Software & Web Development

Three ways to guarantee success at DevOps

This is a contributed article by Robert Castley, Senior Performance Engineer EMEA, Catchpoint Systems


DevOps has quickly become one of the most over-used and ambiguous terms in IT. It’s being used to reference everything from job titles to technology practices, but the truth is that DevOps is more of a culture than anything else. It’s a culture where working together is encouraged in order to create a seamless automation of processes, from conception to production of digital solutions. This concept is about how the organisation is run as much as it is the tools and infrastructures in place.

DevOps will involve breaking down silos and building bridges between departments to increase communication and accomplish the tasks that require expertise in multiple areas. There must be a clear-sighted focus on principles, practices, and value.

This is why measuring the impact of DevOps is so critical if you want to achieve positive business impact.

So, how do we measure DevOps? There are three main principles which you can follow when measuring DevOps: choose the right metric, avoid bias and climb into the customer’s shoes. By following those three key tips, you can certainly guarantee success at DevOps.


#1: Choose the right metric

Metrics should be actionable and tied to business goals as opposed to being purely “vanity metrics” – metrics that look good and may make everybody feel pleased, but are devoid of any valuable business meaning and relevancy. Everyone wants to see metrics that align with their argument and back their point, but we also need to be able to accept when the data points are not what we were expecting. The latter scenario may lead to the use of vanity metrics; however, even though they show improvement and growth, if they aren’t tied to a business goal, should we really use them?

Here are four tips for you to consider when choosing the right metric: 

  • Lock it down. Make sure you only track metrics that are totally aligned to a business objective.
  • It’s all about improvement. Think about how is the chosen metric going to show improvement in this area if the goal is to improve customer satisfaction scores. If the metric won’t help, find one that will. 
  • Get smart on metric manipulation addiction. Be rigorous in examining how your metric might be influenced When doing measurement, people may look for ways to game the system and show improvement where one either exists weakly or not at all.
  • Cast your net widely. It is likely that you’ll need to look at multiple data points to get the full picture, as there is no such thing as the perfect metric.


#2: Avoid Bias

The first and perhaps most important step to avoid bias is by acknowledging that it actually exists and understanding that anyone can fall into its trap. There are two common biases that upset DevOps, anchoring and confirmation bias. The first is the tendency to rely on a single piece of information - usually the first piece of information that we encounter. The second is about ego and not wanting or willing to admit to being wrong. Therefore, the second step is to encourage an environment where disagreement is actually stimulated within the team. However, this must be in a positive and constructive manner through asking good questions and being willing to accept the answers even if they aren’t what you were looking for. 


#3: Climb into the customer’s shoes

What’s really important for the user and how can that be measured? Metrics and analytics can give a great insight on what the user really cares about. They are critical to the success of every organisation, however, measuring the wrong thing can lead to a failure. Understanding what and how to measure, and also how to frame the analysis, can help IT professionals overcome bias, cut through the noise, and make a genuine, long-lasting impact on their organisation.

The DevOps way of thinking has swept the IT industry, and is creating a stronger, more efficient organisation within each company. If the time is taken to carefully plan and document the process, you can successfully create a strong DevOps community within your organisation in a reasonable amount of time. Measuring the impact of this community is crucial for ensuring its high-quality performance and supporting the success of the team overall. Following the advice contained in these three top tips will go a long way to ensuring a consistent DevOps community that will benefit the whole firm.


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