“We want to change the conversation about tooling in DevOps. Everyone is ‘doing’ DevOps, but only a handful are getting the value they expected. Why? They’re using the wrong tools or applying tools in the wrong ways. The solution is to apply the right tools at the right times, and for the right reasons,” said Marc Rix, SAFe Fellow and Curriculum Product Manager at Scaled Agile.

To help organizations achieve the best customer-centric results, Scaled Agile now urges teams to start out with Value Stream mapping in order to get both the business and tech sides fully involved in DevOps. While some engineering teams are achieving technically impressive results doing “pieces” of DevOps, DevOps is about much more than just “Dev” and “Ops,” according to Rix, who joined Scaled Agile in January, 2019 after five years of leading largescale Agile and DevOps transformations.

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a knowledge base of proven, integrated principles and practices for Lean, Agile, and DevOps, aimed at helping organizations deliver high-quality value to customers in the shortest sustainable lead time. In addition to providing SAFe free of charge, Scaled Agile offers guidance services for implementation and licenses its courseware directly and through third-party partners for coaching customers in SAFe. The SAFe DevOps course also prepares participants for the SAFe DevOps Practitioner (SDP) certification exam.

“DevOps technology is really cool. But it’s not for winning science-fair prizes,” quipped Rix. “DevOps is for solving real business problems. It’s our mission to help everyone investing in DevOps to achieve the culture of continuous delivery they’re looking for so they can win in their markets.”

Scaled Agile frequently advises customers licensing its courseware to kick things off by using the Value Stream mapping within SAFe DevOps, focusing on the following three learning objectives.

Mindset over practices
As Gene Kim and his co-authors pointed out in The DevOps Handbook, “In DevOps, we define the value stream as the process required to turn a business hypothesis into a technology enabled service that provides value to the customer.”

Business value is the ultimate goal of DevOps, and value begins and ends with the customer. DevOps needs to optimize the entire system, not just parts of it. Flow should be Lean across the entire organization, and Value Stream mapping is a Lean tool, said Rix.

“DevOps is the result of applying Lean principles to the technology value stream,” attested The DevOps Handbook.

Everyone is essential
“If someone touches the product or influences product delivery in any way, they are involved,” according to Rix. Participation in DevOps shouldn’t be offered on an opt-in/opt-out basis, he added.

DevOps must involve both IT leaders and business leaders such as corporate executives, line managers, and department heads, Rix said. Non-technical participants should also include product managers, product owners, program managers, analysts, and Scrum Masters, for example. Technical folks should include testers, architects, and info-security specialists, along with developers and operations engineers.

“An IT team could be deploying a hundred times per day, but if their work intake is not connected to the business, the results will not materialize.,” observed Mik Kersten, in the book Project to Product.

“How you get work into the deployment pipeline is equally as important as how you move work through the pipeline,” said the Scaled Agile product manager.

Plan the work, work the plan (together)
By embracing DevOps, organization-wide teams need to face the realities of the current system. Teams should avoid simply “automating for automation’s sake,” or automating a broken system.

By mapping and baselining the current system, team members can “think outside the box” and discover the true bottlenecks.

Then, they can work together on designing the target state Value Stream, re-engineering the current system based on business needs, and quantifying the expected benefits.

“DevOps then evolves incrementally and systematically, with everyone committed, participating, and learning as one team,” Rix maintained.

Applying Value Stream mapping
The Value Stream mapping exercises in SAFe DevOps facilitate all three learning objectives. Initially, they should be applied to fully understand the current situation, from the customer point of view, align on the problem across all roles in the organization, and identify the right solutions and metrics, Rix said.

In the SAFe DevOps experiential class, attendees from throughout the organization use Value Stream mapping to visualize their end-to-end delivery process, pinpoint systemic bottlenecks, and build an action plan around the top three improvement items that will provide the best results in their environment.

Learn more at www.scaledagile.com/devops/