Many of the arguments in favor of adopting DevOps approaches focus on the benefits that the IT department can experience as a result. But a recent study found that DevOps can have a much bigger impact.
CA Technologies and Coleman Parks Research have published a report titled “Accelerating Velocity and Customer Value,” which analyzed the effect of DevOps on key metrics that business leaders use to track their organizations' success overall. Based on a survey of 1,770 senior business and IT executives worldwide, the study identified eight key business benefits that organizations experienced after adopting DevOps practices.
For the purposes of the study, DevOps was defined as "The culture, practices, and automation needed to facilitate closer collaboration among development and other IT-related functions to ensure faster delivery of high-quality software." Historically, the DevOps movement arose out of a desire to apply the principles of agile software development to IT operations. DevOps typically involves practices like continuous integration and continuous delivery, automated testing, proactive monitoring, automated configuration management, and agile development.
Most of those surveyed — more than four out of five — said that their companies were using DevOps on at least a limited basis. In addition, 81% of those surveyed said they believe that agile and DevOps are critical to successful business transformation.
The eight benefits highlighted in this slideshow are a key part of the reason why so many IT and business leaders are getting on board with DevOps.
Employee Recruitment and Retention
An overwhelming majority (77 percent) of those surveyed for the CA Technologies report said that DevOps is having a positive impact on employee recruitment and retention. With competition for talent — particularly developer talent — remaining high, any advantage in this area can be significant for the business.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it cost an average of $4,129 to hire someone in 2016, and it took an average of 42 days to fill an open position. CompTIA reports that demand for IT professionals remains high with 43,500 job postings for "software developers, application" in January of this year. If organizations can reduce turnover or decrease the amount of time it takes to hire new employees, they can reduce costs and improve their productivity.
For many organizations, improving the customer experience is a key priority because it can result in greater customer loyalty and lifetime customer value, higher revenues, increased profits, and shorter sales cycles. In fact, a recent report published by Avanade and Sitecore found that US companies experienced a $3 return for every $1 they invested in improving the customer experience. While improving the customer experience is often seen as the job of the marketing department, 52 percent of those surveyed said that technology plays a key role in their customer experience.
In the CA Technologies study, 74 percent of those surveyed said that adopting DevOps had improved their customer experience.
Customers' satisfaction is closely related to the customer experience, and it also seems to be positively affected by adopting DevOps practices. In the CA Technologies study, they quantified customer satisfaction based on a metric known as the Net Promoter Score (NPS). In simple terms, to calculate an NPS you ask customers "On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is it that you will recommend our product to someone else?" If they answer 9 or 10, they are considered "promoters;" if they answer 0-6, they are considered "detractors." Organizations then subtract their percentage of detractors from their percentage of promoters to determine their NPS.
In most industries, an NPS in the 30s or 40s is good or very good, and an NPS in the 50s or 60s is pretty amazing. CA found that on average, organizations saw a 45 percent improvement in their NPS score after adopting DevOps. Considering that a 45 percent improvement could take you from an NPS of 40 to an NPS of 58, that's a very significant improvement.
IT groups are always under pressure to do more with less, and the automation tools that are a key part of DevOps approaches seem to be helping in that regard. When surveyed for the CA Technologies study, respondents said their organizations experienced a 43% improvement in employee productivity after adopting DevOps. That statistic isn't just based on guesswork. Among those surveyed, nearly three-quarters (73%) said that their organizations are tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) related to employee productivity. Getting 43% more work out of their existing staff means that organizations have much more opportunity for innovation and new projects.
The usual way to judge the quality of an application or of an organization's app development process is to calculate the number of defects in the app. For the CA Technologies study, 72% of those surveyed said that they track defects for this purpose. And on average, organizations said that adopting DevOps approaches resulted in a 41% improvement in their defect rate.
That defect rate is important because it relates very closely to all the other business benefits highlighted in slideshow so far. Having better apps means that customers have a better experience and are more satisfied. In addition, fewer defects means that developers spend less time on re-work, which makes them more happy and more productive.
Operational or Process Efficiency
For many organizations, adopting DevOps means re-thinking their IT operations management processes, so it shouldn't be surprising that the CA study found that DevOps improves operational or process efficiency. However, the level of that improvement was fairly significant. On average, organizations reported a 40% improvement in the KPIs they track related to operational or process efficiency after adopting DevOps. Again, that can represent significant savings for organizations while also helping improve employee and customer satisfaction.
New Business Growth
To track new business growth following DevOps adoption, CA Technologies asked about revenue increases or increases in new revenue sources. And organizations said that they saw a 40% improvement in these KPIs after embracing DevOps approaches. By using DevOps to improve productivity and efficiency, organizations are freeing up staff to work on new revenue-generating projects. This can also help transform management's perception of IT from a cost center to a revenue driver.
IT-Related Cost Savings
Last, but not least, organizations that adopted DevOps also experienced a significant decrease in costs. On average, respondents to the CA Technologies survey reported a 38% decrease in IT-related costs. Many of those cost decreases likely result from productivity and efficiency gains, but it's possible that some of them are related to capital expenses as well. DevOps organizations often migrate toward cloud computing and/or software-defined infrastructure, and both can have a positive effect on IT expenses.
Agile and DevOps: Better Together
The CA Technologies study also found that many of the business benefits that result from DevOps are compounded when organizations adopt agile development methodologies at the same time. For example, 57% of organizations that adopted only agile reported employee recruitment and retention improvements, but 74% of those adopting both agile and DevOps together said the same things. And adding DevOps to agile resulted in a 65% improvement in IT costs, a 63% improvement in business growth and a 41% improvement in operational or process efficiency. Because the two approaches are closely related, it makes that they complement each other.
Cynthia Harvey is a freelance writer and editor based in the Detroit area. She has been covering the technology industry for more than fifteen years. View Full Bio