Using a release management tool like Digital.ai Release, it can be possible to soothe your frustrations, ease persistent pain points, and work towards a more efficient process.
When discussing value stream management (VSM), our resources talk a lot about the cultural impact of analyzing value stream processes, mapping them, and viewing them from a 10,000-mile high perspective. It’s all done with the goal of understanding how it all fits together.
Isolating your focus leads to siloing, which can manifest itself within siloed tools and siloed data. Individual teams won’t be able to see with clarity what others are doing, making collaboration more difficult. In turn, data visibility becomes limited to the individual silos. By bringing everything together, all teams and stakeholders gain access to a single source of truth. Gains in efficiency and value creation often come next in the form of better coordination among teams towards a specific goal.
To help organizations with their transition, we’ve spoken about VSM culture changes and new agile techniques to introduce. At the same time, it’s worth noting that there is value in having specific release tools in DevOps that can give you the capability to unify your view and control your release cycles.
Today, we are talking specifically about the capabilities afforded by release management tools in DevOps like Digital.ai Release. Digital.ai Release maps your entire workflow, from planning to production and beyond. It also integrates this map with your entire DevOps tool suite using adapters, plug-ins, and customized integrations. This integration provides your teams with a view into all their tools and key performance indicators (KPIs) from a single dashboard.
Having all DevOps environments in one place is quite powerful. For one, it eliminates visibility silos and allows you to stop thinking of your DevOps processes within the siloed mentality. Instead, you begin to consider the end-to-end process, and how each part fits into the whole. As Brian Foster, Enterprise Architect Sales Engineer at Digital.ai, explains, the tool allows you to “visualize every single thing that you are doing in your release process,” including both manual processes and any automated integrations with third-party tools. Team leaders are also able to start processes or submit requests directly from the dashboard, without the need to juggle multiple tools at once to do so.
Below is an overview of the capabilities release orchestration tools like Digital.ai Release offer in helping:
- Eliminate blind spots
- Coordinate releases
- Gain control over processes, requests, and reporting directly from the dash overview
- Focus more on issues related to security, compliance, and governance (SCaG) without reducing velocity/efficiency of releases
Eliminate blind spots
For product managers or agile managers, getting a quick overview of what all teams are up to and where the release is in the pipeline can be tough to come by. They may typically need to compile numbers across multiple reports or dashboards. What many managers admittedly end up doing is just looking at individualized reports within tool silos and guesstimating as to overall performance.
Release orchestration tools like Digital.ai Release make it possible to obtain immediate visibility at the high level of the process, end-to-end across all tools. Team members can then drill down into specific tasks or team areas. This visibility provides oversight as to the entire process but contextualized to its individual moving parts.
Importantly, unifying visibility also unifies data. The aggregated data can generate global metrics revealing aspects like lead time and unplanned work across the entire process.
Generation of global process metrics is a hugely powerful capability. IT leaders can use these metrics to take the collective temperature of release process health, and the metrics can also reveal bottlenecks/pain points. Example capabilities include:
- Generate a user story incorporating all priority issues/work items
- Obtain different, contextualized views
- Global view — number of releases, release frequency (e.g. releases by month)
- Team and sub-process views
- View of outliers: longest-running releases, longest-running tasks
- Display permissions by team member
- Allows team members to see what they can do
- Allows managers to audit permissions, grant new abilities
- Generate metrics
- e.g. Time spent on automated vs non-automated tasks
- Individual task/team cycle times
- Deployment efficiency rates
Integrations for the most popular DevOps tools are built-in, allowing for nearly instant desiloing once the environment is properly set up. Digial.ai Release also allows for customizable tile plug-ins linked to the organization’s specific toolchain/release pipeline, so that teams with unique environments can still assemble all of the pieces into a single dashboard.
Coordinate release orchestration
Release management tools in DevOps like Digital.ai Release enable you to nail down your release flow with the power to monitor release progress and coordinate key steps in the process. Product managers can oversee the cadence of the current sprint and where bottlenecks are occurring. They can also perform core orchestration tasks right from the dashboard, without the need to dive into individual environments to manage it all.
Example capabilities include:
- View global tasks
- Generate notifications for updates
- Sets clear trigger point for calculating burndowns, lead times
- Indicate to production monitoring system when a new release is launched, allowing the system to not only monitor but to also trace new problems to recent change-related root causes
- Use integration (adapters) w/ third-party tools to create automation, giving better flexibility within release process — e.g. automate servicenow change request from within the Digital.ai Release dashboard
Control tools and processes from the unified dash
One of the most powerful abilities afforded by release tools in DevOps like Digital.ai Release is that managers can not INLY monitor progress and tasks from the dash but also directly control the process itself.
Team managers have the ability to control within dashboard views, which facilitates easier control of the end-to-end process. Tool integrations can significantly contribute to productivity. For example, they raise the likelihood a manager will complete a needed action item compared to forcing them to back out of the dash and go into the specific needed environment to generate a task item or work request.
As we all know: at work, distractions abound! This is why a dashboard for release management tools in DevOps brings focus and clarity.
Example process management capabilities for Digital.ai Release include:
- Initiate new automated testing cycle
- After a test failure, can restart the cycle again
- Monitor progress, who’s assigned to what
- Check in on status, stay apprised of delays
- View overall “release health” metric depicting if all release cycle tasks are running correctly and on-schedule
- When seeking CAB approval, CAB can review steps signed off on for gated approvals, ensuring SCaG compliance and overall QA
Shift security compliance and governance (SCaG) initiatives left into actual task processes
Reviews for SCaG priorities often come at the end of the release’s development, which can preserve waterfall elements and generate significant friction through bottlenecking. Having these priorities incorporated into the main workflow is more efficient, and it also increases the likelihood of SCaG integrity throughout the release process.
Release tools in DevOps like Digital.ai Release can be used to introduce gates/sign-offs to incorporate SCaG priorities to daily tasks, shifting left. Digital.ai Release can generate audit, compliance, and chain of custody reports.
Managers see a high level of detail, encompassing who was assigned to tasks and who completed them. They can output JSON objects generated from the task for easier integration with the review environment. The system gets specific in the level of detail down to individual action logs. Comments, attachments uploaded — all are preserved for an objective, unbiased report that can reflect the product’s overall integrity.
Great power comes from great visibility
Siloing can be technological and architectural, but it is also a visibility effect. Without a view into processes — as well as a global view of how individual aspects affect the process as a whole — it can be difficult to measurably improve results/outcomes for value delivery
Many available tools for managing DevOps releases allow for the views and level of control ours provides, but only for individual teams or internal processes, like testing. Digital.ai release is the only release orchestration tool that covers the entire enterprise.
Organizations don’t necessarily need our specific tool to obtain the recommended capabilities outlined above. However, know that it does offer a convenient all-in-one repository designed to work within your existing DevOps toolchain and processes. Perhaps more importantly, you can begin to consider where to start making improvements now that you have this visibility.
Discoordination and opaqueness can be frustrating. The only way to overcome this is to put all your work together into one repository. Using a release management tool like Digital.ai Release, it can be possible to soothe your frustrations, ease persistent pain points, and work towards a more efficient process. Through these gains, you can begin coordinating all efforts towards consistent value creation.
Learn more about Digital.ai Release and how to build your own improved end-to-end DevOps pipeline in our recent webinar: “Demystify the DevOps Landscape with the Periodic Table of DevOps Tools & DevOps Diagram Generator“