How to use DevOps to survive the economic downturn

SoftwareOne blog editorial team
Blog Editorial Team
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“Get ready! A recession is coming! Shout it from the rooftops!” Yeah, we know. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time as companies prepare for the decline to come. It is essential to understand that now is the time for discipline, innovation, and professional guidance. In this post, we will give you a few tips for implementing the changes that can maximise the value of your DevOps Practice.

Why talk about DevOps in 2023?

Let's begin with going over what a recession is, exactly, and why you should be concerned. Generally, a recession is measured as a period of economic downturn in which business activity around trade and industry declines for two consecutive quarters. Why is this important? Because that decline makes it increasingly more difficult for companies to keep their heads above water financially.Don't take our word for it. We are not financial advisors, experts on economic research, or Wall Street wizards. However, we know how to read the signs. The stock market is crazy right now, and the labour market is increasingly competitive, with some of the largest tech companies in the world laying off people at an alarming pace. In 2023 there have been over 175,000 tech company layoffs in the first quarter alone.

Now, more than ever, our message on the value of solid DevOps practices is pertinent for organisations across industries. If you haven't gotten on the DevOps bandwagon yet, now's the time to climb aboard.

How can DevOps contribute to recession preparedness?

The practice has become an essential part of modern software development, and its value proposition extends beyond normal business cycles. DevOps is a cultural transformation that promotes collaboration between software development, operations, and other teams to enable the delivery of high-quality software at a rapid pace. While its benefits are well-known, they are even more important during a recession when businesses must operate with limited resources and under increased scrutiny. Why? Let’s go over the 3 key reasons.

Reducing time to market through radical automation

Automation makes the world go round faster. But beyond speed, it has many other incredible benefits. When you remove the wait state between distinct phases of software development through automation, you also remove human error, save a tremendous amount of money and directly impact the ROI for your product. If you have read the State of DevOps report, you've seen this impact by the numbers. If you haven't, here’s the key highlight: elite-performing organisations deploy 973x times more frequently and have a 6570x faster lead time to deploy!The more processes you automate, the more value and savings you realise.

Where does most of this speed come from? We can sum it up in one word. Automation.

Delivering first-time quality

Removing human error is a beautiful byproduct of automation. The more focused and impactful automation you introduce to your environment, the fewer bugs you will have in your code. However, this is not the end of your journey. You also need to ensure that the work being done is tested appropriately. Quality is not limited just to the features you are developing. Beyond code quality are its requirements, acceptance criteria, signoffs, and change board management. In each development phase, you must ensure that the work being performed does not need to be redone. To measure the output of quality, we use a metric called percent complete and accurate (%C&A). This KPI shows us how frequently work goes to the next phase without needing to be sent back for revisions. Most of the time, the fixes are due to low code quality or missing information required to complete the next step of the process. Frequent rework increases your lead time and further delays your time to market. It is costing you money! How do we address this once we have the right tests in place? You guessed it – automation!And now, our favorite reason you need to join the DevOps movement...

Retaining your best talent

“What? We’ve just laid those folks off to save money! They were costing us too much!” We have news for you: that was a mistake. We cannot say this with 100% certainty, but maybe the issue was not paying someone too much – but rather not providing a culture that allowed them to perform their best work and feel good about what they were doing each day. Allow us to explain. Developers are creators. They are makers. They thrive in an environment where they are free to innovate and deliver value sprint after sprint. During a recession, many companies will naturally tighten their belts. They will stop investing in innovation and instead focus on keeping the lights on. Of course, staying operational is important. The problem is that if you take someone from a creative role and ask them to do maintenance because you've laid off a quarter of the team, you've missed the mark. Leaving fewer workers doesn’t lessen the amount of work that needs to get done. The innovation that could have been delivered during the time you had them maintaining your environment could have been the next great feature that tore down the walls between you and your industry disruptors. Allowing your teams to focus on innovation each day also makes them feel good about their work. Let your people work on impactful tasks that deliver value and foster their passion for creating software: work that matters and improves people's lives in some way.

How to give people space to work on innovation?

With limited resources, you may wonder how you can give your people the creative freedom to do this... It's not by hiring more developers (or laying them off). In fact, you may already know the answer. Yup – automation for the win! Focus on a solid and disciplined DevOps practice of increased automation, as well as building a culture of psychological safety and innovation. You will quickly realise many benefits that will not only keep your business afloat during an economic downturn but may even allow you to flourish. What’s more, by reducing the cycle time between and during each development phase, you will get more done with less money. This directly impacts your time to market, increasing your return on investment (ROI), AND at a higher sales margin.

What are the long-term benefits of DevOps?

The above points will help you ride out the recession successfully. But another important part of success is resilience. You need to be prepared for anything the future might throw at you, and this is also where DevOps shines. Here's how.

Cost optimisation

In a recession, businesses must reduce costs while maintaining operational efficiency. Core DevOps disciplines such as continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) help automate software delivery pipelines, reducing manual labour costs and speeding up time-to-market. DevOps also promotes infrastructure as code, enabling organisations to automate the creation and management of IT resources. This practice can reduce the need for expensive hardware and software infrastructure and cut operational costs.

Greater efficiency

DevOps promotes collaboration and communication between departments, breaking down traditional silos between developers, operations, and other teams. This results in streamlined workflows, reduced waste, and improved efficiency. By automating testing and deployment processes, you can reduce the time it takes to release software updates and new features. Additionally, with robust testing and monitoring processes, your teams can identify issues before they impact customers, reducing downtime and improving service reliability.

Increased agility

These days, businesses must have the ability to quickly adjust to new circumstances. DevOps practices such as agile development and deployment enable organisations to quickly respond to changes in the market.D evOps also encourages experimentation and innovation, allowing teams to quickly test new ideas and technologies. Increasing the rate of change and how quickly you recover from failure will differentiate your company from the competition.

Improved customer satisfaction

During an economic slowdown, companies must focus on retaining existing customers and acquiring new ones. Continuous monitoring and feedback (Observability) can help you quickly and predictively identify issues. Resolving them will improve customer satisfaction and retention. Continuous feedback also allows you to receive input directly from customers, enabling you to improve the development process and deliver higher-quality products. How to optimise development processes and improve teamwork?

5 starting points for implementing DevOps in your organisation

To wrap things up, we'd like to leave you with a few key steps you can take to ride out the recession wave successfully.

Start small

Beginning the journey of DevOps transformation can seem intimidating. After all, Gartner predicted that "through 2022, 75% of DevOps initiatives will fail to meet expectations due to issues around organisational learning and change." They were right. In 2023 will you continue to ignore the failures of the past?Don't try to change everything all at once. Instead, focus on small incremental changes championed by an Executive Sponsor that can clearly communicate the value of DevOps for the entire organisation, not just the development teams. Identify what changes will have the most significant impact and then transparently communicate that message. After the first change is implemented, start again. Execute with precision and efficiency.

Encourage trust and communication

Too often, people think of DevOps as the set of tools in a toolchain that supports software developers and environments. While the tools are important, they are only one small part of the equation. People and processes are essential as well. We can realise great value by addressing the inherent inefficiency of communication across the organisational structure. As your product moves through the different business units within your organisation, are you playing telephone, or have you established a clear foundation of trust and transparency?Increase communication and collaboration by bringing cross-organisational teams into your development process early and often. Marketing, Security, Finance, Operations, and Support should all sit at the table before the first line of code is written. Get buy-in from these teams and watch the doors of efficiency open wide.

Shift security left

Make the jump to DevSecOps. Step away from the traditional model of ideate, plan, dev, test, deploy. Instead, bring your security teams to the beginning of your development process so that security considerations are always kept in front of your teams. If you bring your security team in early, they can help you make corrections along the way instead of sending your code back to be rewritten because of vulnerabilities discovered far too late. This will shorten your time-to-market and save you money.

Address technical debt

Replace antiquated code, systems, and processes. The upkeep and administration of these outdated systems and processes create a tremendous amount of financial waste. These systems also open you up to an incredible risk of failure. Consider recent events widespread in the news around failures within the airline industry. Those failures are a direct result of technical debt.

Embrace AI

In the last few months, there has been an explosion of easily accessible and profound disruption introduced through AI. Task your teams to learn how your company can best leverage artificial intelligence to increase value. In addition, investigate excellent developer tools such as GitHub's CoPilot for Business. After one demonstration of this fantastic product, we know we'll never code the same way again. So, there you have it. As you can see, DevOps has many ways to allow you to have a soft landing even in turbulent times. It provides significant value during a recession by enabling organisations to optimise their IT landscape and reduce costs while maintaining high levels of efficiency and productivity. A version of this post has been first published on LinkedIn.


SoftwareOne blog editorial team

Blog Editorial Team

We analyse the latest IT trends and industry-relevant innovations to keep you up-to-date with the latest technology.