5 Secrets to Unlocking Continuous Delivery Cycles
Continuous delivery is ideal for every software development company. So, how can software businesses achieve continuous delivery cycles in their own development process? This article covers everything you need to know about continuous delivery for software products.
What Is a Software Delivery Cycle?
A software delivery cycle is a series of steps that an organization follows to build and launch a software product to market. The term “software delivery” refers to the complete process of building and releasing a software product. The software delivery pipeline starts with brainstorming and roadmapping the project, continues through the development process, and ends when the software is purchased and installed on the user’s device.
How to Accelerate Software Delivery Cycles
One critical metric for software development is “cycle time,” which assesses how quickly development operations teams can release a new software feature or complete a new task. According to a Google Cloud study, the most elite DevOps continuous delivery teams have a cycle time of less than a day, while the slowest teams can take one to six months. In this section, we’ll give four suggestions for improving your team’s cycle time.
1. Using sprint cycles
Sprint cycles are a software development technique commonly used in the agile and Scrum methodologies in which larger projects are broken down into smaller tasks called “sprints.” Each sprint cycle typically lasts two to four weeks, giving developers a shorter timeframe to complete specific goals.
During a sprint cycle, team members can concentrate on a particular objective without distractions, letting them finish their work more quickly and efficiently. Sprint cycles also give development teams the flexibility to adjust their plans on an ad hoc basis based on changing requirements and user feedback.
2. Automating processes
The right automation build tools can drastically accelerate software development and delivery. Repetitive manual tasks, such as software testing and code reviews, can be largely or fully automated, saving a great deal of time in the long run.
Automating software delivery processes helps make them more consistent and removes the possibility of human error from the equation. Build automation tools, such as Katalon, Kobiton, Maven, Bamboo, Jenkins, and Travis CI, can help organizations test, debug, build, and deploy software more quickly and to a higher quality standard.
3. Implementing continuous integration
Continuous integration (CI) is one of the best practices for software delivery. Development teams that practice continuous integration frequently commit their changes to the code base to a centralized repository. This provides visibility to the entire team, helping catch potential issues before the software is deployed to production.
The term CI/CD refers to the combined practices of continuous integration and continuous delivery. Teams that practice CI/CD perform continuous integration and deliver changes to the software as soon as they have been developed, automating the delivery pipeline.
Less frequently, the CI/CD acronym refers to “continuous integration and continuous deployment.” Continuous deployment goes a step further than continuous delivery, releasing any software version that passes the team’s suite of automated tests to the public. Whether you use continuous integration/continuous delivery or continuous integration/continuous deployment, implementing a CI/CD pipeline can help dramatically speed up the delivery process.
4. Having the right tools and expectations
Software development teams can significantly speed up their work by having access to the right tools:
- Version control: Obviously, some form of version control system is a must because it helps developers roll back changes to the software or work on alternate versions without stepping on each other’s toes.
- CI/CD tools: Teams that practice CI/CD also need to use continuous integration tools (such as GitLab CI, CircleCI, and Travis CI) and continuous delivery tools (such as Semaphore, Buddy, and Wercker).
- Communication tools: Platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams help development team members coordinate activities and share information during sprints.
Everyone involved in the software delivery process—from the project manager and developers to key stakeholders and end users—should have their expectations aligned throughout the initiative. The best practices here include:
- Getting key stakeholders involved early on in the project to avoid the risk of last-minute surprises or muddled communication.
- Providing enough space in the project’s timeline and budget to account for unplanned bottlenecks or problems.
- Ensuring that everyone on the project understands their roles, responsibilities, and obligations.
5 Best Practices for Successful Software Delivery Management
Effective software delivery management requires implementing a number of industry best practices. Below, we’ll go over five tips to help you streamline your software deployment pipeline while releasing high-quality, user-friendly software.
1. Understand that expertise matters
The more experience a software team has deploying to production, the faster they can repeat this process in the future. This team should include members with a wide range of backgrounds, from software engineers and project managers to QA and testing professionals. Make sure your software delivery team includes people with the right competencies and experience with the tech stacks needed for your project (e.g., continuous integration and continuous delivery tools).
2. Ensure alignment on business goals
Setting clear expectations upfront for your next software project is critical to its success. Before getting started, you should have a solid understanding of the project’s goals and budget. You also need a plan for how to allocate the people and resources at your command. The faster you define the project’s conditions, the faster you can get started and get things moving.
3. Have a realistic (yet adaptable) timeline
Even the most well-defined plans for software development can run into obstacles and challenges along the way. It’s important for teams to set realistic goals and timelines for their continuous delivery, providing some wiggle room in case they encounter bumps in the road. Having an open and flexible mindset will save you from getting discouraged.
4. Test in all ways possible
Before reaching the production environment, software must be thoroughly tested to ensure it meets quality standards and doesn’t have any bugs, errors, or unexpected behavior. You can use various techniques during the build/test/deploy cycle—both automated and manual tests and even AI and machine learning. Having the right testing tools available (for unit tests, integration tests, performance tests, and more) is also crucial.
5. Get in front of competitors (without sacrificing quality)
Getting to market quickly is essential to gain a competitive advantage over your rivals. However, the time you save by moving quickly isn’t worth it if you end up releasing a defective product. Make sure that you work out the kinks and bugs in your software before introducing it to end users—otherwise, it’s not worth the effort of bringing it to the market in the first place.
How KMS Can Help with Software Delivery Management
If your development team needs assistance with software delivery management, the good news is that there’s no shortage of partners who can help—so how do you pick the right one? It’s an excellent idea to join forces with a skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced partner like KMS Technology.
KMS’ team of delivery management experts —from developers and testers to Scrum masters and technologists—has over 13 years of experience helping businesses achieve their software product goals. We are available on-demand to help ramp up development teams on an as-needed basis with our software development services.
From ideation and development to testing and long-term maintenance, KMS’s software delivery management experts can offer support at every step of the way. With the help of KMS, you can rest easy knowing that your product is in good hands for the entire software development life cycle.
Want to learn more about how KMS can help with software delivery management? Check out this case study on how we helped a restaurant management platform implement a CI/CD pipeline, accelerating the software release process and simplifying production support and maintenance. You can also get in touch with us today for a chat about your business needs and objectives.