New Devops Research Underscores Leadership and Management
This year I’ve been searching for academic articles that cross over with commercial IT interests, including AI and devops. I recently found a comprehensive new literature review that offers unusually authoritative research on how devops practitioners deliver professional services. One result of the research is nearly 100 critical success factors (CSFs) for devops, in which organizational leadership and strategic management capabilities form a linchpin.
Conducted by Finland’s LUT University scholars Nasreen Azad and Sami Hyrynsalmi, the sweeping review consolidates lessons learned from 38 prior works investigating devops activities. Published in Information and Software Technology, the findings are derived from a data-driven systematic review protocol assessing peer-reviewed publications on the subject.
Table of contents
Organizational Collaboration & Communication
Among the multitude of factors, organizational elements emerge as key aspects in the success of high-performing devops teams. In the study’s culminating model, organizational and technical realms share primacy predicting success.
By implication, tolerating bad leadership in your organization is a clear negative factor in high-performing devops teams. So, what specific facets of leadership call for attention according to the authors?
The research spotlights intra-organizational collaboration, communication flows and breaking down cross-functional barriers as vital. For example, interactions between development and operations require reinforcement. Bottlenecks that produce silos must get diagnosed and dismantled through workflows promoting empathy. Shared understanding between teams enables progress.
Strategic planning also contributes outsized impact – especially practices accounting for continuous delivery and reflecting business priorities. Leadership capability to steer direction and modernize piecemeal proves paramount. This aligns with some of the latest management thinking where people “need the space” to get their jobs done right.
Cultural Knowledge Sharing & Perspective Taking
Beyond processes, cultural knowledge flows fuel advantage. Routines facilitating transparency, sharing insights across silos, even absorbing diversity of thought and feedback cycles differentiate high maturity models from stagnant ones.
Leaders seeking root causes when transformations lag would do well examining whether cultural dynamics nurture cross-pollination. Counterproductive tendencies like isolationism and blame games signal areas for realignment.
Technical Automation & Integration
On the technical side, ingredients like test automation, deployment standardization and monitoring guardrails consistently emerge ask key success factors for high performing devops teams.
Integration with existing infrastructure is another key success factor. This ensures continuity rather than disruptive replacement of foundations. Understanding the organizational capabilities if your devops tooling is key.
Finally, monitoring and feedback loops close the loop, helping teams course correct. But culture must encourage transparency for these practices to fulfill potential. The brings in another key management concept of maintaining an employee’s feeling of safety in their workplace, where constructive feedback is received without repercussions.
Relevance for Adoption Journeys
For devops leaders, several implications follow when leading high performing devops teams. Using the most efficient technology in the Salesforce CI/CD process rightfully commands attention. But matching technical prowess with management savvy and execution cannot lag far behind.
Where transformation efforts lose momentum or impact underwhelms, revisiting your organizational anatomy and your management techniques can help. How do bottlenecks in your team come about? Is strategic planning underserved? What communication channels need reinforcement? The answers can orient leaders to better enable your team’s success.
Unsexy as it may sound next to automation gadgets, shoring up nuts-and-bolts leadership blocking and tackling separates high-performance devops from half-baked experiments. Mastery of both people and tools constitutes the ultimate competitive edge. Consider this latest evidence a sobering reminder not to neglect that perennial truth.