How To Improve Software Development Efficiency?
Software development is expensive. You can decrease costs and meet your deadlines by...
A valuable skill many want to acquire and that gets you more money and time. In fact, it will even transform your company culture into a more relaxed, modern and data-driven way. How do you achieve these amazing benefits?
If you were hoping to find a special trick or habit, you’re in bad luck. Tricks and habits only take you so far. But I offer you something better. What if there was a method that could improve the software development efficiency of your entire team?
I am talking about automating your software development process. This is called Continuous Delivery. Let’s start with its definition.
What Is Continuous Delivery 3.0?
Instead of doing tedious and expensive manual work, Continuous Delivery supports software-developers through automation. When a new feature is finished, you trigger your Continuous Delivery pipeline, it validates whether everything is working and if so releases your newly developed feature. All of this happens in a couple of minutes.
A Continuous Delivery pipeline is arguably the most important asset of a software company. For them, if they have not integrated it into their software development process, they fail to keep up with the pace of their competition, and if they fail, they go broke. And the impact of Continuous Delivery reaches even further.
This isn’t just about your company’s survival. Your company adds safety, challenge and excitement to the life of its valuable employees. These values are most felt when there is less stress - when your software development pipeline flows gently and isn’t stuffed.
So you may be thinking, “We are already using Scrum and other techniques, how is this different?”. Well to be honest. They aren’t even comparable…
Scrum is simply a planning method and can be implemented quickly. Continuous Delivery on the other hand is hard and could take months, even years, to implement into your software development process.
Don’t be discouraged, we will support you in this process. First we’ll start with the basics…
The Basic Components Of Continuous Delivery
One of the biggest hurdles of implementing your Continuous Delivery pipeline is the first step. Once you’ve got an automated pipeline going, you won’t be able to stop improving. I am going to help you with this difficult first step.
The first step in your Continuous Delivery pipeline is to automatically build newly developed software. You trigger this event with the help of your version control system the moment you push a new commit to your server.
You may be wondering, why is this step so tough?
You are right, Continuous Integration is easy… when you have a modern application. Many companies simply do not have version control systems, the latest platforms and the knowledge to solve these problems.
For them this first step is incredibly demotivating, yet I have seen with my own eyes how passing this hurdle can spark an unstoppable enthusiasm. Even these companies can proceed to the next step and so can you.
The second step takes away a huge chunk of your development cycle. After its implementation, the tedious work of manually testing your software belongs to the past.
Instead you are going to write automated tests. This has three clear benefits:
You get immediate feedback.
You can be 100% sure this feedback is correct.
You safe time in the long run.
In my experience companies get stuck here. The hurdle of having no experience with automated testing and an application with 5.000.000 lines of code is too tough. They say: “If we could start over, we’d do it differently”.
From that point on, driven by their enthusiasm, they start new projects with Continuous Testing in mind. This way, while time passes, an increasingly bigger percentage of their code base is tested automatically. When you implement Continuous Testing successfully, you are ready for the next stage.
Now that you can be 100% certain that your new feature is working, you are ready to exploit this. Continuous Deployment does this by automatically deploying your feature to your production environment. At this stage, you are probably miles ahead of your competition.
Imagine what your company culture would look like. No more weekends solving crucial bugs and production environments. No more tedious manual tests. No more stress in your development process.
Instead you’ll release your new feature just 10 minutes after you pushed your commit. You’ll have time to learn and develop new skills and you’ll go to bed knowing that everything works fine.
How do you know whether a bug didn’t sneak through your Continuous Testing stage?
To the rescue. This last safety net revolves around gathering data and monitoring. The things that will help you detect bugs and problems, but also new opportunities and ways to improve.
If you detect that your application isn’t behaving like it should, you can reverse the released feature using your version control system and alert the the developer of this feature.
Continuous Intelligence bridges the gap between the past and the future. It finishes your automated software development process and generates data-driven ideas for future features. Wouldn’t it be great if you could use this data to automatically alter and prioritize your backlog?
This process belongs to the Continuous Planning and Continuous Improvement stages, which are out of scope for now, but certainly interesting.
Continuous Delivery is a powerful way to develop features faster. When you are developing your Continuous Delivery pipeline, remember that the first steps are difficult and that you should not give up.
If you are wondering how well your company has implemented Continuous Delivery, I suggest you take a look at this Continuous Delivery Maturity Model we have developed in collaboration with Utrecht University and NISI. It will tell you where you stand today, what you can improve on and how you can reach that goal.
If you are ready to learn more about Continuous Delivery in general, click right here.
Ready to take action and build your own pipeline? We offer a Continuous Delivery Course that guides you through this process using real-life implementations and experiences from experts in this field.