4 min read

Big blockers to CI/CD adoption (and what you can do to punch through)

Melissa Hales
Melissa Hales
12 September 2021 DevOps
DevOps - big blockers to CI/CD adoption

CI/CD helps DevOps teams to ship better quality software more quickly. It forms the foundation of any modern DevOps environment. The benefits are plain to see: more reliable software, accelerated innovation, fewer errors thanks to greater visibility, a more collaborative organisation, less resource waste, features that start generating revenue right away, and the opportunity to sit head and shoulder above your competition.

But what might be obvious to you and some of your engineers, won’t resonate with everyone. Even if, as a leader, you’re spearheading CI/CD implementation, you still need enthusiastic buy-in across the business for change to take place and the advantages to be realised. In this blog, we take a look at some of the most common blockers holding CI/CD back and explain how you overcome them.

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What’s holding your CI/CD strategy back?

When you’re trying something new that requires people to change the way they work, you’re going to come up against brick walls. Here are some of the most frequently touted arguments from CI/CD sceptics and what to say to win them round.

We don’t have the infrastructure to support it

Sure, CI/CD sounds good, but some will argue that the business doesn’t have the right infrastructure in place to make it happen. And at this point in time, that could be true. That’s why, before you try out tools and shout about best practice, you’ll want to look at your legacy systems and figure out the technical requirements you need to make it work. Having your CI/CD ducks in a row, will help to assuage any concerns that the system won’t be up to scratch. Do your research and consult the experts, like us here at Adaptavist, to ensure your infrastructure is CI/CD ready.

We don’t need to change

Resistance to change is a big cultural challenge that is holding back a lot of companies from adopting DevOps practices. As a leader you may see resistance from your other senior peers who are not aligned with your strategy, or from your development team who are happy with their current working practices. Recognising what is causing the resistance, and then addressing these issues to get buy-in from all stakeholders so everyone gets on-board and moves along with the changes at the same time is key to CI/CD success.

We don’t have the expertise in-house

This can be tricky. Sure, if you’re not doing CI/CD already, it’s unlikely you’re going to have a team that’s super experienced working that way. But until you start, you’re never going to be able to introduce and build that expertise into the mix. A modern technology stack will attract the right people, while it’s hard to implement the right technology without the knowledge in-house. 

Having clear intentions when hiring talent, leaning on the expertise you do have, and seeking expert advice from qualified partners can help you to build confidence in your teams and make sure you’ve got the talent you need to take CI/CD to the next level. 

We don’t have time to start implementing CI

Another chicken/egg situation here. If you’re going to start with CI, some resources and engineers will need to be redirected away from daily tasks to make it happen. There’s a good chance people are not going to want to stop shipping features to get implementation moving. As a leader, you need to reassure them that the initial irritation will pay off.

In the short-term, this could have an impact on release cycles, especially if you’re already dealing with delays – although clever management can help here. But in the long-run automation will ensure it’s worth it. Your people will be able to put more energy into innovative, revenue-generating activities that reflect organisational goals and make a real difference for your customers.

We don’t have the money

Ah, yes. Money. IT leaders will need to show the real value CI/CD is bringing to the business. Tooling, training, and talent are costly, so it’s easy to just see numbers and little in the way of immediate financial returns. It’s important to demonstrate the revenue the business stands to earn from this approach, long into the future. 

Not only does CI/CD help you make the most of your resources, ensuring cost-efficiency and allowing your developers to focus on driving innovation – it also means you’ll start making revenue on deployed features far more quickly. Automated tests and builds ensure code is up to standard and that customers won’t have to wait for manual checks to take place first before they can start using your new features.

We didn’t realise there was a problem that needed fixing

If you didn’t know there was a problem in the first place, you would be sceptical about a costly and complex-seeming solution to try and fix it. That’s where a lack of visibility and poor communication across the business can work against you – with little understanding and no appreciation of the urgency, people will fight you tooth and nail.

Including all relevant stakeholders and helping them to see the problems your pipeline is facing is half the battle. Use metrics to show how CI/CD can make a significant difference to cycle time, time to value, uptime, and staff retention – they should come around pretty quickly.

Make your case

Even business leaders are accountable – and it won’t necessarily be your decision alone to ensure your CI/CD strategy becomes a reality. That’s why it’s important to keep these five points in focus when you make the case to your colleagues.

  • Valuetalk about the value CI/CD brings to teams and the wider organisation. Find out what sceptics care about and show how CI/CD can deliver on that.
  • Increments – you don’t have to change everything all at once. If there’s an enthusiastic team, start with them, and then use the results to persuade others of the benefits.
  • Measurements – let data do the talking for you. If you have teams that have adopted CI/CD successfully, use your own data. If you’re just getting started, use the best estimates available and compare those with your own metrics.
  • Strategy – refer to the bigger picture. What are the business goals that CI/CD can help to achieve? Whether that’s releasing features faster, reducing errors, improving security, retaining talent, or driving revenue.
  • Examples – look at other organisations that have seen improvements with CI/CD and consult wider research about the benefits.

Don’t give up

If your business is worth its salt, it cares about its customers, wants to drive market share, and adopt the best practices for organisational success. This mindset shift might not happen straight away, but persistence will definitely pay off. Keep the conversation going and don’t get off topic – the five focus points mentioned above should help.

And don’t try and persuade everyone yourself – let the experts do the talking too. Find your biggest allies across the organisation and use their experience and understanding to help others realise the importance of making the shift to CI/CD.

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