There are all sorts of compelling business benefits awaiting those who adopt Continuous Delivery. It has the potential to reduce operating costs, reduce defects and redundant work, improve efficiency, and result in a much faster delivery speed. By releasing applications to market faster, you boost your chances of success and gain a competitive advantage. But how do you get from the theory to the practice?
If you really want to scale up and realize the benefits of CD, then you’re going to need money to retool, retrain, and change the existing culture. In order to secure the budget you need, all of the key players in your organization have to buy into the change. A strong business case is essential. Here are six key areas to look at when you build yours.
A natural place to start with building a business case for CD is with production incidents, because they’re very visible. When you perform a root cause analysis on an incident, you’ll often find that the software worked fine in the development environment. By standardizing the environment configurations you can reduce the number of incidents, free up resources from the provisioning process, and reduce wasted time.
It’s possible to calculate the cost of data center downtime for your company, and you can use root cause analysis to find out where provisioning errors were to blame. From that, you can extrapolate the potential savings made by reducing these outages with standardized environment configuration. You also have to consider the reduction in wasted time and effort, resources that can now be productively employed.
Take a look at your past deployment failures and work out the average cost to the business of rolling back the deployment, diagnosing the cause of failure, and remediating. By automating deployment you can cut these costs completely.
To employ an API-based testing model that can be integrated into your delivery pipeline will pose an upfront cost, but that cost per build decreases with each new build. With manual testing, the cost rises with each new build. Automated testing gives you better coverage, earlier. If you can find defects earlier they tend to be quicker and easier to fix, which reduces the potential knock-on impact in terms of production incidents, and, ultimately, reduces costs. You’re also cutting manual labor costs and overhead.
Manual build process
If someone on your team is writing scripts to automate your builds, there’s a labor cost involved and they may cause a potential bottleneck. If you can switch to a centralized delivery pipeline where the build is automated and which development teams can customize for their needs, you can reduce the time and effort required. You also free up the developer who would have written the scripts to work on improving the product instead. At the same time, you’ll boost oversight, control, and reliability in the build process.
A lot of development time is wasted on building features that don’t add value. According to research by Forrester, only around a third of the ideas implemented result in a measurable improvement in the customer experience, a third have no obvious effect, and the final third actually have a negative impact. By building analytics into your code, and constructing a strong feedback loop, you can find out what really improves the customer experience and focus your efforts there. The earlier you can get feedback, the easier it is to prioritize and maximize the value you’re adding.
Focus on the big picture
Most business cases might focus on some of the benefits we mentioned above, and that’s because they’re easier to measure. But it’s the intangibles, such as improved competitiveness, goodwill, and revenue, which are harder to quantify, but which have the greatest impact.
You want to present the potential cost savings, but this is about more than cost cutting. The long term benefits filter through as you ramp Continuous Delivery up. Faster feedback loops and a greater understanding of your customer are laudable aims for any business. You’ll have to delve into specifics to generate the persuasive numbers you need, but it’s important that you keep those intangible benefits front and center as part of the business case you’re constructing.
About the Author/Andrew Phillips
Andrew Phillips heads up product management at XebiaLabs, a provider of continuous delivery automation. Andrew is an evangelist and thought leader in the DevOps, Cloud and Continuous Delivery space. He sits on the management team and drives product direction, positioning and planning.