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DevOps and Project Management: Better Together?

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DevOps and project management are two concepts that are often compared and contrasted against one another. In today’s article, we are going to explore the difference between the two, outline the benefits of using them simultaneously, and define the best practices of DevOps project management.

What is DevOps

DevOps is an approach to software development that streamlines everything related to IT development (dev) and operations (ops) and follows principles of continuous integration and continuous development (CI and CD) 

DevOps follows Agile principles and integrates both development and IT operations into a single team. As a result, everyone’s requirements and needs are considered from the start, which ensures a seamless software development cycle with fewer delays and defects.

DevOps is notoriously difficult to define because it is a flexible approach and every team or professional can make it their own and apply different principles to it. DevOps has also become a trendy buzzword that is often thrown into the mix to sound more in the know. This might be seen as the downside, but it's also good that DevOps is not a prisoner to a single set of rules and standards. As with many IT concepts and frameworks, flexibility and open-mindedness make DevOps more successful. 

What is project management 

Project management is a discipline that contains specific procedures and guidelines organised in a way that allows companies and organisations to work systematically on new initiatives.

Project management is carried out by the project manager (PM). The PM’s main goal is to deliver the project within the timeframes and budget that were defined prior to the project’s launch, deliver the full scope (a set of features defined at the beginning of the project), and ensure the quality of the end product.

Unlike standard business activities, projects have the end goal which is supposed to be the finish line. Anything extra is considered a new project. 

DevOps project management 

Now that we’ve looked into both concepts individually, it is time to see how they work together.
In DevOps project management, PMs are more involved in the technical side. They understand the details of the development and release process. Instead of merely considering numbers on the dashboards, they also look at how the actual development is going when evaluating the success of a project's progress.

Project timelines are always squeezed and shortened in DevOps projects, so the PM’s big task is to stay up to date with the progress on a daily rather than weekly basis.

Key benefits of DevOps project management 

DevOps project management has become a hit for a reason. 

The technical world is ruthless, and the search for perfection never ends. DevOps enables IT teams to improve their performance and create the best products in the most efficient way.

The major benefits of DevOps project management include: 

  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • Better communication 
  • Improved system stability
  • Reduced downtime
  • Reduced complexity 
  • Faster problem resolution
  • Shorter time to market 

All these benefits together create a better environment for innovation that leads to a better customer experience. 

DevOps project management best practices

Below are the key best practices that help DevOps project management succeed, despite their conceptual differences.  

MVP mindset

MVP, or the minimum viable product, is the simplest and most basic version of the product that meets the key requirement of the project.

With traditional project management, the focus would be on the end product - the final version that does not need to be altered further. However, DevOps project management incorporates a more agile focus on MVPs.

The majority of DevOps teams implement Agile and/or Scrum philosophies where projects are divided into sprints. Each sprint is from 1 to 4 weeks during which the team works on a set number of goals and has deliverables (the MVP) at the end of the sprint. Even though each sprint focuses on a narrow set of tasks, those tasks are selected strategically and approved with the big picture in mind. Therefore, development becomes more streamlined with fewer bottlenecks, streamlined with fewer bottlenecks, and there is greater flexibility overall.  

Attention to dependencies 

Focus on task dependencies is another aspect that DevOps project management has taken from the Agile and Scrum methodologies.

These days, projects should move fast and even a short downtime represents a risk. That’s why DevOps project management works through the backlog to spot potential task and feature dependencies early in the project and continues to analyse the process to identify dependencies that might have come up since the work started. 

Automation 

Automation is very strong in DevOps project management because it:

  • Reduces the number of errors
  • Speeds up the process
  • Allows for better resource allocation
  • Reduces excessive workload

At Emphasoft, we know that efficient project management that produces high-quality results is hard to imagine without automation. Automation helps optimise the entire process and focuses on important things. That’s why the Emphasoft clients who adopt automation principles see a steep reduction in their project timeframes and a sharp increase in the quality of their results.

No blame game

One of the key values of DevOps project management is collaboration and cooperation. These values don’t pair well with finger-pointing or shirking accountability. While mistakes are almost inevitable in a project's lifetime, they are not seen as the end of the world or reason for panic, but are viewed as a learning opportunity. Anything negative that’s happened is analysed, and a plan is drawn to avoid similar situations in the future.  

Focus on quality deliverables 

Speaking of high-quality results, DevOps project management is very user-centric. It means that while it prioritises meeting the deadline and releasing the solution as soon as possible, ultimately, the main focus is customer satisfaction with the end result.

The key question here is: Does the solution achieve the customer's goals?

Focusing on customers’ needs and satisfaction results in higher quality outcomes and increases the chances of the company making a breakthrough in the market, but it also poses additional risks and potential delays to the project, requiring even more meticulous planning and organization than usual. 

Final thoughts

DevOps project management aims to reduce the time it takes for the solution to reach the market while also ensuring the quality remains high. Such an approach to working on new solutions empowers companies to disrupt and innovate, but it takes time to master this new philosophy.

If your business is only starting the transformation and the shift to DevOps project management, take it slow and don’t implement too many innovations at once. To help make the shift more seamless, it’s possible to hire one of the outsourced technology providers, such as Emphasoft, who will guide you through the process and help avoid common beginner’s mistakes. 

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