5 Reasons Why Organizations Struggle to Deliver “Value” in DevOps

Eric Robertson, VP Product Marketing Management at Digital.ai and DevOps Institute Ambassador, recently presented a talk at the DevOps Institute SKILup virtual event on Value Stream Management.

He presented findings from and reflections on data collected by Forrester Research commissioned by Digital.ai. Over 300 global professionals of various seniority levels involved in the planning, building, release, and/or management of software at enterprise firms were surveyed. These findings provide insight into the end-to-end software delivery process in order to see the big picture.

Our hypothesis behind the research was:

Agile and DevOps are key transformation practices for software delivery teams. But they are not enough. Organizations need help focusing on delivering value and business outcomes, while providing full end-to-end visibility to all stakeholders.

Finding #1: Organizations understand that they need software development and delivery processes that are fast, collaborative, and transparent, but more work lies ahead to bring this vision to life.

According to the survey, organizations are dissatisfied with their current toolchain’s automation capabilities.

Organizations deliver on engineering outcomes, which don’t tie into the larger business objectives – they are achieving technical merits, but not business goals.

This lack of organizational and metric alignment raises collaboration challenges.

For the most part, the conversations around Agile and DevOps have happened within the technology realm. This is starting to change. The new question to ask is, how do we take those technology concepts and marry them with business concepts so that business and IT are working hand-in-hand, driving value together?

Finding #2: Value Stream Management – an emerging approach to unifying and optimizing software delivery processes – is gaining acceptance, but some organizations identify roadblocks.

Value Stream Management (VSM) is defined as a combination of people, process, and technology that maps, optimizes, visualizes, measures, and governs business value flow (in the form of epics, stories, work items) through heterogeneous enterprise software delivery pipelines from idea through development and into production.

According to the survey, while still new, 95% of enterprises report interest, near-term plans, or current adoption of VSM.

The roadblocks that nonusers cite as their reasons for not pursuing VSM are more often skill, tool, or cultural limitations than access to adequate alternatives.

The roadblocks of those who already or plan to utilize VSM practices are both organizational and technical:

VSM initiatives most often depend on a collection of tools. Very few organizations have an end-to-end solution from a single vendor. But from the Forrester research, if an organization uses many different tools, being able to connect and integrate them in a single platform is key for VSM success.

Finding #3: While few have a mature VSM approach today, simply beginning the VSM journey has helped early adopters move the needle on key objectives.

VSM users (even if they are just beginning or are very manual in their processes) are 2X more likely to have a complete view into the status development and delivery work at the product, portfolio, and enterprise levels. Between 80%-87% of VSM users have complete or considerable visibility into these levels, relative to between 57%-73% of non-users.

Over 75% of VSM users say their VSM initiative has been effective at supporting objectives important to their software development and delivery success.

Overall, VSM provides increased visibility which in turn opens lines for communication to more effectively and quickly respond to and achieve greater business goals.

Finding #4: Agile and DevOps are key VSM enablers, but without a product mindset, VSM initiatives will stall.

Heavy investments into and recognition that DevOps and Agile are very important to support VSM at any stage. The great news is that a lot of organizations are increasing their investment in DevOps and Agile.

However, despite efforts and investments in Agile and DevOps, organizations are still struggling with WHY they are putting in the effort and investments:

Tracking the work and impact through the value stream is still a challenge for some organizations. Measuring value delivered against VSM efforts is critical. Technical outcomes will become aligned with business outcomes once mapping data flow, shifting from project to product orientation, and identifying KPIs to measure business value become more of a priority.

Finding #5: To realize VSM’s full potential, users must overcome their current technology and process limitations by investing in a dedicated VSM platform.

Those that report using an end-to-end VSM solution are nearly 4X more satisfied with their tools than those with a manual approach. The ability to connect tools with an automated process allows organizations to pull the data necessary to continuously improve customer experiences and to prove the value of DevOps, Agile, and VSM efforts.

A Value Stream Management platform allows organizations to capture the strategic business goals and objectives and continuously deliver products and services that impact revenue streams. When a change is introduced, the impact it makes is immediately recognized through value stream monitoring which allows the organization to quickly adapt, pivot, and take action.

Overall, becoming truly agile and adopting a VSM platform is becoming paramount to succeed as an organization.

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