Today’s business environments require “agility” in terms of being able to quickly understand and adapt to information, trends and new developments. For example, a company might employ a business intelligence suite that provides them with real-time information on product sales, which allows them to dynamically adjust content or strategy.
Set a Baseline
You can’t measure improvement in a business process without first establishing a baseline. The first step in reducing the time-to-market for software development is to look closely at the current development process. Review the steps involved in turning an idea into a live product or product feature and identify any bottlenecks, inefficiencies and constraints. Once this review is complete, set realistic goals that reflect the current situation and the improvements you want to see within a certain time period.
Eliminate and Optimize
During the review and baseline phase, you might come across activities that do not add value and do not speed up the process. Perhaps there are some unnecessary meetings during the mid-phase of the development process that typically do not uncover any problems and hold no real value. Or, there’s a documentation step that is a drain on human capital and takes away valuable time from testing and innovation.
Identifying problems and bottlenecks is vital, but the efforts will be wasted if there aren’t open lines of communication. Poor communication causes software release delays, so establish efficient processes, set up the right team structure and adopt tools and technologies that allow transparent and fast communication between cross-functional teams. When it comes to teams, you want to find the right balance of staff. Generally, a winning team includes the right analysts, marketing managers and DevOps resources who can work together towards a common goal.
Streamlining and Developing Incrementally
As the team moves into development, there are steps you can take to increase efficiency. Independent tasks should be performed in tandem; for example, test scenarios built while various features are defined. Do not wait until development is completed before creating test environments; encourage the team to split parallel tasks that best match with their individual talents.
When it comes to enhancements for business apps, there’s an inclination to go for the “home run” by greatly changing the application and including many new features with every update. For reliability and speed to reaching the market, you instead want an incremental approach, by which you develop controllable enhancements and bug fixes that provide immediate value to the users. Prioritize the “wish list” of feature sets so you can better manage and plan the updates that will go into future releases. Get buy-in from other departments and then build and create an enhancements schedule.
Test Often and Embrace Automation
In addition to having testers test the application, you should actively engage with clients and select users early in the development process so they can provide input on the overall functionality and user interface as well as help discover bugs. Your time-to-market can be greatly impacted if bugs aren’t caught early on, and you might even need to pull a newly launched application if the glitches impact users adversely.
Improving this process requires defined and repeatable testing procedures and, to reduce time-to-market, these procedures must be automated at least partially.
Consider these other benefits of software testing that will improve your DevOps:
- Discovering bugs and software errors can improve the system’s capacity
- Testing can improve the security of your applications
- Improve customer engagement and satisfaction through a high QoE score
- Reduce the total cost of ownership
- Better meet industry standards and compliance regulations
Other automated processes should be introduced into the development cycle, including environment provisioning, data or API mocking; builds management; and standards enforcement. For instance, automated deployment solutions give DevOps a repeatable process so engineers have more time to focus on crafting new features. Another example is release automation tools that manage workflow as software moves between development, production and testing. These tools not only speed up the process, they also eliminate potential for human errors.
The modern business relies heavily on applications to communicate, complete sales and operate more efficiently. Companies strive to bring these apps to the market quickly so they don’t miss opportunities and can adjust to market conditions. To accomplish these goals, companies must adopt the right software development processes and tools to improve their time-to-market speed and capture a competitive advantage.
About the Author / Ajay Kaul
Ajay Kaul is managing partner at AgreeYa, bringing more than 27 years of experience in sales, consulting and managing small to large IT projects worldwide. Kaul has led AgreeYa through 16+ years of success, leading the company in highly competitive and complex markets and driving significant profitable growth with global workforce of more than 1,500. Prior to founding AgreeYa, he was responsible for managing engagements for Deloitte serving private and public sector clients across United States. Connect with him on LinkedIn.