Building Microservices at MISO Energy

Building a sustainable, agile capability to continually produce high-quality technology.

Understanding Goals is Critical to Maximizing Overall Value

MISO Energy had a brand new team that needed to learn how to build microservices and leverage microservice architecture.

The company had a disparate group of newly-hired engineers with minimal background in agile. And, their task was to develop an architecture framework that they had never used before.

“We knew that we needed to advance our capabilities quickly. Our traditional method of training, seminars, books, and articles provides a great foundation but it’s slow and you can’t evaluate if you’re on an appropriate path until something is obviously wrong,” explains Dan Ahrens, Enterprise Architect at MISO Energy.

“We wanted to bring in experienced experts that could guide us through the process, but made sure our team was part of the discussion. This helped build our knowledge base and gain confidence in our decision-making until we could run with it on our own.”

Goal Prioritization Leads to Success

Make sure that you have a clear prioritization as to the goals of the transformation and what you are willing to trade-off in order to meet them. Have them documented, agreed upon by stakeholders, and well-communicated to your organization.”

Dan Ahrens, Enterprise Architect, MISO Energy

Measures of Success

Theorem worked closely with Ahren’s team, conducting a discovery phase to find and outline the right goals. We knew we needed to train the developers, but we needed a way to measure progress. Ultimately, we identified 10 goals for the program.

Theorem also put in place a learning maturity model to measure their growth and help the team deploy software faster. Together, we outlined measures to define how long development takes, how to define quality, and how to evaluate security.

The program took six months, with our teams working side-by-side. We completed co-source delivery, software pairing, and peer programming — all with the end goal of embedding an agile development process.

“The team progressed faster and further up our maturity measure than we expected in the available time frame,” says Ahrens.

What We Achieved Together

Team Enablement

Achievement:

Improved confidence in target skills

Impact:

MISO ream members  enabled to spread knowledge about Microservices & Continuous Delivery concepts with other teams within their organization.

Greater Usage of Automated Deployment

Achievement:

Significant reduction in manual steps and time to deploy

Impact:

  • Eliminates risk of human error

  • Reduces turnaround time in deploying critical fixes

Ease of Compliance & Change Management

Achievement:

  • Required code reviews before merge to master

  • Deployment triggered from master merge only (gitops)

  • Infrastructure-as-code

Impact:

  • Compliance with SoD requirements

  • Deployment audit history

  • Documented history of infrastructure changes and state

Improved Quality

Achievement:

  • Greater test coverage

  • Fully automated testing

  • Added integration & service tests

Impact:

  • Decrease in bugs deployed to production

  • Deployment audit history

  • Documented history of infrastructure changes and state

Organizational Change, Agility

Achievement:

  • Smaller & more frequent deploys

  • Improved program reporting

Impact:

  • Deploying smaller units of code decreases risk

  • Goal oriented program reporting focuses on business value & outcomes over activities

Improved Reliability

Achievement:

Fully documented test scenarios to prove that the distributed system behaves as expected in the presence of faults

Impact:

  • Increased confidence

  • Reduce troubleshooting time by increasing failure knowledge base

Sustainable Innovation

The partnership resulted in success for both Theorem and MISO, thanks largely to the vision of Dan Ahrens as an internal advocate. He pushed to resource the project because he saw the importance of cultivating this internal capability. The company had software that needed to be built with high stakes attached. But, to make sure it was done right, he prioritized the agile transformation.

“Make sure that you have a clear prioritization as to the goals of the transformation and what you are willing to trade-off in order to meet them,” advises Ahrens. “Have them documented, agreed upon by stakeholders, and well-communicated to your organization.”

Now, MISO Energy has a sustainable agile capability that continually produces high-performance software.

You probably want to know:

  • How long did this project take?
  • How much did it cost?
  • How big was the team?
  • When can you start on my project?

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