Culture is nebulous. It encompasses all the behaviors and attitudes of an organization, from overarching business values down to the individual actions of an employee. Because culture is transient, it’s unique to every business, feels difficult to change and is even harder to measure. This can make it frustrating to see DevOps research continuously name ‘culture’ as the critical factor for DevOps success.

Many teams are left wondering what a ‘successful’ culture looks like and struggle to pinpoint what changes they should make. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to cultural transformation since every business is different, there are three key traits of high-performing DevOps teams: Buy-in to the DevOps process, collaboration and continuous improvement.

But even once you’ve identified how your team can embody these traits, it can still be difficult to put forward a case for improving culture when it’s so difficult to measure its returns. By linking each of these traits to measurable impacts on the wider business, it’s possible to make a strong business case for improving your DevOps culture.

Buy-In Makes Your Business More Resilient

No organization can foster a successful DevOps culture without buy-in from the whole team. Buy-in not only encompasses an understanding and acceptance of the DevOps process but is also a commitment to getting it right.

Without cultural buy-in to the DevOps process, team members are more likely to circumvent established procedures. Following a DevOps process should overcome unnecessary downtime and failed releases, but neglecting the proper release management strategy will stop your team from seeing these improvements and hinder your ROI.

Team buy-in to DevOps makes your release process far more resilient. With a common appreciation of and investment in DevOps, teams are far more likely to follow the planned and robust process. This attitude allows businesses to see far higher ROI. For example, Veolia, the energy and utilities giant, secured a 500% return on their DevOps investment within one year of buy-in to a new approach. Team buy-in is the first step you need to take in improving your DevOps culture—it’ll ensure the technical resilience of your processes necessary to secure ROI.

Collaboration Makes Your Business More Efficient

DevOps doesn’t just encourage collaboration between Dev and Ops teams—it encourages all team members to work together across functions and share responsibility.

When only one team member has the expertise or responsibility required to move through a stage in your DevOps process, there’s a single point of failure. If this team member doesn’t have the capacity to unblock others, then the process is slowed and time is wasted. Collaboration and knowledge-sharing can overcome this bottleneck by empowering team members to handle a greater scope of the process. This avoids the significant costs that come with increased labor and missed opportunities by removing the pressure on individuals and drastically increasing the efficiency of the whole system. You’ll see an accelerated project delivery, which will be faster in getting value to your end users and see quicker ROI.

Further, collaboration across the entire release process encourages all team members to remain mindful of compliance, which ensures you’re practicing DevSecOps at each stage of your release. Rather than handing development over to the dedicated compliance team once it’s complete, shared responsibility ensures that it’s baked into the DevOps process, saving time that could be needlessly spent at the end of development reworking to meet compliance stands. In the 2022 State of Salesforce DevOps Report, teams who self-reported as ‘excellent collaborators’ managed to avoid data and metadata loss in that year’s DevOps process, whereas only 25% of very poor collaborators could say the same. Excellent collaborators were much faster to restore when needed and significantly more likely to state that backups were their responsibility.

To sum up, collaborative development teams are better at supporting the business growth needed to draw in customers. You’ll be able to sustain this growth, as efficient and secure releases will improve customer retention.

Continuous Improvement for Your Team and Business

Many teams only think about digital transformation when their process begins to fail, meaning the necessary changes require a disruptive overhaul of their whole system. Teams that nurture a culture of continuous improvement will make incremental improvements to their system, which avoids drastic ad-hoc changes and ensures the business will see continual value from gradual tweaks.

It’s difficult to identify a singular ‘best DevOps system,’ as best practices are constantly shifting, but it is easy to realize that something could work better. Teams that reflect on their own systems and keep abreast of the latest tech trends can continually implement process improvements that amount to significant adjustments in the long term. This ongoing optimization of the DevOps process means no stasis and no need for disruptive and costly upgrades every few years.

Developing your own team members not only creates a better DevOps process but also empowers team members to fill knowledge gaps, lessening the need for costly expert hiring or consultancy. Further, hiring and onboarding is a huge cost, which can be reduced by the morale and retention boost that comes with upskilling and collaboration. This will be critical as companies look at hiring freezes in the upcoming recession.

Proving that small behavioral shifts can help maximize DevOps ROI will strengthen your business case for DevOps culture and create an agile team that can adapt as the landscape changes. Eventually, your DevOps ROI will become synonymous with your culture.