3 Ways to Talk Your Way Out of Developing a Case for DevOps ROI

July 30, 2015 Coté

sfeatured-devops-roiHave you been assigned the unenviable task of doing an ROI proposal for “doing DevOps”?

From the incoming questions we get, many of y’all are. The important thing to note is, a question like “What is the ROI we can get from DevOps?” is the wrong question to ask. How do you model the return on investment for process and culture change? Unfortunately, telling management “Wait, that is the wrong question” doesn’t exactly leave your bosses in a cheerful mood.

For my monthly DevOps column at FierceDevOps, I wrote up three different approaches to try and keep ROI-craving management satisfied when it comes to considering DevOps. It doesn’t provide a sweet and short answer, but, hopefully, it gives you a good start for thinking through some possible approaches. The core of the problem with doing an air-tight ROI case is the difficulty in figuring out both the costs and gains associated with DevOps.

In some instances, you know the direct costs for things like training, consulting, and software and infrastructure spend. But, what revenue effect can you attribute to DevOps versus having a good (or bad!) product you’re selling? It’s intuitively easy enough to talk about the savings you’ll have in avoiding downtime or increasing product quality, yet it is hard to justify business decisions and major process changes without stark numbers to prove it will be worth it.

There are, of course many examples of companies having success with DevOps adoption—that’s why we’re always going on about it and participating in the community. However, at the end of the day, something like DevOps is more about hygiene than it is a short-term analysis of the gains you’ll get from investing. It reminds me of an old one-liner, “You need to brush the teeth you want to keep.” This applies to companies who are adopting practices like DevOps. It’s only worth doing if you want to increase the throughput and quality of your the software you use to run your business—not to mention the overall effectiveness and efficiency improvements, reduction in errors, time savings, and other factors.

Still, you probably need some help thinking through the development of an ROI piece. Check out the column for some starts, and also, look for an upcoming Pivotal Conversations podcast on the topic.

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