In this blog post, I would like to discuss how DevOps and SAFe work together and are in sync to address the “Three Ways” introduced in the book “The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win.”
The Three Ways consist of:
- First Way helps us understand how to create fast flow of work as it moves from Business Vision, to Development, through Operations to the Customer.
- Second Way shows us how to shorten and amplify feedback loops, so we can fix quality at the source and avoid rework.
- Third Way shows us how to create a culture that simultaneously foster experimentation, learning from failure and understanding that repetition and practice are the prerequisites to mastery.
In the Phoenix project, the CFO of the company is asked what exactly is your role? His answer, “I own planning and operations across the entire organization.” He is then asked “what are your goals objectives and measurements for this year?” He replies with a list that he looks at every day. What if you could have that conversation with your senior executive and what would you ask?
In DevOps, the voice of the customer is used to help set the vision for the company. That vision is in turn used to set priorities within the business areas. These priorities are then used to establish Epics and Stories to be worked on by the team ensuring alignment and synchronization.
SAFe is a proven public facing framework for applying lean in agile practices at an enterprise scale. It is comprised of a Portfolio, Program and Team level. At the portfolio level, strategic themes connect each software portfolio to the enterprise business strategy. This is a way to ensure the priorities of the senior executives and the work of all teams are in line.
Both DevOps and SAFe align with the First Way.
In line with the Second Way, DevOps stresses the importance of Feedback Loops throughout the entire Software Delivery life cycle. Not only in development but as code is released to production, receiving feedback from the operations area, with proper monitoring, is critical.
SAFe also introduces Feedback Loops across the three levels of Portfolio, Program and Team. At the Portfolio level, a Kanban system drives feedback amongst the key stakeholders for Epics. At the Program level, a Kanban system is used to provide a planning cadence for feedback, alignment, synchronization and assessment for Features. At the Team level, the Kanban system is used to provide feedback, prioritization and alignment for Stories. The team will use those Stories to discuss, collaborate and use feedback to determine the tasks needed to complete the work within plan sprints.
As you can see, the Second Way is a crucial piece of both DevOps and SAFe.
And finally, in the Third Way, both DevOps and SAFe strive to create a culture of experimentation, learning/gaining knowledge for trail and error and understanding repetition/cadence in order to master the art of software delivery.
In DevOps principles of Lean are present. Understanding the ability to Shift Left via Continuous Testing, Service Virtualization and Continuous Integration provides earlier identification/addressing of defects that lowers cost and reduces cycle time. This in turn eliminates waste which saves money. These techniques allow software to be developed to a high standard, easily packaged and deployed to test environments. Resulting in the ability to rapidly, reliably and repeatedly push out enhancements/bug fixes to customers at low risk and with minimal manual overhead.
In SAFe the House of Lean, is based on the foundation of Leadership. A key component in this foundation is: a leaders ability to develop people because people develop solution. To be a leader that is a developer of people is to increase engagement, motivation and produce high higher quality solutions. Leader must also take a Systems view. They should look to optimize the whole system and not the parts. If the Leaders, can’t change the system, who can? Finally, building a learning organization that emphasizes lifelong learning and fosters decentralized decision-making is crucial to be aligned with the Third Way.
I ask each of you to look into these two Software Delivery methodologies and see the synergy that they can create to help you improve your software delivery successes!