LEAN, Mean DevOps Machine

With all the noise and excitement over new tools being used it’s easy to overlook that DevOps is not just a technical role. There are many aspects that sets being a DevOps specialist apart from being another form of Systems Administrator and it is one of these areas that I’m going to talk about today.

Lean is a methodology that is usually found in marketing and manufacturing. Toyota is noted for it’s Just In Time (JIT) manufacturing methods which Ford also implemented into his early production lines. But what is it and why is it so important for someone like myself?

The shortest explanation is that Lean helps you look at processes that form up how a function is performed and allow you to identify waste. That is in wasted time, effort, resources, money etc. To me it is a brilliant framework to help me diagnose what is wrong with the Delivery cycle in a company and start being able to implement the right tools, methods, strategies to bring about a robust and stable Continuous Integration and Delivery solution. Knowing how to automate a process I feel is only half the battle. Knowing what to automate is where the biggest gains can be made and Lean allows you to identify those areas that need the attention most.

Lean also forms a foundation for me to Measure. At some point in the DevOps process you will be asked to identify improvements and justify the need for you in the organisation. When I identify waste through Lean, I take that opportunity to also identify measurable metrics. There may be a process in the deployment cycle that requires 2 or 3 members and takes 5 hours to complete. This is an easy metric as you can identify an actual cost of that process by the number of man hours dedicated to it. Time as they say is money and here you can clearly calculate a cost. There may be many such processes in the organisation and Lean coupled with Measure allows you to identify what are the greatest wastes and the more valuable lowest hanging fruit to change first.

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