The Future of DevOps Is in Value Chain Management – The New Stack


Jeff Keyes

Jeff Keyes is the Vice President of Products at Plutora. Jeff has spent his career writing code, designing software features and a user interface, leading development and testing teams, and consulting and evangelizing product messaging. Outside of his six years at Microsoft, he mainly focused on growing startups.

In the 2021 State of DevOps Report, organizations are divided into three scalable levels: high, medium and low performance, with each level making a significant difference in terms of software delivery and value to the business. The latest research reveals that 4% of those surveyed identify as low performers, 18% are high performers, and the rest are “middle performers” – levels that have been roughly the same for the past four years.

This leads to the question: why have intermediate artists been stuck for so long? For the most part, a common reason is that they operate with the wrong mindset, which dictates that DevOps is all about automation. While these can be viewed as similar, they are not the same thing. The problem is, this can lead to inefficiencies in transfers, and many teams operate without proper visibility into the process, making it even more difficult to see where things are going wrong. The result is the inertia demonstrated in the research results.

Break the old state of mind

Looking more specifically, what are the characteristics of the mid-performer’s mindset? What most organizations in this group and their teams do on their DevOps journey is take the automation path with a “tools first” approach.

In practical terms, this means they automate activities and processes based on legacy operations, automate a style of testing that is not sustainable, or implement a compliance process that is not sustainable. The alternative is that they ignore it altogether and then run up against a wall created by the organization in that they can have quick deployments but will get stuck in the change advisory board approval process.

Value chain management is designed to break down operational silos and instead create effective connections between processes, teams, and key tools to deliver better software.

The challenge is compounded by the fact that typically there are simply too many silos to get stuck in. For example, there is a release team and a test team, and they can easily clash. Patrick Debois, who coined the term “DevOps,” then refined the definition and said, “It’s all you do to reduce the friction created by silos, and everything else is engineering. In these situations, the friction created by silos is part of a larger mindset that limits performance.

Value chain management – Organization through visibility

In striving to alleviate these sticking points and get the DevOps journey off the ground, organizations are increasingly focusing on value chain management (VSM), which is a layer of management over the software delivery lifecycle – from idea to production – necessary to deliver software products or services to customers. Indeed, recent research State of Value Chain Management 2021 Report highlights its growing importance, with VSM practices becoming more common among top performing organizations.

At its core, VSM is an approach designed to break down operational silos and instead create effective connections between processes, teams, and key tools to deliver better software.

For example, VSM uses real-time metrics to facilitate collaboration between teams, improve governance, and leverage the value of automation in key workflows. It allows organizations to look at their entire value chain with all team members involved and invested in the process and organize their approach around software and product delivery. Success, however, depends on data-driven insight to understand what’s going on. For example, how long does each phase last? What are the efficiencies in the development process?

The VSM implementation roadmap presented in the report highlights, among other impactful points, the importance of inspection in identifying these inefficiencies so that teams can adapt their automated workflows and integrate them into their orchestration tools. By doing this, it becomes possible to remove friction from the development process because, by definition, everyone is organized according to how customers see value. This takes DevOps teams from a place of inertia to one that offers transformational benefits and the ability to prove it with metrics.

From management teams to product specialists, VSM is the future of DevOps because it allows them to optimize the development process to bring them much closer to their customers. As noted in the 2021 State of DevOps report, “… many teams that ‘do DevOps well don’t even talk about DevOps – it’s just the way they do it.”

Characteristic image Going through Pixabay.


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