Traditional project management operates in silos, where teams work independently from each other. Departments would get defined phases, projects, and handoffs, work on their tasks, and send them over to the other departments when they’re done.
In the tech field, this means a project is made by software developers while management and deployment are handled by the IT team. If these two teams can’t communicate with each other, there will be communication gaps, slow releases due to lengthy testing cycles, and many other problems.
DevOps is a set of practices and philosophies that bridge the traditional divide between software development and IT operations. Using tools like CI/CD DevOps pipelines and online team workspaces, companies are shifting from traditional project management to DevOps methodologies with huge success.
Why Did DevOps Project Management Take So Long to Become Popular?
Part of the Agile project management movement, DevOps makes a lot of sense. If you have two teams that heavily impact each other’s work, then shouldn’t they talk together and collaborate?
Unfortunately, DevOps couldn’t work 20 years ago for a couple of reasons:
- Siloed Culture: Traditional IT and development structures were deeply entrenched, with established processes and performance metrics favouring individual team goals over overall software quality and delivery. Changing this deeply ingrained culture took time and effort.
- Lack of Automation Tools: Tools and technologies crucial for automating DevOps processes like CI/CD pipelines and infrastructure management were yet to be mature or widely available in the early days.
- Resistance to Change: Implementing DevOps often requires organisational restructuring, skillset adaptation, and investment in new tools and training. This can be disruptive and met with resistance from established teams and management.
While it may seem like common sense in retrospect, DevOps required a convergence of factors and sustained effort to overcome established practices and resistance to change. Today, its impact is undeniable, and the future of software development is firmly tied to collaboration and continuous improvement, hallmarks of the DevOps philosophy.
Enhancing Collaboration and Communication Best Practices
DevOps integrates the development process and operations teams, fostering a culture of shared responsibility and transparency. The software developers understand the operational concerns, and operations are involved in design and development decisions. Everything is open and visible when team members share information freely, easily, and quickly—from the code, test results, and deployment logs.
Because both teams collaborate on expectations and deliverables, there’s no finger-pointing or blaming. When everyone understands the system and has access to relevant information, resolving critical issues becomes a team effort, leading to faster recovery times.
Ultimately, this leads to higher team morale and shared successes, building stronger team bonds and increasing job satisfaction.
The 2020 DevOps Trends Survey by Atlassian & CITE Research highlights collaboration as a cornerstone of a successful DevOps lifecycle. The survey involved 500 professionals and aimed to comprehend the factors influencing their work. The results showed collaboration as one of the top 3 traits crucial for a successful DevOps team.
Accelerating Delivery and Improving Quality
CI/CD stands for continuous integration and continuous delivery (or deployment), and it’s a cornerstone of DevOps practices that enables frequent, reliable software releases.
Here’s how it works:
Continuous Integration (CI): Developers frequently share code changes with the team. A CI server automatically builds and compiles the code, running unit tests, and developers get immediate feedback on code quality and potential issues.
Continuous Delivery (CD): Verified code is sent to a testing environment and monitored by IT operations before giving it some kind of approval (usually manual). The feature is quickly deployed to users if IT is happy with the code’s performance.
CI/CD is unique to DevOps management because it needs fast feedback loops between teams, something traditional project management in silos can’t do. Since developers collaborate with IT, they can find problems faster, test code quicker, and ultimately accelerate delivery without sacrificing quality.
According to DORA’s “2019 State of DevOps” report, elite DevOps teams deploy code 208 times more frequently and recover from change failures 2,604 times faster. This is achieved through automated build tools, continuous integration, and continuous delivery. The report also emphasises the importance of optimising for stability without sacrificing speed, showing that DevOps can deliver value to customers and end users by impacting both commercial and non-commercial outcomes.
Automation and Efficiency with DevOps Project Management Tools
Effective DevOps encourages automation which plays a pivotal role in streamlining processes, reducing errors, and accelerating software delivery. Here’s a closer look at its impact and the tools that make it possible:
- Jenkins: An open-source automation server that orchestrates CI/CD pipelines, managing tasks like code builds, tests, and deployments.
- Docker: A containerisation platform that packages applications and their dependencies into portable, self-contained units, enabling consistent deployment across environments.
- Kubernetes: An open-source container orchestration platform that automates containerised applications’ deployment, scaling, and management.
- Terraform: An infrastructure as code (IaC) tool that enables the creation, modification, and versioning of infrastructure using code.
Automating tasks like building, testing, and deploying code enables teams to save time and focus on their high-value tasks like coding and strategy. By automating repetitive, manual tasks with reliable automation tools, human errors and headaches are minimised. Resulting in a more efficient and consistent workspace.
Infrastructure as code (IaC) treats infrastructure configuration management (servers, networks, etc.) as code, allowing it to be managed and versioned like any other software component. Infrastructure managed this way is quicker and more efficient, and any changes can be traced and audited with version control logs.
Fostering a Methodology of Continuous Improvement
DevOps thrives on feedback loops, constantly collecting and analysing data to improve both products and processes. These loops gather insights from various sources, feed them back into the development cycle, and enable teams to make informed decisions for better outcomes. Here’s why they’re so crucial:
- Early Detection of Issues: Monitoring and feedback loops catch performance issues, bugs, and user problems early, allowing for quick resolution and minimising impact.
- Data-Driven Insights: Real-time data generated through these loops informs and optimises development and operational decisions, improving both software quality and delivery speed.
- Continuous Experimentation: Feedback loops enable rapid iteration and testing of new features and strategies, allowing teams to learn and adapt quickly.
- Increased Collaboration: Shared insights from various stages foster collaboration between development, operations, and even users, leading to better problem-solving and decision-making.
Data from feedback loops and monitoring tools should be readily available and analysed to inform project decisions and improve processes. Frequent releases, open communication, and shared ownership between development and operations teams mean failing fast and learning quickly from mistakes to innovate rapidly.
Remember, feedback loops are like a self-driving car’s navigation system. The more data it receives, the smarter and more efficient the car becomes. Similarly, in DevOps, the more you listen to the feedback generated through monitoring and user interactions, the better you can improve your products and processes.
Section 5: Overcoming Challenges in DevOps Implementation
While DevOps is a transformative approach to software development, implementing the philosophy has its fair share of challenges.
- Resistance to Change: Transitioning from traditional siloed structures to a collaborative DevOps culture requires a mindset shift, which can be met with resistance from established teams and management.
- Skill Gaps: DevOps requires a blend of development, operations, and automation skills, which may be gaps in existing teams.
- Integration Complexities: Integrating various DevOps tools and technologies across the development and operations lifecycle can be complex and time-consuming.
Teams can fix these problems by promoting open communication and shared ownership of work to combat silo mindsets. The best way to implement DevOps is to start small, establish clear goals, provide certifications and training, and hire a professional to oversee the transition. The right professional will choose the correct tools for the workspace and be the right guide to DevOps for the team.
Project managers need to start studying DevOps principles if they want to improve their skills. As a DevOps project manager, you’re in charge of managing cultural shifts, helping team members transition and adapt to the DevOps framework, and ultimately completing tasks.
Conclusion — Benefits of DevOps
DevOps has revolutionised project management by bridging the gap between development and operations teams, and its impact on the industry can’t be understated.
- Faster Time to Market: DevOps focuses on continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), enabling teams to release new features and updates to customers faster and gain a competitive edge.
- Improved Software Quality: Continuous testing and feedback loops built into DevOps practices help identify and fix bugs early in the development process, leading to higher-quality software and fewer post-release issues.
- Enhanced Collaboration and Communication: DevOps breaks down silos between development and operations teams, fostering a culture of shared ownership and responsibility for the entire software lifecycle.
- Increased Agility and Resilience: By automating routine tasks and monitoring systems continuously, DevOps empowers teams to respond quickly to changes and incidents, improving their agility and resilience in a dynamic market.
- Reduced Costs: The automation and improved efficiency of DevOps practices lead to reduced operational costs and resource utilisation, freeing up resources for other initiatives.
If you’re interested in transitioning to DevOps, then you’re on the right track. DevOps isn’t just about AI tools and automating tasks. It’s a cultural shift to how you approach work.