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Posted July 15, 2015

Don't Let Them Leapfrog You


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”Charles Dickens: A Tale Of Two Cities (1859)

You may ask what on Earth one of my favorite novels has to do with testing and continuous delivery, but stay with me for a minute (or five). No, I won’t go into the French Revolution (though moving to continuous integration may feel like you are sparking a revolution in your development team). Let’s take a look at two businesses.

Meet Company A. They’ve been around awhile. In fact, they were one of the first companies in their market. As with most older companies, the company began as a waterfall shop and slowly transitioned to Agile, but is still showing signs of waterfall (something I like to call Scrummerfall). They still get specs, they develop, and they test, albeit in defined sprint time frames. Tests may be written while development is going on, but are performed after development hands off to QA.

Now, meet Company B, Company A’s competitor. Small and lean, the team has adopted continuous delivery, and acceptance test driven development (ATDD). They write tests first, and develop until all tests pass. They build quality in, rather than check for it later.

And the Winner Is…

Can you guess which company is chipping away at the market? The clear winner here is Company B. Embracing DevOps has allowed Company B to realize several benefits, including (but not limited to):

Faster time to market – Get a desired product into customers’ hands faster!

Better quality product – Build the quality in! Find the bugs before QA even gets the product, or even more importantly, before customers see it.

Reduced cost of development – The cost to find bugs early (write tests first, build until all tests pass) is MUCH lower than the cost of finding them later in traditional testing cycles. And if a bug is found by the client? The cost skyrockets. Build the quality in and reduce costs down the line.

Higher customer satisfaction – Continuous integration (CI) yields faster delivery, which means faster feedback. Issues are fixed faster, which means products are in clients’ hands faster. The customer has trust in your company and product.

A Cultural Shift

Getting your team on the road to continuous delivery is not just a process change. It is a huge cultural shift. It is a completely different way of thinking, and it does not lie only within the development team. How will Sales present the company? How will Marketing develop materials? How will Support handle the change in release cadence? How will product managers adapt to learn from customers? It’s a ripple effect that will impact the entire company, for the better.

The longer you take to embrace DevOps (and continuous delivery), the more your competition has a chance to move in. Take your company to the next level. Be the change!

Ashley Hunsberger is a Quality Architect at Blackboard, Inc. and co-founder of Quality Element. She’s passionate about making an impact in education and loves coaching team members in product and client-focused quality practices. Most recently, she has focused on test strategy implementation and training, development process efficiencies, and preaching Test Driven Development to anyone that will listen. In her downtime, she loves to travel, read, quilt, hike, and spend time with her family.

Jul 15, 2015
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