The Accelerate State of DevOps Report 2021 – A Summary

The 2 state of DevOps reports each year aggregate the current state of technology organisations globally in respect to our collective transformation towards delivering value faster and more reliably. Or as Jonathan Smart puts it, “Sooner. Safer, Happier”.

The DevOps shift has been in progress for over a decade now, and whilst DevOps was always really about culture, the most recent reports are now emphasising the importance of culture, progressive leadership, inclusion, and diversity more than ever before.

Last year, in 2020, the core findings of the State of DevOps Report focussed on:

  1. The technology industry in general still had a long way to go and there remained significant areas for improvement across all sectors.
  2. Internal platforms and platform teams are a key enabler of performance, and more organisations were starting to adopt this approach.
  3. Adopting a long-term product approach over short-term project-oriented improves performance and facilitates improved adoption of DevOps cultures and practices.
  4. Lean, automated, and people-oriented change management processes improve velocity and performance over traditional gated approaches.


This year (2021), there are a number of key findings in the Accelerate State of DevOps Report, building on previous iterations:

  1. The “highest performers” continue to improve the velocity of delivery, through practices that enable teams to continually identify improvements to tooling, technology and process.
  2. Adoption of SRE practices improves wider organisational performance. Teams that prioritise both delivery and operational excellence report the highest organisational performance. Reliability is as important, if not more so, than short lead time for changes.
  3. Adoption of cloud technology accelerates software delivery and organisational performance, and enables the five capabilities of cloud native technology. Multi-cloud adoption is increasing, so that teams can utilise the strengths of each provider and improve resilience against risk of a single provider failure.
  4. Secure Software Supply Chains that integrate security practices into pipelines and processes enable teams to deliver secure software quickly, safely and reliably.
  5. Documentation is important. Teams that create and maintain high quality documentation are more able to implement technical practices, make changes, and recover from incidents. 
  6. Inclusive and generative team cultures improve resilience and performance. Teams with psychologically safe and inclusive cultures suffered less from burnout during the Covid-19 pandemic.

devops and documentation

View the entire 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps report here.

View the 2021 Puppet State of DevOps Report summary here.

Factors of Organisational and Digital Transformation


  • Line of business
  • Risk register / immediate risks
  • Risk appetite
  • Public / private / shareholding / equity holding
  • Impediments and current challenge
  • Tracking up or tracking down
  • Industry volatility and disruption
  • Competitors
  • Urgency
  • Cost of delays
  • Cost of changes
  • Regulatory compliance needs
  • Locations
  • Time zones
  • Organisation size
  • Organisation age
  • Diversity of business lines/units
  • Purpose and values
  • Mission statement
  • History and folklore
  • Past mergers and acquisitions
  • Organisation identity in the world
  • Public or private
  • Short term pressure / long term pressure
  • Heterogeneity of leadership / board
  • Finances – cash, P&L, share price, turnover, EBITDA
  • Cost sensitivity
  • Preference for opex vs capex
  • Exit strategy



  • Organisational culture
  • Heterogeneity of culture across the organisation
  • Leadership buy-in to transformation
  • Key stakeholders
  • Prior transformation attempts
  • Psychological safety (org-wide / in-team)
  • Customer expectations
  • Customer base (business, consumer, public, other)
  • Ease of customer feedback
  • Diversity
  • Equality, gender pay gap visibility
  • National identity and culture
  • Survival anxiety
  • Team member churn rate / length of tenure
  • Organisational structure, reporting lines, matrix, hierarchies
  • Geographical distribution
  • Permanent teams vs outsourced teams
  • Skill and mastery level
  • Tacit knowledge in the organisation
  • Capabilities and gaps
  • Promotions, recognitions and awards
  • Pay scales
  • Orthodoxies
  • Defined roles
  • Cross-teaming
  • Training, coaching, mentoring, support
  • Career paths
  • Physical working environment
  • Communities of Practice
  • Remote vs on-prem (degrees of remoteness)
  • Longevity of teams
  • Centres of Excellence / Enablement
  • Stream aligned teams / function-aligned teams / hybrid
  • Known rituals
  • Facilities, office design, open vs closed offices, physical space
  • Exposure to “business” information such as cashflow, profit, turnover, and granularity.




  • Operating model
  • Policies
  • Standards
  • Processes
  • Regulation of process
  • Standardisation appetite
  • Finance process
  • Budget cycle
  • Business case requirement
  • Hiring process
  • Procurement process and duration
  • Adherence to frameworks
  • International & national standards
  • Audit frequency and type
  • Governance, risk, compliance processes
  • Product vs project
  • ITIL / COBIT / other frameworks
  • Environment provisioning
  • Preference for waterfall vs agile
  • Handoffs
  • WIP limits
  • Communications cadences and expectations
  • Current methodologies and practices
  • Security clearances
  • Natural / habitual cadences
  • Agile adoption
  • Scrum adoption
  • Methodologies at scale (SAFe, LESS, etc)


Data and Tools

  • Wall space or digital tools – information radiators
  • Data-driven insights capability
  • Communication tools – asynchronous vs synchronous
  • Silos of information
  • Data feedback loops
  • Dataviz and analytic tools
  • Degree of tool integration
  • SSO
  • “Shadow” IT
  • Degree of autonomy / lockdown of machines
  • AI/ML
  • Volume of data
  • Information availability, default to open/closed
  • Data treated as asset or liability
  • Default information openness
  • Dashboarding and reporting



  • Number and characteristics of key products
  • Criticality (life/death or just for fun)
  • Cost of delay for features
  • Level of planning expectation
  • Estimates and deadlines required
  • Risk appetite
  • Reliability requirements
  • Scaling requirements
  • Quality requirements
  • Degree of coupling
  • Degree of cohesion
  • Current lead time
  • Current flow / wait time
  • Current quality
  • Internal regulation
  • Unplanned vs planned work
  • Product lifespan
  • Feature lifespan
  • Marketing approach and capabilities



  • Satisfaction of technical capability
  • Common platform?
  • Architecture – monolithic vs microservices / APIs
  • Potential fracture planes
  • Team topology
  • Corporate network (MPLS, VPNs, hybrid, SDN, etc)
  • Cloud usage (production) – private/hybrid/public
  • Edge and IoT technology
  • Preferred technologies and codebase
  • Build and Deployment pipelines
  • Deployment strategies – canary, blue/green, rolling, A/B
  • Engineering skills
  • Engineering practices
  • Service Desk?
  • Infra as code
  • Containerisation
  • Test and QA approach
  • Work definition approach – user stories, MoSCoW etc
  • Rate, predictability and volume of work requests
  • Where does work come from?
  • Environments
  • Monitoring and observability
  • Degree of automation
  • Branching strategies
  • Existing reliability
  • Existing rate of change
  • Accelerate metrics
  • Technical debt
  • Pair programming, mob programming practices
  • Ratio of junior to senior engineers
  • Dev workstations and tooling
  • Dev / Ops teams & handovers
  • On-call culture and process
  • Infosec team / function and interactions

Please feel free to use this however you’d like, and if you think something needs adding to this list of organisational transformation factors, please let me know!