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When DevOps meets Software Delivery Management: A perfect pair

Thu 20 Feb 2020 | Michael Baldani

By taking a modern approach to software delivery, an organisation can not only amplify value creation throughout its release pipeline but also measure – and consequently scale – DevOps correctly

We all know that CI and CD hold the power to drive digital transformation. These DevOps building blocks have allowed companies to optimise their productivity and foster innovation through high-velocity software iterations, and their far-reaching benefits have drawn attention not only from developer teams, but also from the likes of IT, operations, security, and leadership. To be precise, research has shown that security is one of the key stakeholders that are critical in DevOps implementation at 44 percent, followed by central IT admin at 38 percent, management and leadership at 25 percent, line of business managers at 23 percent, and so on.

Though these figures highlight the growing recognition and importance of DevOps in driving business value, the same research has shown that only 42 percent of organisations use quality metrics such as defect rates or vulnerabilities to measure and prove the business value of DevOps. On the other hand, 41 percent of firms use business-related metrics – such as customer satisfaction or traffic.

The success of DevOps-driven delivery shouldn’t be limited to traditional IT metrics. Rather, it should consider the value that ties technical outcomes to business results. This is where Software Delivery Management (SDM) comes in – by taking a modern approach to software delivery, an organisation can not only amplify value creation throughout its release pipeline, but also measure – and consequently scale – DevOps correctly.

Two halves of a whole: What SDM can do that CI/CD alone cannot

Simply put, you cannot improve what you cannot measure. Though many organisations have begun moving towards an integrated DevOps approach with the best of intentions, it is not uncommon for these companies to stumble in execution – for instance, it is not uncommon for an organisation to use over 50 different development tools. Teams following DevOps best practices can also be found approaching tasks or projects in completely different methods, even from within the same company.

As a result, each standalone tool or process serves to solve only one specific step in the software development lifecycle; ultimately contributing to ever-increasing complexity. Without any shared data, common methods to manage handoffs between teams, and mutual visibility into the processes, it is difficult for businesses to get the visibility needed to create continuous feedback loops and evaluate whether a new feature is actually meeting its intended business goal or KPI.

That said, this does not discount the value of DevOps. It is undoubtable that CI and CD offer enormous value in helping us deliver better software, faster – however, it does not ensure that we are delivering the right feature, or that the business need is being met

SDM, however, recognises that software creation is a core business function within the enterprise, and therefore extends the application feedback loop from development all the way through to customer adoption. By bringing software development and delivery teams together, software is iterated in a way that establishes continuous alignment across stakeholders. The result? Software that meets the business needs, satisfies customers, and drives continuous improvement in value and impact.

In the same way that DevOps reconnects the silos between the development and operations teams, SDM breaks down the walls among development, product management, UI & UX teams, documentation teams, support teams and product marketers. It allows these teams to communicate more effectively, understand each other’s needs more clearly, and develop quality software that effectively addresses business needs and creates value for customers.

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Making it work: The 4 pillars of SDM

Development and operations teams preach the importance of speed and frequency, often stating that if teams deliver hundreds or thousands of times per day, they have a cutting-edge software development process. However, software delivery is not just about speed. Rather, it is about delivering the best possible product that meets customer needs as quickly as possible. Speeding up the delivery of poor quality software that doesn’t address market needs does not accomplish this.

While SDM still places importance on speed, the emphasis is on value delivery across the entire software organisation through four pillars:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Common Connected Processes: When organisational 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.
  4. 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.

With SDM viewed through a single, real-time dashboard of common data, all teams and business units create an integrated and ongoing feedback loop of universal insights, ultimately allowing them to understand how well teams are collaborating. Equally importantly, it provides the data needed to measure how well the organisation is creating value for its business and how well teams are performing based on efficiency metrics, for example.

Building and scaling successful businesses in a sustainable way requires creating innovative ideas and products that meet customer demand. SDM helps organisations achieve that goal – through common data, shared insights, common connected processes, and cross-function collaboration across all business units, it’s more likely that developers will deliver the right product the first time. If they don’t, they have enough information in the feedback loop to quickly iterate until the software nails solving the customer need. The end result? Software that both satisfies customers and achieves business KPIs.

Experts featured:

Michael Baldani

Senior Manager


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