What is the business value of DevOps? A non-technical explanation

Bart Thomas
6 min readFeb 22, 2021
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

DevOps is a deeply technical subject of which those in business roles typically have little understanding. As such, I can’t launch into a post on the business value of DevOps without first providing some context and an explanation as to what it is. I’m sure you’ve heard the refrain:

“Every business is a software business”

Whether you agree with the above statement or not, it is now very clear — digital disruption is real. The past few years has seen profound change across many established industries (with repercussions felt across tens, if not hundreds of thousands of businesses), and it’s clear that we’re only just getting started.

Established companies must resist the temptation to perpetuate “business as usual”, and instead remodel their businesses to create and serve the new kinds of value demanded by customers in a digital world. And if you as the incumbent won’t do it, a new entrant into your market will.

“The traditional core competencies of existing companies often become less like industry-defending fortresses — and more like deadweight.”

– Digital to the Core. Mark Raskino and Graham Waller.

DevOps can be described as many things, but in non-technical terms, it is a modern, highly successful approach to developing and maintaining software. Essentially, DevOps is at the core of digital modernisation.

If your organisation actually builds software (as opposed to outsourcing development or buying & integrating off-the-shelf solutions), then adopting DevOps practices is essential if you’re to be successful — now and in the future.

Context is everything, so allow me take you on a quick history lesson.

Waterfall

The traditional approach to software development (and project management for that matter) is known as “Waterfall” — for the fact that the visual representation of the approach (i.e., breaking down project activities into linear, sequential phases) resembles a waterfall.

It’s great for software projects that have constrained time lines and/or budget, where it is not possible to iterate, where the scope is clearly defined and requirements don’t…

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