In our first DevOps blog we talked about how we began our journey and touched briefly on the three main pieces of a DevOps movement: Culture, Process, Tools.
You may ask how we got started with changing the culture. And how do we know it's working?
What if I told you that if you carve out two hours a week for the next month to work on automating a task that you'd then free up 4 hours a month for yourself and 3 of your co-workers? Would you do it?
At first you have to realize that any change will require people doing some work. With the workloads we all carry these days we have to evaluate everything we do today for its priority and usefulness, always looking at our return on investment. Can we spend 10 hours over the next month to make a process better so that we save 5 people 4 hours every month for the foreseeable future? What's the trade off for those original 10 hours? Can we push out a deliverable date by a month in order to spend those hours?
We began by asking ourselves questions about pain points and areas of frustration. And what we found is that at the heart of the beginning of the DevOps transformation is the culture change. How do we stop doing the tasks that no longer matter? How do we evaluate what really needs to be done? Can we push lower priority work out some to give us time to change the processes that are time consuming? How do we change our mind set as an organization?
These are the kinds of changes in our thought process that have to be fostered in order to make DevOps work. It's not easy and it takes time to get everyone on board with shifting our focus and thinking in a DevOps way.
How do you get the buy in to change the culture? It's pretty simple: Prove it.
You make a small change that saves an hour of time or reduces frustration which proves that the time spent to evaluate and change the process is, in fact, worthwhile and provides real benefits.
- One of the first things we did was take a deep dive into a process that had 140 steps and reduced it to 81. This had been a widely shared pain point, so while fairly simple it proved management's commitment and showed real benefits.
- Another pain point was the upgrade of a tool we all use and are completely dependent upon. We had to upgrade the tool but in the past it has taken over 4 hours per user and the process was clunky and prone to errors. One person was assigned the task of creating an automated script that would reduce the process to 30 minutes. Management worked to free up cycles to allow him to spend two days which saved everyone else in the organization 4 hours each.
- We have another tool that is used by a large portion of our organization that takes nearly 30 seconds to complete a transaction. This has been a pain point for several years that users have been just dealing with in (mostly) silence. We have a small task force that is spending approximately an hour a week to find a solution to this problem. Once it is resolved we know it will save users time and a lot of frustration.
These were relatively small pain points, but they are helping to change the culture by establishing credibility that long-standing pain points can change and people will see real benefits from the work put into transformation. We have other items that are larger which we are working to automate that will save people time as well as increase quality.
We have opened the door to change and as an organization we are saying to ourselves "we don't have to do a task just because it's always been done". When people realize that the leaders of your organization are serious about letting the people who do the work change the work as they see fit, it empowers a person to look at every process and procedure in a new light.
That says to me that it's working.