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How to start a DevOps Initiative

Identify the Sponsor of the Initiative

The first step is to identify the executive sponsor. He should be a person from senior management and should be actively involved in the initiative. He should be empowered to take decisions including funding for the initiative.

Why

Identify the “Why?” We need to find out why you are doing the DevOps. This is also a time to decide do you really need DevOps. There should be a reason to do for both the organization and the employees. It has to be clearly defined and communicated repeatedly and clearly. The Sponsor should be communicating this in person.

Select a type of Change for the initiative

Identify a change and a “Current State” Value Stream Map for end to end process will be created. Select a change which is not too big and neither too small. It should be enough to be able to showcase the benefit. The change should be something which creates value to business. Otherwise it will be difficult to get more buy-in from the senior management.

Select the Squad

Select the team based on the skill sets required to execute the delivery of the Change end to end. This should have people from Business, Development, Operations, Infrastructure, Security and anyone required to deliver the project. This should be a self-sufficient team with empowerment to take any decision related to the change.

Define Metrics

Identify a few metrics. Don’t go overboard. You should cover the following aspects:

  • Speed
  • Stability
  • Quality
  • Culture

Collect the current data for the metrics, if not already available. This becomes the baseline to measure progress/improvement.

Execute

While executing, it is better to follow Agile. Also basic IT Service Management process in place will be a great thing.

Training

As part of the execution, I suggest to start with a DevOps Foundation Training and Certification to bring everyone on the same page. If required can also plan for Agile and Scrum Training and ITIL Foundation Training.

Value Stream Mapping

Create the “Current State” and the “Future State” Map based on the Long Term and Immediate Target improvement. In the next cycle the achieved state becomes the baseline and a new future state is created for the next short-term target.

Automation

Identify areas of automation. All repetitive and simple steps to be automated. Start with Build and Deployment Processes. Then automate testing. Without very efficient and effective automated testing, continuous integration and continuous delivery is not possible. Thus continuous deployment is also not possible. Then automate new releases and then add automation as you identify. For tools also ensure there is someone responsible for organization level tools architecture.

This will also require buying new tools licenses and train the team.

Spread the word

Have DevOps Day for your organization. Talk about the success and benefits of the initiative. Organize game days.

Immersive Experience

Create an environment where the team can try out new things and find out better ways of doing things. Engage Agile Coaches, Tools Experts and invest in Cloud infrastructure and new toolchain.

Identify candidates and provide role based training and certification like DevOps Leader, DevOps Test Engineer, Continuous Delivery Architect, etc.

Culture Change

My recommendation to handle this other than the regular change management steps:

  • Train people on new concepts and tools
  • Change the Appraisal system to Outcome Based from Output/Deliverable based
  • Implement Reward and Recognition for taking Risks and coming out with better ways of doing things
  • Allocate 25% of the time for every team member to spend on innovation and come out with better ways of doing thing.
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