Speed to market, seamless adaptability, superior user experience, and digitally smart innovative solutions has become the fastest growing business ask across industries in last 15 years. Over these years, agile emerged as a great business strategy to develop such innovative solutions sooner and iteratively using self-organizing teams. Following this, ‘DevOps’ got coined with an attempt to extend agility and automation beyond development and into the IT operations. DevOps since then has been felt to successfully help address this growing business asks cohesively in a digitally enabled world.
Lean on the other hand has been a proven age old successful strategy for many businesses, originating initially from manufacturing. Today Lean has also found a strong place in success strategies of industries outside manufacturing including information technology. It promises to drive optimal business performance and growth incessantly. The principles of waste elimination continuously give businesses the needed competitive edge.
Many global organizations however are now struggling today to carefully construct an ideal combination of these strategies enterprise wide to drive the best benefits. It is increasingly complicated as all the three include significant cultural change of high magnitudes that can limit fast critical scaling, if not adopted fittingly. This tussle seems to get heavier when scaling up becomes a business necessity leading to an important question – is this rewarding fusion or a lethal confusion for any business?
Rewarding Fusion – getting it right
Since Lean, Agile and Devops in themselves have great value in isolation and are based on similar principles like value creation, effectiveness, collaboration, communication and adaptation; their fusion is bound to be rewarding. The differentiator rests in how we synergize their complimentary facets for enhanced return. The following strategic conducts can help achieve this:
• Begin with Lean across the organization levels – It helps put value creation as a top priority and unblemished consciousness of the flow with removing bottlenecks and eliminating wastes in processes as a habit.
• Bring Agile methods over lean – It hosts closer collaboration between customers, business and technical teams to build ideas iteratively while keeping the work optimized and early feedback incorporation. The shippable outcomes become predictable thereby enabling business planning. Methods like Scrum, XP, TDD, Kanban etc. can help.
Synergizing adoption and adaptation rightly can make agile devops a rewarding fusion over a lethal confusion for any business
• Use DevOps automation and workflow to create an end to end Lean Agile IT – It aids in critical alignment of development and IT operations thereby enabling continuous integration, continuous deployment and release on demand of valuable quality solutions faster. It puffs communication and collaboration across the IT lifecycle.
• Scale Agile methods – With the foundation built, introduce methods to integrate solutions across multiple teams into programs and higher business aggregation levels. Presence of lean and agile culture ensures the gluing is smoother. Agile release trains, solution trains, integrated release plans, PI planning etc. are all examples of these methods that can help to scale.
Lethal Confusion – the don’ts
While it is imperative to do the right fusion steps for getting returns, it is equally vital to avoid gullible pitfalls while fusing Lean, Agile and DevOps at an enterprise level. Unless timely attention is given to these snares, the fusion could bring the enterprise in a state of confusion and chaos which could be fatal.
• Having separate implementation roadmaps – For true value creation it is vital to have a combined transformation roadmap at the enterprise level. Many large organizations often end up with different roadmaps, with multiple teams in parallel and in non-synchronized manner trying to aim at the same thing leading to redundant efforts and whole lot of confusion at the layer under transformation. Non-integrated view further leads to not only loss of money and efforts but also a loss of confidence in these change initiatives across an enterprise.
• Non-Agility in transformation roadmaps – It is surprising but transformation roadmaps of Lean-Agile- DevOps in many instances are themselves not agile. It is critical to have these roadmaps setup on agile basics – allowing shorter cycles, collaboration, faster rollouts and plans that are adaptable with changing technology and business context.
• Method and tools will do the magic – Bringing a set of methods and tools at the development and IT operations layer is only part of the magic portion. The real magic is in closely monitoring the cultural change and actively steering it all levels. Active involvement from top management versus only budgetary approval remains key differentiator of successful enterprise wide fusion of these strategies.
• Incorrect or infrequent alignment of business and technology goals – Since technology has become an integral business strategy itself, not having the right representation of technology representatives in business forums can lead to disastrous disconnect and eventually rendering the fusion of related strategies ineffective.
• Tweaking business case to prove adoption – In a rush to prove that the enterprise has adopted the latest methods and tools, often the business cases are being tweaked which leads to limited or no real value generation at the end. It is essential to retain focus on the outcome desired and then using the right tools, methods and technology to generate value and not focusing on proving a method or technology.
Lean Agile DevOps fusion is surely the right business strategy at an enterprise level. It can help enterprises of today most effectively tackle challenges of future. Synergizing adoption and adaptation rightly can make it a rewarding fusion over a lethal confusion for any business!