In my opinion, one of the best, and perhaps also one of the most underappreciated, developments in our industry the last couple of years is the State of DevOps report and its companion book, Accelerate, that presents the findings and the research behind it in more detail.

I will not go into the details of the report, it is available online and you should really go and read it for yourself, but there are several things that stand out and makes it so much more than your typical DevOps whitepaper:

  • It is (as far as I can tell) backed by solid research. But unlike most research, it is still highly approachable, practical and applicable to the day-to-day operations of almost any software engineering organization out there.
  • It puts an end to the myth that speed and stability in software delivery are opposing forces. You can (and should) be great in both dimensions and this is why a DevOps culture is such a critical piece of the software delivery excellence puzzle.
  • In our industry, when debating why certain technical practices should be followed, our arguments have historically primarily been based on opinions/gut-feeling (at worst) or anecdotal experience (at best). This can lead to cargo cult behavior and difficulties in trying to convince non-engineering parts of our organizations that technical excellence is worth its (high) cost. With this research, we can finally focus on the things that are actually evidence based and place our technical investment bets accordingly.
  • By connecting software delivery performance to organizational performance, such as profitability, productivity and customer satisfaction, it gives you as a technical leader strong arguments for why investing in a decoupled architecture, clean code and solid (preferably automated) technical processes is so much more than something you should do to keep your engineers happy. It is actually critical to the success of your company and now you have the research to back it up.

So, once you’ve read the report (or the book), here’s an exercise for you as a technical leader:

  1. Find and list all the key drivers of software delivery performance that are mentioned in the report.
  2. Score your organization in each dimension. Or even better, let your team(s) score. Red/yellow/green, 1-5 or some other scale, doesn’t really matter. Now you know where to focus your efforts.
  3. Prioritize one or two areas and dig deeper into those to really understand where the limiting factors are.
  4. Work hard to improve in those areas and then score again in six months.
  5. Repeat.

Congrats, you’re now on the path to becoming a high performing software delivery organization!