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Lean methodology: 3 principles for a winning cloud strategy

Use lean methodology to reap the benefits of cloud computing, boost business strategies, and make the most of cloud infrastructure and cloud technologies.

Dec 19, 2023 • 3 Minute Read

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  • Cloud
  • Software Development
  • Engineering Leadership
  • Business

Layoffs, budget cuts, and new work policies have left many feeling discouraged and anxious. Despite these obstacles, there’s hope in the cloud.

Faye Ellis, Pluralsight Principal Training Architect, and Drew Firment, Pluralsight Chief Cloud Strategist, explain how organizations can use lean methodology to build a successful cloud strategy and maximize cloud tech value amidst economic uncertainty. 

Explore the Pluralsight cloud transformation strategy guide.

Table of contents

How economic headwinds are impacting cloud strategy

According to our 2023 State of the Cloud report, 43% of organizations have experienced a layoff in the past year. These tough decisions frighten many workers and create additional stress for organizations.

As Drew shared, though, these hard decisions will ultimately pave the way for future success with cloud infrastructure. Here’s why: Implementing lean methodology practices will protect resources, motivate you to get granular about your processes, and refine business strategies and flows. 

What is lean methodology?

Simply put, lean methodology is an approach to business that focuses on eliminating waste within processes and operations to deliver greater value to customers. Lean methodology also focuses on continual improvement by identifying opportunities to streamline work and improve the speed and quality of value delivery. 

There are seven principles of lean methodology:

  1. Understand your process and eliminate waste

  2. Build quality in

  3. Create knowledge

  4. Defer commitment

  5. Deliver fast

  6. Respect people

  7. Optimize the whole

While each principle plays an important role in lean methodology, Faye and Drew discussed the first three principles in the context of cloud computing: understanding your processes and eliminating waste, building quality in, and creating shared knowledge.

Using lean methodology to maximize cloud benefits

We’re going to dive deep into the three principles of lean methodology that will help you optimize your cloud computing strategy for smaller teams.

Understand your cloud computing processes and eliminate waste

Waste isn’t just about cost optimization. You can also eliminate waste through automation. “Understand your flow of delivery and automate your flow as much as you can,” advised Faye. “Embrace cloud formation, like Terraform, and other resources to build and take down infrastructure.” 

However, Faye also warned you can create waste with cloud computing if you aren’t careful. When organizations don’t properly understand cloud solutions and their underlying principles, the tools can become hazards.

To adopt lean methodology successfully, organizations need to understand their costs and excess capacity while identifying areas to increase profitability. Data storage and capacity reservations are often good starting points. 

Drew explained, “[We need to get] back to the basic principles of cloud computing if we are going to start delivering on the ROI.”

If you’re looking for examples of lean operations in the real world, Faye recommended the book The Phoenix Project.

Build quality into cloud tech with chaos engineering

Building in quality is different from building on an assembly line and looking for quality. Instead, teams should perform quality testing continually so cloud engineers can test locally before pushing a product out or releasing a new feature.

One way to build quality into cloud infrastructure is through chaos engineering. Chaos engineering means deliberately causing infrastructural chaos to simulate real-life issues. This helps you identify areas for improvement and train your team to prepare for anything that comes their way. 

Chaos engineering is also useful for testing and improving your nonfunctional requirements, like reliability, effectiveness, security, and overall value to the customer. However, many organizations don’t have clearly defined processes and policies, which makes it difficult for engineers to identify these nonfunctional requirements.

Engineers need a broad understanding of their role and a single source of truth, or a system of shared knowledge, to build quality into your products and reap the benefits of cloud computing.

Make shared knowledge part of your cloud strategy

As organizations become leaner, it’s even more important they share knowledge among teams. Faye explained that when teams make new discoveries and learn new cloud solutions, they should share that knowledge with other teams, too. 

She recommends teams:

  • Build in feedback loops

  • Create cloud communities of practice

  • Introduce a mentoring program

  • Conduct peer reviews

  • Facilitate lunch and learns for team members

  • Hold retrospectives and daily standups

Drive ROI with cloud computing

Even when facing economic headwinds, organizations can drive ROI with cloud computing—so long as they adopt lean methodology and invest in their workers. Incentivizing teams to learn cloud skills, providing hands-on learning opportunities, and encouraging them to share what they learn are just a few ways to get started.

“We need to think about the new technologies that will help us succeed over the next three to five years and invest in teaching that. Those are the technologies we want to be fostering on our tech teams,” said Faye.

Want more insights from Faye, Drew, and other cloud experts? Check out the Pluralsight cloud transformation strategy guide

Pluralsight Content Team

Pluralsight C.

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