Heard of Kaizen? No? You might have heard of Toyota, then? It was one of the first manufacturing companies to welcome a theory named Kaizen – A productivity philosophy that embraces deliberate, continuous improvement. In Software development, we have something nearly similar, and it’s called the Agile Method, and Continuous Delivery is an important aspect within that. The main principle applies to both theories; Constant evolution and improvement.
Here is why we think you should direct your focus towards continuous delivery in your next projects in 2018.
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Let us revisit our Japanese friends for a moment. When Toyota first announced the Kaizen philosophy, the production and delivery quality sky-rocketed immediately. Whenever an issue occurred, a solution was presented within hours, yielding in high-quality end products that were safe, reliable and consistent in all its functions: all important aspects for a car buyer.
Moving fast forward to the early days of software development, improvements and updates came only when new versions was deployed. And then, the internet changed it all. Introduction of smartphones and apps demanded higher requirements for software quality, and robustness and security were tested every day instead of every year.
Software developers struggled to cope with this fast and swift pace. But then, some brainy people adapted some of the concepts (Kaizen) from the manufacturing industry to enhance speed and efficiency of development processes. Just like automation and standardization helped Toyota reach high levels of quality, so did the software development companies too, by speeding up their processes to match customer needs and ensuring good deliveries throughout the development cycle.
But, what do you really mean by Continuous Deliveries?
To simplify it. It sums down to 4 key elements. Effectively Build, Deploy, Test and Release. Each element is known within the Agile methodology and governed by the following basic principles.
Build in quality
Mass inspection or Quality assurance (QA) does not need to be done in a separate process queue after the developer has done the work. Incorporate QA into the development cycle instead. It is all about automating as much as possible.
Split the work into small batches
There is no need to wait to release a 3-week old code. Instead, take the bugs or bits in small sections and release them step by step. This makes it a lot easier to resolve a problem if it emerges.
So, what we are saying is that we want to let the computer perform the repetitive tasks, and let you and me focus on solving the potential problems. Every team member should be responsible for the end product, and constantly be on the lookout for improvements.
Ok, so why should I care?
Let us have a look at the main benefits of an organizational structure embracing Continuous Delivery
1. Reduced risk
Continuous improvement means that you do not wait until you’ve got the end product! You test your software right from the start. This testing and bug analyzing will help streamline developments and updates into smaller increments that can be launched faster and gradually with less stress.
The fact that you’ve been testing and improving your software right from the start means there is a lower risk of unexpected and unpleasant surprises when launching the product.
2. Faster time to market
In the era of MVP’s (minimum viable products), or MLP’s (minimum lovable products) that has become more infamous, there is an aversion towards traditional software development models, where it can take weeks or months to reach the end of a project to finally see a product. With Continuous Delivery a project is not divided into different individual stages, all the elements of a software delivery lifecycle – build, deploy, test and release – are ongoing activities. This means developers can correct and improve things immediately if need be, making the process as a whole more efficient.
3. Lower Costs and Higher Quality
Let us revisit Toyota again. How expensive would it be if you’d have to wait until the car is fully assembled before you can correct an error that has been made at the start of the assembly line? In Gture, we are no car experts, but we’d say it would cost you a lot of money. Depending on the issue, you’d have to completely dismantle the car, or probably thousands of cars, to replace whatever it is that needs replacing. By identifying the error early, we can singlehandedly save the company a lot of time and money, just because we use Kaizen as one of the core business principles.
4. Happier Teams
This one is not really a shock is it? Less last-minute dramas to solve, since the customer is breathing down your neck. You have already tested and improved the software throughout the entire process, and the dev-team will have less stress. This in turn will lead to a lower burnout rate, less conflicts at work and generally just happier developers. We like to call it a classic win-win!
At Gture, we have tried to be true Kaizen believers since the beginning. With our vigilant organizational culture, we have discovered that there is no harm in 1) being more agile towards continuous change requests in requirements from the customers and to 2) always maintain the highest quality of services and deliverables. With Kaizen mentality rushing through the company blood, the ease of providing remote IT solutions to our clients has been a key success factor.
Food for thought
We are somewhat a lot like animals. We have our routines and habits. We like to have order in our lives and consistency & predictability. Once we are happy with how we have set up the routines, we tend to stick with it, hoping not to change it. It is in our nature to resist the unknown, and probably the biggest hurdle that we need to overcome when we want to adapt to changes in our work process
Think about your organization, and your agility. Are you capable of completely stopping, when there are storms and fires burning around you? Are you able to think of continuous improvements when you have to put out fires everywhere? Sure, change can be challenging, but keep in mind that the benefits will pay off in the long run and that your company – and your team – will be so much better for it.