How DevOps Engineers Accelerate Project Velocity & Delivery

DevOps engineer in dark room looking at multiple computer screens, coding

Time to value is critical in today’s fast-paced world when your software developers do work that transforms business, saves millions of dollars, enriches human communication, and saves lives every day.

By the same values, every day that we do not get new software, businesses stagnate, money is wasted, people are isolated, and lives are lost.

It is our responsibility as software teams not to waste time.

Critical Roles To Shorten Time To Value

Developers are arguably the central critical element of getting software projects done. Because of this, when a software development team fails to deliver the desired features in the expected time and quality, organizations often try to address the issue by over-hiring developers.

Instead of trying to achieve more development by hiring more developers, we should turn to other members of the development team to accelerate delivery.

We have written earlier on how the SDETs and Scrum Masters can make your developers’ jobs easier and get features delivered faster.

The DevOps Engineer is another role that takes weight off the rest of the team and allows you to move fast while still building high-quality systems: ones that can perform efficiently, can be maintained easily, and are tolerant of faults in their connected components.

What is a DevOps Engineer?

A DevOps Engineer is an IT professional who works closely with software developers and other production IT staff to create and maintain an organization’s software. They create tools to support and automate stages of the software lifecycle and aim to enable faster development, increase dependability of releases, and promote cross-team communication.

What is the Theory of Constraints?

The Theory of Constraints is a problem-solving methodology for identifying the most important limiting factor, or constraint, that stands in the way of your project. The core concept of this theory is to identify and address that constraint in order to optimize processes and strengthen the project performance.

The Theory of Constraints also establishes that spending time addressing and optimizing non-constraints will not deliver significant benefits or impacts; only improvements to the constraint will achieve the goal. In other words, the methodology focuses on the “weakest link in the chain.”

The Impact of the DevOps Team on Software Delivery

Building software is a difficult activity that requires multiple complex systems to work in close orchestration. DevOps is a culture of behaviors that strives to encourage systems thinking, amplify and shorten feedback loops, and do continual experimentation and learning.

In many organizations, the DevOps team is responsible for building and maintaining the networks, virtual machines, services, and other essential infrastructure that our software runs on top of.

These are often roles that we may have previously named systems engineers, network engineers, or operations engineers and they keep our most essential systems running and performing well.

DevOps team members have a deep understanding of how complex systems are constructed, work together and communicate with each other. The development team is dependent on them to get their software installed and to keep it going smoothly and the process involved in the dev team working with the DevOps team is often a major constraint in delivery.

Concentrating on the central ideas of DevOps allows our project teams to get better software built faster.

How DevOps Engineers Can Unblock Constraints to Accelerate Velocity

The ways that DevOps Engineers can unblock significant constraints to support your team’s performance and keep them moving at high velocity are:

Pipelines and infrastructure as code

Increasing flow is the idea that getting from a great idea to the software running for the user should be as short as possible. It is the “faster” part of “better software built faster.”

DevOps Engineers are experts in the tools for build and deployment pipelines, automated creation of cloud environments, and managing the configuration of systems to talk to each other.

By directing the DevOps team to “build the tools that build the systems” rather than “build the systems,” software gets out faster and we stop wasting so much time waiting.

Improve feedback with standard logging

Once we get the software put somewhere, we need to see if it does the thing we want right away. This gets us the better part.

Once the software is in production, we need to see errors immediately, hopefully before our users do. The DevOps team can build the standards and even the common code that systems use to keep track of their activity.

Log development is a critical part of software development, and the DevOps team is well-qualified to help the developers by streamlining that process with great tools and well-managed expectations.

Provide experimental environments on-demand

Your developers are thinkers, fertile with ideas just waiting to be tried out. Those ideas can either be made material or evaporate into the ether.

If we can combine the principles of infrastructure as code and rapid deployments and configurations, we can create places that allow exploration and experiments while not interfering with dependencies and other team members.

The power of the latest tools like AWS CDK, Terraform, and Bicep in the hands of a talented DevOps Engineer can allow experimentation and safety at the same time, and those ideas that work, can get their code in the pipeline and integrated with the systems quickly.

Leveraging Your DevOps Engineers to Accelerate Your Projects

The practice of DevOps at its core is to shorten feedback loops that allow the team to build the right thing first. Embracing that philosophy to expand the influence of DevOps beyond simple systems engineering is central to delivering competitive software in this modern, hyper-paced world.

AIM Consulting has had repeated success in using team members with DevOps skills to take average-performing teams and make them extraordinary.