DevOps: A Guide To Sustainability in Software Factories

Culture and Human Skills, DevOps Basics

by: Garima Bajpai

October 22, 2020

Among the leading software organizations today, a plan is already underway to redesign and transform the way people, teams, and leaders work together in order to sustain speed, agility, and innovation in next generation software companies. DevOps has emerged as a guiding principle to lead this transformation into the future.

The five values of DevOps are:

  • Culture
  • Automation
  • Lean
  • Measurement
  • Sharing

These values are influencing how organizations are redesigning themselves for the future.

A Top-Down Perspective

High-performing teams are already part of the ecosystem on the “edge” due to the influence of the DevOps movement. Small, autonomous teams are spearheading the change in organizations. In order to continue scaling up DevOps in a large-scale enterprise, we need to examine the following key factors with the vision of #2030 and beyond while keeping DevOps values and principles at the fore:

Roles

With the rise of an inclusive and transparent work culture – where everyone has a set of responsibilities and participates in goal-setting and vision-mapping – the hierarchical boundaries are gradually blurring. And this transformation is symptomatic of a significant change in the way our middle management is structured today.

While a lot has been written on the fall of the “middle management” layer in the DevOps era, I believe that the cultural shift led by DevOps will necessarily result in a big transformation for middle managers. They will have an important role to play in leadership as they would embrace new skills to lead in a networked environment. And the emergence of this transformation will restructure teams with redefined roles as follows:

  1. Project Manager’s role is transformed to Product Manager
  2. System Architect’s role is transformed to Value Stream Architects
  3. System Admin’s role is transformed to Site Reliability Engineers
  4. Software Developer’s role is transformed to DevOps Engineers
  5. Business Analyst’s role is transformed to Behavioural Analyst
  6. New teams include consultants for emerging technologies that effect impact in a short time

Within the framework of the team structure above, the middle management will acquire a crucial role of navigating and scaling the change ahead in a cohesive manner. Equally important will be the role of middle managers as they will engage with teams in order to develop a responsible approach to connect the “big picture” and support the teams to plan for scenario-driven outcomes.

I will elaborate on this team structure and the roles within it in a subsequent article. It will zoom in on the roles for enterprises that are embracing DevOps while also fleshing out some key protocols for the restructured teams, as mentioned above, that will choose to work with one another in a loosely coupled ecosystem.

Skill Set

Team composition and skill set are the backbone of a successful DevOps organization. In today’s era of disruption, we need to assess what they would look like in the future.

Machines are already an essential part of our existence today. Some aspects of human jobs are being taken over by machines that assist us in the form of bots in the systems and in the future, the team composition will be exponentially machine dependent. These mechanical human creations will have a vital role to play within team structures.

The skill set would consist of creativity, embracing speed, change, and learning to be agile. Socially aware and environmentally conscious STEM professionals will be leading organizations then. In order for us to perform at our full potential, we will not only need good collaboration but also an effective flow of information, a good feedback process and room to experiment. Doesn’t this sound like ‘The Three Ways’, the foundational principles of DevOps movement?

Helpful tip: Think about the following in order to improve your job prospects, and enhance your skill set for future DevOps-oriented opportunities:

  • How you create and sponsor opportunities for others
  • Whether you contribute and belong to open-source communities and open platforms
  • How you share responsibility towards secure software practices
  • How you support initiatives that remove technical debt
  • How you communicate association with changing reality
  • How you learn new skills to work with emerging technologies
  • How you build collaborative work practices based on group activities, tools and behaviours

Incentives

Stronger emphasis on professional ethics, openness and transparency in the organization will result in changes in the way incentives are set and managed. These incentives will act as tools for accountability in the software organization. A  key aspect is for organizations to mobilize revenue by promoting intrapreneur approaches by providing opportunities to co-brand products and services as an incentive to bring new ideas to the table.

Looking at legacy systems, teams need to be incentivized to creatively destruct and craft exits as some of the ways to engage larger masses to participate and bring large-scale transition in the organization to embrace DevOps principles and practices.

Policies

The next generation policy framework for software organizations will be largely driven by DevOps values, with a focus on collaboration, sharing, automation while creating safe and secure solutions. The policies for the organization will look into changing provisions for licensing and co-branding of products and services built through a collaborative social ecosystem.

A policy framework will be developed in collaboration with consortium of partners to leverage and reuse knowledge and experience from all dimensions: start-ups, large enterprises, educational institutions and government bodies. The emergence of social services and products creates a huge opportunity for organizations to facilitate early adoption of products and build a two-way communication channel with the users. Companies will explore ways to define and build positive impact from social ecosystems.

The way your products and services will be connected creates an urgent need to look at cybersecurity practices and policies around how products and services are built, distributed and used in the larger ecosystem. Cybersecurity will be a priority for policy makers to ensure trust in the products and services they endorse. The time is now to develop a plan to address transparency and two-way communication with the middle management.

Lastly, organizations will find innovative policies to build collaboration with universities investing in research and education.

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