Expanding Agile-plus-DevOps Across the Enterprise Value Stream

July 2, 2018 Eric Robertson

DevOps has grown significantly in recent years as an approach to better and faster software delivery through breaking down the Development and Operations silos. Author and speaker Gene Kim defines DevOps in The DevOps Handbook as, “The emerging professional movement that advocates a collaborative working relationship between Development and IT Operations, resulting in the fast flow of planned work (i.e., high deploy rates), while simultaneously increasing the reliability, stability, resilience and security of the production environment.”

What types of challenges prompt an enterprise to start looking to DevOps to improve process and flow? Issues such as:

  • Lack of management visibility;
  • Inconsistent processes;
  • Incompatible data and measurements;
  • Minimal collaboration and knowledge sharing;
  • Deployment delays, inefficiencies and errors;
  • Limited alignment with business strategy;
  • And unmanaged dependencies

All of the above can contribute to slow release times while the cost of regular inefficiencies take a toll on the organization. Team members experience frustration due to a lack of clear direction and changing priorities and company resources are depleted. These challenges are familiar at all levels of the enterprise — from portfolio to program, release and team.

These challenges are all reasons that organizations bring companies like CollabNet VersionOne into an Agile-plus-DevOps discussion. Any one of the challenges mentioned is enough for managers to seek a better way, however most of the time we see enterprises facing almost all of them at once.

When we meet with large enterprises that are dealing with the challenges above, these issues have repercussions throughout the entire business.  What about taking a more holistic approach and applying the principals of DevOps to the entire product delivery pipeline?

This is where Value Stream Management (VSM) comes in. What is VSM?  Forrester defines VSM as a mechanism for business users’ visibility into how much value is being delivered. It gives all stakeholders a view of the health of the product delivery pipeline. In essence, VSM is end-to-end visibility and perhaps value delivery is simply the last dark mile.

For example, there are a number of iteration periods that may be well known to an enterprise in capturing value such as portfolios, epics, features and backlog. However, to truly create value, other iteration periods, such as commit, artifacts, packages, releases and deployments, must also be known, measured visibility.

So how does an enterprise apply DevOps throughout the value stream? Is it possible using point tools alone? We see many organizations with an alphabet soup of tools from AWS to Puppet to Jenkins and dozens more, yet they still face the challenges that I first mentioned, such as incompatible data (no way to correlate data from various tools) or minimal collaboration and sharing.

On top of the hodgepodge of tools, the silo-ed teams and distributed nature of most enterprises today, we also find that there are a number of methodologies in use within an organization such as Agile, CMMI, Waterfall, etc. The struggle can be to blend work items across teams and the good news is that VSM can map multiple methodologies and still produce the needed traceability and visibility for business value evaluation.

Simply creating software faster does not solve the problem. In fact, it can create new problems, such as higher inventory, unchanged delivery processes and endless new surprises that will overwhelm teams.

Resources such as the State of DevOps Report give us a glimpse into how enterprises are doing and affirms the need for a more holistic view of DevOps that spans value streams throughout the organization and enables business value visibility.  We see in the 2017 State of DevOps report that though organizations are increasing deployment speed, quality is lacking and the result is bigger failures and more time needed to restore service. In other words as source code change accumulates, we lose track of what matters most:  the business value. “Going faster” with a primary focus on automation only increases risk and likelihood of Failure.

We must measure DevOps performance in order to drive business value.  A discussion on how collaborative Dev and Ops environments can work better together to create real digital business drivers is the next step. The best way to adopt DevOps is clearly understanding the business value that the new changes will deliver, the efficiencies and benefits gained, and any future possibilities to optimize each product and process in a delivery pipeline.

As a longtime leader in the software development space, CollabNet VersionOne has the leadership (recognized this year already by both Gartner and Forrester).  Our main mission, as we have shared this week at the DevOps Enterprise Summit London (DOES18) is to enable enterprises to — not only deliver better software faster — but gives organizations implementing Agile-plus-DevOps a better understanding of the value delivered through visibility and traceability across the product delivery pipeline.

To learn more about marrying DevOps and Value Stream Management, please visit: https://www.collab.net/solutions/value-stream-management or watch the recorded webinar, “Bringing Value Stream Management to the Enterprise.”

About the Author

Eric Robertson

Eric Robertson is responsible for product management and marketing at CollabNet. Prior to CollabNet, Eric served as Director of services and portfolio management for enterprise solutions at Unisys. Eric joined Cisco through a company acquisition, where he led product management for Cisco's cloud automation and SAP ALM extension offerings. Eric has successfully held product development, services and management roles with enterprises and start-ups and has provided consulting services to Fortune 500 companies. Eric holds a patent in the area of virtualization and a Master's Degree in Electrical and Software Engineering from University of Texas in Austin and continues to further his research in domain- specific languages, and intelligent automation.

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