Top 5 Predictors of IT Performance

If you've read the 2014 State of DevOps Report, you've seen that high-performing IT departments are more agile and reliable, deploying code 30 times more frequently than their lower-performing peers, with 50 percent fewer failures. (No matter how many times we see those stats, they're quite remarkable every time.) Download the 2015 DevOps Report, which amplifies these findings and adds a lot more about the relationship between DevOps, IT performance, and overall organizational performance.

Organizations with high-performing IT are also twice as likely to exceed their profitability, market share, and productivity goals. Quite simply, high IT performance means better work — and better business.

Drawing from the report, we've put together a quick list of the top five predictors of IT performance.

1. Peer-reviewed change approval process

When the technical team holds itself accountable for the quality of its code through peer review, performance increased. When external approval (e.g., change approval boards) was required in order to deploy to production, IT performance decreased.

Surprisingly, the use of external change approval processes had no impact on restore times, and had only a negligible effect on reducing failed changes. In other words, external change approval boards had a big negative impact on throughput, with negligible impact on stability.

2. Version control for all production artifacts

Version control provides a single source of truth for all changes. That means when a change fails, it’s easy to pinpoint the cause of failure and roll back to the last good state, reducing the time to recover.

Version control also promotes greater collaboration between teams. The benefits of version control shouldn’t be limited to application code; in fact, organizations using version control for both system and application configurations have higher IT performance.

3. Proactive monitoring

Teams that practice proactive monitoring are able to diagnose and solve problems faster, and have a high degree of accountability.

When failures are primarily reported by an external source, such as the network operations center — or worse, by customers — IT performance suffers.

4. High-trust organizational culture

One of the pillars of DevOps is culture, and we were pleased to prove what we already knew anecdotally: Culture matters. In fact, organizational culture was highly predictive of both IT performance and overall organizational performance. No one should be surprised to hear that high-trust cultures lead to greater performance, while bureaucratic and fear-based cultures are destructive to performance.

5. Win-win relationship between dev and ops

It’s not development versus operations, it’s dev plus ops. Getting devs and ops folks on the same side is half the battle. Once you've aligned on practices, tools and strategies, and adopted the cultural changes it takes to achieve collaboration, the goals of the business become shared goals, and IT performance wins.

How We Measured IT Performance

Coming up with a quantitative definition of IT performance wasn’t easy. After all, how do you measure concepts that can’t be measured directly, such as happiness or job satisfaction? In statistics, you do this with what’s known as a latent construct.

To get a highly reliable and valid latent construct for IT performance, we started with a set of related independent variables and after a lot of refining and statistical testing, we found that these variables led us to our current definition of IT performance: deployment frequency, lead time for changes and mean time to recover. After several additional statistical tests to verify, we are confident that we have a useful and quantifiable definition of IT performance in the context of DevOps.

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