Guiding a DevOps transformation in an organization leveraging the four-phase transformation journey

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Guiding a DevOps transformation in an organization leveraging the four-phase transformation journey

DevOps principles and Deloitte approach

A DevOps transformation is rethinking your organizations operating model to create an optimized flow from an idea towards value for the business. This optimized flow is enabled by an environment in which multidisciplinary teams work collaboratively to continuously deliver high quality solutions, in a faster pace, that qualify for operations. But how to guide a DevOps transformation? Where to start? This blog post will elaborate on DevOps principles and the Deloitte transformation approach to guide your transformation journey.

By Marlies Quekel

DevOps Principles

Before starting a DevOps transformation, one should familiarize with the DevOps principles. The DevOps principles have extensive implications on the existing operating model of the organization being transformed and are crucial in reaching the full potential of DevOps. An organization transforms from their existing operating model towards a DevOps operating model. The DevOps operating model is structured along People, Process and Technology. In the People dimension, a DevOps Organization & Culture with multi-disciplinary teams that are open and trustful should be established to take end-to-end responsibility of service delivery.

In the Process dimension, a set of standardized interconnected processes in the software development (and operation) lifecycle should be established. In the Technology dimension, a technology architecture and toolset should be implemented to automate and accelerate the software delivery processes. The DevOps operating model is structured along People, Process and Technology combined in a governance model for the DevOps way-of-working. Teams deliver services end-to-end in the DevOps Target Operating Model. The DevOps principles have extensive implications on the existing operating model.

The DevOps principles entail:

  • A culture of shared responsibility and collaboration. Teams are accountable for progress and output, not an individual team member. Team setup is persistent and co-located to improve collaboration and performance.
  • End-to-end ownership of services. Team resources are allocated by services instead of organizational functions. Teams take end-to-end accountability and responsibility (vertically integrated) for the delivery of a service.
  • Multi-disciplinary autonomous teams. Teams are setup vertically, end-to-end responsible for the whole lifecycle of a product. It contains balanced T-shaped skilled personnel from various domains (cross-functional) to achieve its targets.
  • Incremental value delivery. Work is broken down into small pieces to continuously deliver value to the business using iterative and frequent releases.
  • Flow optimization in the delivery process. Elimination of waste, shift left and limit work in progress optimizes the flow in the delivery process. Teams test as early and as often as possible, minimize handoffs and maximize checkpoints to reduce dependencies and risks.
  • Automate (almost) everything. Tools automate as many tasks and process steps as possible in the delivery process to drastically reduce time, effort, and risk of human errors.
  • Measurement of everything. Everything is monitored and measured by a balanced metric system focused on the speed and stability of service delivery.
  • Continuous improvement. Teams organize retrospectives, (automated) feedback loops, and touchpoints with the business to continuously improve their delivery and way-of-working.

As mentioned, these DevOps principles have extensive implications on the existing operating model of the organization being transformed. Reaching the full potential of DevOps, and thus embedding the principles in an organization, changes the organizations team set-up, governance, culture, practices, tools etc.

Let’s give a detailed example around the People dimensions and why transforming to DevOps changes the organizations team set-up: a DevOps organization has a service-oriented mindset. Based on the DevOps principles, an organization allocates resources by service instead of functions to enable end-to-end ownership and increase agility within teams. A team can only take responsibility for end-to-end service delivery when it has all key DevOps roles fulfilled in a single multi-disciplinary (cross-functional) DevOps team.

This means, that a DevOps team set-up should be multidisciplinary, allocated by service, and team members have T-shaped profiles to be able to fulfill multiple roles. DevOps teams have a combination of different profiles covering all knowledge and skills areas.

DevOps Transformation: Deloitte Approach

When familiar with the DevOps principles and how they impact the existing target operating model of an organization, the transformation approach can be planned and executed. The Deloitte transformation approach adheres to a set of DevOps transformation guidelines which deliver great benefits for the organization. One of those guidelines is to deliver changes in small increments or iterations to deliver value early and in bearable pieces. Furthermore, building a DevOps culture with shared responsibility and co-creation will help to minimize DevOps transformation challenges and embed continuous improvement cycles in the organizations DNA. The Deloitte transformation approach outlines activities and key objectives used to collaboratively drive and coordinate a successful DevOps transformation, consisting of four different phases.

In the first phase of the transformation project the key objective is to define the mission and IT services in scope for the transformation. Once these are clearly defined, two project tracks are being set-up. One project track will be designing the DevOps target operating model and transformation roadmap for the organization. The other track will be implementing, scaling, or improving the CI/CD technology in the organization. The project and its two tracks are steered by a separate project management track.

In the second phase, transitions to the organization will be delivered. The goal is to transition the project tracks (i.e., design track and executing track) into DevOps teams where coaching and co-creation is key. In the transition delivery phase, the key objectives to be met are:

  • setup a DevOps Centre of Excellence as driver of the transformation
  • onboard CI/CD as the first DevOps team
  • replace traditional governance with DevOps ceremonies.

In this phase, Deloitte will take on the role of coach, both in the DevOps Centre of Excellence, as well as in the DevOps teams. However, the client and its organization are in the driving seat of the transformation guided by the Deloitte coaches. At this point the organization manages delivery through projects and DevOps teams, being a bi-model organization.

The third phase is the Coach & Scale phase and is depending on the number of teams to onboard. In this phase the goal is to onboard, coach and handover the new virtual teams to scale the bi-model organization. Once a team is mature enough to continue without Deloitte coaching, the DevOps team will be formalised with HR. Once a DevOps team is formalised, the bi-model organization structure for this team will be concluded. It is therefore possible that the organization has various DevOps teams, each at different maturity levels and stages in the DevOps transformation journey. In the Coach & Scale phase the key objectives are to shape the DevOps target operating model by learning from experiments, experiment with CI/CD to accelerate value delivery and show value using DevOps metrics.

As a fourth, conclusive phase Deloitte rolls off. The roll-off phase takes place once an organization is mature enough to continue working in their specific DevOps way of working and to onboard new DevOps teams and initiatives themselves. The key objectives are to stop the coaching efforts as the organization is mature enough and to handover the transformation responsibilities.

Want to learn more?

Want to learn more about the DevOps principles and their detailed implications on organizations target operating model, please feel free to reach out to the Deloitte DevOps practitioners mentioned at the bottom of this blog post. This Deloitte transformation approach has been proven in practice and in the next blog post, an insight will be given into the best practices and lessons learned of a DevOps transformation project delivered at a client. Stay tuned if you want to learn more about DevOps transformation and real-life experiences.

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