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Cartoon-072716-WhipDevOpsWhen we work with teams on their DevOps practices, it’s helpful to get a clear picture of where they are, and where they want to go. Understanding the level of a team’s DevOps maturity is helpful for building out a clear, actionable plan. It’s easy to paint an aspirational picture to get customers excited about the possibilities within a mature DevOps practice, but once they compare their reality to what’s possible, the gap seems impossibly large and fraught with too many challenges to undertake the journey to a more mature DevOps practice.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There are four states to a DevOps maturity progression: Reactionary, Repeatable, Reliable, and Aspirational.

  • A Reactionary practice refers to a practice which has an ad hoc nature to it and lacks intentional mindfulness.
  • Repeatable practices come out of the pain inherent in reactionary practices. Repeatable practices are characterized by having some sort of defined methodology or system in place which should be followed.
  • Reliable practices take repeatable systems and have them ingrained in their daily routines. They are looking for ways to improve upon the repeatable practices so that they are more efficient and easier to follow.
  • Aspirational practices are the most effective though it’s rare to find organizations who have met that level of DevOps maturity. Organizations and teams that achieve an aspirational level of DevOps maturity have a culture which focuses on continuous improvement and highly optimized practices.

The four states of DevOps maturity can be individually applied to the 6 pillars of DevOps: Backlog, Schedule & Team, Technical Debt, Flow, Evidence, and Production. Each pillar has it’s own maturity progression. It’s certainly possible to have a Reactionary approach to Technical Debt while having a Repeatable approach to Flow, though the nature of Aspirational DevOps practices would deem it highly unlikely that you’d have any Reactionary practices if you have achieved an Aspirational level of maturity in any of the practices.

With a DevOps Assessment, you will have clear guidance and steps for maturing your DevOps practices from one level to another. For example, if you have a Repeatable Backlog practice in place (and we’ve found that most organizations who’ve reached out to us do have a repeatable backlog practice), then you are engaging directly with stakeholders on a periodic basis and you are prioritizing need, but you likely still face challenges balancing different stakeholders needs because the various stakeholders have challenges agreeing with the priority. To move from a Repeatable maturity level to the Reliable level, you would focus on building a culture of continuous stakeholder engagement, ensuring there’s no secret or hidden work bypassing the open prioritization process.

A mature, aspirational approach to DevOps is certainly the ultimate goal if you want to deliver higher quality software to your customer in a fast, streamlined fashion. For many organizations, however, the walls and barriers to achieving an aspirational DevOps maturity level are perceivably insurmountable. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are practical step-by-step approaches to improving your DevOps practices. You just need the right tools and understanding of the process to get there.

The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim is an excellent book and a must read for IT professionals who aspire to have better DevOps practices. If you want to take your practices to the next level, there are great resources available online. There are also funding options from Microsoft for organizations that wish to develop and implement DevOps practices. Northwest Cadence has experienced DevOps professionals who can help assess your state and build a roadmap which can guide you to the next level of DevOps maturity!

Your team might quialify for DevOps development funding. Reach out to us and we will work with you to figure out next steps and how to get it!  Call us at 425-455-1155 or contact ClientServices@nwcadence.com.

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