Executives overestimate DevOps maturity

We break down why understanding the current maturity of DevOps leads to successful implementation.

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2017 is the year of DevOps! The team here at Forrester is seeing this momentum grow every day with increased inquiries, solution proliferation and a growing number of calls from executives on scaling from DevOps pilots to the enterprise.

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Enterprises are accelerating to deliver on the promise of Digital Transformation -- they have no choice. Conversely, we are also experiencing many organizations overstating their DevOps progress. Yes, they are gaining some speed, but the primary benefit connecting development and operations for both speed and quality is still elusive for many.

Reality check required

DevOps radically transforms your IT landscape, impacting culture, people, process and tooling. For a few organizations, DevOps started with a series of successful pilots or prototypes. Today, it is gaining momentum in all verticals and scaling enterprise-wide. DevOps ushers in a major cultural shift with the transition to product teams from individual silos, automated end-to-end processes and new tooling. Our research identifies that executives and practitioners differ widely in their perspectives on strategy, customer experience and the progress they have made -- introducing some potentially significant chasms which require bridging.

Speed with quality requires a mind shift

Digital transformation shifts focus from internal systems to the customers. In this era, your customer has the power to disengage with your company and engage with your competitor. Velocity is king -- but speed without quality is a recipe for disaster. The traditional approach of slowing down delivery in an endless quest for perfection is no better; that's why speed with quality is the DevOps mantra. To succeed, organizations must eradicate traditional thinking and develop the ability for continuous deployment.

Although understood, release cadence remains unsatisfactory with 27 percent of execs, whereas 21 percent of practitioners strongly agree that their business is happy with the time it takes to release new features. Using multiple automation tools within functional silos impedes the release cadence. Some of the challenges reported include: communications due to executives speaking the language of business rather than the language of technology; and practitioners' inability to articulate delays or process gates in terms that the business can understand, resulting in cadence frustrations.

Automation across the lifecycle is critical to value creation

Our research confirmed executives consistently overestimate technology management's levels of automation across multiple stages of the release pipeline. The velocity gained from automation is critical to creating value.

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Disconnects introduce manual handoffs and/or manual actions, and non-supported integrations lead to delays and human errors which causes delays and quality issues. Automation throughout the life cycle is non-negotiable and is fundamental to meet the business demand for speed and agility. Automating the entire pipeline leads to an immediate spike in business velocity that is not only sustainable, but also forms the baseline for future acceleration. To assist you in this important endeavor, tooling is available to drive and enforce organizational good practices to overcome these hurdles.

For an enterprise to implement DevOps successfully, both executives and practitioners need to understand the current maturity state. Executives and practitioners differ widely in their perspectives on strategy, customer experience and progress they have made on their DevOps journey. When pros and executives are on the same page, your business wins!

--By Robert Stroud, Principal Analyst

For guidance on where disconnects commonly exist and how to address them while pursuing continuous deployment, see Forrester's report: A Dangerous Disconnect: Executives Overestimate DevOps Maturity [subscription required].

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