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ITL Recap: Patterson’s DevOps Culture Journey

Last Friday, at our IT Leadership Group Meeting, Shirley Walz, DevOps Manager, Rob Lewis, Product Owner Manager, and John Kelly, Software Engineer Manager at Patterson shared their perspective, insight, and learnings on the DevOps Culture Journey that their Fuse Team has undergone. Fuse is Patterson’s Cloud-based Dental Practice Management solution.  A huge thank you to Patterson for hosting our group!

Patterson is a company that connects customers from start to finish through technology. Not only is Patterson Companies experts in the Dental Supply space they also build and sell commercial software. They produce high-quality software in a highly regulated industry, which comes with many challenges.

When Patterson created Fuse,  they wanted to be considered a full solutions partner to the Dental Market. Fuse offers a cloud-based Dental Practice Management Product, which needed to be able to respond quickly to customer requests including bugs or enhancements. 

Where They Started 

At the beginning of their DevOps Culture, they struggled the most with culture, teams, and tools. They faced separation of roles, multi-location, infrastructure deploying code, some continuous integration, and non- agile methodology. In terms of culture, they faced some blaming, non-trusting, and some “not my problem” mentality. 

What They Did 

The put a high focus on hiring and team changes. They hired an Agile Coach, product owners for each team, and they hired a consultant to migrate from TFS to Azure DevOps. They focused on re-organizing teams to be autonomous. They also emphasized culture-related training including; strengths training, scrum training, and promoted camera usage and video conferencing. A few other things they incorporated were implementing tools to encourage ownership and self-service, big room release planning, and daily sprint health check-ins.

Where They Are 

As Patterson has continued through their journey, they have seen a shift in their teams to agile methodology, becoming more autonomous, and monthly deploys. Their culture is now more collaborative; they follow the fail fast – fix fast mentality, and more trust throughout the teams. They have seen a huge mental shift as everyone owns quality and own their pipeline. 

DevOps Culture – Azure DevOps 

Patterson built dashboards to bring visibility to the health of the sprint, test failures, and what’s remaining for a sprint. It’s critical to have the tools in place to allow for transparency on progress. You need to understand why the metrics you measure matter and visualize everything that helps you get and act on feedback faster. 

As Patterson continues its DevOps Culture Journey, they are looking to continue to find more and better tooling, continuously evaluate and adjust, and automate all the things! If you were unable to attend the meeting, you can view the slide deck here