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Value Stream Mapping for Efficient DevSecOps: Optimizing Your Pipeline for Speed, Quality and Security

December 29, 2023

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Value Stream Mapping to achieve Speed, Quality, and Security

VSM is a technique that can be used to identify and eliminate waste in the software development process. It can help you to understand how work flows through your organization and where there are opportunities for improvement.

In the highly competitive world of banking and payments, delivering secure and reliable software isn’t just crucial – it’s the lifeblood of financial organizations. With rising threats and customer expectations, DevSecOps becomes the guardian angel, seamlessly weaving quality, security, performance, and monitoring into every stitch of your development process. But like navigating a complex financial transaction, achieving optimal performance in the DevSecOps pipeline requires a deep understanding of the activities within the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and where the bottlenecks are. This is where value stream mapping (VSM) can be helpful.

Introduction on Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

Value Stream Mapping is a powerful tool originating from Lean manufacturing that provides a holistic view of an entire process, highlighting areas of inefficiency, bottlenecks, and waste. It is a visual representation that helps organizations understand, analyze, and optimize their workflows to enhance efficiency and deliver more value to customers.

Value Stream Mapping in Context of DevSecOps

In the fast-paced world of DevSecOps, where development, security, and operations converge, understanding the end-to-end flow of processes is crucial. Value Stream Mapping becomes a strategic asset in this context, allowing teams to visualize and streamline the flow of work from idea generation through development, testing, deployment, and security integration. In the context of DevSecOps, VSM allows you to:

  • Visualize the entire SDLC:This comprehensively explains how work flows from ideation to delivery and deployment.
  • Identify bottlenecks and waste:By analyzing the time spent in each step of the process, you can identify areas where work is blocked or slowed down.
  • Measure performance:VSM helps you track key metrics like lead time, cycle time, and deployment frequency, allowing you to measure the effectiveness of your DevSecOps practices.
  • Prioritize improvement efforts:By focusing on the most critical bottlenecks and waste, you can maximize the impact of your efforts to improve your DevSecOps pipeline.

Applying VSM to Your DevSecOps Practice

Here’s a five-step process to follow for successful VSM implementation in your DevSecOps journey:

  • Identify the Value Stream Scope:

Define the boundaries of your DevSecOps process. Start from the moment the developer checks in the code for any feature and trace it through the entire build, deploy, test, security, and operations lifecycle until it gets deployed to Production

  • Assemble a Cross-Functional Team:

Include representatives from development, quality, security, operations, and any other relevant stakeholder teams in the meetings. Cross-functional collaboration ensures a comprehensive understanding of the entire value stream and helps in capturing all necessary details.

  • Current State Mapping:

Create a visual representation of the existing value stream, including all the activities, handoffs, and dependencies. Document stage times, wait times, and additional details about people, processes, and technology.

  • Identify Bottlenecks and Waste:

Analyze the map to identify bottlenecks, areas of excess wait time, and any redundant or unnecessary processes. Pinpoint where changes are required and evaluate their impact on the overall flow.

  • Future State Mapping:

Collaboratively design an optimized DevSecOps process. Identify opportunities for automation, enhance security integration, and streamline workflows to minimize lead times.

Example – Value Stream Map for DevSecOps

The below diagram shows the visual representation of the current state of VSM data as an example. As you can see there are three parameters captured for each of the activities identified in DevSecOps value stream. Let’s look at the definition of those parameters.

Stage Time – Actual time spent to perform the activity.

Wait Time – Sum of the time spent waiting before starting an activity or during performing the activity.

% Reject – Refers to % of rework that may be required for a given stage after moving to the next stage.

Adding total Stage Time and Wait Time provides the total Lead Time for the given Value Stream. Similarly, a team can define staggered future states based on what can be achieved immediately and in the long term. The future state VSM view will look like the above diagram, but it will have reduced target values for each of the above parameters, such as Stage Time, Wait Time, and % Reject.

Benefits

  • Enhanced Collaboration:

Value Stream Mapping fosters collaboration among different teams, breaking down silos and promoting shared responsibility for quality and security.

  • Identify Bottlenecks:

Value Stream Mapping helps teams identify bottlenecks and gives teams processes that need to be automated to improve the Lead time for products.

  • Faster Time to Market:

By identifying and eliminating bottlenecks, DevSecOps teams can significantly reduce lead times, enabling faster delivery of secure and high-quality software.

  • Improved Security Posture:

Visualizing security checkpoints within the value stream allows organizations to integrate security seamlessly, ensuring that it’s not a separate phase but an integral part of the entire process.

  • Continuous Improvement:

VSM is not a one-time activity. Regularly revisit and update the maps as your DevSecOps practices evolve. This ensures continuous improvement, adapting to changing requirements and technologies.

  • Cost Saving:

VSM ultimately leads to cost savings in lieu of the several benefits mentioned above.

In the high-stakes world of finance, where security and speed are paramount, Value Stream Mapping isn’t just a tool; it’s a compass. It helps navigate the complex DevSecOps journey, guiding teams towards delivering secure, frictionless software with laser focus. Leveraging Value Stream Mapping in the DevSecOps journey provides organizations with a clear roadmap to deliver and align development, quality, security, and operations teams towards a common goal, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Author:

Shriram Shete

Shriram Shete has over 20 years of experience executing strategic and technology-driven transformation programs, especially in the financial services sector. With a strong background in DevSecOps, Agile Methodologies, and Metric-Driven Practices, Shriram has successfully delivered large product and platform engineering programs while working with clients like Microsoft and FIS.

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