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With years of experience as an industry leader in Agile software, Emma Button of MicroGen is well-placed to provide ample insight into how exactly DevOps can be implemented into the workplace; and the culture shift that's involved in that process. Read on to find out more about Emma's valuable commentary on how DevOps can be implemented, and the culture shifts you need to achieve a truly productive working environment.

With more and more businesses integrating DevOps into their day to day working practices, it's essential to have a clear understanding of how DevOps can be of benefit to you - and equally, as important, the impact on your workplace culture that switching to this way of working can cause. If you're looking to introduce a practical and effective system to your workforce, be prepared for everything that comes with it; including that needed and expected culture shift.

DevOps is a culture to be embraced

DevOps is often introduced to businesses as a tool that can be used to fix problems, from issues in production to a workflow that's less than satisfactory. As such, for many businesses, the actual act of switching from a traditional model to one that's with a DevOps focus can be a rough one. And if you're not ready to embrace that change to your culture with open arms, then you might struggle to convert your team all the way into a more focused and delivery-centric model.

In reality, a great deal of DevOps is about the culture behind the working practices, encouraging your employees - and yourself - to change the way that you think to integrate models and methods that can be highly effective and beneficial. It's not enough to know the technical basis for DevOps; you also have to live those values and encourage others to do the same.

What makes a good DevOps team?

The key is in the name. To create a great DevOps team, you need people that have a speciality or a background in development, whether that's from software, services, or any other part of a development process. Having people already in the mindset of delivery value can be an excellent first step from any DevOps team, and results in the culture and fit of the team being less of a shock for all involved.

Of course, as with any employees or workplace, it's important to have that strong working bond with each other, as your team will be working very closely together, as well as fostering excellent relationships with other groups or departments to ensure the job is done as thoroughly and effectively as possible. Everyone has their piece of the jigsaw to form the final image, and in DevOps, every person is needed to put that picture together.

How DevOps works with the wider business

As mentioned before, one of the requirements of a functioning DevOps team is that connection and representation in a variety of different departments and areas of business. From production to HR, engineers to service, having that cross-functional way of working is a must to ensure your client is receiving all they need from your team. This is another way in which each DevOps team member has their specific role, with every member holding that connection with another department to ensure the smooth progression and development of a project.

Keeping everyone informed is also a staple of an effective DevOps process, ensuring that those within the company understand what you are doing and why with regular meetings or updates. DevOps can feel very insular, so releasing that information to the broader teams can help provide perspective and also invaluable insights. It's about finding what model works for you to keep everyone informed and work well alongside other staff members.

Convincing Major Shareholders to change the culture

Before you can think about changing the culture within a company, it's important first to understand the existing ways of working, and the practicality of the current development process. This can provide you with a good basis for understanding, with greater knowledge, what needs to change and why, and can stand you in better stead to suggest DevOps with relevant information to back you up. As DevOps can now be considered a mature model, there's some heft there when it comes to explaining how it can be beneficial - as it already has proven to be for many companies.

To many old-school businesses, the concept of DevOps can feel alien, and for those with little understanding of how the system works, it may also seem impractical. Be prepared to provide evidence or plans as to how a DevOps culture can improve your way of working, improve output and offer value. It's also important to note that a change can't just happen overnight, so don't undersell conversion to DevOps; it's a long-term thing and requires a significant culture shift from traditional means. Instilling change has to be a sustained effort.

Process for a DevOps Culture change

The first stage in any process of change is approval from the higher-ups, to get the ball rolling on enacting change further down the line. Implementing DevOps is a sprint, rather than a marathon, and that change doesn't just happen overnight. It's about slowly shifting perceptions, changing ways of working and eventually ending up with a fully-fledged, prepped and trained team that can deliver as effectively as possible.

Don't feel like you have to rush to get to the finish line; because in DevOps it's all about continual improvement, and you'll never entirely be able to tick that box to say you've done it all. You continuously re-evaluate, correct and amend your way of working to be as productive, effective and practical as possible, and as such the DevOps journey never really ends - it only gets better.

Advice for leaders who want to adopt a DevOps approach

Use the tools that are available - there are countless DevOps tools out there that can help make that conversion of culture a little more comfortable and provide a solid basis to you and your team's work. Take the time to develop those DevOps instincts and the new way of focusing, and never stop trying to improve on what you have. DevOps is all about using tools and techniques to do the best you possibly can and create even better value as a result. Foster those relationships with other teams now, and you'll be in good stead for cross-functional working further down the line.

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Thank you to Emma of MicroGen for speaking to us about DevOps being a culture shift. Are you interested in becoming the latest DevOps Industry Insider? Contact us here.

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