DevOps Roundtable September – Recap!

At Mindset we think that directly hearing and observing user interactions with technology systems is one of the best ways to understand problems and design ...

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At Mindset we think that directly hearing and observing user interactions with technology systems is one of the best ways to understand problems and design solutions that provide great experiences. Relatedly, while it can be helpful to hear from experts on topics like DevOps, it is often best to learn directly from other practitioners operating in organizations of all levels of maturity. This belief is what led us to start our DevOps Roundtable events, where practitioners can meet and share learnings and questions directly.

On Friday September 25th, we hosted our 3rd DevOps roundtable discussion, focused on discussion of methodology for SAP organizations. I think this was probably our best DevOps day yet based on number of participants (nearly 50) and diversity of viewpoints directly engaged in discussion. Our goal with the DevOps Roundtable conversations is for them to be a place where practitioners feel comfortable with sharing both the good and the bad because our focus is on helping each other. So, while the DevOps Roundtable discussions are not recorded and we don’t share participant lists in order to help create this sort of feeling, we can summarize some of the topics of conversation and share some aggregate poll results that are pretty interesting.

Figure 1 – Does your organization use an agile approach for SAP development teams

The discussion began with a focus on agile methodology, and we quickly heard, and saw through polls, that most organizations are using some form of agile, and those that are using agile are usually using some variation of Scrum (Figure 1). This aligns with our experience at Mindset (we use Scrum as well), and is fairly unsurprising.

Figure 2 – How successful do you think agile adoption has been in your organization?

What may be a little surprising given the wide adoption, is that the actual success of adoption has been relatively mixed (Figure 2). Participants described a large number of growing pains with regards to agile adoption, and I’ll note that this is an area that has been throughly explored by agile proponents. Some of the pain points described:

  • Project management organizations being unable or unwilling to adopt agile methods
  • Challenges with breaking down larger projects
  • Change contention because development objects are locked in transport
  • Maintaining consistent teams is difficult because of the variety of skills required in SAP implementation projects

Of course, to go along with the sharing of difficulties, we had a good amount of sharing solutions and approaches. In the 2nd half of the discussion, the topic moved (as directed by another poll) to direct discussion of managing the transition from more traditional project management approaches to an agile approach. Many of techniques discussed were admonitions that many of us have heard before, but seasoned with real experience in tackling these problems. Some of the concepts included: splitting off change into manageable chunks, bottom-up change with top-down support, a focus on instilling agile practices like breaking down work, and implementing technology and process change with a focus on reducing time-in-flight for changes. Not everyone agreed, and it was clear that different approaches will work better in different organizations, but the focus and camaraderie around the goal of getting to an agile approach were good to hear.

Figure 3 – As an individual, how positive is your experience of agile?

A poll we did early in the discussion addressed the issue of individual experience of agile (Figure 3). Given that organizational adoption stories showed struggles with some negative experiences, it was good to see that individual experience of agile was almost exclusively positive or neutral. Both members of and managers of agile teams spoke positively about the experience of participating in agile organizations and teams, despite the challenges at the organizational level.

This was interesting for us at Mindset. One of the topics that we work on as part of our practice is not just the user experience of software on SAP systems, but also the experience of developing this software. That focus is one of the reasons that we run an agile process at Mindset, and it’s nice to see that we’re not alone in feeling that way about agile development approaches.

We’re very pleased that so many people could attend our latest DevOps Roundtable, and would like to thank the attendees for coming and sharing their stories. I’d also like to thank Amy Lund for her hard work in organizing this and other great Mindset events. We’ll be posting soon with information about the next DevOps Roundtable as well as similar events on other topics.

Is there a topic you’d like to discuss with other SAP practitioners? Let us know!

Registration Open for the next DevOps Round Table HERE

Ethan Jewett

Ethan Jewett

Ethan Jewett is an experienced and innovative SAP developer and technical architect. He is focused on improving development practices and developer capabilities in organizations he works with, while delivering successful projects and just plain being nice. Ethan is an SAP Mentor and recognized expert in the SAP ecosystem. He writes on SearchSAP, the Mindset blog, and elsewhere, and speaks at SAP and non-SAP conferences.

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