February 2, 2016

Agile Development in Government Training Workshop VI: DevOps – Taking Agility in Government to a New Level

Written by Ron Peterson

Although our headline says Workshop VI, this is actually our seventh engagement with Art Chantker’s Potomac Forum on Agile in Government.  I love being part of these workshops on so many levels.  The historical Willard is so elegant and Art is a gracious host.  But the real value of the Potomac Forum Agile workshops is the in-depth expert knowledge provided by the trainers, guest speakers, panelist and interactive audiences in attendance.  For this latest workshop our instructors were David Patton, Government Practice Director, and Ashok Komaragiri, Senior Technical Consultant, both from CC Pace.  Our keynote speaker and panelists included senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  A very diverse audience included some people from industry and government representatives from NIH, National Science Foundation, Department of Agriculture, Library of Congress, Social Security Administration, FDIC, and other Federal agencies.

We kicked off our 2016 series with the topic DevOps – Taking Agility in Government to the Next Level.   Now that more and more agencies are starting to employ some Agile principles and seeing good results, the concept of better integrating the development teams with the operations teams is starting to garner more interest. David Patton took us through the basic precepts of DevOps, and painted a clear value proposition for considering this approach.  He helped the attendees to understand that both DevOps and Continuous Delivery are part of Lean Thinking, which has its roots in the manufacturing industry, and which has long been recognized as essential for process efficiency improvements.

Our keynote speaker posed the question that our government attendees were anxious to hear the answer to – Can DevOps Work Here?  His agency is proving that it can, with a combination of specific Lean-Agile practices combined with innovative procurement methods for facilitating the acquisition of the necessary resources to make it work “here” – in government.

An intriguing all-graphics presentation was the delivery approach of one of our other senior government officials.  In speaking about Lean-Agile architecture she highlighted the importance of keeping it simple, emergent, modular and loosely coupled.  This approach builds the framework for changes that we know will come.  She also emphasized the importance of using seasoned coaches for knowledge transfer as a key part of the successful implementation of these concepts.

After our working lunch David Patton facilitated our government panel of experts on how they are making DevOps work in their respective agencies.  He then continued with a presentation on the Lean concept for managing the flow of work and identifying bottlenecks and constraints in processes known as Kanban.  Finally, Ashok Komaragiri, Senior Technical Consultant for CC Pace, took us through a DevOps roadmap in his presentation A Guide to Your DevOps Journey.  He encouraged the attendees who want to begin adopting DevOps practices to break knowledge silos, integrate code continuously, and automate deployments as much as possible.

Reviews of the workshop coming in from government attendees have been outstanding.  One government official said that it was “One of the most informative training workshops I have attended”. If you haven’t attended on of these Agile in Government workshops, you should.

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