The Role of DevOps in the Project-to-Product Journey

April 28, 2021
BY Andrew Krusell
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DevOps transformation facilitates the project-to-product journey by enabling teams to move faster than ever before. Tying DevOps to Agile and product management efforts can help ensure success.

While CIOs continue to prioritize the shift to product-oriented operating models in 2021, companies still struggle to create empowered product teams throughout their organizations. One significant inhibitor is often the lack of progress and investment in DevOps. 

Amazon Web Services defines DevOps as “the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity.” In this setup, “development and operations teams are no longer siloed… [and] engineers work across the entire application lifecycle, from development and test to deployment and operations”.

DevOps can significantly enable product operating model transformations. It brings agile processes to life through technical enablement, turning processes into automation. Put simply, this often means automating the software development process from start (continuous integration / CI) to finish (continuous deployment or delivery / CD) while also creating empowered developers with a pulse on customer needs.

A successful DevOps transformation enables teams to react quickly to shifting market demands and reduces risk by decreasing the time it takes to get working software out the door. For example, an empowered product team that releases new features daily or hourly can iterate and innovate securely much faster than in the past, allowing for constant validation of product strategy and the ability to scale when they find something that works.

DevOps, Agile, and product operating model shifts are closely linked in successful digital companies. Through our work with some of the largest organizations in the world (both digital natives and digital immigrants), we have found that leaders who closely couple DevOps transformation efforts with Agile and product management transformations are significantly more successful in realizing their goals. Below are four tips to help you do so successfully: 

  • Don’t neglect DevOps as you plan your transformation. Technical enablement is a significant dimension of the product operating model shift and requires investment in tools, people, and culture. You do not want to find yourself at the end of your transformation with teams that are ready to move at hyper-speed but technology and processes that won’t let them.
  • Share a cohesive vision for how DevOps, Agile, and product management will empower the organization. Operating model transformation can throw significant change at teams in a short amount of time, and it is important that they understand how everything fits together. Creating missionaries, not mercenaries, requires more than a simple mandate to automate.
  • Don’t put day-to-day DevOps transformation efforts in a silo. While you might need a DevOps deputy to lead and execute your vision, this person should be tied at the hip to Agile and product management leaders. Your DevOps evangelists should constantly be answering the following questions from product teams: How does DevOps improve our existing agile processes? How does DevOps allow us to better respond to our customers? How will this help us meet or exceed our goals?
  • Use pilot teams to showcase DevOps success. Once others see how a mature, technically enabled team can take advantage of a product operating model, they will be clamoring for transformation. Real life examples illustrate how automation, process, and cultural change combine to create empowered teams even in change-resistant organizations.

In future posts, we will go into more detail about how to kickstart your DevOps transformation, from examining the key dimensions of the transformation process to exploring creative ways to fund DevOps efforts. Drop us a note if you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions for future topics to cover!

August 20, 2022

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