Change is difficult. It can be painful, disruptive, and costly. Making a case for change requires us to win over hearts and minds. In my experience, we need to win the hearts of the ‘do-ers’, the people whose daily work is going to be disrupted. And the minds of the executives, whose financial support and personal sponsorship we need to make change happen.
A Lean boxscore allows you to address both the hearts, and the minds. Boxscore is a simple tool which we use to compare the current state with the future state, and turn that comparison into a compelling case for change.
Step One: Current State Baseline
Let’s start with where we are today, by capturing performance metrics that tell an accurate story of today’s development lifecycle. This may mean looking beyond the project plan to the reality, by the way. By interviewing or workshopping with development and operations teams, we get a true picture of the way the development process currently performs.
We’re always interested in end-to-end leadtime, of course – from the moment the business provides a prioritized set of requirements, to the moment that functionality is in production and working as intended. We’re also interested in how much wait time there is within the process – how much time between steps, waiting for an approval, a developer, or a tester. We do this by creating a value stream map, capturing all those metrics and validated by the teams who work within this process every day.
We want to look beyond leadtime and wait time too. We capture the number of resources involved in each release, the number of handoffs, and the number of bugs caught at each stage of development and deployment. If we can get to it, we might capture the percentage of time a developer spends writing code for their current release, as opposed to firefighting issues from the last release, arguing over schedules, trying to secure an appropriate environment, or other ‘non value adding’ activities. We might also capture some usage statistics, or other measure of customer satisfaction, and any relevant performance indicators, like server response time.
Before moving on, it’s crucial to ask stakeholders: ‘is this a fair reflection of the way things currently work?’
Step Two: Future State Target
This next step requires some imagination, and some bold thinking. Imagine a world where you’ve adopted DevOps: you’ve removed the waste within the development lifecycle and instilled the ‘shift left’ principle in all your working practices, your ‘4 in a box’ teams are rapidly developing, testing and deploying code, Cloud-based environments give you immediate provisioning, and automation and smart tooling have taken the bellyache out of testing. What does that future look like? How quickly can you develop – if provisioning is immediate? How many bugs do you expect to put live – if testing is automated and your production environment matches your test environment? How many changes to scope – if you’re working with smaller batches and faster delivery?
We create a new value stream map, which details the way this brave new process will work in practice. This allows us to set sensible but challenging targets for our future state.
Before moving on, be sure to ask stakeholders: ‘are these targets achievable, if we make the changes we have outlined?
Step Three: So What?
Finally, we get to the money question. What’s it all worth? For each improvement there will be an impact. Many of these will be financial. Ask your stakeholder ‘if we can get this new functionality out to market 2 months faster, what does that mean for revenue?’ Or ‘if we reduce the number of defects in production by 90%, can we reduce our operating costs?
Putting a dollar value on the financial impact will win over those minds with a logical, fact-based argument. Now, investing in a DevOps pilot seems like something they can’t afford NOT to do.
And the case for change for hardworking developers, testers and production resources? Metrics like number of handoffs, bugs and rework, and batch sizes can easily be translated into ‘how much pain you have to live with each day at work’ to win those hearts over.