Lean helps Organizations implement DevOps

With more businesses jumping on the DevOps bandwagon, some still struggle during the adaptation. As with any newer methodology, it helps to analyze the best practices of those early adopters to foster a smooth implementation at your own company. Increasingly firms look to Lean, a system focused on improving efficiency first developed in the manufacturing world, as a pathway to DevOps success.

We previously talked about Lean as a popular Agile framework. Let’s look more closely at how it makes implementing DevOps easier for businesses of all sizes. It just might be what your company needs to succeed.

Lean focuses on Process Efficiency

Lean first grew out of a desire to make car manufacturing more efficient through the reduction of waste. When we covered it as an Agile framework earlier this year, we mentioned its appropriateness for companies with well-defined procedures and policies already in place. IT manager, John Rauser recently wrote an article for SD Times illustrating how Lean can also make a positive difference for businesses adopting DevOps.

Rauser notes how Lean emphasizes process efficiency, focusing on optimizing the interaction between those involved on a project. He explains the differences between this approach and traditional IT’s focus on resource efficiency. Since the prime directive of DevOps usually involves improved software delivery, streamlining the flow of that process makes perfect sense.

The hallmarks of Lean – waste reduction, enhanced collaboration, and ultimately faster delivery – dovetail nicely with the principles of DevOps. Rauser feels these same goals need to foster a transition from an IT department made up of functional silos to one group built around the flow of the software development process. Strong collaboration combined with an “experimentation and feedback loop” then becomes basis for a new organizational culture.

Joining the Efficiency Matrix

The Efficiency Matrix, from This is Lean, serves as an abstraction of the pathway from an old school resource-focused IT shop to one that embraces DevOps. Resource efficiency as it relates to localized silos offers little to a modern shop hoping to achieve continuous delivery. Hauser comments that shops using this outdated structure to deliver software in today’s business world suffer from waste due to poor interaction between these silos.

Realizing the inefficiency of their current organizational structure remains the key for most businesses looking at DevOps as a software development panacea. A Lean approach requires this realization before a transformation to a process-based structure begins. Implementing DevOps as a trial project within a subset of the organization serves as a proof of concept for those unsure about the new direction.

Finding someone passionate and experienced about leading this change offers a greater chance of success. This needs to happen before DevOps gets rolled out on a larger scale. Leveraging Agile techniques along with the integration of automation and other tools plays a key role in improving process efficiency.

Ultimately, growing into a mature Lean DevOps organization involves close monitoring while making subtle changes as necessary. It essentially becomes one living organism focused on delivering value as efficiently as possible. This is worthy goal of any software development business in today’s market.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional dispatches on the ever-changing world of software development. As always, thanks for reading!

Finding the Heart of Agile

Even with its wide popularity across the software development world, there are more than a few programmers who simply don’t like Agile. The reasons for this antipathy range from a resistance to change, to simply being averse to the meetings and procedures typical of many Agile frameworks.

Bringing these prodigal sons – and daughters – back to fold is an important part of building a successful application engineering team. Some tech thought leaders feel returning to the simplicity of Agile in its earlier days will help. Let’s take a closer look at some of their concepts to see if they may help your staff.

The Modern Movement to return Agile to its Roots

There are two main movements hoping to lessen the animosity towards Agile by instead focusing on what caused its growth in the first place. Modern Agile is something we’ve talked about previously on the blog. Guided by four simple principles, this flavor of Agile is continuing to attract proponents hoping a simplified methodology leads to happy developers and a subsequent boost in productivity.

The other newer movement within the Agile community is called the Heart of Agile. It was first developed by Alistair Cockburn, one of the original authors of the Agile Manifesto. Like Modern Agile, the Heart of Agile also focuses on four simple principles Cockburn feels are essential to the original methodology.

The Four Keys to the Heart of Agile

In 2014, Cockburn began to feel Agile had become too dependent on procedures and policies; “overly decorated” was the term he used.  With Agile getting away from the simplicity he felt was vital to its initial success; it seemed like a good time to restate the core concepts of the methodology. Of course, Cockburn stays away from calling the Heart of Agile a framework, methodology, or process; instead he refers the curious to its four core actions: collaborate, deliver, reflect, and improve.

“Collaborate” is the first action and one many software engineering professionals feel is one of the most important aspects of Agile and related frameworks, like DevOps. “Deliver” is self-explanatory, and remains a focus at any software shop, including those striving to achieve continuous delivery.

“Reflect” is an important concept helping individual developers and software engineering teams understand their own previous project work and where they can become better. “Improve” is the fourth action to Cockburn’s new manifesto and serves as the natural result of any reflection.

Cockburn emphasizes that these four actions are practiced by anyone in the software development industry on a daily basis. “Each one unpacks into unendingly complicated skills, actions, tools, and all. Each is rich with nuance. And still, we can fold back up all the nuance and complications, and remind ourselves: ‘Collaborate. Deliver. Reflect. Improve.’” says Cockburn.

Ultimately, his most important point is to never lose sight of these four simple concepts no matter the relative complexity of an organization’s Agile framework or the increasing number of tools required to manage a mature DevOps organizational structure. They are words worthy of periodic reflection. Keep returning to them on a weekly or daily basis.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Betica Blog. Keep returning for additional insights and philosophies from the world of software development.

Finding the Business Value in your Investment in Agile and DevOps

As companies continue to invest resources transforming their software development practice into an Agile and/or DevOps model, determining the resultant ROI still eludes some. This conclusion is one of the major findings in a recent survey of CIOs published in ZDNet. On the other hand, many respondents report the faster time to production of software enhancements and bug fixes.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the other results of the study to see if these conclusions help your organization decide whether or not Agile and DevOps make sense in your shop.

DevOps Study reveals the need to Accurately measure Business Value

The study in question was conducted by Forrester Research and sponsored by Blueprint Software. While a majority of those surveyed are able to offer anecdotal evidence of the success of their DevOps transition – typically faster software delivery – they largely can’t translate that evidence into tangible business value. Forrester defines this term as increased revenue, improved competitiveness, a growing customer base, and ultimately – enhanced profitability.

45 percent of the surveyed companies currently use business value as a metric to measure the efficacy of their software development process. Nearly two-thirds of the organizations in the survey rely on that time-honored metric – speed to production – as the prime indicator of success using DevOps and Agile. Surprisingly, only one-third considers return on investment to be a valid indicator of success when migrating to these newer methodologies.

The ZDNet analysis of the survey notes that organizations need to improve communication and collaboration throughout their business to truly gauge the impact of a transition to Agile and DevOps. Since DevOps already requires this additional focus on team interaction as part of its process, these same teams can work together to devise a set of metrics to accurately measure the new methodology’s contribution to business value. Companies need to get beyond merely using status updates over email to communicate success.

Taking the Steps to bridge the DevOps Cultural Divide

Many of the surveyed organizations are trying to improve their still nascent DevOps implementations with both technical and business initiatives. 61 percent are engaged in the process of developing better metrics to measure the value of process improvement. Improving business requirements is occurring at 58 percent of the companies – another task that benefits from the additional collaboration ushered in by DevOps.

Close to half of the firms in the study are improving the management of their Agile teams, while also leveraging new technical practices, like continuous testing, to gain additional efficiencies in the SDLC. 84 percent of those surveyed feel devising a means for tracing delivered source code components to their initial business initiative would go a long way in improving business value metrics. The automation of reporting throughout the entire DevOps release chain to boost business visibility is something desired by 80 percent of the respondents.

If anything, the results of the survey reveal how DevOps is still maturing at most of the organizations currently implementing it. Improving the visibility of the process through better reporting that advertises how software enhancements are meeting vital business needs can only help. Read the survey in full to see how its conclusions can help your team go Agile!

Keep returning to the Betica Blog for additional insights from the software development world. As always, thanks for reading!