CI/CD diagrams are used to outline the processes involved in building, testing, and deploying each software iteration. If the CI/CD pipeline isn’t clearly defined, it can be difficult for an organization to evaluate and improve its CI/CD efforts. Creating a diagram is the first step toward optimizing your organization’s continuous delivery.
Without a clear picture of your pipeline, you may be missing critical areas of improvement. A modern CI/CD diagram can help you build a culture of DevOps and CI/CD mentality, reduce vulnerabilities, and streamline operations.
Build a Modern CI/CD Diagram
The CI/CD pipeline is based on the iterative process of Build, Test, and Deploy. All CI/CD diagrams will start with the same basic outline:
Each component of the CI/CD pipeline should fit into the Build, Test and Deploy phases. But this architecture must be customized to suit every organization.
For example, an organization’s test phase may include unit testing, integration testing, and performance testing. This expanded CI/CD diagram would appear as follows:
Likewise, the organization’s build strategy or deployment strategy may contain multiple steps: building a Docker image, code releases, and automated A/B testing. There are also offshoots from the pipeline for processes like incident response or manual review. The more developed your organization’s CI/CD diagram is, the more visibility you’ll have into your entire software development lifecycle.
You can also identify ways to shorten feedback loops through while retaining stability through CI/CD’s emphasis on automation and testing. Each iteration of the Build, Test and Deploy process increases the agility of the organization’s tech stack while still maintaining its stability.
CI/CD Diagrams and the Value Stream Mapping
CI/CD diagrams can do more than just help you understand your processes. They can help you understand your value stream. To understand how, let’s first define some key terms:
- Gartner defines the value stream as “the specific activities within a supply chain required to design, order and provide a specific product or service” and value stream mapping as “the process of charting out or visually displaying a value stream so that improvement activity can be effectively planned.” the process of mapping your organization's operations to gain a better understanding of time management, productivity, and efficiency.
- According to Forrester, value stream management is “a combination of people, process, and technology that maps, optimizes, visualizes, measures, and governs business value flow (including epics, stories, and work items) through heterogeneous enterprise software delivery pipelines.”
Because your CI/CD pipeline supports business-critical processes, you should include it in your value stream management strategy. Creating a diagram of your CI/CD process can help you identify where value is getting stuck. In turn, this empowers complex decision-making and continuous improvement.
This is a crucial process for organizations looking to improve their pipeline architecture. For example, if your teams initially constructed a pipeline ad-hoc, adding tools to cover functionalities as needed, your diagram will reveal sites of redundancy and waste. Once you reveal the sticking points of your CI/CD process, you can begin to make improvements.
Organizations can build their CI/CD diagram by outlining their existing processes, what tools and people support them, and how to align them with the DevOps framework. Once your organization has built its CI/CD diagram, you can use it to help locate vulnerabilities, streamline operations, and follow CI/CD best practices. Diagramming your existing CI/CD pipeline can also help transition your organization to a new technology stack.
Discover What To Automate Next with a CI/CD Diagram
CI/CD pipelines introduce automation and monitoring to speed up development, increase transparency throughout the delivery process, and swiftly mitigate any potentially disruptive events.
DevOps strategies require that an organization remains agile and reliable. The CI/CD diagram provides a framework to identify likely candidates for automation in your pipeline, such as testing and branching.
Reduce Vulnerabilities and Streamline Operations
It’s important to recognize that a CI/CD pipeline is part of a larger process, which involves other DevOps strategies and value stream management. As with your DevOps process as a whole, the CI/CD pipeline should continuously improve and evolve. Thus, the diagram is more accurately depicted as a continuous cycle.
Every iteration of the cycle is an opportunity to improve your processes. New tests are introduced to resolve new failure states. Tests that were previously run manually are automated. Teams implement new deployment strategies, A/B testing solutions, and disruption mitigation processes. Your CI/CD diagram can help you keep track of these improvements, prioritize correctly, and evaluate their impacts.
The diagram can also help you evaluate your security practices. To reduce vulnerabilities, organizations identify and analyze incidents as they occur and build them into the organization’s CI/CD process. To streamline operations, DevOps teams can shore up gaps and identify overlaps.
Get Help With Your CI/CD Pipeline
An organization’s CI/CD pipeline can become quite complex. There are multiple steps in every stage of the process, some manual and some automated. Once a CI/CD diagram has been drawn out, you can use value stream mapping and the theory of constraints to begin optimizing your processes, streamlining your technology stack, and fostering communication between stakeholders.
Nevertheless, optimizing your CI/CD pipeline is a critical step toward setting your organization up for success — and organizing your technology stack. Through your CI/CD diagram, you can isolate areas for improvement and automation to prepare your organization for the next step of its digital transformation.