Sunday, 12th July 2020

Software Delivery in the fast lane

Using SDM to eliminate traffic and bottlenecks in the delivery process. By Anders Wallgren, VP Technology Strategy, CloudBees.

Traffic bottlenecks are a major inconvenience in our daily lives, causing delays during our commutes and preventing us from getting to our destination on time. Bottlenecks in the software delivery process can cause the same problems – and while most DevOps teams have made significant strides by implementing continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD) and application release orchestration (ARO), many teams within the organisation are still operating in siloed development processes and are failing to communicate with one another.

This means that teams use different tools and work off of outdated, incomplete, or missing data and information; resulting in duplicated workstreams or application releases that are littered with bugs. As a result, developer teams are forced to restart projects because they didn’t have the information needed to get it right the first time; creating severe bottlenecks in the software delivery process.

CI and CD as a red stop light: limitations and constraints

While some organisations may have a mature CI/CD pipeline and be fully committed to DevOps practices, these businesses will often find they still lack end-to-end insight into their value chain. They cannot see where products are getting stuck or where problems are recurring – this lack of insight itself only exacerbates the delay in delivering the product to the customer.

Unfortunately, CI/CD doesn’t usually provide the information needed to measure how well the software organisation is creating value for the business. Without the data required to measure this, software organisations cannot understand if they will be successful in achieving their goals and how they can measure or track progress. Without visibility into all the various stakeholders involved in the delivery process, organisations cannot foster the required collaboration for successful DevOps implementation. Businesses don’t just need speed and agility when it comes to software development – they need actionable, data-driven insights to ensure that software is being developed with the right functionality to meet the business need it was designed to address.

All systems go: SDM to the rescue

In the same way that DevOps breaks down the walls between the development and operations teams, Software Delivery Management (SDM) breaks down the bottlenecks that delay the process of delivering software by ensuring that all artefacts and data are integrated into a unified common data layer.

Through its four key pillars – common data, universal insights, common connected processes and cross-functional collaboration – it helps organisations overcome the limitations of CI/CD by ensuring that key information is connected and easily accessible, giving each team an unprecedented level of insight into where bottlenecks and inefficiencies are occurring. It allows them to improve and streamline communication, understand each other’s needs and ultimately make software that is not only bug-free, but also effective at addressing business needs and creating value for the customer.

·Common Data: Instead of data being locked away in silos of domain-specific tools, SDM enables all stakeholders involved in software delivery to have access to the same data. Software developers can look at customer interviews to understand how features are being used, product managers can preview features to plan their product roadmap, and so on. Providing access to common data and context empowers stakeholders to make informed decisions.

·Universal Insights: As a result of common data, stakeholders can gain shared and universal insights. For instance, information about the software delivery process can be analysed by the customer success team to identify where a fix for a customer service problem is in the pipeline.

·Common Connected Processes: When an organisation’s processes and ways of working are disconnected, miscommunicated decisions and missed deadlines are aplenty, and inhibit both value and speed. However, when these processes - such as product planning, customer support, and software delivery - are connected by common data and universal insights, the rapid and continuous delivery of business value becomes the new standard. Collaboration is seamless.

·Cross-Function Collaboration: By establishing these three pillars, continuous and frictionless cross-function collaboration becomes natural; allowing all business units and stakeholders to gain transparency into data, tools and processes, analysis, and business goals.

By unifying software development and delivery teams, SDM ensures there is continuous alignment across stakeholders as software is being developed, ultimately ensuring the continuous creation of business value. SDM extends the feedback loop to encompass the entire application lifecycle, from issue creation to end users interacting with the application.

Paving the way for better business

With SDM, everyone from the software organisation through to product marketing and customer success has access to the same set of data and one unified platform for collaboration. Product marketers have a clear idea of how a feature will work, when it will be ready for deployment and the types of customers it’s best for. Customer support teams have visibility into when new features will be released and can alert developers to patterns in support requests. As the feedback loop widens to include other business units, developers get more valuable feedback that leads to more intelligent iterations and software improvements.

The aim of software development isn’t to create the most technically sophisticated application – rather, it is to use software as a tool to create business value as quickly as possible. Similar to DevOps, SDM not only brings together different parts of the engineering department, but facilitates collaboration between engineering and sales, marketing and other business units. The ability to bring business strategy and software engineering together is critical to creating applications that are as effective as possible at meeting the business goals.

No one wants to be stuck in traffic – SDM is the fast lane that is needed to escape congestion and accelerate enterprises reaching their destination.

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