How to Overcome Resistance to DevOps Implementation
The number of businesses adopting DevOps to make software releases happen faster without compromising on software quality continues to grow. Within the next five years, the DevOps market is expected to reach almost $13 billion. If you are among those who’ve decided to make a shift to DevOps, you are likely to experience resistance coming from the departments involved in a software development life cycle (SDLC), and even from end users, at the start of your DevOps journey.

In this article, we will outline the reasons why your employees may resist the DevOps approach and show how to overcome their resistance.

About DevOps Approach Implementation

Among the benefits DevOps brings are the fast provision of new infrastructure, quick and reliable delivery of software updates, fewer post-release errors due to the implementation of continuous testing and the alignment of testing and production environments, etc. DevOps implementation requires efforts in establishing tight collaboration between the development, QA and operations teams, as well as adopting new tools and methodologies, such as containerization, IT infrastructure automation, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tools.

A new approach calls for project managers, developers, infrastructure management, QA and operations teams to leave their comfort zones and get used to new working conditions. However, each stakeholder has reasons to resist DevOps implementation and requires a tailored approach to overcome them.

The Resistance of Project Managers

Why They May Resist

Project managers (PMs) are the first to face the changes when the DevOps approach comes into force. Their resistance originates from a range of new duties, new responsibility and knowledge they need to add to their playbook, such as:

  • Persuading development, QA and operations teams involved in SDLC in the DevOps necessity.
  • Establishing constant collaboration between developers, the QA team and the operations team.
  • Getting familiar with DevOps-specific tools and techniques (CI/CD, continuous monitoring, version control tools, etc.) as well as cloud computing technologies like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Provider (GCP).

How to Overcome Resistance

PMs should become DevOps evangelists as they will be the ones who will contribute the most to overcome the resistance of other parties involved. A CIO should provide a PM with sufficient training on all DevOps-related aspects. Such training should include the management of the development, the QA team and the operations team in the context of close collaboration between them. It should also provide the PM with the understanding of DevOps methodologies and tools–containerization, infrastructure as code (IaC), continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), cloud technologies, etc.

The Resistance of Developers

Why They May Resist

Developers may resist DevOps adoption due to the following reasons:

  • They are not excited by the necessity to work with infrastructure engineers closer and deal with operational issues if the operations team is not competent enough to address them on their own.
  • They are comfortable with the technology stack they’ve chosen for a particular project and not accustomed to caring about how familiar the other project team members are with these tools and technologies.

How to Overcome Resistance

PMs should embrace their soft skills to establish a mutual understanding between developers and infrastructure engineers. They should also make sure infrastructure engineers can work with the tools and technologies developers may use within the DevOps approach, e.g., Docker, Jenkins, by providing them with relevant training.

The Resistance of a QA Team

Why They May Resist

A QA team may feel concerned about a faster SDLC DevOps implementation, since it entails less time for testing. Test engineers now need to acquire new skills prescribed by automation across the entire SDLC. In particular, they face the need to learn new tools for automated testing (Selenium, Appium, fMBT) and API testing (JMeter, Postman).

How to Overcome Resistance

To make QA engineers less risk-averse, QA managers in cooperation with PMs, should provide them with appropriate training (tools for automated testing and API testing) and show the advantages DevOps may bring. An opportunity to increase test engineers’ qualification level, less effort on testing activities than required with manual testing are among such benefits.

The Resistance of an Infrastructure Department Manager

Why They May Resist

In the pre-DevOps times, an infrastructure department manager was responsible for controlling the design, configuration and delivery of infrastructure for development, testing and production. With DevOps on board and the IaC approach implemented, the infrastructure manager may feel as if they lose control over the IT infrastructure provisioning and management. What’s more, the scope of the infrastructure manager’s responsibilities extends greatly since they’ll need to run the infrastructure department as a competency center.

How to Overcome Resistance

A company’s CIO should explain the infrastructure manager their new responsibilities upfront. The infrastructure manager should stay assured that they change the area of control, not lose it. Within DevOps, the infrastructure department manager has to transform their approach to work. They must be able to help a PM correctly arrange the development, QA and operations team for each particular project taking into account project complexity and size. The infrastructure manager must be able to proactively deal with the cases when the team members involved in software development lack qualification for a project, and not wait until the lack in teams’ competencies results in the project prolongation, for example.

The Resistance of Operations Engineers

Why They May Resist

With DevOps in place, the operations team will have to coordinate their efforts with developers and the QA team from the very beginning of the project, as well as regularly report to the PM on the tasks completed, which is not the usual work approach. To be able to work in the DevOps environment, operations engineers will also have to get familiar with a range of IT automation, version control and other tools. What’s more, the operations staff’s responsibilities will now include the provision of the information on the IT infrastructure functioning to business and technical stakeholders.

How to Overcome Resistance

To help an operations team adapt to the DevOps culture, the infrastructure department manager should deliver training to make operations engineers familiar with new tools and technologies they will need to use, e.g., version control systems (Git, Team Foundation Server), software deployment automation tools (Chef, Puppet), etc. A PM, in their turn, will need their soft skills to increase the operations team’s willingness to work in close alignment with development and QA teams.

The Resistance of End Users

Why They May Resist

It may sound surprising, but even the primary beneficiaries of the DevOps approach implementation may resist the changes DevOps brings. There are two reasons for it:

  • The time available for software acceptance testing gets reduced due to a faster SDLC.
  • Acceptance testing becomes automated, and end users hardly trust automated tests.

How to Overcome Resistance

To dispel end users’ DevOps-related doubts, PMs must do their best to earn their trust by establishing strong communication with end users. If, for example, end users know software testing covers critical software functionality and the probability of post-release errors is minimized, their confidence in software reliability and the overall trust in the DevOps approach rises.

In a Nutshell

Each party involved in software development has its reasons to be suspicious when the DevOps approach is coming on board. New duties, close collaboration, the necessity to apply new tools and other DevOps-related changes may make project managers, developers, QA engineers, IT infrastructure managers, an operations team and even end users resist the new approach.

To overcome the resistance, a company’s CIO should maintain open communication with each party involved in SDLC, explain their new duties and listen to their concerns. It’s essential to make sure each team member realizes what changes and advantages DevOps brings into SDLC. To ensure they have the necessary knowledge and skills, appropriate training should be provided to project managers, developers, QA team, IT infrastructure manager and the operations team.

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