You’ve probably heard a lot about DevOps, including practices such as continuous integration, continuous delivery, continuous deployment, and test automation. Here’s why: DevOps, or software engineering that unites development, testing, and operations to build and release software faster with higher quality, is fast becoming necessary in IT. According to Gartner, by 2020, half of the CIOs who have not transformed their team’s DevOps capabilities will be gone from their organization’s digital leadership teams.
So DevOps helps developers, testers, and operations work better together, but what about project managers? How will they adapt to DevOps?
The Rise of DevOps
According to a Gartner, one in four IT organizations buys DevOps services, and by 2021, more than 60 percent of IT organizations will take advantage of agile and DevOps services from external providers. Remote delivery – on-shore, nearshore, and off shore teams – is quickly becoming the norm. That means that project management will become more complex and more important than ever.
Because DevOps emphasizes smaller, more frequent releases vs. traditionally large monthly or yearly releases, the very idea of what a project is comes into question. I am seeing many companies take more of a product management approach to delivering customer facing and internal applications, requiring project managers to immerse themselves into every aspect of the process to ensure that key business objectives are met.
DevOps insists that every team member, the project manager included, contributes to the charge of continuous improvement.
How to Adapt
Here are a few tips for project managers who need to get up to speed fast on DevOps:
- Brush up on agile and DevOps concepts (Wikipedia is a great start) – delivery teams you work with, or interview with, will respect the fact that you can talk in their terms. Other examples of helpful resources include:
- Understand the DevOps tools your teams may be using so you can better understand the progression of ideas from code to production. This periodic table of DevOps tools is a great starting point. As a PM, you may find yourself using tools such as Jira, Confluence, Trello, Slack, and Microsoft Teams for project planning, daily collaboration, and productivity. Get to know them before you’re running a fast-moving project.
- Don’t assume that everyone embraces or even understands all the fine points of DevOps. You may have to explain DevOps to senior and executive management, or “translate” from individual contributor levels to executive level communication. Years ago when Agile was gaining traction, I would incorporate sprints and other components of the process into my traditional project plans. This simple strategy went a long way to help bridge the gap between working teams and leadership.
- Trust your PM instincts. Manage dependencies and risks like you would with any other project. In fact, you may need more attention to detail given the idea-to-implementation lifecycle will be faster and more granular with DevOps. Don’t worry about stepping on toes; DevOps teams will appreciate the help, provided you include them in the process and use tools they are familiar with, like some of those mentioned above.
With the increasing adoption of DevOps, project managers who know something about DevOps will be more attractive and valuable to their organizations. Don’t let DevOps leave you behind – get the skills you need now to stay competitive and grow your career.