The CALMS Model: Assessing Your Readiness for a DevOps Transformation

If you’re considering beginning a DevOps transformation, we recommend starting by identifying where you are now and where you need to improve before moving forward. This initial process highlights potential barriers that could slow the transformation or make it fail altogether. At 2nd Watch, we rely on the CALMS Model to comprehensively assess teams and processes as a starting point to a DevOps transformation.

What is the CALMS Model?

Originally developed by Damon Edwards and John Willis, and later enhanced by Jez Humble, the CALMS Model assesses your business today and throughout the DevOps transformation. The Model addresses five fundamental elements of DevOps:

  1. Culture: Collaborative and customer centered culture across all functions.
  • Is there a top-down effort to shift culture?
  • Are developers working with app owners, operations, legal, security, or any other department that will be affected?
  • How does your management team support the omni-directional integration of teams?
  • Do you enable the team to fail fast?
  • Is the team encouraged to continuously learn?
  1. Automation: Remove the toil, or wasted work, with automation.
  • How much toil is present?
  • Is your continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) pipeline flowing?
  • Are processes automated efficiently?
  • Is infrastructure automated and available on demand?
  1. Lean: Agile and scrappy teams focused on continuous improvement.
  • Can you visualize your work in progress?
  • Where can you slim down?
  • Can you reduce batch sizes?
  • Can you limit your work in process?
  1. Measurement: Data is critical to measure progress.
  • What are you measuring and how?
  • How do you determine progress, success, and the need to optimize?
  • What are your goals?
  1. Sharing: All teams teach each other and feel empowered to contribute.
  • How is information and tribal knowledge captured and shared across teams?
  • Do teams feel comfortable sharing unsuccessful experiences for learning purposes?
  • Do teams share duties and goals?

Not only is the CALMS Model easy to use and comprehensive in a DevOps transformation, but it can also be applied to any other transformational effort. If you want to reduce costs, increase speed, or receive the benefits of these changes, use the CALMS Model as your foundation to assess where you are and where you are going.

Starting small with the CALMS Model

A good way to begin any DevOps transformation is to start small. Select a group of teams willing to prove the concept and complete a CALMS assessment within their departments. Choose up to five different teams and let the results of the assessment determine the top one or two highest functioning teams. These teams will serve as your subjects for an internal case study to showcase your readiness and chart a larger scale plan.

While proof of concept is important for buy-in, it’s also valuable to bring the right people along the change curve. Invite your IT executives to get onboard with DevOps and understand the entire transformation, rather than just the tooling. It’s not just CI/CD, it’s removing barriers, implementing analytics, and, most importantly, achieving the benefits of the DevOps transformation.

The best way to bring IT executives into DevOps is to help them justify the means. Show them the reduction in costs, increase in speed, efficient resource allocation – whatever your goals may be – as well as the measurements you’ll use to prove that value. Of course, the CALMS Model has these points built-in, so it’s a good tool to use for all stakeholders in the DevOps transformation. Present your findings to IT executives and let the assessment determine if you’re ready to move forward. Not only does the CALMS Model support each DevOps value, it enables measurement both upfront and throughout your transformation allowing you to prove your return on investment.

If you want a successful DevOps transformation complete with assessment and strategy, infrastructure as code essentials, CI/CD, and cloud native application modernization, schedule a briefing with one of our DevOps experts to take the first step.

-Stefana Muller, Sr Product Manager, DevOps & Migration

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