and digital transformation success, and continuous improvement," Groll said.

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