The Launch of the DevOps Business Simulation


DevOps Simulation Launch

This article has been written by Paul Wilkinson, director at GamingWorks and highly experienced IT professional.

Experiencing DevOps in Action!

The fact that DevOps is a gaining global interest was clear in a session organized by ITCE in Sofia Bulgaria. A lot of organizations are talking about DevOps, but how do you apply it?

ITCE announced the launch of the DevOps Business Simulation: The Phoenix Project to their customers to explore DevOps. The game can accommodate 8-12 players -and 34 people signed up!

Nina Prodanova-Iozeva, Managing Partner of ITCE kicked off the session explaining how ITCE wants to help customers accelerate their DevOps journeys, and Maria Veledinova demonstrated how investing in DevOps is a natural step in extending the current practices of Agile, Scrum, Lean, ITIL and a way of combining them to ensure a continuous quality delivery capability.

Maria and I (Paul Wilkinson) facilitated 2 parallel simulation “taster” sessions (2 rounds of the game). As I was playing the role of CEO, we reiterated the opening messages from Nina and Maria ‘I am delighted you are here to show me how we can remove the damaging silo mentality of ‘them and us’ between Dev & Ops and between IT and the business, and that you will demonstrate to me an end-to-end capability, as you can see revenue is down and share price is suffering we need to deploy the phoenix project quickly if we are to regain our image and market share….I don’t know what all this DevOps, Agile, ITIL ‘stuff’ is all about and I don’t care. I want fast, reliable, safe time-to-market software solutions that deliver business value. If you call this DevOps, fine. Show me’!

The challenge was set.

In round one, the teams were assigned their roles – Business Representatives, Application Development, Engineers, IT Support and Operations, Change Management, Information Security and Testers. Their backlog of work consisted of planned business projects, IT projects, changes and ….of course incidents and defects. Participants were very involved and energetic, eager to discuss with all the roles their responsibilities and trying to figure out the whole delivery process.

Reflection Round 1:

Following the round, we reflected on what had happened, using DevOps principles:

  • Flow of work – not just your “box”, an end-to-end understanding is needed
  • Visualizing work flow and status of work
  • Prioritization – work based on priorities defined by the business (not first in first served J)
  • “Just enough” planning – we work in a dynamic world, do not waste a lot of time on planning which will soon be obsolete
  • Culture & Collaboration – without the right team culture & quality interactions no tool or automation can make you a successful DevOps team

After the reflection of round one, teams were introduced to Kanban board as a way of visualizing the workflow, that would give the team the advantage of knowing the pipeline of work, setting capacity limit, restricting WIP and knowing the status of each task.

Round two teams gained greater confidence and started planning their work around their boards based on priorities defined by the business, testing was involved from the very beginning, team members cross-trained themselves and their colleagues which allowed for sharing skills and responsibilities. They managed to complete all of their planned work along with a couple incidents that occurred and above all – the business and the whole team were aware of that!

Reflection Round 2:

We had another session of reflection where we discussed topics related to the round:

  • Optimizing the flow of work – keep looking for waste and remove it
  • Limiting Work in Progress – by knowing & visualizing the maximum capacity of the team roles, restrict the number of simultaneously progressed tasks
  • Cross-skilled team members – are essential for successful DevOps team
  • Shorten feedback loop – involve quality early on, automate tests & integration
  • Share – knowledge, responsibility, experience – good & bad

Half a day would never be enough to cover all important aspects of DevOps – in its complete version, the Phoenix Project brings out aspects related to CALMS principles – (Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement and Sharing), continuous delivery, continuous learning and improvement, planning and prioritization of work between multiple business units, handling bugs and incidents, shortening feedback loops and of course the realization of self-organized, productive and collaborating teams.

If you’d like to challenge your team and organization to explore DevOps, check DevOps at ITCE here and learn about the full version of the business simulation here.


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