Part Four - A Digital Detox approach to DevOps

Back to the Articles
Part Four - A Digital Detox approach to DevOps

Over the past few years, we’ve really seen the tide start to turn on digital sustainability. As a new generation of CEOs and senior leaders better understand the impact of Climate Change, a digital revolution has begun. From the smallest startups to large enterprise organisations, companies are taking action to reduce their digital carbon footprint.

If you’re a developer, CTO or any other digital worker, and you’re wondering how you can start your own digital sustainability journey, you’ve come to the right place!

In the latest blog of our Detoxing series, we’re sharing tips to detox your approach to devops. Read on to get some practical advice and tangible examples of how you can transform devops and become a beacon of digital sustainability.

Be the change

Whatever your role within a digital team, the change can start today and it can begin with you.

The first step is education. Read all you can about digital sustainability and digital carbon footprints. In this way, you’ll be armed with accurate information and can evangelise the benefits of sustainability using facts, instead of emotion.

You can begin your journey at a personal level. Are you conscious about how much electricity you consume, or the volume of mobile data your activities gobble up and how you source and dispose of resources?

If not, it’s worth taking some ongoing measures to address this;

  • Where and how you shop; who makes your clothes? Do you buy everything on Amazon? Can you swap the supermarket for a local small business?

  • The food you eat; where it’s sourced, how much energy is used to produce it, farming methods, delivery, packaging and disposal of any leftovers

  • Your actions; can you walk rather than drive? Do you switch off your laptop at night? Watch videos on an energy efficient setting? Work offline sometimes?

  • Your suppliers; does your energy company use renewable sources? Is your broadband supplier an ethical choice?

  • Digital carbon footprint; consider this - every digital action you take has a carbon footprint. Be mindful when you’re streaming, surfing, creating and coding.

A devops detox

Once you’re clued up on digital sustainability at a personal level, you can turn your attention to your day job. If you’re serious about detoxing your approach to devops, it’s useful to work as a team.

Believe it or not, mindset change is actually the hardest part of detoxing your devops. As with any cultural change, you may face some resistance or denial from senior leaders or colleagues.

Not everyone is interested in, or passionate about, combating climate change. Impassioned speeches and emotive pleas may seem appealing, but facts and figures are more powerful. No amount of begging and pleading will shift a fixed mindset, so instead let the impact of your actions speak for themselves.

Once your colleagues and leaders begin to see the results of your efforts to detox your approach to devops, they may reconsider their interest. Why? Because detoxing can have huge benefits;

  • Speed: Reduce inefficiencies and unnecessary processes
  • Money: Save money by reusing technology
  • Risk: Streamline your systems and processes so they’re more robust
  • Time: Increase output by focusing on the right things
  • Visibility: A sustainable devops approach could become a blueprint for other teams

Motivate and mobilise

So, you’ve done the research, set up a task force and you’re ready to begin. What now?

The first step to detox your devops is to analyse the digital carbon footprint of your current operations. From clunky website load speeds, dormant scripts, outdated technical infrastructure and sub-par code quality, to inefficient web hosting, unethical third party providers and apathetic performance reporting, there’s a lot you can uncover.

You could also incentivise your devops team to identify as many opportunities as they can to make efficiencies. Those with the most (and most useful) suggestions, will be rewarded in some way.

Similarly, you might introduce an element of gamification to your sustainability journey. Create a rating system, assign challenges and introduce some competitiveness to energise the team. Once your new, energy efficient approach to devops becomes embedded in the team, the incentives should no longer be necessary.

You can introduce sustainability to every aspect of your devops process, from general architecture work to sprint planning.

For example, thinking about your next sprint:

  • Can you eliminate any unnecessary waste or reuse any existing components, instead of creating new ones?
  • Perhaps your developers could work closely with designers to consider technical feasibility at the design stage, to avoid multiple iterations later on
  • You could set some sustainable development standards the dev team should aspire to achieve in the next sprint
  • Review the tools you use (e.g. Trello, Slack) and make sure they’re the most suitable option for your team

Then, there’s the bigger picture - focusing on how the digital experiences you create impact the end-user.

Can you build/amend anything to make it easier for end-users to find what they need, quickly and easily? Consider using prototyping to test concepts before development, to prove them before you invest development time and money.

The key to success

A digital detox approach to devops is only as successful as the KPIs you set out. It’s helpful to review your existing devops KPIs and introduce some sustainability targets. Think about any commercial or customer KPIs you have set that could be harmful to the environment.

Your current objectives might focus on the quality of your output, using high tech tools and premium resolution viewing options for end-users. Quality is an admirable focus, but sometimes it’s better to reduce the resolution of your products from the gold standard to change focus elsewhere and make them more efficient.

It’s also critical that your systems are as lean and effective as possible. Outdated legacy systems are notoriously heavy and inefficient - now might be the time to replace them with more modern alternatives.

Reflect on the way you brief projects to the team, with sustainability being factored into the planning stages, design briefs and development process.

Communication is key - keep reminding the team about why a digital detox for devops is important and how it will benefit the team, company, clients and environment.

Quick wins

If you’re keen to get cracking today, here are a few quick wins you can start with straight away;

  • Task every team member to review their existing workstation and processes, and find at least 5 inefficiencies that may harm the environment. Then change them.

  • Update your devops team’s KPIs with 3 new sustainability metrics. These could be performance based (e.g. load speed), efficiency based (e.g. code quality) or process based (reducing video meetings, using Slack not email, encouraging offline working)

  • Encourage team members to make changes to their personal actions too. E.g. ethical purchasing, efficient remote working practices)

  • Focus on the end-user. E.g. change default video settings from “let’s burn the planet” mode to “low-res but efficient” mode

  • Review your third party relationships and rate how ethical and sustainable they are; from your Cloud providers and web hosting to equipment suppliers and software

  • Task the team with building a presentation to share your “Devops Digital Detox Journey” with other teams. This will motivate them to take action and may even influence other teams to follow suit

  • Introduce sustainability as a topic to cover in stand ups, planning sessions and retro meetings. This can help spread accountability across the team

  • Reduce the number of emails you send as a team and encourage clients to use Slack as an alternative

Need some help?

There’s a good reason we’re called Digital Detox. We create beautiful digital design and development journeys that delight end-users and meet clients’ objectives, don’t destroy the planet. We’re proud and passionate about what we do, especially the results we deliver.

Get in touch to discuss your own digital goals and find out how we can help you on your journey!

Read more in this series