What is continuous delivery? (With definition and benefits)
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Software companies ensure they satisfy their customers and address errors efficiently using various methods throughout the software development life cycle. One such method is continuous delivery, which is a deployment method that enables software companies to send out updates and fixes quickly and reliably. Understanding how to use the continuous delivery method can assist you in streamlining various business processes by helping you deploy valuable updates, create greater customer satisfaction and make work easier for developers. In this article, we look at what continuous delivery is, which companies use it, discuss its benefits and show you how to implement it.
What is continuous delivery?
Continuous delivery is a production method that software developers employ to ensure the swift release of software when customers need it. It involves building and releasing software and software updates in short cycles, meaning developers can deploy them at short notice. To deploy software means to make it available for public use. Companies use continuous delivery to optimise these deployments, making them routine, predictable, faster, reducing risk and lowering cost. While developers use this method to increase the speed of code changes, they strictly adhere to processes to avoid causing problems with code.
People often use the term continuous delivery synonymously with continuous deployment, but the methods differ significantly. While continuous delivery still relies on professionals manually deploying changes so that users can access updates and products, it automates the process of code alteration. Continuous deployment automates the deployment process, delivering changes directly to consumers. Software companies may use either or both methods to remain flexible and capable of meeting fluctuating business and market requirements.
Who uses continuous delivery?
Many professionals use this delivery strategy, including quality assurers (QAs), software developers, software engineers and testing and operations teams. Here's how each professional uses continuous delivery:
Software developers or engineers: These teams can build, test and release software more frequently through continuous delivery and send the code to the next phase of the process for evaluation.
QA teams: These teams may evaluate the developers' code to check for functionality and any errors that might require attention.
Testing or operations teams: These teams also look at the code before manually deploying the changes to make the update available for users on the market.
Project managers: These team leaders may use the continuous delivery method to increase the efficiency and speed at which their teams deliver software and updates.
Benefits of continuous delivery
Continuous delivery has many benefits both for developers and users of the software by offering an approach that:
Reduces errors: One of the main goals and benefits of using continuous delivery is minimising the risks associated with deliveries and ensuring companies can release them at any time, on short notice. Using short cycles helps businesses achieve this, reducing the chance of errors and enabling software experts to change direction and address problems quickly and flexibly.
Streamlines processes: Continuous delivery emphasises automation through various tools, allowing developers to focus on the end user's needs. Also, the consolidation of different, previously separate phases enables developers to produce products and deliver them to market much faster.
Ensures a higher-quality product: This method incorporates testing activities, such as performance, usability and security testing, into the delivery process instead of segregating the testing process into its own phase. This means developers are free to conduct testing throughout the process, ensuring quality is always a core focus.
Lowers costs: Investing in automation, speeding up delivery times and maximising efficiency means that implementing this method saves a lot of money for businesses. All software products require alterations over time, so having a method that automates much of this alteration process reduces much of the cost that accompanies deployment.
Increases job satisfaction: Besides businesses and consumers, developers can also benefit from this delivery method. Because it makes the delivery process much quicker, less complex and less stressful, teams can typically enjoy the changes, experiencing burnout less frequently.
Benefits the customer: Customers experience significant benefits when companies implement this initiative, enabling faster deployment of products, high-quality products and sometimes cheaper products. This form of delivery also enables businesses to perform A/B testing, which is a way to determine consumers' preferences using data.
Tips for implementing continuous delivery
Here are some tips for using continuous delivery effectively with your team:
It's advisable to implement continuous delivery on a relatively small project if it's your first time using it in a company. A small scope gives your team a chance to get used to the approach. It's essential for people to acclimatise to the fast-moving nature of the method, particularly those used to traditional workflows that move much slower. It's crucial to select projects strategically when implementing continuous delivery, supporting key business objectives when you align the two correctly
By selecting projects that directly impact business outcomes positively, teams can witness the effects of the method and understand its importance. This also demonstrates its power to senior management. Once your team understands the method fully, you can begin implementing it within high-consequence projects.
Besides clearly communicating the project goals to the relevant people, it's essential to make the required tools and resources available to staff when implementing this approach. Tools include automated infrastructure, as this helps streamline the process. It's helpful to promote a cooperative environment where teams can freely discuss ideas, ask questions and access support. If all members understand how their roles impact others and understand each aspect of delivery, better collaboration is possible and the entire process becomes more straightforward. It's also crucial to make yourself available to help people with the transition, as they may have many questions.
Define the process
Clearly define the process by giving your team a framework to use in the early stages of implementation. You likely won't cover all the elements necessary for implementation because some can be unpredictable. Still, a visual framework can efficiently aid people in understanding the process. This can help reduce their anxiety about the potential disruption brought about by the changes as teams can familiarise themselves with the process before its implementation. It's also a practical resource to provide senior leadership and vested interests as they can also use it to understand the new delivery process.
Assign an expert
You can designate a professional who has experience with this method as a team leader to aid in the implementation process if they're present in your team. A designated team leader can also assist other staff members in understanding the process and adjusting to it.
Having a leader in place can also help keep other staff engaged and motivated, accelerate the learning process and prepare them for larger projects that potentially contain more variables. Once you have successfully implemented the new initiative within an organisation, you can keep the leader in place for larger projects or simply act as the leader yourself.
Keeping track of the success of the new initiative is an essential part of making it have successful results. Having clearly defined performance indicators also helps an organisation identify areas for improvement as it establishes the new process. Managers and teams can also use these metrics to weigh outcomes against the expectations and include them in a briefing, enabling them to determine success or failure.
It's imperative to communicate these metrics clearly to staff and how their roles might contribute to meeting the goals. Clearly relating success metrics both coordinates efforts around goals and promotes team-building, as the team's success depends on cooperation.
Listen to feedback
Once you've successfully implemented the approach and your team members are familiar with it, begin emphasising the importance of feedback. By encouraging people to tell you what works and what doesn't, in addition to what they like and dislike, you can improve the process in various ways. You can make adjustments to help your team adapt to the changes and eliminate any unproductive aspects of the process. You can also give customer feedback to your team, helping them improve products and focus on the aspects of coding that require the most attention.
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