DevOps Distilled Into a Single Statistic

Answering the simple question; “what is you do for a living” is always a tricky one for us IT types. I think my most well received answer has been that “I sell used caravans”.  The only flaw of which is the lack of accuracy, or any grounding at all in reality.

The terms “DevOps” seems particularly hard to define; especially as we’re still not even sure it’s a methodology or a job title.  When “DevOps” is a job title, it usually means “technical support engineer”, which is a shame, because I think that’s missing the point.  DevOps engineers can add serious value to a company, but only if they’re tasked with doing their job.

Many years ago I studied manufacturing systems, and how to improve them. Terms such as “lean manufacturing” and “just-in-time” stock methodologies are all about increasing the efficiency of production lines by reducing work in progress and the amount of stock sitting idly in the warehouse.  Both of these have a monetary value. If teams have a lot of work in progress, it means that time-to-market is slow and the product will fail to make the sales it could otherwise achieve. Stock sitting on a warehouse floor is also bad for business. Money is the driving force of business, and stock sitting idle is money imprisoned.

Software development is not so different. Applications have engineering teams which manufacture the product, and then it sits, waiting to be released to live or shipped.  Time to market costs.

This is what separates DevOps from IT operations. We reduce time to market.

Reducing time to market sounds like a big ask, and it is, but split it up into small junks, by starting with one basic figure; the time taken from user story creation to seeing that user story in production. Once that time is measured, it can be improved. Dig down to the basic components that make up that time and look at the bottlenecks. This is DevOps. DevOps touches many areas, such as test automation and project management.  How well it makes its mark is determined by business buy-in. You’ll have a better chance of getting that buy-in if the business knows what it is you’re going to achieve.

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