Agro-Invest Streamlines Its Development Processes Using the Cloud-Based Azure DevOps Platform

Business situation

The Managing Agro-Invest Company, LLC. is engaged in the agriculture development in the Russian Black Earth Belt. Its head office is located in Voronezh, while its production units are scattered around Voronezh, Kursk, Lipetsk and Tambov Regions. The customer employs more than 2,000 employees.

The customer was to organize the workflows of its IT services and to extend the functionality of the existent ERP system. The development operations achieved a high complexity level, although some backlogs were evidently available within the processes of arrangements related to accomplishing the tasks set. The IT experts needed accurate operations planning and reasonable prioritisation to tune a transparent working process and to provide the business customers with objective forecasts linked to the new functionality commissioning.

Yet another vital issue was that a lot of the specialists’ time was consumed by a routine work, such as release preparation, quality checks and testing, because of which the IT service recorded a large amount of engineering ‘arrearage,‘ i.e. products that have already been integrated, but were still in process of correction and fine-tuning as they were operated. Besides, the communication efficiency feature was in need of enhancement, when working on joint projects, because the sub-division has a territorially distributed structure.

In order to manage projects and organize the internal IT service operations, the customer chose to switch over to using the Scrum flexible development methodology and then put in focus the DevOps practices, which enable minimising the routine processes and accelerating the application and service development.

The Solution

To meet the objectives, the Agro-Invest company has opted for the Azure DevOps cloud service (referred to previously as the Visual Studio Team Services), which represents a modern toolkit that ensures a more efficient development planning and monitoring process, improved joint collaboration and a speedy new product delivery. The Microsoft service is perfectly integrable with the customer's IT infrastructure, which already uses in its operations the Active Directory and the Office 365 cloud applications, thus adding up a convenience feature to the IT service staff work. Besides, the resources are channelled largely to the development of the key business system, i.e. the 1С; the DevOps enables automating the tasks related to configuration fine-tuning. The customer’s specialists have decided that the service is the best value-for-money offer present in a public cloud.

With the goal in mind, the IT team has made use of 5 free-of-charge Azure DevOps licenses. Following a successful experience of using the DevOps tools, a decision was made to scale up the subscription to all the IT service processes. As the project was rolling out, the customer turned for consultations to Softline, which has a rich expertise to share and is a global Microsoft partner. Due to a full-scale utilisation of the DevOps features, the Agro-Invest company has improved its management of the processes related to accomplishing the development tasks and speeded up application or service releases and updates.

The Results

“In our opinion, upon the DevOps integration with the IT team operations, its performance has become more orderly. Thanks to the cloud-based tools, the tasks have been organized, a transparent monitoring system has been put in place, the priorities set and the engineering ‘arrearage’ visibly reduced. The planning work has become much more efficient with many issues or challenges removed a priori, before a task has been admitted for development. It fences us off from unneeded operations or subsequent redoes or fine-tuning work; and our business customers achieve the result faster, which meets their expectations and requirements. We have tuned a clearly defined process-based approach, which would result on a mid-term horizon in a larger amount of work conducted within a time unit and with a better quality; and now we are in the process of working out the procedures and there is our hope that in no time at all we shall reach the conveyer belt-type kind of smooth business operations,” said Andrei G. Skripchenko, CIO, Agro-Invest.

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