As a way of working, DevOps can often be spoken about with a lack of understanding of what it actually means or entails. In many companies, business leaders looking for improvement proclaim, "DevOps is the answer", without fair consideration of the impact of a new way of working will have. However, when done well, DevOps can remove inefficiencies by improving process and performance but only when clear outcomes are established. These improvements are transferable across a wide range of industries, with consistent benefits achievable for organisations of all sizes. So if you are looking for reasons why you should introduce DevOps, these five benefits should help you make that decision.
1. Faster time to market
With the digital landscape constantly evolving, it is becoming more difficult to keep pace with competitors but DevOps can help. Companies that successfully implement DevOps, called 'high performers', can move from initial idea to live deployment in a matter of hours or even minutes. Quicker cycle times can also be enhanced by re-engineering legacy processes, such as project accounting and change management, enabling companies to strengthen their market share by releasing new products faster. For businesses to fully reap these benefits, the entire concept to value process should be optimised for speed.
2. Better availability and performance
By adopting a relentless automation and an 'everything as code' approach, availability and performance can be boosted as the risk of introducing errors is dramatically reduced. However, should an incident occur, the problem can be resolved by rapidly building, testing and deploying a fix to production in minutes. This is backed up in DORA's 'Accelerate: State of DevOps Report 2018', as 'elite performers' report a change failure rate seven times less than 'low performers' and are 2,604 times faster when recovering from an incident. Improved incident response and handling can also reduce unplanned work and interruptions, allowing teams more capacity to innovate. However, it is important teams aren't trapped into automating deployments for the sake of it, without investing in other capabilities, such as test automation and monitoring, which can limit improvements in availability and performance.
3. Reducing cost
Cost reduction is an area of focus for pretty much all organisations but it shouldn't really be a primary driver for introducing DevOps, although it can be achieved. As DevOps is primarily about a change in cultural behaviour, it may take some time to see cost benefits, particularly when implementing at scale. However, companies that introduce new ways of working, such as communities of practice and feedback and learning loops, can see improvements in areas that include increased reliability and leaner processes. Luckily for your CFO, all of these areas combine to boost the IT departments productivity and consequently lead to cost reductions, which improve the bottom line.
4. Enhanced employee motivation
To build an efficient IT organisation, every company wants and needs a motivated and engaged workforce. A token gesture here or a gift voucher there won't necessarily please the majority of your team, so another approach is needed. DevOps, when successfully implemented, empowers teams to make decisions, which creates a culture of continuous learning and experimentation, enabling teams to deliver more frequently and effectively. Blockers can also be removed, helping reduce frustrations and improve job satisfaction which all leads to a happier and more engaged workforce.
5. Improved customer experience
When DevOps is done well internal business processes are improved but it can have a huge positive impact on customer experience as well. Through faster deployments; new features, fixes and upgrades are delivered faster, helping boost product reliability, which ultimately puts a smile on the customer's face. However, it is inevitable that all organisations will have to contend with some kind of unplanned outages. When this does occur, those that are considered DevOps high performers will be able to identify an issue, fix it and release new code faster to resolve the problem. DORA's 2018 Accelerate: State of DevOps report confirms this by stating, "High performers are also able to restore service more rapidly in the event of an outage, have more stable releases, have better availability, and produce higher-quality software with fewer defects." In reality, customers are rarely bothered about Mean Time To Restore (MTTR) but do care about a product that works and a seamless customer experience.
By introducing DevOps correctly, all of the above benefits are available to companies, large or small. However, these benefits are all intrinsically linked, so there's little chance that all will immediately appear once your DevOps journey has begun. Another point to remember is DevOps is not only about transforming how IT works, it is about how change happens across the entire business. Companies that set defined goals and have a clear approach to successfully implementing DevOps can help improve decision making and enable quick feedback, helping to create an improved customer experience. The key to DevOps success is understanding business context and expected outcomes.