Release frequency has become more important than ever. Organizations today need to be able to handle the ever-changing demands of the market. Traditional pipelines become less and less effective and the days of the water fall model are counted. More and more organizations are improving by adopting agile methods and move towards a more flexible and fast-paced work model – with clear advantages. This is one of the reasons that we love DevOps and also a reason for why you should cut times between your releases.
Increase the release frequency to deliver faster
The main reason you should cut times between releases is to be able to deliver faster to your end users. New features and additions are simply interesting. This is especially true as users today value fast response time regarding bug fixes, improvements and feature requests. Take too long between each update and you risk losing even your most loyal userbase.
Mary and Thomas Poppendieck writes in their book Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit:
Customers like rapid delivery. That is why immediate shipping and rapid delivery is standard for online and mail-order catalogs and why while-you-wait services are popular.
Besides a more satisfied userbase, an increased number of releases bring possibilities for analysis and improvement. In the end, what decides the value of your product is the end users. The more chances for feedback and feature requests you get, the better you can satisfy those you actually want using your product or service.
Enhanced product quality
Paired with increased opportunities to respond to customer feedback comes increased opportunities to improve your product. By practicing the release process by simply releasing more often, your organization will gain the competencies required to complete this process.
David Starr, previous Senior Program Manager at Microsoft and founder of Elegant Code Solutions, wrote this in 2013:
I’ve yet to find a bad software situation that isn’t improved by delivering working software more often. Doing so requires a healthy mixture of engineering practices and work-management techniques. While many canned recipes exist, most teams season to taste without disaster. Shipping often offers amazing business opportunities, but requires discipline and a sense of what is appropriate for a given situation.
In addition, releasing more often simply leads to more iterations of the software. You have more chances to meet market demands, receive customer feedback and fix bugs. All of this adds up. In the end, you hopefully find yourself staying ahead of the curve instead of reacting to it. This is what it truly means to be a market leader.
Remove the release frequency bottleneck
Traditional organizations often find themselves releasing updates on products as often as they can. In other words, IT is usually too slow to meet the demands of an optimal business situation. This means that the business becomes forced to work at the speed of IT, leading to few and often both big and risky releases.
As we increase the speed of our development, and more specifically the speed at which we reach a releaseable product, this question of whether or not to ship a release moves from IT to the business table. When the release bottleneck no longer exists, stakeholders can find the most optimal time to release. When your business no longer faces the obstacle of waiting for IT, you become more competitive and more capable of meeting fluctuating demands.
With DevOps and agile, you aim towards creating a releaseable product every commit or sprint. As soon as a piece of code passes all quality and security checks, it should become a potentially releasable increment.
Increased market value
Many are today afraid of reacting too slowly to market changes. Everyone remembers Nokia, once leading cell phone manufacturer, being too slow to react to the Apple iPhone and can barely be seen on the map anymore. By instead increasing your release frequency, you can gain a competitive advantage to leverage. A world opens up with the possibility to react to market changes faster than your competitors.
The fact is that IT is changing faster than ever as businesses get more competitive and as disruptive new technologies come from every corner. Microsoft is under tremendous customer pressure to deliver new features, and to deliver them fast. Smaller, more frequent releases will let Microsoft target today’s problems today, rather than always being a bit behind the curve.
The fact is that the above is now more relevant than it was then – Microsoft ship updates to Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Team Services as often as once every three weeks. Other companies ship even more often than that – some have simply left the idea of product releases in the past and ship incremental pieces of code several times a day. Chances are you probably don’t notice it; when was the last time Facebook issued a version release?
It is probably in your best interest to cut times between releases and in general push more releases. Many IT industry giants have gained clear benefits that helps in keeping up with the fast-paced changes to the industry landscapes, and you need to be able to react just as fast – if not faster.
Do you want to increase the number of releases, but don’t know how? Have you had any success with a higher release frequency? Let us know in the comments below!