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Topics: Agile & DevOps

“As organizations deliver digital experiences from hybrid portfolios of projects and products, IT leaders need a new way to manage the flow of value; one that is not tied to application purchases or project deliveries, but is a continuous, product-focused value stream.”

– Gartner, Inc.

Claytie Moorman, Chief Customer Officer at Blueprint, and Grant Street, Principal Consultant, recently hosted a webinar to discuss the best practices they have been implementing to transform customers to a continuous delivery model. They found that CIOs are more focused than ever on moving from project-based, Waterfall projects to continuous delivery of working software, and to enable that transformation, Agile, Lean, and DevOps are at the top of their agendas.

This transformation requires automation and integration of the people and processes involved in software delivery. The challenge is that these people and processes work in a collection of disparate, siloed tool ecosystems that Gartner calls “tool islands.” To deliver high-quality software quickly and continuously, organizations must bridge the gap between these islands.

In the webinar, Claytie and Grant demonstrated how Blueprint is addressing this challenge head-on. Here are five key takeaways.

1. BizDevOps extends DevOps automation to the business.

Analysts say that by 2025 much of the SDLC will be automated – but today, huge inefficiencies remain in the early part of the SDLC. DevOps automates and integrates development and operations teams, but the business is left out of the loop. To fill this gap, Blueprint is applying DevOps principles and automation to the early phases of the SDLC, creating a continuous BizDevOps cycle that automates business-IT collaboration and alignment.

BizDevOps adds a third loop to the traditional DevOps double loop, extending DevOps automation and reporting to make sure business interests are addressed. There are four key activities in the Biz loop:

Adapt

IT and business stakeholders work together to incorporate the latest customer and market feedback, as well as business demands, to define business initiatives, road mapping and planning at an Epic level.

Define

Stakeholders across the organization can define their vision through a visual, well understood solution model. The solution is then decomposed into functional components that define the various activities at each stage of the toolchain. Considerations from a variety of stakeholders are addressed to define a solution that supports the business needs.

Align

Stakeholders across the organization can align their vision through visual models and integrated workflows. Integration throughout the toolchain is essential for continuous alignment down the value stream.

Approve

At this stage, stakeholders approve the business initiatives driving product development. The robust review processes automated by Storyteller enable stakeholders to sign off on product goals, ensuring accountability as the product moves through the toolchain.

By incorporating the business into a broader BizDevOps delivery cycle, DevOps teams are continuously aligned with the business.

2. A strong BizDevOps toolchain requires best-of-breed tools.

A wide array of tools are available to support the activities that take place in the BizDevOps cycle. There is a common misunderstanding, however, about what each of these tools can (and should be used to) do. Agile ALM tools, like JIRA, VersionOne, and CA Agile Central, are 100% development tools focused on monitoring the flow and defects of releases through the toolchain. This provides technical awareness, but it’s dangerous to assume that this leads to business success.

When organizations try to use one of these solutions to define requirements for continuous delivery aligned with business needs, they fail. Business stakeholders and Product Managers don’t want to log into a tool like JIRA or VersionOne and write user stories – and frankly, developers don’t want them to.

Additionally, Agile ALM tools used in DevOps are designed to implement user stories at a point in time – on a specific sprint in one project. After implementation, those user stories are thrown away. There is no persistent record of requirements from a product perspective, creating a lot of wasted time when teams start the next project.

Atlassian acknowledges this gap, stating, “IT organizations are transitioning to Agile in earnest. While they seek to accelerate delivery, they must still comply with regulations, deal with non-functional requirements, and maintain a ‘living’ set of requirements that persists from release to release.”

If DevOps is to mature and scale, it must provide executive-level visibility into the success of releases in driving business goals, and it must highlight optimization opportunities in the value stream. Selecting the right tools for each set of activities is key to maximizing productivity and speed.

3. A shift to product-focused delivery is mandatory.

The old one-and-done approach to projects, where requirements and business rules are created and then thrown away, drives enormous waste and reduces quality. We see customers adding an overarching focus on products to their current project-orientation.

What’s the difference between a project and a product?

Projects are used to introduce change by modifying a product or creating a new one. They are bound by scope, time, and budget, and they can impact multiple products – which may be applications, processes, or services. Products are what your business sells or uses to provide value. They exist beyond the scope of projects and may be affected by multiple projects – often simultaneously.

With a product-focused view, requirements become the source of truth for what a product does and why. Valuable corporate knowledge is easily available the next time changes to that product are needed. Teams have a quick way to understand what has already been deployed instead of wasting unnecessary cycles on research, or rewriting requirements that already exist. It also provides historic documentation for organizations in industries that need to support auditability and records management.

4. Blueprint Foundations drives requirements maturity.

Blueprint Foundations is our model for enabling our customers to fully leverage the valuable corporate knowledge that is documented over time through projects. It is a pre-configured Blueprint repository with industry-vetted reuse and traceability strategies for project and product information built in. The configuration is based on experience from hundreds of implementations, so it is proven to succeed.

Blueprint Foundations is flexible and methodology-agnostic, aligning requirements for Agile, Waterfall, and Hybrid projects in a centralized, consistent way. This is key for achieving standardization and reuse in a multi-methodology organization. With Blueprint Foundations, teams can be up and running with Storyteller in days, not weeks or months, enabling organizations to reap the return on their investment quickly.

5. Storyteller enables continuous, product-focused delivery.

Storyteller enables the management of requirements for both products and projects in a shared repository. Products have their own workspaces, which provide a holistic view of business needs and support prioritization. Projects have their own workspaces to support project-based requirements as backlog items are sent downstream to development.

Storyteller is the source of record for both project and product documentation. It aligns project requirements and product documentation across projects, products, and methodologies. Storyteller is an industry-leading, enterprise-grade solution that enables the mission-critical activities that happen in the business planning cycles of the SDLC. With powerful features for visual modeling, traceability, impact analysis, reuse, predefined content, auto-generation of user stories and tests, and analytics, it is the best-of-breed solution for the Biz loop of BizDevOps.

Most importantly, Storyteller aligns business and IT interests to accelerate delivery, improve quality, and mitigate risk on large, complex IT initiatives. It enables business stakeholders to focus on business needs and the entire product lifecycle, while development teams can hone in on their development tasks and the activities of a sprint or iteration. Everyone can work in their tools of choice while Storyteller’s automation and integration keeps them in sync.

Watch the recorded webinar here.

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