Keep the Focus on the Business to Succeed with DevOps

Bharath Gowda, Director-Market Leadership, New Relic
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Bharath Gowda, Director-Market Leadership, New Relic

Bharath Gowda, Director-Market Leadership, New Relic

Companies report incredible benefits by adopting a DevOps approach: faster delivery of software, fewer defects, faster resolution of problems, and better allocation of limited IT resources. If your organization has already adopted a DevOps approach, you’re on the right track to developing and deploying software faster and better than ever.

But that’s not the end of the story nor should it be the ultimate driver behind DevOps. To really succeed with a DevOps approach, you need to think about what faster and better software actually means for the business and the all-important bottom line. You must make the connection between your DevOps approach and goals and their impact on your business’ goals. To do this, you must link and balance the goals of faster (speed of delivery), better software (high performing, quality software that delivers a good customer experience) to goals for innovation and business success.  

The Faster and Better Conundrum

Take the goal of speed of delivery for example. Let’s say that your team’s goal is to roll out software updates weekly or daily instead of monthly, but the software being deployed has more defects and results in more downtime for customers. If you think about it, the underlying premise of DevOps is virtually an oxymoron: faster and better software delivery. Haven’t these been mutually exclusive goals in the past? Shorter development cycles and closer collaboration under a DevOps approach mean you catch problems before they go to production, and so spend less time fixing them under duress. And it’s exactly this aspect that makes DevOps such a radically fresh and innovative approach.

You can’t focus on delivering software rapidly without addressing other goals around performance and customer experience, so make sure your DevOps pilot projects are about delivering impactful wins toward these goals.

“You must make the connection between your DevOps approach and goals and their impact on your business’ goals”

Making Time for Innovation

Working better, smarter, and faster isn’t quite enough to drive business success. That’s because even though application performance is critical, it’s not a differentiator now. Likewise with customer experience: it’s extremely important, but it doesn’t ensure business success on its own.

To drive revenue, improve customer adoption, increase retention, improve customer satisfaction, and more, you need to add innovation and business success to the mix. When a DevOps approach enables your organization to focus on rapid innovation that’s driven by business outcomes, all while delivering faster, better software, then you’ve succeeded in helping the business meet its goals.

Putting it all Together

Managing your DevOps approach based on the four critical drivers—application performance, customer experience, innovation/business success, and speed— is not trivial, but it is possible by focusing on measuring and tracking key metrics across each area. Using a software analytics platform, you get one source for the data you need across software developers, IT operations, and product owners.

For instance, for application performance, you could track uptime and error rates. Start by setting a baseline and then goals for performance improvement and maintenance. Likewise with customer experience, transaction frequency and user growth rates give you insight into how your customers experience your application. Conversions, renewals, and other business-oriented metrics give you a view of the success of your application from the business perspective. Finally, add in metrics focused on speed of delivery such as lead time for changes and speed of iteration give you the full picture of your DevOps success.

Framework for Measuring DevOps Success Allocating Resources

To achieve the right balance of resources and time across the different DevOps-success drivers, consider using a sustainable resource allocation of 50 percent on innovation, 30 percent on improvements to make customer experience/adoption frictionless, and 20 percent on continuous performance/stability improvements.

It’s important to keep in mind that the allocations will change depending on where you are in the product maturity lifecycle. In the early stages of product development, you’ll spend the majority of your time building out new capabilities, with a greater focus on innovation.

The Value of being Data-Driven     

Achieving success across the four drivers of success would be impossible using a traditional waterfall approach, but DevOps—and being data-driven—lets organizations make it a reality. With the insight you get from tracking your DevOps success, you can help your company become a better software business—because in today’s environment, every business has to use software as a strategic weapon to disrupt markets and remain competitive.

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