Benefits and Challenges of Adopting DevOps as an SME

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The DevOps methodology has several advantages in several key business areas, even if you’re an SME (Small or Medium-sized Enterprise). Such consist of improved market agility, increased product or service quality, and a revised culture of cooperation and effectiveness in staff operations.

By promoting and implementing a DevOps culture, your business stakeholders, Dev and Ops teams align much closer together and can better share in-between knowledge. This lets you create products more rapidly, and increase the deployment rates.

The time for evaluating a business idea, development, testing and shipping the finished product reduces dramatically. Quality margins improve, and this feeds back into the ability of your teams to continually fine-tune the products you offer.

Businesses see a point in adopting DevOps only if it is directly contributing to the company’s increased effectiveness, productivity and, of course, profitability. The only way that it is possible for small and medium enterprises is when their IT and DevOps teams are working in sync and streamlining the provision of tech solutions that solve the business needs. And only a successful and timely DevOps adoption inside your organization will help you in beating competitors and staying afloat as the development across the industry speeds up.

In the last years, we’ve seen a tremendous application delivery shift in businesses. We moved away from the old ways of having large-scale system implementations based on one single project and its continued maintenance. Modern SMEs now turn to perceiving application delivery as a continuous evolution. This is precisely where DevOps methodology plays a leading role as this software engineering trend ensures that such a significant shift is possible.

Business needs are a DevOps priority

But does your business have to get involved? Of course, your SME leadership focuses on the “business needs” of your company. But when we look at organizations that have implemented proper DevOps practices, the internal structure of the company shifts to focus on delivering exceptional business results across the whole lifecycle of your product/services offering.

DevOps also ensures that employees can correct their work direction during the whole lifetime of a project. Things and goals tend to change, competitors may roll out some features that may make some of your project’s parts trivial, and all of this generates the need to adjust your plan and make it different when you deliver. Shipping, however, is easy when your business need is close to both the Development and Operations teams that can steer and drive this adjustment of goals.

The clash inside organizations

Measuring the impact of DevOps on the things that matter to business is vital. Currently, the majority of SMEs are still meddling with DevOps adaption, and some parts of companies clash inside of organizations and try to prevent the full adoption. The culture within enterprises is transforming too drastically, although the effects of using DevOps methods are mostly, or entirely, positive.

Such a shift in companies is making an impact on all operations with software development being the central part. SMEs can often easier change and adapt compared to larger businesses, and this lets them move the workplace culture a step ahead of their larger counterparts.

Looking at the details

If we look at business, operation and development teams from a historical point of view, it was not their aim to establish connectivity between them. They started cooperating only when it was absolutely necessary to get the other team’s input. SMEs are still experiencing such a separation as most responsibilities are set in stone for each side and each individual employee.

DevOps Graphic Steer Develop Test Deploy Operate OverviewOverview of DevOps phases and activities

All business units are used to working in their own silo, and there is a lack of will to leave the comfort zone and act outside the predefined roles. Such actions in the past could have been viewed negatively.

While most businesses that want to implement DevOps have employees who want the company to scale and prosper, some might think that making people act outside their duties is perceived with dyssynchrony. But to reach the end goals of any business, namely, ensuring fast and quality product delivery, and solving issues on the go, requires people to interconnect their duties and reach outside their business unit.

With proper DevOps application, such collaboration can be smooth and result in the improvement of cross-functions. As a result, we’ll see your central business units become conjoined so that you can forget about business stagnation and reap the benefits.

DevOps represents change in internal business structures

Many SMEs are faced with internal structural issues that limit the company’s prospects: engineers are not willing to be on-call, the Ops team have a negative attitude towards those who write code, and even some executives that are careful to embrace automation.

Organizations must overcome the culture war to be agile and productive. The faster they can get there, the faster these organizations can take the competitive edge away from traditional enterprises and establish a better foothold in the market.

Empathy is the core of DevOps adoption

One of the core ideas behind DevOps is mutual empathy. Having empathy from operations toward developers and vice versa, as well as understanding in other business-related and non-technical company units remains vital. It’s not about patting your colleague on the back. We are talking about the moral mandate of a developer that not merely creates his/her part of the software that works and doesn’t care about how it can be deployed in production.

The goal is to push employees to think outside of their isolated tasks and to take into account how hard or easy it would be to use their work by others in the company. Is the developed app secure? How hard is it to deploy it? Is it easy to keep it running? All these questions and more should always be considered by everybody throughout the lifecycle of a product. If those things are not accounted for the developer’s colleagues on the Ops side will pay the price if something goes wrong past the release. This can cost a lot of nerve, reputation, time and finally could become a financial issue.

By ensuring that everybody in the SME has empathy for each other at its core, businesses will deliver better products and services. Doing just that is the destination that DevOps aims to bring companies to. Until this is clear to all, DevOps will face a cultural war of sorts, and methodology adoptions might not be a success.

Summary

Your people are your most valuable resource. By considering to adopt DevOps, you have to rethink the ways your organization operates, how it deploys its teams across the enterprise, and how often you address structural problems that appear within your business over time.

Becoming a DevOps organization is no easy task and picking this up requires confidence that changing the existing processes will produce improvements. Reworking and optimizing organizations are the new norm, regardless of their size, industry, and goals. The faith in DevOps culture is driven by quantifiable statistics, but the intangible benefits to corporate culture are just as compelling.

Many businesses are looking at implementing DevOps, and even more, SMEs are in the active process of its application. When your company is delivering quality ahead of time, there is a good chance your competitors will be left behind as you are getting the bigger piece of the pie.

Key takeaways

  • To stay competitive, businesses need to continually adapt to an ever-changing environment, respond to markets and stay on top of the innovation cycle, increasing customer value via responsiveness to change.
  • Increased service quality depends on both the availability of the service and being able to restore the service to an error-free state. Thanks to fast feedback loops and high release velocity, service breakdowns can be recovered much quicker than in the past.
  • DevOps is built on the principle of waste reduction, such as wait times and process overhead due to continuous improvement. This helps to improve agility and has a positive impact on costs as well.
  • Fostering continuous learning and improving culture through efficient principles is what DevOps is all about. In a fast-paced, unpredictable environment, non-stop improvement is paramount for sustaining your competitive advantage. It is also essential for attracting exceptional talent and keeping employee satisfaction at a high level.

This guest contribution has been written by Stepan Pushkarev, Head of DevOps Practice at Squadex.com and CTO at Hydrosphere.io. The article was provided by Ilya Dudkin from Provectus.

If you’re looking for an employment with orgs who do DevOps, feel invited to check our job board.


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Photo credit: Rawpixel / Chart by TechAcute

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