The As-Is DevOps Value Stream Mapping

Value Stream Mapping is a crucial step in assessing an organization’s DevOps capability. The objective of mapping a DevOps value stream is to eliminate wasteful waiting and improve the completeness and accuracy of all activities in the value stream. We create a value stream map of the software development lifecycle early in any DevOps engagement.

To understand and expose those wastes and inaccuracies, the first step is, naturally, to map the as-is state of your organization’s software development and operations.  Such mapping typically starts with a two-day session involving business and IT staff to capture the major activities involved in software development and operations.  The figure below shows an example of a value stream map (VSM) of as-is DevOps activities.

Legend:
%C/A: For a given VSM step, this is the percent of Complete/Accurate work items received from the previous step in the VSM.
LT: Lead Time for a given VSM step, i.e. from the instance a work item leaves the previous step to the instance it leaves this step towards the next step.  LT includes both idle time as well as time during which the item is being productively processed.
VA: Value Added Time, which is only the time during which the item is being productively processed.
Determining the above metrics in the as-is map will guide the desired improvements later when mapping the to-be DevOps process.

The following are the type of questions that would help a group of business and IT staff convene to produce an as-is DevOps VSM. The questions are not meant to be walked-through in strict order, but can be navigated back-and-forth in the session of drawing the as-is VSM.

  1. What are the main steps involved in the current process of software development and operations? We need to look at the factors that determine the boundaries between those steps, including handoffs, queues, and organizational stipulation.
  2. Who performs each step? Include role names and names of some of the specific people who perform the step.
  3. What is the %C/A for each step? For each step in the Value Stream Map, capture the percentage of work items that arrive at the step being complete and accurate. To get a realistically representative value of this metric, you may have to capture an average of it over several weeks, or even several months.
  4. What is the LT for each step? As with all metrics of Value Stream Mapping, to get a realistically representative value of this metric, you may have to capture an average of it over several weeks, or even several months.
  5. What is the VA time for each step? The VA excludes waiting time (e.g. being on a queue) or any other non-productive time experienced by the work item.
  6. What tools do you currently use for each step? Answering this question would help uncover manual steps that can be automated, determine opportunities for integrating various tools, and improve efficiency and accuracy of automated steps.

The To-Be DevOps VSM

Once you have the as-is DevOps VSM mapped, the to-be DevOps VSM is driven by the following:

  • How can we significantly increase the %C/A for each activity in our as-is VSM?
  • How can we dramatically reduce, or even eliminate the non-productive time in the LT of each as-is activity?
  • How can we improve the performance of the VA in each as-is activity?

Answering the above questions can lead to drawing a new, to-be VSM with realistic, but sufficiently challenging, new targets for each of the above three metrics: %C/A, LT, and VA for each activity in the new, to-be VSM.  Such to-be VSM will usually encompass activities that do not correspond 1-to-1 with the activities on the as-is VSM.  The following is an example of such to-be DevOps VSM:

Mapping Your DevOps Value Stream

Our Blue Agility DevOps coaches can help your organization with:

  • Guidance for detailed answers of the above listed questions for drawing the as-is DevOps VSM.
  • Templates for capturing comprehensive information for each as-is / to-be activity.
  • Assessment to determine which of the activities shown in the above to-be example VSM are suitable for your organization.

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Ali is a senior consultant at Blue Agility. He performs strategic services to key customers in order to accelerate achievement of business goals by leveraging the benefits of process mentoring and automation through tight integration with business critical processes. He works with customers to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are critical to business success. He is SPC4 certified.