Continuous delivery is rapidly becoming an industry standard, as it has many clear benefits for companies, clients, and development teams. Shifting to a continuous delivery infrastructure is one of the easiest ways that a company can improve their business processes and their customer satisfaction. Here are just a few of the core business benefits to continuous delivery — as well as some of the major challenges.
The Benefits of Continuous Delivery
Continuous delivery is an iterative strategy that embraces shorter production cycles. In continuous delivery, a development team will release software in stages, constantly adding to the software, testing it, and then releasing it. The major benefits of continuous delivery are as follows:
- Customers are able to acquire tools faster. A company is able to get modifications into the client’s hands quickly, which increases customer satisfaction and lets them modify the tools on-the-fly.
- Customers deliver feedback quickly. Engaging the customer continuously means there’s more opportunity for them to collaborate. They will be able to direct the development team as desired.
- Development teams are able to reduce their risk. Smaller changes are less likely to have widespread consequences, such as substantial bugs.
- Development teams can quickly rollback changes. If there are changes that cause problems with the platform, a development team can quickly roll back to a previous version.
Overall, continuous delivery makes a company more agile, as they are able to react faster to customer requests — while customers are also able to react quickly to any changes.
The Challenges of Achieving Continuous Delivery
As with any business process change, continuous delivery does offer some challenges.
- Releasing on a continuous basis can lead to tight deadlines and restrictive schedules. When companies are expected to make releases on tight deadlines, that can lead to releases being pushed out before they’re ready. Development teams may also experience some stress related to having continuous deadlines looming, if the deadlines are not appropriately managed. Thus, it’s important for companies to be realistic about their expectations.
- Communication between teams and customers becomes incredibly important. Without proper communication, the team won’t move in the right direction. Customers need to be constantly included within the collaborative process, and their feedback must be understood. Individual teams also need to be able to communicate with each other effectively, and individual employees need access to the right information and resources — with tight deadlines, communication becomes more important.
- Updates may spiral out of control. As every update builds onto the other updates, changes may spiral out of control if each update isn’t adequately tested. Each iteration of the program has to be properly tested, which can be difficult to establish during a tight, iterative process. Thus, problems within the software platform can snowball if they are allowed to do so. Companies need strict controls and rigorous testing if they want to avoid this kind of issue.
As you can see, there are both benefits and drawbacks to continuous delivery. For most organizations — organizations that can achieve solid communications and controls — continuous delivery will usually be advantageous. Through continuous delivery, businesses can provide a better overall customer experience, delivering a product that the customer truly wants and delivering tools into the customer’s hands much faster. Transitioning to a continuous delivery process, however, may take some work, but you are not alone!
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