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Doing DevOps? Turn your boss into a DevOps leader first

You’ll need leadership for DevOps to really work. Thankfully, because DevOps will improve the speed and quality of production and cut costs, your boss should be on board.

If you’re a software developer, tester or admin, you already know how DevOps can improve software delivery. But does your boss, the non-technical guy or gal who runs your department or company, also understand why DevOps matters?

Your boss probably doesn’t know DevOps

There’s a good chance the answer is no. While the DevOps philosophy has had a huge impact within the tech world over the past several years, few people who don’t work with software understand the concept. (It may not help that the meaning of the term DevOps is pretty hard to puzzle out if you hear the word on the street.)

But if you want to implement DevOps principles in your organization, you’ll need buy-in from your boss. You’ll need to turn enterprise leaders into DevOps leaders. Getting the tools, personnel and organizational structures you need to do DevOps requires DevOps leadership in the trenches but also from above.

Getting your boss to love DevOps

So, how can you educate your boss about DevOps and get his or her to sign off on it? Here are some pointers:

  • It’s OK to focus on how DevOps makes software delivery faster, but mention quality, too. A generation ago, fast releases were not the norm – and there was a notion that if software was rushed out the door to meet delivery deadlines, it might suffer from low quality. So, if you bring up delivery speed, make clear that it doesn’t come at the cost of quality.

  • Emphasize cost savings. DevOps makes the lives of technical people easier because it allows them to work more efficiently. But your boss probably doesn’t care whether your life is easy as much as cares about saving money. When you talk about the efficiencies that DevOps introduces to software production and management, make clear that they translate to cost-savings.

  • Explain that the software world now speaks DevOps, and you need to keep up. DevOps is a fast-growing skillset requested in job ads. It’s a sine qua non of big tech companies like Google and Netflix. As a result, if your organization doesn’t do DevOps, it looks outdated – not only to technical people working there, but also to prospective employees, analysts, partners and so on. This should all matter to your boss.

DevOps is important not just for helping software delivery teams work faster and better, but also for the operational efficiency and image of your company. Executives will appreciate this argument – and you should present it to them if they don’t currently know about DevOps, because executive-level support is crucial for making the most of DevOps within any organization.

This was last published in May 2017

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