The rise of DevOps has unleashed a range of technical, workforce and business benefits, including: more deployments, faster lead times, shorter recovery times, lower change failure rates, less unplanned and rework, and even happier people. Indeed, as noted by open source configuration tool maker Puppet, enterprises that boost performance through DevOps methodologies enjoy greater employee loyalty as measured by employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). What’s not to love?
Well, more than a few project managers aren’t too enthusiastic about the rise of DevOps, because some of the generalized practices that work fine in conventional project environments don’t transfer over into DevOps culture.
As such, to adapt and thrive in the DevOps era, project managers need to update their playbook with the following:
- Agile Principles
DevOps fundamentally depends on continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), which means that silos and other barriers to rapid communication are fatal. Project managers need to adopt agile principles to do things smarter and faster, such as using automation and taking a micro-services approach.
- Real-Time Visibility
The only version of time that works in DevOps is real-time, because the value and validity of information can — and often does — expire within hours (or sometimes minutes). Ensuring that all team members have access to reliable, real-time information is the difference between project clarity and chaos. An outstanding cloud-based work collaboration solution is essential here.
- Obsessive Streamlining
While reducing the frequency of status meetings is a good idea in general, it’s critical in a DevOps environment where time is always of the essence, and streamlining is necessary rather than preferred. Less is definitely more.
Project managers need to shift their mindset from completing objectives, to delivering minimal viable product (MVP). This is when software is delivered to end users with the core features required for deployment — but nothing more. The resulting feedback is then used to re-work the plan.
- Customer Engagement
Because DevOps is so integrated and iterative, presenting finished (or nearly finished) products to customers doesn’t work. The risk is too high that customers will want or need different things — including aspects that they didn’t envision when the scope was developed — which if implemented, wouldn’t just trigger a course correction: it would require an overhaul.
To avoid this shared nightmare, project managers need to keep customers in the loop with frequent updates, relevant and accessible reports, and continuous sign-off/approval for material changes (i.e. stuff that matters, not every little tweak).
Leading the Way
Project managers — whether they’re called product owners, scrum masters, etc. — are essential for keeping projects on-track and portfolios healthy. Adopting the above mindsets and tools will help them confidently and competently lead the way in a DevOps Era that is only getting started.