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The ReleaseTEAM Blog: Here's what you need to know...

Adopting DevOps in a Bureaucratic Institution

While the private sector was quick to embrace DevOps development methodologies, the necessity for bureaucratic oversight hampered adoption for public entities. Finding a balance between the structured trust built into the waterfall model while improving release cycles remains complex. Most developers working in public entities or government agencies are the first to tell you that any new methodology (such as a DevOps workflow) sounds like science fiction when it comes to the daily tasks and activities performed at these institutions. Originally, business cycles were annual, and anything relating to change would fall into that schedule. In the modern technological climate, a year may be a lifetime for business units and public stakeholders. Bugs and defects need an immediate resolution to prevent massive hours spent on reworking or finding ways to work around the known issues.

The Challenges of Adopting DevOps in a Bureaucratic Institution

Challenges in adopting DevOps methodologies exist in every company, but the need for oversight and control in government and public sector organizations compounds the issue. Firstly, departments and Business Units (BUs) have specific mandates that create competing priorities. It also creates a culture of distrust between teams, leading to increased control measures, further slowing down the software development lifecycles. Every BU has new requirements, and often the department head who bangs on the table the loudest gets the highest priority. While not ideal, this is precisely the kind of culture the waterfall approach created within these bureaucracies.
Some of the primary challenges in adopting agile DevOps workflows within a bureaucracy include:
  • Bloated processes still rely on physical approvals for any change.
  • A cultural legacy of authority influences the decisions relating to new initiatives.
  • Budget limitations (or reductions) make upgrades or implementations more difficult.
  • Limited access to the latest expertise with new technology or tools.
While this list is not exhaustive (or unique to the public sector), the ability to overcome them remains a priority for government agencies. Modern business environments are increasingly volatile and dynamic, requiring frequent adaptions and rapid changes to solve technically complex issues. A necessary imperative exists to find an equilibrium between oversight and reacting to organizational changes.

Finding a Balance Between DevOps and Oversight

Even within these constraints, the opportunity exists to find a balanced approach that improves code reliability and software quality. Using a sand-boxed, iterative approach assists agencies in speeding up release cycles. Planning releases and assigning tasks within a set time window immediately improve the team’s productivity. Additionally, getting buy-in from the top level is beneficial but is rarely achievable within a bureaucracy. For advocates of DevOps workflow, it may be necessary to show rather than tell upper management about the benefits that methodologies such as Scrum and DevOps can bring to the team. A pilot project demonstrating improved collaboration, communication, and auditable change history may go a long way to getting department heads on board.

ReleaseTEAM Can Help You Realize Your DevOps Initiative

ReleaseTEAM helps public and private organizations to adapt and mature their software development lifecycle methodology. Our DevOps tool experts can help to reduce the total cost of ownership, ensure your project’s success, and improve your organization’s ability to achieve its goals while keeping the entire system secure. To help you advocate for an agile development strategy within your agency, speak to one of ReleaseTEAM’s experts today at (866)-887-0489 or email us at info@releaseteam.com.

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