Have you heard? (Or said?)

  • “We’re too busy”
  • “We can’t learn anything new, we’re too busy fire fighting”
  • “We’ve got too many projects”.

These phrases and others like it are as commonly issued from IT Operations as “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” is from the helpdesk.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

But, I want my team to start DevOpsing!

Before we can head down the path of improving our process, we have to know what we are doing. In Making Work Visible by Dominica Degrandis, Dominica highlights five “time thieves” who help contribute to these feelings of being buried in project work and firefighting.

I’d strongly recommend giving it a read to start off this year in the right direction.

The TL;DR;

Before we can deal effectively with the perception of overwhelming waves of work, we need to understand what work we are currently doing and where it comes from. There is so much that happens that isn’t tracked in ticketing systems/project plans/or elsewhere.

If you read The Phoenix Project, you may recall Erik giving Bill a hard time about understanding the types of work that were flowing into operations. It was such a big deal that Erik refused to help further until Bill could articulate the sources of work.

Getting a handle on where work is coming in and what work is actually happening will give us the context to start applying tools like the Five Focusing Steps from the Theory of Constraints. Without that visibility, we have to rely on guessing and intuition to identify areas for improvement.

So, before you starting DevOpsing

Get a visibility into the work coming into your organization. You don’t have to fix everything or clear out all the backlogs, just getting the awareness puts you in place to start identifying priorities and bringing work in progress under control.