25 February 2023

Taking a deep dive into DevOps


When DevOps is done right, it will lead to improved speed, quality, efficiency, and unit economics. This results in better customer satisfaction and higher reliability, as well as enhanced security and better scalability. This leads to lower cost of goods sold (COGS) and better SaaS economics for the business driving the overall organisation performance. Let’s do a deep dive into these aspects and try to truly understand what DevOps is and how to get its true benefits.

Three pillars of DevOps

  1. Software Delivery Performance: This refers to the stability and efficiency of the software delivery process. The faster and more frequently new features and updates can be released, the higher the throughput. At the same time, the more quickly issues can be resolved, and the fewer failures occur, the greater the stability.
  2. Operational Performance: This is about ensuring the reliability of the software and meeting service level objectives (SLOs) to achieve service level agreements (SLAs).
  3. Organisation Performance: This encompasses both software delivery performance and operational performance, as well as the culture within the team. Teams that have a continuous improvement mindset tend to have higher overall performance compared to those that do not.

Software Delivery Performance

Software Delivery Performance refers to an organisation’s ability to deliver software applications and updates in a timely, reliable, and efficient manner.

It is a key indicator of the effectiveness of an organisation’s software development and delivery processes.

DORA, the DevOps Research and Assessment organisation, has identified several key metrics that can be used to measure software delivery performance. It is measured by the stability and throughput of the system. Cloud adoption, CI/CD Infrastructure, and loosely coupled architectures further drive software delivery performance.

  1. Lead time for changes – the time it takes for a change to be made and deployed into production
  2. Deployment frequency – how often code changes are deployed into production
  3. Time to restore service – the time it takes to recover from a service outage or incident
  4. Number of repeat incidents – how many incidents are repeated due to lack of problem management RCA best practices
  5. Change failure rate – the percentage of changes that result in service degradation or outage

High-performing organisations in terms of software delivery performance are able to deploy code more frequently, with fewer failures, and recover faster from failures when they do occur. This can lead to faster time-to-market, improved quality, and increased customer satisfaction.

Operational Performance

Operational Performance refers to an organisation’s ability to execute its business operations in an effective and efficient manner, meeting the demands of its customers, stakeholders, and internal objectives. It is a key indicator of the health and success of an organisation, and encompasses various aspects of operations such as production, supply chain, customer service, and financial performance.

Operational performance is all about keeping promises an organisation makes to the customers in a reliable and repeatable manner.

This is measured by Reliability which includes Security and other “-ilities” as SLOs being met by teams to achieve overall SLAs. Supply chain security controls and NIST SSDF based SDLC is a part of the overall reliability of the platform/product. Investing in SRE and adopting SRE practices greatly increases operational performance.

  1. Quality SLOs – focus on the quality of the service being provided. E.g. User experience, functionality, security, compliance and other “-ilities” that represent the overall quality from an end consumer perspective.
  2. Platform SLOs – focus on the performance of the underlying platforms and infrastructure that support the service being provided. E.g. Availability, performance, incident response, data privacy, etc.
  3. Business SLOs – focus on the impact of the service being provided on the customer’s business outcomes, such as revenue or customer satisfaction.

Establishing and meeting SLOs can help organisations ensure that their services are meeting the needs of their customers and stakeholders. By measuring and reporting on SLOs, organisations can identify areas for improvement and make changes to their services and infrastructure as needed to better meet customer needs and expectations.

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Organisation Performance

Organisational performance refers to an organisation’s ability to achieve its goals and objectives in a sustainable manner. It is influenced by several factors, including financial performance, operational performance, software delivery performance, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and team culture.

Key contributing factors for an organisation’s performance is a combination of high software delivery performance, high operational performance, and team culture. Teams that recognise the need to continuously improve tend to have higher organisational performance than those that don’t.

To measure organisational performance, organisations can use a variety of metrics and indicators, depending on their goals and objectives. Some common measures of organisational performance include:

  1. Financial Performance – increased revenue, profitability, and return on investment (ROI)
  2. Operational Performance – high reliability
  3. Software Delivery Performance – high stability and throughput
  4. Customer Satisfaction – measures of customer experience, loyalty, and retention
  5. Employee Engagement – measures of employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity
  6. Team Culture – Performance Oriented (Generative)

High-performing organisations are able to balance these different dimensions of organisational performance, achieving their goals while also ensuring that they are operating in a sustainable and responsible manner. To improve organisational performance, teams need to adopt a continuous improvement mindset.

DevOps Goals: What good looks like

High Performance DevOps Teams

Setting proper DevOps goals for software delivery performance, operational performance, and organisational performance can benefit SaaS companies in several ways. Here are some specific business benefits:

  1. Faster time-to-market: Improving software delivery performance, SaaS companies can release new features and updates more quickly, enabling them to respond more rapidly to changing customer needs and market conditions. This can help them gain a competitive advantage and generate more revenue.
  2. Improved product quality: High software delivery performance and operational performance can lead to fewer bugs, better performance, and greater reliability, all of which contribute to improved customer satisfaction and retention. This, in turn, can lead to increased revenue and profitability.
  3. Lower costs: Improving operational performance, SaaS companies can reduce the costs associated with system downtime, incident response, and customer support. This can result in significant cost savings and improved profitability.
  4. Better collaboration and communication: Fostering a strong team culture that values continuous improvement, SaaS companies can improve collaboration and communication across teams, resulting in better alignment of business and IT objectives, reduced rework, and improved efficiency.
  5. Enhanced customer experience: Focusing on operational performance and customer satisfaction, SaaS companies can improve the customer experience, resulting in increased loyalty, retention, and revenue.

Overall, setting proper DevOps goals for software delivery performance, operational performance, and organisational performance can help SaaS companies achieve higher levels of organisational performance and sustain long-term success. By doing so, they can realise significant business benefits in terms of financials, including increased revenue, improved profitability, and reduced cost of goods sold (COGS).

This article was originally published on LinkedIn, and has been edited and reposted with permission from Dhanush Hetti.

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