Because agility at scale is one of the crucial issues for large organizations, we interviewed four experts in order to put together an ebook, allowing to understand the contributions of agility at scale and SAFe. The following article is an extract from this ebook and allows us to determine the connection between DevOps and scaled agile approaches.

e-book agilité à l'échelle

Laurent Charles
Laurent CHARLES, CEO and co-founder of Enalean (Tuleap)

DevOps and process automation are elements of agile, and must be one of the goals, especially at scale

What exactly is DevOps? Gartner, for example, proposes this definition: “the ability to deliver customer value faster.”

Strictly speaking, an organization can have an agile approach with the goal of delivering “more precisely” without yet having a goal of delivering “faster.”

This doesn’t mean abandoning the implementation of those things that will allow value to be delivered more quickly. DevOps and process automation are elements of agile, and must be one of the goals, especially at scale.

Indeed, the more people that are involved, the more complex the task and the longer it will take to build, integrate, deliver, and so on. Without taking into account the vital need to optimize such a situation, a large organization might find itself facing the paradox of developing better, but less quickly— and that’s a shame.

We have found that an organization in which everyone keeps DevOps at the team level is less effective than an organization that handles DevOps at a scaled level.

We need to watch out though, for possible mistakes in the order of the phases. If you’re aiming to deliver faster before delivering better, you just risk delivering faster a… well… a load of mess…

Alexandre Cuva coach agile
Alexandre CUVA, agile coach and manager of SoCraAgile

We recommend that our customers also adopt DevOps and software craftsmanship, which are complementary to one another

Strictly speaking, there’s no link between DevOps and scaled agile. You can do DevOps without scaled agile and you can do scaled agile without DevOps.

Nowadays, we recommend that our customers also adopt DevOps and software craftsmanship, which are complementary to one another. Often, an organization’s aim in adopting a scaled agile approach is to speed things up; for example, Sandro Mancuso, founder of the London Software Craftsmanship Community, said in his presentation “Software Modernisation—2020”: “An organization cannot accelerate if it continues to follow IT practices from another time.” The practices of DevOps and software craftsmanship promote those approaches that will allow such an acceleration.

jean-claude delagrange coach agile
Jean-Claude DELAGRANGE, agile coach

Scaled agile gets very difficult without DevOps

I think that scaled agile gets very difficult without DevOps, and all the more so without automated tests, as the complexity of the overlaps between software blocks makes production difficult (non- regression tests in particular), unless deliveries are only made in an intermediate environment and integration testing is performed at the end of the cycle. (We then lose one of the major benefits of agile: time to market.)

For me, teams need to welcome an “Ops” specialist from the outset in order to integrate the release- related tasks into the backlog and encourage development teams to think about the whole cycle, incorporate it in their “definition of done,” and ultimately show it in their velocity measurement.

Laurence Hanot coach agile
Laurence HANOT, agile coach at Zenika

A DevOps approach to agile and scaled agile is essential

Here, too, I agree with the views of my colleagues and with those I outlined in the preceding paragraph. A DevOps approach to agile and scaled agile is essential even if all too often it’s forgotten or set aside. This only pushes the problem downstream and causes disruption to the people involved in the deliveries to the users (Ops, country rollout, sales reps, user trainers, operational marketing, sales channels, and so on).

And here too, there’s one essential question and focus of work within an agile transformation: what do our users need in terms of delivery? What are our current practices and frequencies? What do we need in terms of approach and toolsets? What investments are needed in this area and when?

In any case, let’s not forget that DevOps is first and foremost a collaborative approach, which is a fundamental aspect of scaled agile. My first DevOps experience before the word existed was back in 2007 when we included an Ops person in our Scrum team!

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