While Lean and Agile management methods have entered the company’s product and software development routine, another is gaining traction: the DevOps approach. This subtle combination of development and operation, widespread in IT, DevOps offers a new way of thinking about agile project management that should shake up the way organisations operate, helping them meet new digital challenges. We took stock along with Gérald Célestine, DevOps engineer at Wemanity, who enlightened us on this methodology.
With the rise of digital technologies, digital transformation has become the key to success for organisations. It’s a challenge that necessitates adopting an approach centred on innovation, agility, mobility and automation … in particular for companies’ IT departments, which are the main levers of value creation. And that’s good because that’s what the DevOps approach promises, by promoting better collaboration between teams and offering your company a culture of adaptation to change within a cycle of continuous innovation. It would even have enabled 60% of developers to release code twice as fast during the pandemic period, illustrating the practical application of agility and introducing more flexibility and responsiveness in different areas and stages of service delivery.
1. What exactly is DevOps?
More than yet another buzzword to add to the already rich IT jargon, the DevOps approach is a genuine revolution in the management of software or product projects, which makes it possible to deliver new services more efficiently by promoting collaboration between developers (Dev) and operations teams (Ops). While the former must produce new functionalities, the latter ensures the reliability of the site or application. By promoting synergies and their mutual involvement in all stages of service development, DevOps makes it possible to break down the silos that historically existed between these specialisms. This, in the long term, saves time on problem-solving, and new features can be released more quickly while reducing the risk of errors through automation.
It is an approach that in many ways resembles the Lean management found in the automotive industry, even if it also borrows from agility, as Gérald Célestine, DevOps engineer at Wemanity, explains. “DevOps is a methodology for automating work, especially repetitive tasks, to become more efficient. If we take the example of the automotive industry, the first time will be devoted to the construction of the vehicle, while the second time, DevOps will allow us to ensure that the vehicle uses fewer materials, for example.” But which also makes it possible to model production on the needs of the customer, as he wishes to recall. “The DevOps approach also involves listening to the business and developing, according to customer needs, values common to the business, agility, aided by the implementation of automation, efficiency measures, and improvement.”
2. More than a practice: a corporate culture
While the adoption of DevOps practices automates processes through technology, an approach that gets close to agility by relying on project management tools such as the Scrum methodology, it is primarily based on a paradigm shift in the organisation of work within the company.
DevOps is a new way of working that requires a specific mindset: automate, test and improve.
Gérald Célestine, DevOps expert at Wemanity
Indeed, DevOps requires:
- The establishment of management processes based on collaboration, listening and questioning.
- A flexible and improvement-oriented work culture which, as a result, promotes the emergence of a context conducive to innovation through an integrated environment.
- Continuous integration, which consists of automatically testing each modification of the code before it goes into production.
In practical terms, when a developer creates code, it is tested automatically, and, in the event of an error, a notification is sent directly to the coder. On the other hand, if there is no error, the code is then put into production directly; as Gérald confirms, “When code is created, it will be tested, and we will ensure that the product delivered is measurable, for example, that people connect to the delivered website. If one of the pages is not used, we will try to understand why and decide to correct or delete it as appropriate.”
3. DevOps, the right-hand man of agility
If you want to take the plunge, note that the establishment of a DevOps culture within your company is part of a strategy closely related to agility: by choosing to focus on interactions between individuals rather than on tools and by favouring change at each stage of the project rather than rigid planning. This supports a modern vision of management where the performance of the collective is based on collaboration between each of its members and which places the creation of business value at the heart of its process.
While Scrum provides a methodological framework for agility, DevOps constitutes its practical response by implementing the entire value chain of a product. An agility that goes right to the heart of the organisation and development infrastructure at Wemanity, as Gérald explains: “Today, we all do DevOps at Wemanity because the development frameworks all have a test layer included. It has become intrinsic to the way we work. We didn’t need to adopt it, because we just can’t ignore it anymore.”
4. The benefits of the DevOps approach
An approach with significant benefits: automating testing during the development of the project means the margin of error is limited and precious time is saved for the developers. This also serves the end consumer with more frequent and better quality product deliveries; as Gérald reminds us, “The DevOps approach can serve all layers of an IT department. When we automate, we have fewer errors and, therefore, lower operational costs; we have features closer to the customer’s needs, we gain in time and, therefore, in value.”
Benefits are not limited only to the IT sectors but can also be applied to other functions of the company in realising a project or a product. Using tools with built-in algorithms and automated testing, tasks are performed automatically without human intervention. This allows you to gather customer feedback which you can then incorporate into the planning and development of your future products. One way of making a difference, thanks to a flexible ecosystem, helping you to innovate more easily while maintaining a high level of quality.
5. How to integrate it into your organisation?
Loving DevOps does not mean adopting it, because you must be prepared to thoroughly review the organisational mechanics of work within your company.
The first thing is to consider a shorter project life cycle. This allows the product to be delivered more regularly but gradually to the customer. But also to promote the holding of regular meetings to facilitate self-organisation, transparency and information sharing, and above all, to support your employees in adopting best practices.
At Wemanity, for example, Gérald Célestine has set up “DevOps coaching”, through which he lists the actions to be taken by his teams. The aim is to provide them with the right level of information so that they understand the target to be reached. “My job is to take developers by the hand who don’t always know what DevOps involves and lead them in the right direction. I try to show them the tools but also to share with them the right reflexes so that they know how to use them subsequently according to their needs and the jobs they do”.
He fosters this mentality with the help of a variety of tools:
- Value stream mapping, which consists of bringing together all the players in a project and tracing their process graphically from idea to delivery to identify areas for improvement: process, devops or agility.
- Maturity assessment, which works on a number of themes, involves taking a snapshot at the start of project support and redoing it afterwards to monitor progress.
While the occupations related to DevOps are not yet particularly numerous in France, they are nevertheless key positions for companies looking for productivity and innovation. By developing new agile operating models, which extend DevOps principles beyond software to all surrounding functions, your organisation can become more reactive while being part of a dynamic of innovation and without having to sacrifice quality – the key to digital transformation in the coming years.