Adapting the CI-CD Methodology to Your Organization

Every Organization today is embarking on a DevOps Initiative to accelerate delivery of Business value by IT. However, 75% of such initiatives are reported as ‘failed’ or ‘not as successful as expected’, by a recent report from Gartner. Our experience over multiple engagements enabling DevOps for large organizations showed us that teams are trying to adapt DevOps too fast too soon.

Building an all-inclusive delivery pipeline is most likely to fail if it is done all by ourselves at gunpoint. It needs a strategic approach of learning, adoption, and implementation.

Multiple Organization change models exist that use proven principles and strategies to bring in sustainable change. While the nomenclature differs in those models, the underlying principles can be distilled into 3 steps. In this article, we use an ancient Japanese martial art training concept called Shu-Ha-Ri, helps novices progress from basics to mastery and finally innovation.

In this article, we take a deeper dive into how this model can help organizations introduce change, especially to IT teams who are born skeptics!

SHU (Imitation): A survey done by a popular cloud management platform says 78% of the organizations fail to get DevOps right. The reasons are distinct from culture to uncertainty of technology adoption to unplanned workloads. Setting unrealistic goals weighs down the enthusiasm of talents. Most of the senior practitioners and a lot of leaders who’ve successfully adopted and executed CI-CD pipelines into their software production advocate ‘Do what the book says’ way to avoid pitfalls. Following the agile manifesto and mimicking the proved methodologies of DevOps adoption will trim down the chances of failure and provides a springboard to the contributing teams to understand the basics, get comfortable with the transition and innovate as its needed.

There was a time where HP LaserJet Firmware Group was doing only 2 releases per year and majority of the developer’s time was being spent on importing existing firmware into products. As a result, though they had about 700 developers across the globe, they hardly had any time to write any new features. That is when they’ve decided to follow Toyota’s ‘stop the line’ culture to improve quality, eliminated code branching and stepped into testing automation. Their commits per day have increased from 1 to 100+ and their percentage of time spent on writing new features have improved from 5% to 40%.

HA (Assimilation): This is the stage where nascent teams break shells and become proficient. The prime drivers of transformation of the enterprises shall observe the results of the aforementioned practices, turn those outcomes into insights which shall help them to move beyond the repetitive exercises. The leaders must encourage their practitioners to break the rules and start experimenting. This rehearsal shall shape the values and principles that may drive the forthcoming operations. This will be the perfect time to introduce tailored Quality Engineering practices.

While new-age FinTech companies are disrupting the traditional banking services, Lloyds Banking Group (whose history dates back to 1765) came out of its comfort zone and proved no company is too old to implement and develop its own DevOps model. They managed to bring new applications into market that comply with government regulations. They claimed to ‘Remove waste from the processes’, stabilized testing environments, automated repetitive tasks and even brought in 3rd party DevOps tools to strengthen their CI-CD pipeline.

RI (Innovation): Although following the safe methodologies and leveraging third-party solutions is working out just fine to support the Continuous Delivery efforts, no one wants to be a mechanistic grease monkey in a world where progression happens only with innovation. That’s the cue to bring in what Martin Fowler calls it a ‘Pragmatic Scrum’ which adapts to the styles and situations of individual teams and contributors, then culminates in true Agility in approaching projects, challenges, and the process itself. By the time teams reach this phase, they should be guardedly optimistic, contain home-grown talents, timely innovate, co-create the process, and accomplish their own rules.

There are many businesses who managed to build top-notch CI-CD pipelines, yet Netflix is a story worth saying again. The world’s largest video streaming company had struggled with Digital Transformation, followed the book of SAFe, tried what their contemporaries are doing, learnt lessons from their results, borrowed technologies, built their own and constantly bettering them with every chance they get. Post cloud migration, when Quantity was challenged by Quality, they’ve decided to build an army to interrupt random instances with no warning only to improve their reliability, security, resiliency and recoverability. That bold move shook the IT world and now many other companies are using the open source Simian Army to improve the quality of CI-CD pipeline.

One step at a time

Its never too late to take a step towards quicker time to market, efficient data utilization, faster operational procedure, better customer experience, and ultimately strengthening the business to be more sustainable. But as they say, one step at a time! The key is to listen to your customer and act accordingly. The leaders must nurture a test-and-learn culture to consistently optimize services and adopt Agile processes to focus on rapid prototyping and quick release cycles.

Still have questions about what can be the right strategy to bring in CI-CD into your IT? Our DevOps experts can tailor-made a strategy for you.

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