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DevOps “Look-Fors”: Five Milestones for the Three Ways

A few months ago, colleague Aliza published a quick overview of five KPIs you can use to assess how well DevOps culture and practices are taking root in your organization:

  1. Deployment frequency
  2. Speed of deployment
  3. Deployment success rate
  4. How quickly service can be restored after a failed deployment
  5. Culture (which you really can't measure)

The KPIs came from respondents to our 2013 State of DevOps survey, who said those were their most important measures of improvement.

Tom Limoncelli has a blog entry where he talks about a way of assessing your progress establishing DevOps culture -- "DevOps Look-for's" -- which map five milestones to Gene Kim's Three Ways.

The KPIs our respondents were reporting could easily turn up as a small part of his milestones, which are less about mandating certain metrics than they are helping you figure out what you should expect to see as your teams climb out of a state of chaos -- "unable to predict how long common tasks take to complete" and "the team can't enumerate all the processes a team does (even at a high level)" -- and progress to better states: "dashboards show defect and rework counts" and "cycle time enjoys month-over-month improvements."

It's a comprehensive list -- almost 50 look-fors over the five milestones. It ends with a useful reminder, lest you get it in your head that he's trying to sell you a top secret DevOps decoder ring:

"DevOps culture is about doing things because there is a need and a problem to be fixed. There are no "rules" for DevOps, only guidelines, best practices and techniques that can be deployed. Contrast this to process-heavy systems encourage people to do things because some book says you have to do them. Such systems often results in management cargo cult where you do things out of blind obligation.

"DevOps is a culture, not a system of "rules" that must be blindly obeyed. Therefore these "look for's" are not rules. A team should not try to "check every box". If management gives you a bad performance review because they can't find evidence of everything on the list, they're doing it wrong. These are not the only look for's, there are simply the ones that I have found work for me."

Read the whole thing.

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