Does it seem like your operating methods should be made more efficient? Maybe the DevOps model can help.

With agile methods going mainstream―along with technological enablers like cloud, virtualization, containerization, integrated toolchains and service automation taking hold―DevOps has emerged as an end-to-end IT delivery approach that makes business change faster, more flexible and more reliable. Based on the lean-agile approach, DevOps attempts to create an operating model where business operations, application development and IT services are used in combination to create value faster, and as flawlessly as possible. It removes cultural and organizational silos between key stakeholders and introduces a high degree of process integration and tooling automation in an IT environment. As such, the deployment of DevOps methods significantly increases effectiveness and generates considerable savings.

What if there was a fun and educational way for teams to become familiar with the principles of the DevOps operating model?

When some of our experts participated in a DevOps simulation game, we experienced a wide array of emotions―confusion, Eureka moments, frustration and the feeling of success. The simulation game by GamingWorks is based on the book by Gene Kim, The Phoenix Project, A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win …, and it teaches the principles of the DevOps approach through specific actions and examples. The game adheres closely to the theme of the book, but also reserves some surprises to those who have read it. The game demonstrates a way of fine-tuning work management, reacting to changes, providing feedback and realizing continuous improvement as well as collaboration and transparency.

The scenario we were given was this:

A company called Parts Unlimited is in trouble. The Sales Manager and the Head of IT Services are engaged in an intense conversation. The company’s point-of-sale system has crashed and it’s impossible to make any sales. This issue has had a significant impact on sales and the share price. On the other hand, fixing the problem would jeopardize the schedule of an important project. The CEO is worried and takes stock of the situation. The critical project must succeed, but sales targets also have to be reached.

The players assume different roles in the organization and try to save their struggling company by implementing an important Phoenix Project, while other issues, projects, surprises and challenges interfere with operations. In our simulation game, the issues were resolved as well as the required fixes, as the project was implemented successfully. Example comments from the role players included:

Example comments from the role players included
“Now I understand our flow.”
― Head of IT Services
“This is not easy to implement in our organization.”
― Sales Manager

Even though the groups that participated in the game didn’t compete against each other officially, the group that achieved the best result celebrated like they had won the World Championship. As you can tell, this is not a usual classroom experience! But you need to play it yourself to see how it all works out.

Blueprint for a holistic and balanced DevOps approach
Based on our work with clients, high-performing IT organizations are those that are effective across the five key dimensions of DevOps: governance, culture, metrics, process and architecture, and tools. They use agile architectures and cloud-based platforms to enable autonomous teams; employ a continuous integration model based on test-driven development; and create a continuous delivery pipeline that accelerates deployment and reduces risk. They also ensure monitoring and automated remediation to reduce downtime and costs, and use real-time analytics to quantify ROI. The Phoenix Project simulation is a good way to learn the principles of DevOps through team work. You do not need any prior knowledge about Lean or DevOps to play, as these concepts are explained during the simulation. Contact me if you are interested in hearing more about our experience. I also invite you to learn more about CGI’s DevOps approach.

About this author

Perttu Mikkonen

Perttu Mikkonen


I’m Perttu Mikkonen and I’m a senior agile methods consultant at CGI. I have worked in internal and external agile transformation projects in several fields as a change consultant and product owner, and I provide training and consultation on the SAFe and Scrum methods.

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