One Way of Transforming Ideas to Business Value Through DevOps Practices & Principles

By Romnick Acabado, Published on February 14, 2020

What are the DevOps Goals?

DevOps is about achieving full potential in terms of engineering productivity in development and site reliability within operations, both of which have a direct impact on the revenue and growth of an organization.

Definitely, it is NOT a “one size fits all” approach, and it differs in every organization. The goal is to ensure better value outcomes faster and more safely through a combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools.

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What are the KPIs to Measure?

In order to achieve goals, it is important to have the right measurements as baseline for continuous improvement in terms of delivery and performance. Here are some of the important measures as performance indicators:

  • Client Satisfaction Rating (level of satisfaction of customer)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS score with your customers)
  • Time to Market (how many weeks to what)
  • Recovery from outages (number of outages)
  • Cycle time (how many weeks)
  • Frequency of releases (how many releases per month)
  • Change Lead Time (duration from code integration to deployment)

What are the Most Common Challenges and Pain Points in a Traditional IT Organization?

With fast evolving technologies and more demands for excellence and success, here are some of the common challenges that one organization might need to address:

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If an organization is encountering any of these, the question is where to start and how to address them?

Transformation Journey – Where to Start?

Every organization faces challenges that require change of mindset and proper reaction. Here are some recommendations to move forward and to focus on value creation and process improvement initiatives:

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Once assessment is completed, you need to know the difference between “doing agile” and “being agile”. So, what does it take to “be agile”? Here you go:

  • Be customer focus
  • Be technology agnostic
  • Be autonomous
  • Be part of self-organizing teams
  • Be cross-functional and continuously upskill yourself
  • Be lean
  • Be collaborative
  • Be communicative
  • Be adaptive/resilient
  • Be measurable
  • Be consistent
  • Be courageous
  • Be committed
  • Be a driver for excellence
  • Be results-oriented
  • Be reflective

Remember that every change begins with an individual and it needs to happen organically. Any change can happen quickly or not at all so the human passion will be the strong driving force to make the change process run and steadily evolve. Of course, the idea needs to be seen as more important than any individual.

Now that we have identified the obstacles to achieve the wildly important goals, what are the options and opportunities that an organization can take to adopt in modern practices?

Options, Opportunities & Recommended Actions

Every execution starts with planning and design. In this case, continuous assessments, DevOps foundation workshops and design sessions are recommended. These activities will jump-start the motion of creation of building blocks to address the challenges within an organization through evolution and not by a big-bang transformation.

Successful digital transformation starts with the top-down leadership support and humans of DevOps (champions, co-leaders, true enablers, innovators and early adopters). They are responsible for determining the roadmap and walking the floor on value stream mapping to check the organization’s current and future state. They visually collaborate to understand the flow across activities and departments to identify waste and take significant improvements. This results to value creating activities and can provide time diagnostic on how much is wasted from end to end process. Leaders and humans of DevOps are critical in solving the most challenging part of transformation in building and demonstrating the right culture and mindset. We’ve learned from Peter Drucker that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and in my opinion this means that the core values can influence the behavior of our people. This creates the culture that can directly affect the success of strategies, its delivery and performance of teams. One of the tools that we can leverage in supporting the change management is the “Lean Strategic Change Canvas”. This is will allow you to see the vision for a change, the WHYs, corresponding metrics and progress monitoring. Everything that will be impacted including people, departments and processes that require support and actions will be defined. This complements the DevOps roadmap where shared goals about hard and soft benefits can be identified as part of the vision including the leadership and communication about the “what’s in it for me” for every individual that will be impacted by the change to ensure that everyone is aligned to the purpose and mission of the organization.

Idea to Business Value Realization by DevOps Adoption

Adoption to DevOps movement requires the right organization structure starting from operating model, pilot deployment group, specialists and practitioners who are committed to create cross-skilled and cross-functional teams. The right vendor and supplier are also needed to support an organization in building the competencies. In terms of technology, delivery and deployment pipeline or DevOps toolchains are also critical to start changing monolithic applications to microservices that can improve the overall product releases and quality. There are also proven IT best practices, methodologies, framework and guiding principles for governance that will help in ensuring quality and sustainability of operations. Another tool and technique that I recommend is the “Lean Canvas” where we can define current top problems and corresponding solutions. Through this, we can focus on addressing the broader problems through unique value proposition. It focuses on value outcomes and not on productivity improvement which means that it supports articulation of the risk of doing nothing than outcompete. Current costs of incidents, problems and outages will be assessed and the focus will be on cost or value of products and not people or systems. Analysis from this can help in building a solution with better perspective.

Imagine when business and IT professionals come together to have shared end-to-end accountability in processing an idea to value through these best practices and principles:

  • Design Thinking – this can help in exploring the problem and identifying new innovative ideas thru clear understanding to ideation of what is the true value for users.
  • Lean Six Sigma – This can help in defining the scope and the future process to define what are the right things to focus on.
  • Agile Development Frameworks – this gives the framework to inspect, be transparent and adapt to build things faster and right.
  • DevOps/Operations – this is where ensure user satisfaction by self-service or selfless service while operating and continuously evolving the processes.
  • Modern Leadership and Proven Guiding Principles – this empower the people and ensure that self-motivated and resilient individuals are developed to innovate path thru ever-changing and multifaceted business challenges.

With this, we can be confident that we would be able to have better chance of successful processing of an idea to a value.

In this Creativity era, we all recognize the demand for disruptive solutions – and these are about the complex products and requirements. Business outcomes are now focusing with the faster ability to adapt to market needs while ensuring the stability, uptime and faster recovery during unexpected issues. This is to guarantee the user satisfaction and business continuity. These require promotion of collaborative culture, growth mindset, effective organization structure (modular and autonomous), constant measurements, deployment pipeline automation and knowledge management to achieve self-service and selfless service.

Within the value stream, mental and organizational resilience are critical in delivering business value and customer delights. In order to continuously evolve, it is essential to have the top leadership support for engagements related to learning and growth (training sessions to develop cross-functional and cross-skilled professionals), leveraging high-performance and cutting-edge technologies, compelling rewards and recognition, just-in-time organizational changes (what got you here, won’t get you there), alignment of strategies and goals from organizational level down to team level and every individual and choosing the right supplier/provider that also speaks the same culture and behaviors.

Legacy Beliefs to Overcome

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As conclusion, we can all agree that transforming an organization must not be a “big bang” approach. Productivity and changes must be done incrementally over time with support from the right people, tools and processes. To be successful, it must be a never-ending journey which requires life-long learning, collaboration, focus and commitment.

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