How to Meet the Need for Transformation Speed

How to Meet the Need for Transformation Speed

June 4, 2020

GitLab Regional Director APAC Anthony McMahon touches on why every industry is facing change at an accelerated pace, and how digital transformation can deliver quick value to customers.

By Anthony McMahon

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many unprecedented business conditions but the key takeaway as we begin the road to recovery is the need for transformation speed.

Over the past several years, many organisations have outlined their digital transformation priorities. Although few have explained how they will achieve these. We believe that accelerating software innovation underpins any transformation and helps deliver value to customers faster.

The Asia-Pacific region has demonstrated commitment to innovate and create disruptions across every industry – from retail to financial services – meaning everyone faces change at a faster pace. According to the IDC, USD375.8 billion was spent in 2019 in digital transformation-related activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

The adoption of new technology has escalated even further during the COVID-19 crisis and shown how transformation can reshape how we work and live, at a speed that few had imagined. Governments around the region have had to implement new policies and direct resources to healthcare and job systems quickly.

We’ve proven our ability to mobilise resources rapidly, from every direction. If you’re an IT leader, you may ask yourself, ‘What is fast and how does my team go faster?’

Define fast

To be competitive in the market today, companies need to be ten times faster to market and that requires a dramatically different way of developing, securing, and managing software.

The first step in preparing for the digital transformation is to look at how you measure speed: cycle time.

According to iSixSigma, cycle time can be defined as “the total time from the beginning to the end of your process, as defined by you and your customer. Cycle time includes process time, during which a unit is acted upon to bring it closer to an output, and delay time, during which a unit of work is spent waiting to take the next action”.

In a nutshell, cycle time is the total elapsed time to move a unit of work from the beginning to the end of a physical process.

It’s important to note that cycle time is not the same as lead time. Cycle time tells you how efficient your development and delivery processes are, and lead time tells you how long customers wait for a new feature.

If you have a lot of ideas in your backlog, you could have a short cycle time, but a long lead time due to the backlog. However, if you can improve your DevOps lifecycle to achieve a fast cycle time, you can then rapidly respond to new business priorities, at the same time reduce lead time delays.

In other words, think Idea-to-Code-to-Cloud-to-Consume.

How to make your team go faster

It starts with understanding where your current delivery process has problems – where you’re creating bottlenecks, rework, or merely waiting for someone to do or approve something. The objective of value stream management is to define, measure, and improve the flow of value to your customers.

In the case of IT and application delivery, value stream management starts with your backlog of feature requests and ends with the delivery of the features to your users.

GitLab’s fourth annual DevSecOps survey revealed opportunities to address bottleneck along the stream, including better collaboration between developer, operations and security teams and technology choices that improve DevOps practices and speed up software release cycles.

The survey found that the lines are blurring between developers and operations teams as 35% of developers say they define and or create the infrastructure their app runs on and 14% actually monitor and respond to that infrastructure – a role traditionally held by operations.

There also continues to be a clear disconnect between developers and security teams, with uncertainty about who should be responsible for security efforts. More than 25% of developers reported feeling solely responsible for security. In the new world, silos between these teams and responsibilities can’t be tolerated anymore with security increasingly built into the development process at an earlier stage.

In order to reduce cycle time, IT leaders need to identify some of these gaps and improve processes, automate and streamline your value stream, including moving beyond multiple legacy tools to manage the complex process of developing software. As you improve your cycle time, you’ll be able to lower your lead time, because your delivery processes will be faster and more efficient.

As markets around the region begin to ease restrictions and rebuild their economies, digital transformation is not just desirable anymore, it is a necessity. Irrespective of your industry, technology now needs to be front and center of your offering as competition is coming from unexpected sources. By measuring, understanding and improving the process, business leaders can enable their teams to go faster, more securely and deliver greater value.

(Ed. GitLab APAC Regional Director Anthony McMahon says he has over 18 years’ experience in the technology industry in Asia, with previous stints at SAP and HP too.)

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