Moving to Continuous Flow: Don’t Throw Your Value Out in the Process

Agile Development

An important part of making customers happy, whether end users or others involved in the supply chain, is delivering value to them at the right time and in the right manner. After all, the voice of the customer rules all. For firms that are reengineering internal processes, such as continuous flow for their software delivery pipelines, “customer service” becomes even more complicated. In addition to system users, their developers and testers are customers, as well, and satisfying both can be a tall order.

Why is this an issue with continuous flow?

Historically, production-focused organizations (e.g. manufacturers) have thought the solution to superior customer service was piece work — batch processing of tasks to show results faster. Over time, visionary leaders realized that a better approach was continuous flow.

With continuous flow, every element of the product moves through every step of the process sequentially rather than grouping work items into batches. This approach has been adopted by the software industry with extraordinary results. I expect it to garner even more attention this year.

However, moving away from executing development, testing, and QA work in batches causes processes to change dramatically for all stakeholders. To avoid the discomfort (and potential rejection) that can hamper a smooth transition to continuous flow, organizations must proactively address stakeholder concerns. This includes not only system users who are accustomed to having their changes pushed out quickly, in batches, but also the developers and testers who create and maintain the software. Following are suggestions to address the concerns of both groups:

1. Delight application users with the support they expect.

With traditional software development, extended development timelines, excessive bugs, and inadequate reporting mechanisms are common. Consequently, system users become accustomed to airing their grievances (as well as their feature wish lists) with project managers or system architects and getting personal assurance they will be addressed.

DevOps changes the way user requests are handled, and users can feel that their voice has been lost. Organizations reengineering their software delivery approaches (to continuous flow or any other process improvement) can fix this issue by incorporating support ticketing systems. With these solutions, users log into the system and submit support requests digitally. With top-flight solutions, like Service Now and Cherwell, they also receive automated updates on the status of their feature requests or problem resolution.

Once you explain the new ticketing support platform to users, and tell them how much easier and faster it will be to submit feature and support requests once it launches, they’ll understand that their voice still matters.

To learn how customer request management can be seamlessly integrated into a continuous flow delivery pipeline, sign up for our January 21 webinar: Integrating Customer Request Management.

2. Let developers and testers continue to work with the tools they already love.

With the explosion of tools and technologies in the software industry, project managers, system architects and other decision makers are increasingly dealing with unruly teams of coders, testers and QA personnel, each of whom considers THEIR favored toolsets, scripts, approaches, etc. to be superior to everyone else’s. They resent any effort to unify toolsets or replace them with alternatives.

Rather than give in to either group, there is a solution that can make everyone’s lives easier. Integrate your toolchain with an integration product such as ConnectALL. With ConnectALL, all your tools are interconnected in a bi-directional fashion, so software data flows seamlessly between them.

  • The “tool trailblazers” can take advantage of the latest new trend while they continue to cooperate productively in the overall organizational initiative.
  • More conventional users, on the other hand, can keep using their favorite tools, making the shift to a new process flow less threatening.
  • Everyone gets the benefit of automated communication and the ability to harvest cross-lifecycle metrics.

Ready for the kicker? Development gets defect information organized by STORY, which elevates development prioritization from code level to business-value level. That will make everyone involved in the software delivery lifecycle even happier.

Don’t forget to sign up for our January 21 webinar entitled Integrating Customer Request Management Click here to sign up, now!