Through 2023, 90 percent of DevOps initiatives will fail to fully meet expectations due to the limitations of leadership approaches, not technical reasons. The value in adopting DevOps practices is substantial, but if initiatives are to be successful, organizations must appropriately implement.

The most common cause of DevOps failures is people — not process. Many organizations invest in DevOps tools without addressing organizational change and the value they will provide to the larger enterprise. Here I identify the top five reasons for DevOps failures, and how infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders can actively avoid them.

DevOps is not grounded in customer value
Organizations often launch DevOps efforts with insufficient consideration of business outcomes. I&O leaders need to ensure their staffs and customers connect with the term “DevOps,” and the value it will bring, prior to introducing the initiative.

As such, organizations should use marketing to identify, anticipate and deliver the value of DevOps in a manner that makes business sense. I&O leaders must seek to refine their understanding of customer value on a continuous business to evolve capabilities and further enable organizational change.

Organizational change is not properly managed
In the Gartner 2017 Enterprise DevOps Survey, 88 percent of respondents said team culture was among the top three people-related attributes with the greatest impact on their organization’s ability to scale DevOps. However, organizations overlook the importance of getting their staffs on board with the upcoming change and instead strictly focus efforts on DevOps tools.

Since tools are not the solution to a cultural problem, organizations should identify candidates with the right attitude for adopting DevOps practices. Individuals who demonstrate the core values of teamwork, accountability and lifelong learning will be strong DevOps players.

Lack of team collaboration
Successful DevOps efforts require collaboration with all stakeholders. DevOps efforts, more often than not, are limited to I&O. Organizations cannot improve their time to value through uncoordinated groups or those focusing on I&O exclusively.

It is thus necessary to break down barriers and forge a team-like atmosphere. Varying teams must work together, rather than in uncoordinated silos, to optimize work.

Trying to do too much too quickly
It is important to realize that a “big bang” approach — launching DevOps in a single step — comes with a huge risk of failure. DevOps involves too many variables for this method to be successful in a large IT organization.

To combat this, an incremental, iterative approach to DevOps will enable the organization to focus on continual improvements and group collaboration. Starting with a politically friendly group to socialize the value of DevOps and reinforce the credibility of the initiative is the way to go.

Unrealistic expectations of DevOps among employees
A disconnect exists in many organizations between expectations for DevOps and what it can actually deliver. Manage expectations by agreeing on objectives and metrics. Use marketing to identify, anticipate and satisfy customer value in an ongoing manner. Expectation management and marketing are continuous and not a one-time affair.