Getting Started With Your Software Delivery System Modernization Project

Getting Started With Your Software Delivery System Modernization Project

Overview: As with any large project, deciding where to start building your new software delivery system (SDS) can be a task unto itself. In Chapter 4 of Building a Better Software Delivery Platform, DevOps architect Rick Slade explains how starting with proper tooling, the adoption of Agile practices, and the building of an SDS team can help ensure that your project is successful.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had to tackle some large projects around my house. One involved a tree that was threatening some power lines. I called the power company and they took the tree down. But left it in a large pile of thick logs and intertwining branches.
Before doing anything, I surveyed the situation and tried to come up with a plan. There were several quite large pieces of the trunk, laying off to the left. Should I start with those? The sections from higher in the tree had many smaller branches growing off of them – maybe I should start by clearing off the small stuff? The city would pick up bunches of branches up to 2″ in diameter. Maybe I should start bundling those, first?
After simply staring for a while at what promised to be a large task, I decided to get started with the large sections of trunk. Then I abandoned that approach and started with the smaller sticks. Then abandoned that… Eventually, I came to the conclusion that just getting started, clearing one area, seeing which approach (or a combination of them) worked best, and then adjusting my strategy to changing circumstances was the best way to tackle the project.
It’s experiences like that have shaped my thinking as I’ve talked, and listened, to Rick Slade through the first four episodes of the Building a Better Software Delivery Platform podcast. The implementation of new tooling, new processes, and even a new mindset are enormous tasks, so the burning question for me has been, “Where do you start?”

It is exactly this topic which Rick tackles in Chapter 4 of the podcast, the appropriately titled, “Getting Started With Your Software Delivery System Modernization Project.” Rick points out that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Where you begin, and how you begin, depend on your organization and your overall plan, but he points out some crucial first steps, such as implementing new tooling, adopting Agile practices, and educating stakeholders.

Rick goes on to discuss the naming of an executive sponsor and product owner, as well as the building of an SDS team that will define the new SDS and help implement it across the organization. This implementation, he stresses, should be iterative. Agile principles should be applied to the building and deployment of the new SDS, just as they would be to the products of that SDS. As he says,

By executing work in smaller increments and smaller batches, you can minimize the amount of effort required to make changes that were the result of… a false start, or a misunderstood requirement.

Just as with my tree removal, tackling the implementation of a new SDS as one huge job can complicate and delay the outcome. Starting with one area and learning which practices help or hinder you, then applying that knowledge to further work, is vital to the evolution of a modern SDS.

To listen to Chapter 4 and the other episodes in the series, visit You’ll also find recordings of our weekly Q&A session, Office Hour with Rick Slade, and a calendar reminder for the next live Q&A, Friday, June 5, at 11 AM EDT. Also, be sure to check out Chapter 5 for Rick’s discussion with Compuware ISPW Product Owner Mark Schettenhelm on the value of software configuration management.