4 steps to connect change management and DevOps

It’s no secret that companies are committing to DevOps. In fact, according to a recent survey, three-quarters of leaders have adopted DevOps into their operations. DevOps delivers speed and agility to the development process. By cross-training operations and engineering, development teams can move faster through better collaboration, making continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) a reality for organizations.

The challenge some companies face, however, is the change management of the structured approach for handling alterations within a development cycle. Change management is an enabling framework for managing people through a change, in this case, related to a product in production. The process ensures processes don’t move too fast and that production of new software or infrastructure isn’t rushed so that there are no disruptions. Companies that can align DevOps with their change management process see the greatest gains in getting products to market. But it’s not easy.

Change management brings consistency to DevOps. Change management should be flexible enough to adapt to changes in process—which is what DevOps presents. Whether a company is moving from waterfall, Agile, or some other process, DevOps is a new consideration altogether.

Here are some key considerations for incorporating change management into DevOps:

Establish how changes will be requested, reviewed, approved, and implemented

To successfully integrate change management into a DevOps environment, it’s crucial to establish clear and agreed-upon processes for requesting, reviewing, approving, and implementing changes. This process should involve cross-functional teams, including developers, operations, and other relevant stakeholders. By defining a structured change management process, organizations not only ensure that changes are properly tracked and documented, but it also provides visibility into the entire change lifecycle. This transparency is essential for maintaining accountability and understanding the impact of each change.

In practice, this may involve implementing a change tracking system that captures all change requests and their associated details, such as the reason for the change, potential risks, and expected outcomes. Regular meetings or change review boards can be established to evaluate and prioritize change requests, ensuring they align with business objectives and compliance requirements.

Incorporate extensive testing and validation for each change

Ten years ago, the DevOps development process was develop, develop, develop, test. Companies were under the assumption that developing without feedback would make the production process faster, but that resulted in repeated errors and an incohesive workflow. Now, because of DevOps, it’s develop, test, develop, test. Testing has become core to the process, eliminating assumptions teams used to make because testing was a low priority.

A fundamental aspect of effective change management within a DevOps context is rigorous testing and validation of each proposed change. Before any change is deployed into production, it should undergo a series of tests in a controlled environment that mirrors the production environment as closely as possible. This ensures the change will not introduce new issues or negatively impact existing systems.

Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines can be employed to automate testing processes, allowing for quick feedback on the quality and stability of changes. Comprehensive testing includes unit testing, integration testing, regression testing, and performance testing. Validation should involve various stakeholders, including QA teams, to ensure the change meets the required quality standards.

Build trust in the DevOps process 

DevOps is founded on principles of collaboration and communication, breaking down silos between development and operations teams. To successfully incorporate change management into this paradigm, it’s essential to trust in the DevOps process. With Rocket® DevOps, organizations can perform multiple tests seamlessly and speed up time-to-market for high-quality releases. This means believing in the ability of cross-functional teams to work together effectively to deliver high-quality software.

Regular communication with stakeholders is key to building and maintaining this trust. By keeping all relevant parties informed of the progress and status of changes, organizations can minimize surprises and ensure everyone is on the same page. Transparency and open channels of communication help demonstrate the value of DevOps and its benefits to the organization.

Iterate and continuously improve

One of the strengths of DevOps is its agility and adaptability. It allows decisions to be made on the fly and promotes rapid development and deployment. However, it’s equally important to apply this agile mindset to the change management process. Continuous monitoring and evaluation of how change management works in the DevOps context is essential.

Don’t be afraid to make adjustments based on the feedback and data gathered. Use metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the effectiveness of your change management processes. Identify areas for improvement, whether related to the speed of approvals, the accuracy of testing, or the overall efficiency of the change pipeline. By continuously iterating and improving, organizations can ensure that their DevOps-driven change management process remains aligned with the organization’s evolving needs and goals.

DevOps is becoming the standard, which means close collaboration between development and operations/IT is needed for better visibility across the entire development and deployment process. Aligning DevOps with change management bridges the gaps companies face when training new developers, embracing new tools, and facing a process that makes speed a priority—leading to a successful process of getting products to market.

Learn more about how Rocket Software can help revitalize every aspect of the development cycle here.