DevOps Blog

Here’s What You Need to Know

Mapping Your Value Stream: The First Step in DevOps

One of the first steps an organization takes before planning and implementing DevOps is to map out the software development value stream to determine where DevOps will provide the best ROI. You can improve efficiencies throughout the entire software development lifecycle by automating the least efficient development tasks and reducing friction between teams.

What are Value Streams?

The value stream concept predates DevOps methodology and is most closely associated with lean manufacturing. In a manufacturing environment, companies use value stream mapping to identify and eliminate waste, making the manufacturing process more efficient and reducing costs. For example, a widget company would trace and document every step it takes to make each widget in a flow chart. Using that data, they can identify and eliminate sources of bottlenecks in the process. Once one bottleneck is eliminated, value stream mapping shows where the next inefficiency is in the manufacturing process, and the company works to eliminate that. Value stream mapping can be applied to other industries, including software development. What activities are adding value to the finished application or system? What activities are not only slowing down development but also creating overhead that provides zero value to the customer?

The Link Between Value Streams and DevOps

DevOps focuses on eliminating bottlenecks in the software development process to deliver software faster, with a higher return on investment. Often, organizations discover that breaking down barriers between different teams helps reduce these bottlenecks and manages constraints in a way that increases overall productivity. The term “DevOps” demonstrates the links between the “Dev” (Development) and “Ops” (Operations) teams.

The second method DevOps uses for reducing bottlenecks is automating processes and approvals. If the value stream currently depends on employees completing manual steps and waiting for repetitive tasks to be approved, consider automating these tasks. Organizations cannot just put developers and operations teams into the same room and expect improvements, nor can they prove automation is improving efficiency without measuring the current process. Value stream mapping documents the flow from idea to release and provides the metrics that organizations need to focus improvement efforts.

Continuous Improvement (CI)

A key tenant of DevOps is that the software development and delivery process can iteratively and continuously improve. Once an organization has eliminated the first bottleneck, that phase of software development will be more efficient. However, upstream activities may not be able to complete their tasks quickly enough to provide inputs into the optimized workflow, and downstream activities may not be able to absorb the additional throughput. Those inefficiencies then become the next candidate for process improvements and automation.

Make the Most of Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping is a process that can be efficient or inefficient on its own. It takes time to trace the software development process. Mapping can also disrupt teams as they document their tasks, learn new tools, and adapt to cultural changes. A poorly planned value stream mapping project can slow down the development cycle and miss important data, so it’s critical that organizations work with DevOps experts to guide them through the process of value stream mapping.

Ready to get started value stream mapping?

DevOps is More Than Tools

DevOps promises significant benefits: improved collaboration between teams, continuous software delivery, continuous testing, increased innovation and automation, improved quality and higher ROI. Your organization is interested in those benefits, but implementing DevOps is more difficult than merely choosing a tool and setting a mandate. Where should you start your journey?

Choosing a Starting Point

The first step to implementing DevOps is evaluating current and new projects where DevOps can help break down bottlenecks and deliver value. New software projects, with new teams, can quickly adopt DevOps without fighting ingrained patterns of behavior or duplicating work from legacy systems. However, existing projects may realize the most return on investment by making the leap -- if you have first evaluated the bottlenecks in the current software development process and have established precise requirements for the DevOps implementation. This process is completed during Value Stream Mapping.

Do it Fast or Do it Right?

Some organizations naturally move quickly and if they ship a product with errors, they can issue a fix promptly without adverse outcomes for their customers. Other organizations work under strict regulations and requirements for every change, and mistakes can result in severe financial penalties and even loss of life if the systems are used for healthcare or military purposes. In DevOps, all of the different teams that work on software from concept to support are responsible for the product. DevOps processes not only create a more efficient software development cycle, but they encourage developers to use automation and test early and frequently, leading to higher quality software. The adoption of automation and earlier detection of defects facilitates regulatory compliance and reduces rework common in more traditional workflows between siloed departments. The value of DevOps is that you can do it right and still be fast to market.

Evaluating DevOps Tools

There is no single DevOps tool that an organization can deploy and be able to declare themselves a DevOps shop. DevOps is more than tools, but tool selection is a daunting task in itself. What tool should your organization choose for continuous development, continuous testing, continuous deployment, planning, collaboration, and operations? How will each of the different departments use the tools in a cohesive strategy to ensure all work and requests are captured? How does each of the tools contribute to automation of the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC)? How will they integrate with each other? These are just a few of the questions to answer when evaluating and selecting DevOps tools. The tool evaluation process can be time-consuming, involve repetition for each tool selection, and include several stakeholder groups. ReleaseTEAM has experience in a variety of toolsets that integrate well in complex production environments. We use our extensive background and deep knowledge to reduce expenses and risks for your organization.

Jumpstart DevOps with Outside Expertise

It can be tempting to task existing employees with researching DevOps and create an internal project to adopt DevOps. This approach will cost you more money and effort than investing in a DevOps consultant to help you through the evaluation, planning, and adoption process. Your employees are intelligent and critical to the successful DevOps implementation, but the entire team needs to be on board for DevOps to work. A partial implementation falls apart, and can result in frustration, rework, delayed releases, and lost revenue. The journey to DevOps follows steps that help your employees perform better in phases that ensure all parties are aware of their responsibilities and have the right processes and tools to succeed.

ReleaseTEAM works with your team to assess your software delivery lifecycle through value stream mapping. We identify the areas where DevOps will provide the most value, assist you in choosing and implementing the right toolsets, and successfully guide your teams through the transformation the first time. If your organization has specific government regulations and security clearance requirements, ReleaseTEAM has the right experience and resources that keep you compliant throughout the process.