At our recent FutureStack conference in London, Chris Astley, head of cloud operations for KPMG UK, had the challenge of following Anne Marie Neatham of Ocado and her posse of robots on stage. But he aced the assignment with a fascinating talk focused on how to move a traditional organization like KPMG to an entirely new development methodology, and the cultural change necessary to achieve this.

Chris described a decades-old development process that was just not agile enough to keep up with modern business practices. This resulted in production failures and unhappy customers. IT staff weren’t happy either, as the company was too often frustratingly slow to address issues and deliver change. He spoke about KPMG’s formerly painstaking process of approving change requests through a Change Advisory Board (CAB) meeting, which convened every two weeks and involved far too many stakeholders. “A simple change would take three months, which is just unacceptable in today’s fast-moving world,” Chris said.

KPMG had already announced a cloud-first strategy, Chris noted, so a cultural change was underway that helped pave the way to a DevOps model designed to optimize software development and delivery. DevOps is not just a trendy buzzword to KPMG, Chris said, it really is a coming together of the development and IT operations functions to improve team collaboration.

futurestack speaker chris astley of KPMG

New Relic supports a continuous feedback loop

By bringing business and development together, Chris and his team created a continuous feedback loop to drive constant improvement. As he explains, “This is where New Relic comes in. Having the data to make decisions is vitally important in a DevOps process—and New Relic’s integration into our feedback loop means that we now execute changes in three days rather than three months. We’re even delivering intraday changes.”

That’s not all. “We agree on objectives beforehand and have automated every process we possibly can within the DevOps chain,” Chris explained. “Because we work collaboratively, nobody feels they’re losing control and the outcome is reduced costs, time, and risk.”

The time and cost savings are driven by the shorter go-to-market timescales. Chris explored the risk factor with the FutureStack audience: “Using our traditional model meant that we delivered big changes … eventually! Introducing big change is far riskier than having a continuous change model where a go-live decision is based on meeting certain test criteria within an automated process.”

For example, when organizations around the world were recently hit by a malware attack, KPMG knew that its servers were safe and sound. Access to the servers was tightly controlled and automated, which Chris called an added security benefit of the DevOps approach.

futurestack speaker chris astley of KPMG

Team collaboration and process automation delivers

Chris summed up his presentation by emphasizing the massive culture change at KPMG. The company’s whole way of working and thinking was adjusted to make DevOps a success. In fact, Chris called staff satisfaction the single biggest benefit of the move to DevOps: “Introducing a DevOps model, coupled with the visibility New Relic has provided, has brought everyone together. We are more effective as a team and reap the benefits every day.”

Watch Chris’ full FutureStack: London presentation below:

Join us in Berlin

Thank you to Chris and all our amazing speakers for making FutureStack: London such a huge success. Next stop, FutureStack: Berlin on 22 June! The London event sold out and and we are seeing similar demand in Berlin, so be sure to register today to save your spot.

Follow @futurestack and the #futurestack hashtag on Twitter to stay updated.

futurestack berlin

Note: Event dates, speakers, and schedules are subject to change without notice.

Baxter Denney is Head of Marketing, EMEA, for New Relic.

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