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IBM Bluemix Garage Method mini-poll: What we’ve learned

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allhex-thinkerIn October 2015, we launched The IBM Bluemix Garage Method website as a resource to help business leaders, development teams and operations teams engage and adopt DevOps methods and practices. Since that initial launch, our team has remained keenly interested in understanding the problems customers face and using what we learn to help determine how they can start adopting DevOps methods that tackle those challenges.

To get a better understanding of our customers’ needs, this past summer we created the Garage Method mini-poll.

We decided to keep the mini-poll simple and unobtrusive at first, just as you would when creating a minimally viable product (MVP).

Which problems led you to consider adopting DevOps methods?

The mini-poll includes a single question that provides site visitors with a way to tell us which problems led them to consider adopting DevOps methods. The mini-poll allows them to pick up to three of their top problems from a list of alternatives. As each mini-poll is completed, we automatically combine all the responses, and then display a summary of the results.

The results of the mini-poll, to date, are shown in the table below. Note that each problem is categorized according to its Garage Method phase. For each problem, you can see the percentage of respondents who included that problem as their “top three.”

Problem Percentage
Lack of Innovation (Think) 27.4%
Difficultly spreading skills thru an organization (Culture) 24.7%
Issues with scaling and performance (Run) 24.7%
Too much wasted effort (Think) 23.3%
Inefficient build processes (Deliver) 23.3%
Long development cycle times (Code) 21.9%
Software quality issues (Code) 17.8%
Errors caused by manual processes (Deliver) 17.8%
Lack of useful/effective metrics (Learn) 16.4%
Ineffective organizational communication (Culture) 16.4%
Issues with problem identification and resolution (Manage) 16.4%
Unstable production environments (Run) 12.3%
Inability to adapt and change direction (Learn) 11.0%
Lack of Transparency / Alignment (Manage) 9.6%

The first thing to notice is that each of the 14 problems were selected by at least some of the respondents. This suggests that there doesn’t need to be a single path to take when deciding to adopt DevOps methods. The reality is that addressing any of these problems could be the starting point.

Looking a little closer, notice that two of the top four items are challenges associated with what we refer to as the the ‘Think’ phase of the Bluemix Garage Method. The Think phase of the Garage Method combines formal IBM Design Thinking with some of the more traditional design thinking practices. Among other things, adopting Think phase practices helps a team ensure a common vision for all team members. So for many teams, the Think phase of the Garage Method is a good place to start.

But again, you don’t necessarily have to start there. As you can see in the table above, teams start to investigate DevOps methods in response to a wide range of challenges, and those challenges span all of the phases of the Garage Method: Culture, Think, Code, Deliver, Run, Manage, and Learn.

Where should you start?

If you aren’t sure which phase to start with, choose the Think phase of the Garage Method. Or, even better, you could take the poll:

Select your top three challenges, and then begin to investigate the Garage Method phases that are most closely aligned with your top problems.

Chinese philosopher Lao-Tze is quoted as having said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Hopefully your journey to DevOps transformation will be significantly shorter than a thousand miles. But you’ll still have to determine that first step.

To learn more

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