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To Adopt DevOps, You Need a Game Plan

Through the DevOps Playbook Framework, enablement teams now exactly how to support the adoption of this core capability

By Bradley Clerkin, CTO

We often meet IT leaders and their teams in this situation: They are committed to adding post-digital capabilities to their IT operating model to expand into profit-generating territory. They know the best way to do this is to operationalize the digital triad, DevOps, Agile, and Cloud. They’re aware of the most common anti-patterns for digital transformation. They understand our recommended approach for how to avoid them and perform a successful DevOps/Cloud/Agile integration.

So, what’s the problem? They’re not sure where to start. This confusion is understandable when you consider the extensive applications of DevOps, Agile, and Cloud and the many ways to apply them to meet a specific organization’s digital outcomes.

That’s why we coach our clients on the Playbook Approach. You can apply this approach to DevOps, Agile, and Cloud. However, we often coach clients on DevOps adoption through Playbooks, so let’s start there.

The DevOps Playbook Framework

As we explain in our roadmap (recommended approach) for adopting DevOps (Cloud and Agile), when aiming to optimize these core capabilities, you want to align your teams to digital outcomes that drive profits for the company. You’ll use these to measure DevOps adoption in your organization while justifying the cost of the expansion through real-life goal realization.  

Imagine the business leaders in your organization have declared the digital outcomes and granted IT the funding they’ll need to see them through. Now it’s all about enablement. The company engages enablement teams with specific goals to help other teams use DevOps effectively.

The Playbook Framework gives a standard deliverable that these teams can rally around; it forms the basis for conversations on where DevOps will be applied and gets teams going on the right foot.

The Playbook explains how teams will execute DevOps as their core tech management capability.

It includes the fundamental goals teams will accomplish, the specific “plays” that teams will apply to meet goals, resourcing and work agreements (who the players are) and establishes how the players will run the plays based on enablement capacity. Additionally, it includes prioritization, or when team members will complete each play.

What Are Plays?

We define Plays as a DevOps Action + Formation + Goal.

The most common goals DevOps helps achieve are one, or a combination, of the following:

  • Deliver value faster

  • Deliver more value

  • Reduce risk

  • Increase Efficiency

  • Increase Consistency

The most common actions, or what we can do with DevOps to meet goals are:

  • Write a script

  • Build custom software

  • Publish an API (Application and Programming Interfaces)

  • Transform configuration into code

  • Create a pipeline

  • Control versioning of code

  • Automate testing

  • Build platform product

  • Document risk and mitigation strategies

  • Identify bottleneck

  • Map and measure a process and systems

  • Automate management, operations, and controls

  • Use and analyze data

  • Monitor something

  • Develop skills

  • Increase awareness

  • Decentralize command and control

  • Centralize command and control

  • Contractual error budgets

Formations consist of:

  • DevOps Capable: A team or resource that knows how to execute the most common actions of DevOps, often as a member of a cross-functional team. You’ll know a resource is DevOps capable when they understand the Playbook inside and out; they can effectively evaluate situations, identify the foundational goal driving the need for DevOps, and effectively execute common play calls to solve common problems.

  • DevOps Focused: A team or resource that has decided DevOps is their top priority. You’ll know a resource is DevOps focused when they want to drive the creation of more DevOps capable resources and evolve past working with just the most common actions. They publish patterns and other approaches to DevOps enhancing the community and Playbook; they coach others on new or different DevOps approaches, ad hoc; and they make DevOps a primary focus of their functional skill set.

  • DevOps Enabled: A team or resource which builds complex platforms with DevOps built in, which other teams and individuals can use. They focus on increasing the number of DevOps-capable resources. Usually, a DevOps Enabled Team has team members who are DevOps focused or looking to become DevOps-focused. They build chained platform solutions with DevOps technology and processes supporting skill-set development capabilities. Drives awareness, use, and maturation of the DevOps playbook. Provides short and mid-term DevOps capacity while teams look to become self-sufficient. Measures and provides leadership with visibility into DevOps maturity, adoption, and use throughout the organization.

Let’s put it all together in some Play examples:

DevOps Capable Resource (formation) writes a script (action) to increase process efficiency by reducing the time it takes to provision a new service account identity to 5 minutes from ticket submission (goal).

DevOps Capable Team (formation) automates the promotion of applications and environment using a pipeline (action) to reduce time to promotion for each environment to under 1 hour of effort (goal).

Enablement teams support the DevOps team in performing the play, enabling coaching, sharing, and co-engineering.

This Playbook Approach is what teams and leaders need to know how to engage. Using this approach, leaders tell their enablement team to develop a good game plan, including plays: goals, formations, and actions. The engineering capacity we fought for to be enablement focused now has a common method for engaging with their team.

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