Could Agile Solve Your DevOps Problems?


Tech Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for IT pros

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

DevOps evolved out of the agile principles, but can going back to the basics help to remove team problems?

Article 3 Minutes
Could Agile Solve Your DevOps Problems?

Based on agile principles, DevOps focuses on collaboration and communication of software developers and other IT professionals when it comes to delivering software. In theory, this involves breaking down any physical, structural, or other types of barriers that exist to help teams release software quicker and of a higher standard.

But in practise, working in this way can pose a number of problems for the processes involved in building, analysing and eventually releasing a product. Like any other structure, issues can arise that have an impact on the end result, but there are ways that the foundations of agile working can alleviate these problems.

Problem #1 - Releasing a rushed product

A common problems for DevOps is that the end products doesn't meet the expectations set out at the start of the project. This is often the result of trying to meet tight deadlines, resulting in corners being cut to reduce the length of each stage. However, one of the core elements of agile is working in an environment where this is avoided by identifying issues as - or preferably before - they arise.

Creating an environment where professionals feel comfortable sharing their criticisms with the rest of the team, without upsetting or undermining one of their colleagues, is a considerable part of developing a successful end product. With this, any feedback should be completely focused on why it falls short to the overall goals of the project, rather than concentrating on the way a certain professional operates or any of their characteristics.

Problem #2 - Project experiencing multiple delays

When you have a product with a deadline, it's important that each stage is completed on time to ensure the release date isn't delayed. This is essential for keeping clients happy, but also making sure no other projects suffer setbacks. However, with so many members working together in a DevOps team, delays are often commonplace.

Professionals working in an agile way should be more productive, with the whole structure focusing on making teams more time efficient. To achieve this, at the start of the project, setting certain working principles for the team, such as how people will communicate with each other and when quality controls will be done. This means that professionals from different departments can work as part of a cohesive team and better anticipate when any delays may arise.

By being aware of what is needed before and after their own involvement in the project, professionals can have more autonomy over their own work, while also helping identify any areas where delays may be caused. With this information, the team can work together to try and minimise the impact of this on the overall project.

Problem #3 - Work becomes monotonous

Agile principles are focused on period of intensive work, with set periods for analysis and feedback, which is usually done through scrumming or similar techniques. This allows professionals to focus completely on one project and - in theory - be more productive. However, anyone who has scrummed multiple times knows that it itself can become repetitive, especially with less creatively-driven stages of the project. Often this can lead to professionals becoming disillusioned with their work or distracted by other matters.

Working by the theories of agile, this can be avoided as it encourages having multiple opportunities to innovate or improve. It's also good to try and keep sprints fairly short to prevent it from getting too monotonous. A combination of these should help to drive innovation in the project, as well as avoiding sudden drops in productivity caused by boredom.

The Product Owner of the project should be responsible for identifying the ideal length of sprints and scrums, and when stand-ups or other analytic techniques should be used to get feedback and progress checks on the working product.

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