Organizations are in a continuous race for digitalization and IT modernization: the race of Enterprise DevOps. As with any race, this implies continuous challenges and transformation to drive towards the best position on the podium. It also implies professionalism and a wide range of enablers: technical capabilities, technological stack, cultural alignment, processes, supporting tools, etc. With all of this in mind, I usually informally define Enterprise DevOps as the race for Getting Things Done in delivering IT value.
Getting Things Done (GTD) is a well-known productivity methodology created by David Allen in 2001 that became popular for managing and organizing life and work. It is based on a simple 5-step process: Capture (collect what has your attention), Clarify (understand and make things actionable), Organize (put it where it belongs), Reflect (review frequently) and Engage (simply do).
When we scale Agile and DevOps by means of Enterprise DevOps, we are, in fact, aligning IT delivery with the aim of Getting Things Done. The GTD concept of ‘done’ may be redefined in high-performance IT delivery as getting enough value on time, according to differing expectation types: functional, security, performance, user experience, etc. In other words, delivering value with quality and speed.
Bringing the 5 steps to life
Taking this GTD productivity framework as a base, Enterprise DevOps needs to rely on a workplace platform (here Microsoft Azure DevOps is a prominent option) where managing and pushing for the 5 steps looks like this:
- Capture: Everything that matters for providing value (epics, features, user stories, as well as the required technological stack, technical capabilities…) needs to be registered and traceable.
- Clarify: The need for continuous clarification of project requirements is the basis for addressing constantly evolving projects in DevOps and implies a new way of thinking. Captured ‘things’ become more and more concrete as a shift in mindset and team culture is shaped by this process of refinement and clarification through different agile ceremonies and artefacts until they become actionable ‘things’ (tasks). The needs for each project must be categorized, so there are two different supertypes of ‘things’: those that belong to the enablers of the project (delivery experience) and those that relate to the solution to be delivered (expected value). We should consider the following enablers: the composition of the team and its spirit, capabilities, and culture; the technological stack; and the workplace where transparency and monitoring (quality, time, progress…) of the project is performed. For the expected value, we need to focus on ‘what has to be done’ in terms of the ‘value to be delivered’.
- Organize: Each requirement needs to be specified into the corresponding artefacts and saved in the workplace platform as active and actionable things to be considered, and for which the monitoring of their progress is required.
- Reflect: Metrics are mandatory in enterprise DevOps because they support continuous feedback. Further, the implementation of metrics needs to be industrialized, automated, and systematically used at scale.
- Engage: When ‘things’ in a project became actionable, they need to be simply done. However, that’s easier said than done. Several steps are required before the ‘action’ is taken to avoid losing the whole picture: the roadmap must be monitored; the technological stack needs to be implemented; the required profiles have to be fulfilled and continuously evolved as a race for technical excellence; the metrics enabling continuous reflection (see above) must be used to take actionable decisions; the organization of the project needs to be performed consistently; and, for sure, new ‘things’ need to be collected and processed in the scaled DevOps culture of ‘continuous’ but ‘organized’
Enterprise DevOps is a race in which continuous progress and evolution are a must. As a well-known Formula One driver once said, “In racing there are always things you can learn, every single day. There is always space for improvement, and I think that applies to everything in life.” In other words: progressive Getting Things Done is the main driver for competing (successfully) in the Enterprise DevOps race to deliver IT value.