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CIOs are Overestimating DevOps Maturity

This article was originally published on

Forrester recently completed an interesting new research project exploring what separates DevOps leaders from DevOps laggards. After analyzing data collected from 603 global enterprise respondents responsible for their firms’ DevOps strategies, Forrester learned that firms with the most mature DevOps practices do several key things differently:

  1. Allocate proper testing budgets and focus on upgrading their testing skills
  2. Implement Continuous Testing to meet the demands of release frequency and support Continuous Delivery
  3. Include testers as part of their integrated delivery teams
  4. Automate end-to-end functional testing
  5. Shift-left testing to earlier in the development life cycle

Firms who follow these five best practices experience testing as a way to gain speed and efficiency, versus a bottleneck to delivering faster.

This was not terribly surprising. On the one hand, study after study shows that testing is the #1 bottleneck to accelerated application delivery. On the other, we’ve seen firsthand how organizations who commit to transforming testing successfully shift from waterfall-style manual testing processes to automated Continuous Testing integrated into CI/CD pipelines.

What caught us off guard, however, was the survey respondents’ highly inflated estimation of their Continuous Testing, DevOps, and Agile maturity.

According to the report, only 26% of non-CXOs reported that their organization was following all five of these best practices—but 57% of CXOs believed that they were. According to the report:

While most Agile and/or DevOps firms have implemented some of these five core testing practices, few have actually implemented all of them — only about a quarter of respondents say they somewhat or completely agree with all five best practice statements.

This is an important distinction. While many CXOs and high-level decision makers believe they are ahead of the pack, our research shows that only the small fraction of firms that follow these best practices have more advanced Agile and DevOps practices compared to their peers — and their behaviors and attitudes support that assertion.

Moreover, CXOs also reported much higher levels of Agile and DevOps maturity across the board than non-CXOs.

Detailed Report Findings

This was just one of the many interesting findings from the Forrester Research: What Separates DevOps + Agile Leaders from Laggards? research project, which was led by Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Diego Lo Giudice.

Here’s a quick recap of the key findings:

  1. Firms that are more mature in Agile + DevOps do five key things differently (see list, above). For firms that follow these five best practices, testing is a way to gain speed and efficiency.
  2. Automating software delivery without accurately measuring software quality is dangerous. Firms must understand the business risk — the chance of a negative user experience — that each software application carries when deciding whether to release. Unfortunately, most firms admit they have gaps in their ability to accurately assess and manage business risk in testing.
  3. Leaders ruthlessly drive end-to-end test automation. With a better indication of risk from their testing metrics, DevOps leaders can relentlessly pursue automation to develop with quality at speed. They do this by prioritizing end-to-end automated business process testing. They automate test design and test execution, and they orchestrate the automation of the overall dev-test-deploy process.

[For additional insights and Forrester’s recommendations, read the complete DevOps Leaders vs Laggards report]