Why agile and DevOps together are far more effective than apart
Tips on how organisations in EMEA can scale agile and DevOps together to achieve successful digital transformation.
I travel regularly in Europe and beyond, meeting with organisations of all types to help them increase their business agility. It’s clear from those conversations that the appetite for agile and DevOps is immense. Organisations want both—and need both—in order to change the way they deliver value to their customers, introduce innovative digital experiences that increase their brand value, and ultimately grow revenues.
As I reflect on those meetings however, what strikes me is the disparity in deployment of both agile and DevOps. In some situations, organisations are adopting an agile methodology to add the voice of the customer early on to the development cycle, but have not yet implemented DevOps to promote collaboration and improve the speed and quality of application delivery. Or it’s the other way round. Sometimes they are superior in one, but not the other. From my experience, the appetite for both is there, they just need help digesting them.
I say this to the companies I meet: agile and DevOps practices are better off together than they are apart. They both need to be part of every organisation’s DNA. Scale them in unison and you accelerate speed to market further, adapt to change in the application economy faster, and build more amazing customer experiences.
Here’s the proof. New research commissioned by CA Technologies shows that 76 percent of organisations in EMEA agree that DevOps practices and agile working environments are critical success factors for digital transformation. It also highlights how DevOps and agile are better together than apart: Organisations that add DevOps practices to an agile environment improve new business growth by 38 percent more than using agile alone. Agile and DevOps together also increase operational efficiency by 23 percent, compared to using agile alone.
However, organisations need to do more than simply launch both in unison and assume great customer experiences will emerge. They need to mature their agile and DevOps deployments as quickly as possible, because that’s where the greatest payback lies. Turning again to the research, it reveals that advanced agile users experience a 64 percent improvement in the time to act on new opportunities (from 19.7 to 7.1 weeks), compared to 26 percent for basic users, while advanced DevOps users see a 38 percent improvement in speed to market (from 12.4 to 7.7 weeks), compared to 24 percent for basic users.
The question I then get asked is this: How can my organisation quickly scale agile and DevOps, maturing both as quickly as possible to capitalise on the advantages offered by business transformation and the application economy? In other words, how can we scale agile and DevOps at similar speed?
From my experiences, there are three key steps to scaling agile and DevOps at the speed of business.
First, it is crucial to measure business impact. It’s too easy to be persuaded by the power of internal measures like lower IT costs or increased productivity to measure the impact of your agile and DevOps practices. Of course, these metrics matter—but not nearly as much as the external indicators that drive business growth, such as customer satisfaction, customer experience, and revenue growth.
Second, those silos in development and operations have to go. This fragmented approach to application delivery makes it harder to share knowledge and best practices. DevOps is all about collaboration—and collaboration doesn’t happen in silos. To be truly effective, a ‘DevOps mindset’ must be embedded in the culture of your IT function.
Third, organisations need to address the skills gap. According to the CA Technologies research, 72 percent of EMEA organisations would find it hard to recruit or retain core development talent if they didn’t have an agile approach. If you have people who understand the practices and tools, and have demonstrated the capacity to be adaptable to new ways of working, you will accelerate the necessary culture change.
A quick word on technical debt. As I talk to different organisations, it is also clear that many have deep concerns about the extra development work incurred by using code that is easy to implement in the short run, instead of applying the best overall solution. When the code carries a lot of technical debt, development based on DevOps practices remains a bottleneck, and business transformation is delayed.
It doesn’t need to be this way. Active management of technical debt can be incorporated into an agile workflow, by measuring debt as part of continuous integration, then using baselines and policies to prevent new debt being introduced and to manage down existing debt. That way, debt is reduced, development accelerates, and new products and services delivering a great customer experience get to market more quickly.
I urge you to read the study, Accelerating Velocity and Customer Value with Agile and DevOps, and discover new ways to grow agile and DevOps at scale.