July 6, 2016

The Small Batches Principle

Reducing waste, encouraging experimentation, and making everyone happy

Q: What do DevOps people mean when they talk about small batches?

A: To answer that, let's take a look at an unpublished chapter from the upcoming book The Practice of System and Network Administration, third edition, due out in October 2016.

One of the themes you will see in this book is the small batches principle: it is better to do work in small batches than big leaps. Small batches permit us to deliver results faster, with higher quality and less stress.

We begin with an example that has nothing to do with system administration in order to demonstrate the general idea. Then we focus on three IT-specific examples to show how the method applies and the benefits that follow.

The small batches principle is part of the DevOps methodology. It comes from the lean manufacturing movement, which is often called just-in-time manufacturing. It can be applied to just about any kind of process. It also enables the MVP (minimum viable product) methodology, which involves launching a small version of a service to get early feedback that informs the decisions made later in the project.

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