Embracing continuous delivery for continuous success

Continuous delivery is a software engineering term for an approach in which teams produce software in short cycles, ensuring that the software can be reliably released at any time. The leaders in this approach are the biggest tech companies in the world: Amazon updates their site every 11.6 seconds, Facebook releases twice a day and almost everything in Google is developed on mainline.

For years continuous delivery has been at the core of software-driven businesses but when you unpack the principles of the approach, you discover plenty of opportunity to take it organisation-wide:

The 7 Principles of Continuous Delivery:

  1. Build quality in!
    Take the time to invest in your quality metrics. Understanding what you are trying to achieve, measuring it continuously and responding when results come in.
  2. Everybody has responsibility for the release process
    Team involvement on the project build and sign-off means ownership is shared, risk is shared and rewards are shared.
  3. The process for releasing/deploying must be repeatable and reliable
    If you are continuously iterating, that process needs to be efficient, written and understood by all stakeholders
  4. If something is difficult or painful, do it more often
    Taking the hard road to overcoming a hurdle will typically save your customer from suffering through it and make them appreciate your product more
  5. Automate
    Invest seriously in automating all the tasks you do repeatedly, as this tends to lead to reliability.
  6. Done means “released”
    Releasing something into the market is risky. It might work straight away, it might require changes. Creating a culture that accepts this reality is imperative for innovation to thrive and an organisation to evolve and grow.
  7. Improve continuously
    Don’t sit back and wait for your product to become out of date or impossible to maintain. Continuous improvement means your system will always be evolving and therefore easier to change when needs be.

So, with continuous delivery you will develop a culture that lives comfortably with change, has smaller problems which are easier to fix, has lots of demonstrable progress to satisfy stakeholders and is driven entirely by what works for their customers. How good is that!?

It is no coincidence that the software-driven companies are the largest, most profitable organisations in the world. They are continuously testing, learning and reacting to customer behaviour. They are the most customer-centric businesses around and the rest of us must learn from them or we’ll all get swallowed up as they diversify their skills into more and more categories.

The end result of Continuous Delivery? Well there is no end, just continuous success, from the inside-out.