The word DevOps has become quite the buzzword these days. But more than just any “trendy”business solution offering management fixes, DevOps’ aim is to synchronise the work that occurs from the two general areas of an organisation: the back-end teams and the front-end teams. In a fundamental sense, the goal of DevOps is to ensure that both behind the scenes and operations work, flow in sync and teams are moving in parallel, so that no side of the business is faster or slower than the other when it comes to work delivery.

There are three principles involved in DevOps; these are known as the First Way, the Second Way, and the Third Way. Each of these principles focuses on workflow, delivery, continuous improvement, and in the manner that these things are volleyed from one side to the other.

There are different areas where DevOps can be applied, but here we’re going to focus on how we can effectively make use of time and how we can streamline the work process.

The First Way: Focus on Time and Motion

When we talk about time and motion, the first thing that comes to mind is how much time is involved in performing a single step or a series of tasks, in order to complete a stage, a phase, or an entire project. The components of time and motion are substantiated and laid out on a value stream map, where lead times and processing times are indicated, as well as how these steps connect in order to produce an outcome of value and quality that the customer will appreciate and can benefit from.

In a value stream map, each of the steps involved in a process is indicated in a chronological order, as well as the time each of these steps take to perform. It also includes the amount of time that each of these steps is expected to be completed, and sums up the total time involved in the entire work. This allows management to see the entire production process, from start to finish, and provide them with a bird’s eye view of the flow of production, allowing them to see how and where things can further be improved.

In DevOps, the First Way focuses on developing ways to remove time wastage to speed up production cycles and shorten lead times, by looking at the current value stream map. The existing work processes, procedures, and systems are re-examined in order to determine the areas that need improvement and where time wastage usually occurs. Once the areas for improvement like choke points, . The goal of this exercise is to ensure that teams can make use of their time more efficiently and allow them to be able to deliver products and services faster than they ever did before, without sacrificing the quality of work.  this allow management to re-allocate some of the time that was saved from unnecessarily long gaps between each step in the workflow, it also helps promote better business relationships with partners and customers as service levels improve as well.

The Second Way: Focus on Automation

Testing is a vital component in production. This ensures that the quality of a product is up to standards and making sure you are building a product that passes all the rigorous testing that is meant to show how a product performs and if it works as it is expected to do so. However, testing is time consuming, and when done manually, it becomes difficult to maintain the accuracy in data as changes can happen quickly, leaving proper data analysis in its wake.

Testing must also be done on various levels of production, in order to safeguard the quality of the product. Testing is inserted into the critical stages of the build process to ensure that product quality is strengthened and built up along the way.  And in order to do this in a timely manner,  automation is inserted into the testing process, to help speed up the testing and feedback process. Automation allows testers to widen their testing capabilities and extend the feedback loop by being able to test in production. Continuous testing in production acts as the final safety net that filters any further flaws or defects of the product, allowing the production team to find ways to correct these flaws and implement the proper solutions to improve the quality of the build and the outcomes.

The Second Way in DevOps focuses on re-tooling existing manual testing systems by inserting automation into the process, reducing the amount of manual testing involved, and therefore reducing the amount of time required to complete all the testing phases from beginning to end. Automation also increases the speed of data gathering, thereby, protecting the accuracy and integrity of the data by collecting and analysing it real time. Production teams can get the data faster, and can retrieve the information anytime, anywhere via a remote data centre. Increasing the speed of testing provides an enormous amount of value to a finished product, as it makes it possible for teams to produce high quality and reliable products that serve its purpose and improve customer satisfaction.

The Third Way: Focus on Improvement

Echoing the point of continuous testing mentioned above, gathering data from as many test environments as possible gives the production team the advantage of hindsight. It may sound sub-optimal but learning how a product performs once it’s in use in a live environment gives production and development teams a wealth of information that they can use to further improve future building and development processes, and correct previous flaws that remain unresolved in previous projects. It is through the advantage of hindsight that production teams can gain insight that will enable them to continuously improve the quality of their build and the processes involved in the work from start to finish.

Making Change Visible

To substantiate the change that the three DevOps principles can make to the entire work process, a value stream mapping of the current state of operations is laid out and analysed, to make wastes, flaws, and inaccuracies visible, so that DevOps teams can see it and understand it. This will guide them into creating a DevOps improved value stream mapping, that is going to be leaner, smarter, and more efficient than the one they had before. The purpose of value stream mapping is to reduce non-productive hours to speed up the process. The numbers are calculated based on lead times (the amount of time that is consumed from order placement to delivery),  and processing times (the amount of time that is used to move from one step to the next).

Say for example there are 5 steps in the value stream map. And each of these steps will be going through different teams. The amount of time that the first step is worked on and the time it sits on queue make up the processing time. Therefore, processing time measures how long it takes to get from one step to another, combining productive and non-productive hours.

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