DevOps has been around for a while, its popularity driven by the ability to enable leaner and agile processes with high-quality releases and faster time to market. According to the ‘2018 State of DevOps’ report by DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA), high performing IT organizations deploy code 46 times more frequently, have a failure rate that is 7 times lower and can recover from incidents almost 2600 times faster!

But one often hears accounts of DevOps implementations failing to meet expectations. Here are some key factors that can cause DevOps implementations to fail.

Unstable IT infrastructure. A report by 451 Research reveals that nearly 70% of FS firms state that their cloud programs are only in the initial or testing phases owing to concerns about data security, risk exposure, and non-compliance. Despite the benefits of pay-per-use, scalability, agility, and stability, these concerns steer many FS firms to rely on their on-premises infrastructure. Unfortunately, legacy infrastructure governed by fragmented systems provide limited scope for automation, which is a key requirement for agile testing and continuous delivery.

Poor quality assurance. DevOps mandates a shift-left attitude based on the theme of continuity – continuous integration, continuous testing, and continuous delivery – for greater release frequency, quality assurance, and faster feedback loops. It is about aligning business and IT for better outcomes like user satisfaction, which is a top priority for QA teams according to the World Quality Report 2019. Consider how finance organizations with trade, foreign exchange, or wealth management platforms have to compete aggressively for customer mindshare by rolling out new features and benefits, which requires seamless synchrony between business, development, testing, and operations teams. Without this continuity, application owners cannot release high-quality features quickly, leading to customer attrition and revenue loss.

Lacking the right mindset. DevOps is about collaboration and not simply transferring code from one team to the next, a hurdle that can only be overcome by strategic change management. Gartner predicts that a whopping 75% of DevOps programs will fail to meet expectations by 2022 due to organizational learning and change management issues. Another report by McKinsey highlights that nearly 70% of change management programs fail to meet their goals due to employee resistance. Beginning with a single team rooted in the DevOps culture is a good start. Once teams experience the benefits of collaboration and sharing, they often implement technologies to facilitate even greater sharing of ideas, knowledge, processes, and more, as demonstrated in the findings of the DORA report1.

Absence of quick wins. Implementing DevOps can be a tall order, and not all teams are necessarily convinced of gains at the outset. Showcasing quick wins through pilot projects that leverage fail fast and fail early methodologies is critical. One of our clients, a wealth management company with nearly USD 60 billion in assets was struggling to see value from their DevOps program. On assessing their landscape, we uncovered issues of shared infrastructure, disparate systems, and ad-hoc tool adoption, which led to significant manual effort by application owners and long release cycles. We migrated a few chosen applications to the cloud, deployed our own automation scripts, and used existing tools with CI/CD. This helped the client reduce manual effort by 80%, simplify test case development, and improve workload management. More significantly, the pilot run was the first step towards demonstrating the value of cloud infrastructure, collaborative teams, and quick wins, which has streamlined their DevOps implementation journey.

Clearly, DevOps success is not an outcome of a few tools, but about the underlying culture. When implemented correctly, DevOps creates synergy between business and IT so that application owners can adapt on-demand to meet dynamic business needs – a crucial capability in an age where time to value can make or break companies.

References
1. Accelerate: 2018 State of DevOps
2. Financial services companies must embrace the cloud, Information Age, Feb 2019
3. World Quality Report 2018-2019, 10th Edition (pg 10)
4. The Secret to DevOps Success, Gartner, April 2019
5. Changing change management, McKinsey, July 2015

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