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DevOps Value Stream Mapping – A Box Score Based Approach

Value Stream Mapping and Management

By: Biswajit Mohapatra

Digital Transformation is driving the evolution of new business models. With rapid expansion of the technology landscape, enterprises are reinventing their business strategy, realigning their existing processes and redefining delivery of customer value. Value Stream Mapping (VSM) helps in delivering and optimizing business value through software from concept to realization of strategy. The DevOps value stream acts as an key optimization driver in the software development and management ecosystem during the process of translating customer need to business value delivery. VSM leverages people, process and products (3Ps) to visualize, measure, monitor and track flow of business value through continuous delivery and continuous improvement. This enables end-to-end visibility to all stakeholders, institutionalizes agile planning, minimizes the waste and introduces automation to the core adopting a system thinking approach. The visualization of how work flows from idea to value delivery through plan, build, test, release and deploy stages represents the value stream map.

The first step of VSM is to establish a current state baseline. This is aimed at capturing as-is performance metrics for today’s software life cycle. This can be established through a combination of top-down questionnaire based interview driven approach and bottom-up automated analysis. Enterprises perform a DevOps assessment to understand the gaps to improve velocity and quality of delivery. A current state Box Score for different software life cycle metrics  such as end to end lead time, wait time, percentage of development time spent on development, defect escape rate, number of handoffs, changes to scope, deployment frequency, time to respond to failures etc. are captured. At this stage it is important to depict an accurate reflection of the process that currently works.

The next step is to set the target for future state. The process is redesigned based on the gaps identified during the current state analysis. The future state capabilities around continuous business planning, continuous development, continuous integration, continuous release and deployment, continuous monitoring and collaborative development are delineated. It is important to identify value adding and non-value adding activities and prioritize improvement opportunities at this stage. Some of the examples of improvement opportunities could be attributed by automation in the planning process, improved requirements management, increased visibility for stakeholders, faster release environment provisioning, smaller frequent releases and automated deployment etc.  The target metrics for the future state are defined and the future state Box Score for the same set of metrics are populated.

The third step is to calculate the gains. The current state and future state Box Score metrics are  reviewed with the stakeholders to understand the impact and identify the resulting business benefit using a benefit estimator tool. For example: a reduction in end-to-end lead time can provide faster time to market advantage and thereby enable increased revenue. Reduction in post go live bugs will improve the ongoing operations cost. Reduction in the number of handoffs will reduce the risk. The Box Score chart is updated to additionally reflect quantitative improvement and related impact for each of the metrics parameters. The benefit realization mechanism can further be planned with the stakeholders.

Today there is a strong focus in the industry to leverage DevOps value stream management platforms to drive business value and agility. This helps in seamless integration of your CI/CD, security and monitoring tools, leverages in-built workflow orchestration mechanism, enables real time reporting across your integrated delivery pipeline and facilitates greater analytics driven visibility to deliver value.

VSM is all about continuous improvement and evolution as we introduce changes to our value delivery flow. DevOps implementation for enterprises is turning out to be a real digital business transformation driver – thanks to Value Stream Mapping!

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