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  • Post published:24/04/2022
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Flow Modeling: How Work Moves Through the Enterprise

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DevOps teams are under rising pressure to deliver higher-quality software in less time and with fewer resources. This is no easy task any way you slice it. 

In order to succeed in today’s competitive, fast-paced market, your team needs to work intelligently and maximize resources. With this purpose in mind, it helps to have a centralized system in place for observing and managing daily workflows and communicating with team members. By doing so, you can help organize and improve operations while increasing output.  

In response, a growing number of DevOps managers are using flow modeling to streamline their production environments. Simply put, flow modeling can help keep software projects on track throughout the delivery process and improve visibility between managers and team members. What’s more, flow modeling also makes it easier to collaborate and develop software together as a team. 

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This post offers a primer on flow modeling and explores some ways it can help your company improve how it brings products to market. Keep reading to learn more about flow modeling, its benefits, and some of the KPIs you should track to make the most out of flow modeling. 

What Is Flow Modeling?

Flow modeling is the process of tracking and monitoring production workflows from end to end. The main objective of flow modeling is to remove complexity from the software production process.  

With flow modeling platforms, you can visualize your ever-changing production environments. At the same time, you are also able to collect and apply business intelligence to improve workflows and boost environment utilization. In short, flow modeling solutions take the guesswork out of managing software development.  

Flow modeling is also a fundamental part of value stream mapping, which involves outlining how you deliver value to customers. With flow modeling, you go a step further and track specific processes on a granular level to ensure every task is directly furthering the project and adding value.  

As such, flow modeling typically takes place within a value stream mapping platform. The mapping platform that you select should ideally contain smart dashboards that provide contextual data and insights about specific workflows, systems, and roles. It’s also critical to find a platform that provides real-time production updates so that you always have a clear and up-to-date overview of your department. 

The Benefits of Flow Modeling

As you can see, flow modeling serves as a central dashboard for DevOps. It’s a proven way to gain better control over your delivery performance and make better decisions at a faster clip. 

With all this in mind, here are some of the ways companies benefit by using flow modeling.  

Identify Bottlenecks

Production doesn’t always go according to plan. Bottlenecks can stem from a variety of issues, like outdated practices and procedures, legacy technologies, and a lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities. These types of inefficiencies drive up the time and cost of production. Making matters worse, it isn’t always easy to identify them.  

Without a comprehensive flow modeling plan in place, you are stuck using your judgment when it’s time to fix bottlenecks. On the other hand, flow modeling enables you to automate the process and quickly pinpoint where bottlenecks are occurring in the software delivery pipeline. After that, you can make impactful decisions using data to support your actions. 

To illustrate, you may notice that a project is running behind schedule and might need to request more developers from management to get things back on track. Using a flow model dashboard,  you can produce a report to highlight the problem and potentially make the case to hire more team members or pull workers from other projects to help. 

Plan More Accurately

Product managers need to have a clear understanding of available resources when they plan production schedules. The last thing you want to do is prioritize a development project only to discover that you lack the resources to pull off the job.  

With a flow model dashboard, you can easily assess your production environment and have an easier time planning sprints. Over time, your department will operate leaner and more efficiently. 

Integrate Intelligently 

IT managers are increasingly looking to break down barriers and bring developers closer together. For example, DevOps and security teams are now merging into DevSecOps functions across many organizations.  

However, when this happens, integration can pose its share of challenges. When your team integrates workflows, you need to be very careful about where, when, and how you make changes to avoid creating excess disruptions and delaying projects. Getting DevSecOps off the ground can take some time and require an adjustment or cultural shift.  

By offering direct visibility into production cycles, flow modeling makes it easier to implement DevSecOps and make timely decisions and strategic changes to workflows.  

Simplify Release Management 

Many managers are still using traditional spreadsheet-based release management workflows, which require manual creation, updates, and distribution. Unfortunately, the process is time-consuming, error-prone, and insecure. 

With a flow modeling dashboard in place, you can immediately gain a bird’s-eye view of all projects across your different value streams. This enables you to simplify the release management process considerably. 

Have a Single Source of Truth

Software production can be very chaotic, especially when large teams are involved. It becomes even harder when you have multiple disparate management spreadsheets and progress reports floating around. 

Flow modeling helps teams simplify operations by acting as a single, centralized source of truth. It can serve as the sole document for measuring and reporting progress, ensuring everyone is working off the same information.  

Top Flow KPIs for Flow Modeling

In order to maximize flow modeling, there are several key performance indicators you need to track on a daily basis. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top KPIs that you need to monitor across your overall production environment to get the results you’re hoping for. 

Lead Time 

Lead time runs from the time you commit code to the time you put it into production. By tracking lead time, you can determine what’s slowing down your workflows and take action from there. 

Mean Time to Repair

Meantime to repair refers to how long it takes to restore service during an unplanned disruption in the value stream. Common disruptions include power outages, cybersecurity incidents, and personnel shortages. The lower your mean time to repair, the better off you are. 

Deployment Frequency

Deployment frequency refers to how often you deploy code into production. This metric makes it easy to determine whether you’re shipping updates as quickly as you’d like to. 

Work Breakdown

Work breakdown is the value stream’s overall proportion of work item types. This helps you ensure projects stay on track and that everyone is equally responsible for tasks. 

Get the Total Picture of Your Value Chain With Plutora 

It’s survival of the fittest in the software industry today. As such, companies simply can’t afford to have inefficient production environments. 

Good news: By using a value stream management and flow modeling platform like Plutora, you can immediately identify issues that are slowing down your operations and discover the root cause of delays. Using this data, you can optimize product delivery and bring better products to market faster. 

Plutora streamlines production both immediately and over time. The platform analyzes your ongoing production habits and gives you the insights you need to spot trends and make informed decisions. Plutora’s dashboards can also work with your existing tools for easy access to current workflows. That being the case, you don’t need to worry about replacing any existing technologies. 

At the end of the day, DevOps management doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With the right modeling system in place, you and your team can have a much easier time collaborating and meeting deliverables. 
To experience how Plutora can help your team with flow modeling, take the platform for a spin.

Justin Reynolds

This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.

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