Leveraging DevOps and Agile for Business Automation

One of the factors affecting business health is control of its bottom line. Today, more businesses are realizing improved bottom lines through DevOps automation. While the number of success stories from DevOps automation increases, businesses that are most successful appear to recognize that its importance is due to the fact that technology offers an opportunity to automate the repetitive processes that introduce risk through errors and ultimately improve the organization’s bottom line. The not-so-surprising result of DevOps success is the realization of top-line growth as the business begins to leverage improved scale against the competition.

To understand DevOps Development, you need to understand Agile Development. That’s because DevOps is a framework that use agile concepts. DevOps does not compete with agile, it leverages the agile methodologies.

Since the inception of agile methodologies (The Agile Manifesto), development teams have become more efficient through increased communication and collaboration. As a result, software development significantly increased its output only to discover bottlenecks in downstream processes such as testing and deployment. These operations, as well as production deployment were siloed from software development and while the upstream team had a mission to reduce time to market, downstream teams had no ability to participate even if they were willing because the processes were too manual and time consuming. DevOps is a framework that now solves the problems through the evolution of the software development processes and software delivery processes into one larger process that is integrated through automation.

By implementing DevOps, businesses take the concepts from agile and apply it as a framework to each operational step of production. This leads to shortening production time by automating many aspects (if not all) of hand off and communication between the processes.

Not only are businesses realizing lowered production costs, but the ability of the products to meet market demand and increase customer satisfaction is also improving. This is due to feedback loops created by the automation. Quality assurance data becomes more accessible and as a result, the quality of the product improves. In the end, businesses that leverage data for process improvement are realizing the most value.

DevOps development requires automation tools to create the automation workflow, but its implementation requires careful planning. Each new day sees an increasing number of products available for automation and transformation, but knowing where to start can be a challenge. Before business owners begin dialing up vendors or producing purchase orders for automation tools, they need to take a page from agile development processes and develop their own “user stories” about the business problems they intend to solve.

Careful planning is essential to developing and solving business problems. Traditionally, bottom line problem solving is about cutting costs and reducing risk. Early planning is the perfect time to invite subject matter experts from across the operation to provide input into the opportunities and impacts of potential solutions. Unless your teams are willing to talk and collaborate, the benefits of DevOps will be limited. After all, DevOps is the implementation of integration and automation to improve collaboration, so communication and cooperation must occur between the teams. Only then will the feedback loops created by the automation result in meaningful responses to meaningful data.

Early analysis of the problem stories may even indicate a change in staff or increased training is the first critical action of process improvement. At a minimum, the teams must evaluate the impact of the automation on each component process. Once DevOps is in place, the business must then be prepared to leverage or uncover additional opportunities remembering that agile is iterative. The business must be prepared to look at its data and adapt.

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