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Engaging Your Stakeholders In The DevSecOps Process

A cross functional group of stakeholders participates in various tasks and workflows involved in the DevSecOps process.

With increased remote work and a software industry moving faster than ever, companies need solutions to release software better, faster, and more securely. Organizations seeking to break down silos and streamline development have embraced DevSecOps. DevSecOps is the combination of development, security, and operations into one streamlined strategy for releasing high-quality software faster without compromising security. 

One of the challenges in DevSecOps adoption is that it disrupts existing workflows and requires stakeholders to change the way they think about and approach their daily responsibilities. That’s why engaging your stakeholders early and often in the DevSecOps process is crucial to accomplish successful implementation.

How to Engage Your Stakeholders in the DevSecOps Process

Let’s discuss five ways to engage stakeholders in your DevSecOps process to help you achieve digital transformation in your organization.

Analyze Your Current Development Processes

Are you already on the path to DevOps maturity, or are you jumping straight into DevSecOps from waterfall or agile development practices? Have you identified problems with your software development lifecycle (SDLC) that you’re hoping to solve with DevSecOps? What role does security play in your current processes, and can they be adapted to fit into your DevSecOps strategy? These questions need to be answered before you start down the DevSecOps path.

You can get these answers by involving key development and security stakeholders from the very beginning of your DevSecOps planning. Interviewing the people who know how the day-to-day workflows and processes work (or don’t work) gives you valuable data about your SDLC while engaging stakeholders.

After you’ve collected and analyzed this information, you can determine what steps and tools are needed to accomplish your DevSecOps goals. You should also present this data to non-technical stakeholders (such as the C-suite) in a summarized, easily-digestible format with graphs and other visualizations to get them on board and excited for your DevSecOps journey.

Define What DevSecOps Means for Your Organization

In the initial stages of planning, you should also take the time to clearly define DevSecOps for your organization. What goals are you trying to achieve by integrating security into your DevOps lifecycle? What tools and processes are you going to use to achieve those outcomes? What roles will each team and team member play in both the implementation and day-to-day operation of DevSecOps?

Once you’ve defined what DevSecOps means for your organization, you can communicate this information to stakeholders, as well as document it and store it in a place that’s accessible to everyone. This will reduce confusion during implementation and serve as a guide to keep everyone on the right track. However, your DevSecOps definition should be a living document that gets updated as business goals and requirements (inevitably) change.

Gradually Implement DevSecOps

DevSecOps transformation can’t and shouldn’t happen overnight. Just as Agile DevOps projects are broken down into smaller pieces to allow for easy pivots and faster releases, your DevSecOps implementation should happen as a series of steps. Start with an easy workload as proof-of-concept, then learn from your successes and mistakes to improve your processes for the next project. A gradual implementation makes the DevSecOps transition easier for stakeholders, and early successes on easier projects will keep morale high as you move onto more challenging workflows.

Keep Stakeholders Informed

One of the key principles of DevSecOps is the elimination of informational silos. That means you need to keep stakeholders informed at every step of the implementation process. Share your decisions, successes, failures, and changes to all the necessary stakeholders as soon as possible. Clear communication will reduce misunderstandings and mistakes, and ensure all stakeholders remain engaged. 

In addition, this transparency will reduce the amount of distrust among teams as they adapt to so many changes. Stakeholders don’t just need to know the ins and outs of the changes, though. They also need to understand the value behind each shift, both to the organization and to their daily lives.

Foster a DevSecOps Culture

Every successful DevSecOps implementation is built on the foundation of a strong organizational culture that prioritizes collaboration, security, and constant improvement. That means all stakeholders, from the C-suite to developers to the support staff, must change the way they think about and approach their jobs.

For example, management should reward team members who bring forth new ideas and innovative methods. That also means you shouldn’t punish mistakes and failures. Instead, encourage people to learn from their mistakes and work collaboratively to find solutions to problems. You should also encourage developers to separate their ego from their code — critique of their work isn’t critique of them. You’re all working together towards the same goal. This will make your stakeholders feel valued and engaged in the DevSecOps process.

You also need to support stakeholders by providing comprehensive training on all new DevSecOps tools and practices. Teams should be given enough time to learn their new workflows before being thrust into a fast-paced DevSecOps development cycle. Non-technical stakeholders should receive higher-level training on what the technical teams are doing so they can stay involved and supportive.

Finally, your organizational culture needs to make security a priority for every single stakeholder. In DevSecOps, security is integrated into every stage of the development cycle. Everyone needs to know how to perform their job securely and how to spot signs of breaches. As an analogy, in the Navy, when there’s a fire everyone helps fight it regardless of their regular roles — everyone contributes to keep the ship afloat. However, this also means that they have the training to know exactly what to do when they smell smoke.

Everyone also needs to feel comfortable bringing a security issue to the attention of upper management without fearing punishment. This will ensure that any potential compromise is dealt with immediately instead of being swept under the rug until it causes noticeable damage.

Achieve Success by Engaging Your Stakeholders in the DevSecOps Process

Overhauling your entire culture and disrupting workflows across your organization will be a difficult process that’s fraught with both technical and interpersonal challenges. But compared to the cost of a security breach or significant downtime, it’s worth the effort. By emphasizing security throughout development, your organization can reap the other benefits of a successful DevSecOps implementation. When teams collaborate, they’re less stressed. Work flows smoothly instead of getting stuck at bottlenecks. You can deploy better software more frequently and respond rapidly to changing business needs. Implementing DevSecOps is challenging, but the rewards go far beyond the security benefits.

Luckily, you don’t have to face this monumental undertaking on your own. The DevSecOps experts at Copado Strategic Services will partner with your organization to create an adoption strategy that addresses your unique people, processes, and product. Using the tools, knowledge, and support provided by Copado, you can reduce headaches and keep stakeholders enthusiastically involved in every step of the DevSecOps process.