DevOps: The right strategy for startups

Published · 3 min read

Some people call it DevOps. I call it the only way to successfully navigate digital transformation. As small and nimble organizations, startups have exactly the right culture to embrace DevOps—a software development strategy deployed by companies large and small, from giants like Netflix and Facebook to the earliest stage startups—from the beginning.

But what is it? And how does it help businesses grow and thrive in today’s ever-changing marketplace? Below is a primer DevOps, a development philosophy that could pay dividends for your business.

What is DevOps?

Before we discuss why DevOps is a must for almost any new business venture, let’s first define what it means. While it might sound like a top-secret spy network, DevOops is actually a new approach to software development that emphasizes close collaboration among engineering and operations. The goal is to increase the speed and delivery of product and feature updates to customers.

Amazon defines DevOps as “the combination of cultural philosophies, practices and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity.” In other words, it helps you do good work, fast. But it’s not just a strategy. It’s a culture, and one that many legacy companies will have a difficult time embracing because of size and entrenched ways of working.

How does it work?

DevOps works by helping tech companies break down silos to get development and operations teams on the same page. Rather than thinking strictly in terms of fix-it tickets and deployments, teams work together to anticipate ways to make products work better for the customer.

Still, viewing DevOps as a way to improve service delivery alone is shortsighted. When done right, it can improve the entire lifecycle of your product, from planning to quality assurance and customer satisfaction efforts. The 2017 State of DevOps report found that companies embracing DevOps get more done across the board, deploying 46 times more frequently, with 440 faster lead times, 96 times faster recovery times, and five times lower failure rates.

Will it work for my company?

That depends on your business. By nature, startups are small and agile, with fewer legacy habits than larger organizations. That means a flatter, more collaborative approach to work should be easier to implement. Still, each business works differently and has its own distinct cultural issues. Companies that successfully embrace DevOps generally:

  • Innovate. Users today want the best and fastest solutions—now—and the companies that succeed are the ones that are able to give it to them. If there’s a bug, they want it fixed—yesterday. That means establishing a proactive culture focused on new and better experiences for the customer, even if it means embracing the idea of failure in the name of forward-thinking change. That’s a fundamental shift from the old, “That’s-how-we’ve-always-done-it” approach.
  • Take a people-first approach. Companies embracing DevOps know customers aren’t a separate issue from bottom-line success. When customers are happy, success is almost inevitable, especially if the company has a fully-engaged staff committed to a clear vision and innovative design.
  • Embrace change. There is no getting comfortable in the digital age except when it comes to change itself. IoT and the cloud are changing everything, from how businesses are run to how they make their profits. DevOps is built for a changing environment.
  • Stress collaboration. There is no such thing as a silo in the DevOps game. That’s because it goes beyond the traditional development and operations teams to encompass everyone involved in the user experience. A DevOps culture seeks value in the insights and roles that all team members contribute, and it fast-tracks those insights for quick, smart implementation.

As with anything in the digital landscape, culture will be a huge predictor of whether your company will experience success. Startups that embrace the concept of DevOps from the outset will be uniquely suited to compete in the new digital landscape, and most importantly, they will be able to win.

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