Question – what has a furniture factory and an IT change delivery function got in common? Actually quite a lot!

Halfway up a mountain on a walking holiday a few years ago, I was comparing notes with my brother, who ran a furniture factory whilst I ran an IT change delivery function. We realised that our challenges were remarkably similar – prioritisation, managing demand and supply, reducing time to market etc, and he pointed me towards Eliyahu Goldratt’s book “The Goal”. Goldratt elegantly describes the Theory of Constraints, and how to make a “factory” run much better. Put simply:

“Every process has a constraint (bottleneck) and focusing improvement efforts on that constraint is the fastest and most effective path to improved profitability”

Change Delivery functions can also be thought of as a factory, with “goods in” being processed by a finite capacity, delivering a portfolio of value-added products out the other end. So what are the typical constraints?

  • Developers – the number of “warm bodies” available to code a particular system (or component)
  • Test – typically a trade-off between scope/quality; most easily addressed through automation and/or a continuous integration approach
  • Subject Matter Experts – a frighteningly common constraining factor (how many “single points of failure” resources do you have?), and typically ignored
  • Environments – where cloud hasn’t yet been adopted, developers and testers are often constrained by a finite number of places to test.

Where are your bottlenecks? How would you eliminate them?

Find out more by reading more about getting real value from Agile DevOps

POSTED BY: David Knappett - Consulting Director


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