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The New Prescription For Better ROI

Dr. Niladri Choudhuri – CEO of Xellentro Consulting Services LLP and Chief Organizer for DevOps India Summit 2021

A successful business is focused on delivering value. Therefore, the projects that you are running need to be aligned to the strategic objectives of your organization.

With the influx of new technology, it is becoming increasingly fundamental to use the latest Devops practices and tools to align your projects to your strategic objectives. In fact, almost every organization now can be considered a tech company to some degree.

Areas like DevOps, DevSecOps and SRE concentrate on creating value for the customers. However, many organizations are not getting the expected benefits as they are still focusing on improving in specific areas instead of looking at their technology use holistically.

I see how many CXOs do not have a clear view of the benefits they can gain from integrating technologies and transforming their initiatives. Often, by the time they realize they need it, it is too late to do any course correction. Businesses cannot afford to keep failing and changing from one vendor to the other, from one technology to the other or from one framework to the other.

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Since value is the perception of the customer, it is only created when the user uses the product or service and gets the expected benefit from it. Value stream is the entire flow of work from the time a change is requested until the change is deployed and value is created. This is where value stream management comes into play.

Value stream management is a methodology that I believe can help your business look more holistically into your technological processes. Forrester defines it as “a combination of people, process and technology that maps, optimizes, visualizes, measures and governs business value flow through heterogeneous software delivery pipelines from idea through development and into production.”

Summarizing work by Gene Kim in his book The DevOps Handbook, there are three benefits to incorporating and synchronizing your various technological processes with value stream management:

1. Increases the flow of work from left to right. The value stream helps in visualizing the workflow from ideation to deployment. It also clearly shows the constraints and thus the remedial measures that can be taken to take care of any bottlenecks.

2. Shorter feedback loops and shifting left (closer to the customer). Everyone required to deliver the value is a part of the value stream. It is about breaking the silos across the entire organization for one common shared objective, delivering better software faster that is more stable and safer.

3. DevOps is a journey that leads to continuous improvement where practice brings mastery. Value stream management helps us in identifying the constraints; it also improves the process by adding automation and removing non-contributing steps. The management system connects to the tools of the entire CI/CD pipeline to define both the current state and future state value stream maps; it then shows us the improvements we can make and any course correction required.

Utilizing principles set forth by the Value Stream Management Consortium (VSM), the following are the three core practices of value stream management:

1. Visualizing: Create a way to visualize the entire value stream for everyone in the organization so that even top management does not need to go and ask anyone for the information. Instead, make it clearly visible to them. This helps in prioritization and making better decisions.

2. Measurement: To improve, we need to measure. Value stream management helps in measuring the flow of work through the entire value stream. Utilize flow metrics in order to focus on outcomes and thus optimization.

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3. Connecting: Value stream management can also help connect various value streams, for in a practical scenario, there are multiple value streams running in an organization with many of them having dependencies. Value stream management automates this process. Connect these streams in order to increase the speed and improve quality, traceability and data collection.

Value stream management tools connect with CI/CD tools and give live information — helping leaders and organizations in their decision-making processes. This enables better value realization of DevOps, DevSecOps and SRE transformation. It also forces us to refactor technical debts to make systems loosely coupled in architecture and enable value stream team formations that are more autonomous, self-organized and self-sufficient.

Gartner predicts, “By 2023, 70% of organizations will use value stream management to improve flow in the DevOps pipeline, leading to faster delivery of customer value.”

Thus, we can see how value stream management can help realize better ROI through transformation initiatives. It works in combination with your organization’s implementation of DevSecOps, SRE and OKRs in order to look holistically from the value creation point of view. The last ingredient needed is a transformational leader in order to create a winning formula for success.

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