Deliver Value by Aligning DevOps with Business Objectives
July 17, 2017

Ruth Zive

The results are in. Business and IT leaders have spoken.

An April 2017 Forrester survey commissioned by Blueprint Systems confirmed what high-performance organizations such as Netflix, Amazon and Google have already said – DevOps is here to stay.

Diving into the details, however, the study also shows that the DevOps journey may be in for a rude awakening. Companies in all industries are embracing DevOps for superior productivity, but many organizations struggle to overcome barriers that prevent them from translating these programs into improved business results.

The research pinpoints where those obstacles persist, as well as ways to overcome them and ensure automation, alignment and competitiveness.

Companies Finding Their Way to Measure Business Value

DevOps organizations generally start from a common vision; namely that the primary focus of DevOps should be driving business value. More than 80 percent of respondents agreed with this aspirational statement.

It's an important starting point. But then the real questions begin.

How do you know whether you are driving value? Many companies aren't clear on this question – almost half of respondents confirm they struggle with alignment and linking DevOps practices to business outcomes.

How do you measure DevOps success? Only 45 percent of respondents say they use "value" as a metric, while 62 percent say they still rely on speed as their main performance measure.

It seems clear that everyone wants DevOps for its greater output, but we are still in the early days of really driving and measuring its overall effectiveness.

Identifying Obstacles to Alignment

Large organizations are plagued with manual processes, organizational silos and linking DevOps to business outcomes. The study does a good job identifying the causes underlying those obstacles.

Lack of Cultural Readiness – The lack of cultural readiness among business and IT teams is a common problem within organizations implementing DevOps. Close to 40 percent of respondents indicated experiencing this challenge. This shows a greater need for communication and collaboration across teams to ensure alignment.

Meeting Compliance Standards – 35 percent have difficulty meeting industry and compliance standards, despite these regulations coming to the forefront as Agile and DevOps initiatives mature beyond simplistic projects.

Challenging Planning and Pre-Coding Phases – The research confirmed that organizations are struggling with the up-front steps of application development. Only 30 percent completely agreed they can automate or orchestrate all pre-coding activities and effectively reuse requirements and user stories across teams.

Effectively Communicating the DevOps Status – Companies struggle to effectively communicate the status of DevOps initiatives, with the majority relying heavily on email and weekly status updates.

Companies Are Taking Steps to Improve Agile and DevOps Initiatives

The good news is organizations are recognizing the importance of driving alignment and improving their DevOps practices by:

Defining Better Business-Related Metrics – Companies recognize they must specify the metrics that demonstrate business value beyond traditional measures.

Modernizing Legacy Applications – Organizations must modernize applications to shift their budgets from maintenance to innovation, and improve the customer experience.

Improving Requirements Definitions and Management – Clear and concise requirements definitions enable companies to deliver to business and market expectations and avoid costly work.

Improving Agile Management and Scaling – Adopting more advanced Agile techniques requires tools that support automation and collaboration.

Value Stream Management is the Solution

The way forward is clear. The solution to driving alignment will be found in capabilities to automate the complexity of the toolchain.

Forrester defines it as "Value Stream Management."

Value Stream Management solutions enable companies to extend automation, value delivered, costs, burn rates, and other management reporting capabilities for a given value stream to support the business.

The expectations are high. By implementing a Value Stream Management solution, 94 percent of organizations expect notable improvements to their DevOps initiatives, including:

■ 61% expect efficiency gains in the earliest definition and analysis stages.

■ 58% expect value delivered to the business at any time.

■ 54% expect better visibility into all components of the DevOps toolchain.

■ 46% expect improved understanding of costs and budget burn rate.

■ 44% expect increased visibility into a user outcome of implemented features.

■ 43% expect more visibility into the automated governance control points of the pipeline.

To meet these expectations however, the solution must support business alignment and the pre-coding process; scaling of Agile and DevOps processes; and, automate the translation of business initiatives, market requirements, or customer experience enhancements to shippable code in order to go faster.

With this level of expectation and commitment, the work to improve DevOps practices will continue to grow and evolve.

Ruth Zive is VP of Marketing at Blueprint

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