Ranger4 DevOps Blog

Launching a DevOps Initiative in a Day

Posted by Helen Beal on Mon, Sep 22, 2014 @ 13:09 PM

We've developed a facilitated DevOps LiftOff Workshop to help organisations:

  • Get started with DevOps
  • Gain a high level understanding of current DevOps state
  • Enthuse stakeholders and participants in a DevOps initiative
  • Build an initial DevOps delivery roadmap

We talk to lots of people who want their organisations to embrace the DevOps movement but are unsure where to start and how to spread the word and gain support for cultural change and investment. This workshop is a quick hit, a one day effort, where four to twelve people gather, without distractions, to complete a series of interactive exercises (making it memorable and fun) to get DevOps thinking started and everyone on the same page:

1) Define DevOps

The Ranger4 facilitator kicks off with a flipchart based, warm-up exercise asking two or three people to define DevOps and scribing their answers and displaying them around the room as the whole group discusses the finer points of each definition and aims to agree on a definition that they can all agree on and is relevant to their situation. The facilitator will also share two or three definitions from DevOps enthusiasts, perhaps things like:

"Don't fight stupid. Make more awesome." Jesse Robbins

Or something from our #DevOpsFriday5 series:

"The real focus of DevOps is surely increased operability of the software systems we work with. As the rate of change to these systems is so high (and the changes so valuable), also because these systems are becoming more distributed and complex, the scope for operational faults is significantly higher than with the more static systems of the past. Therefore highly effective collaboration between Dev teams, Ops teams, and other teams helps to ensure that the new end-user features operate well when deployed, reducing the impact and extent of transitory failures." Matthew Skelton


"Developers and Operations humans that span boundaries and collaborate using Agile principles based on the work to be done or mission to be fulfilled rather than based on the organizational chart." Kevin Behr


The finished definition is recorded in the DevOps LiftOff Workshop report and the group moves on to Exercise 2.

2) Baseline Current State

In this exercise, the facilitator introduces key, quantifiable DevOps metrics for culture, organisation, process and toolchain variables. The group splits into two or three smaller groups to try to complete the workshop's DevOps Metrics Matrix which asks for current and future state for statistics such as:

  1. Frequency and volume of releases/deployments
  2. Elapsed time to new release/deployment
  3. Frequency and volume of defects
  4. Elapsed time to defect resolution
  5. Volume and frequency of system outage
  6. MTTR

Each exercise in the workshop is between twenty and thirty minutes long so the facilitator has to keep on top of things and make sure nothing overruns! Once the teams have spent a few minutes thinking about their metrics, we regroup and review how easy they have found the exercise and the accuracy of the numbers. Then the group work together to identify their position on the DevOps Maturity Scale below:

DevOps Maturity Scale

3) Desired Future State

Breaking back up into the smaller teams, each one works with a white board and a bag of keyword stickies to build a statement describing their desired future state. This is a short, twenty minute exercise and finishes with the group comparing their statements and agreeing on one to record in the workshop report.

4) Write a Business Case

It would be daft to think we could write a business case suitable for sharing with your FD in just thirty minutes, but by using the data we have already begun to gather and our workshop DevOps Business Case template, the teams can start thinking about where any return on investment might lie and prioritising areas of greater return and build the skeleton of a business case for expansion later. We'll do this in smaller groups too and then review and compare the work to complete the template in the workshop report. We'll be looking at a number of factors including:

  1. Productivity improvements - resource savings
  2. Innovation acceleration - revenue generation
  3. Audit and risk - cost of compliance

It's time for lunch now and during the break we ask that the workshop contributors review the tasks for the afternoon in the light of what has been completed in the morning.

After lunch, we continue to break the group up into smaller teams, but we mix them up!

5) Define DevOps Goals

The first exercise after lunch pulls together some of the discussion in the morning as we start developing SMART goals that will build a path to the Desired Future State and align with the templated business case. We provide SMART templates and some example SMART goals such as:

"Our team will release updates to the core business application, Milton, once a day by the 1st September 2014. We currently perform releases once a fortnight but believe, using automation, this goal is attainable. Not only will it allow us to put revenue generating innovation to market faster, the process will be more consistent and reliable."


"We, the testing team, will reduce the volume of defects from 20 to 2 per week by the end of 2014 and through improved testing techniques reduce the average time to fix a defect from 4 hours to 30 minutes in the same timeframe, thus removing backlog and pushing software improvements to market at greater velocity."

6) Assess Motivations

This session kicks off with an individual task where we ask each contributor to complete an online SCARF self-assessment (you'll need an internet connected device for this one). It only takes a few minutes and once we're done we:

  • Review the neuroscience behind the theory
  • Consider the accuracy of the assessment
  • Discuss how to motivate teams where individuals have different motivations.

We'll also talk about rewards here (extrinsic and intrinsic) and how far the existing culture supports autonomy, mastery and purpose and how improvements to these specific cultural attributes can be made.

7) Play Featureban

In this exercise, back in the smaller groups, we look at bottlenecks, flow and the theory of constraints by playing several rounds of a game called Featureban. Featureban is a fun way to try out some basic visual management (visualisation + feedback loops), and then experience the dramatic effect of adding work-in-progress limits to create working kanban systems. We also briefly review the Three Ways.

8) A Software Pipeline

In the penultimate exercise of the day we model the existing and future DevOps toolchains as a group using a whiteboard and a pack of tool cards and record the outputs in the workshop report for future reference. We'll be looking at tools throughout the SDLC, open source and enterprise:

  • Requirements gathering and management
  • Architecting and modelling
  • Development environments
  • Build, configuration and version control
  • Defect tracking, quality management and testing
  • Release and deployment automation
  • Application performance management

9) Build a Roadmap

Using the DevOps Roadmap template, this final exercise summarises everything we've covered during the day at a high level outputting a roadmap of parallel or contiguous projects to lead to the desired future state. When the session's finished, we'll leave you your DevOps LiftOff Workshop Report containing:

  1. Your DevOps definition for your enterprise
  2. A high-level baseline of your current state
  3. Your Desired Future State statement
  4. A high level business plan
  5. Your identified SMART goals
  6. Your current and future DevOps toolchains
  7. Your summary DevOps roadmap

Topics: Enterprise DevOps, DevOps