As the experts established in part one of this series , the tightening of feedback loops through DevOps gives developers a better chance to learn how well their coding choices perform in the context of production environments. This makes for higher quality code in the long-run and constantly improved skillsets among development teams.
But fast feedback loops don’t just improve the line-by-line coding work the development team puts out. It can also push through a huge boost in the value of the features they’re producing for end users.
“Feedback loops are important not just for technical feedback or feedback about things not working,” says Aater Suleman, CEO of Flux7 Labs and a professor in computer systems design and architecture at the University of Texas. “There’s also the feedback around what customers are looking form in terms of particular features and whether or not those features are doing well in the market or not.”
The tighter the feedback loop is about feature sets—and the more quickly the team can release responses to that business-related feedback–the faster the pivot time to account for market conditions. The quicker assessment of how well features are doing gives development teams and the business units they answer to a more accurate barometric reading to decide where to direct programming time. As a result, it isn’t just the quality of work that goes up, but also the business value.
“With a DevOps flow that allows developers to start seeing feedback from end customers right away, it helps them be more agile on a business level so they can be more strategic about where to spend their actual time,” Suleman says, explaining that this exposes developers to a big-picture view of their work. “You may have the most productive development environment in the world, but if a feature developers have worked on for two months is not going to be liked by the end users, it doesn’t matter how productive the developers were during that time period.”
Not only that, but it eliminates the hamster-wheel of playing catch-up with competitors’ features.
“I know of many companies which still hold to quarterly release cycles. Did you competitor just release an awesome new feature? Have fun waiting three months to catch up,” says Curtis Poe, a consultant and Agile development coach for All Around The World. ” In today’s competitive world and fast-paced business environments, do you really want to playing catch up all the time? Switch to continuous delivery and never worry about a lengthy release process blocking you from offering what your competitors offer.”
Poe says that the best DevOps teams can get the most differentiation from the crowd by understanding that they’re not just monitoring technology and code, they’re monitoring people. Namely, end users.
“Do you sell shoes online and you have a typical conversion rate of 3.2 percent? What happens if you make a release and the conversion rate drops to 2.5 percent?” he says. “Assuming that nothing technological is going wrong , monitoring business value, when appropriate, can instantly tell your designers, ‘Hey, moving that button from the left to the right side impacted our sales.'”
Additionally, that kind of business monitoring makes it more easy to understand the dependencies between technical and business functional aspects of software updates. Then the team can more easily explain to business leaders what technical obstacles stand in the way of functional improvements, and how to overcome them.
“You always want to deliver the best experience for your customers, and you want to iterate on both the product and the non-functional aspects as often and quickly as possible,” says Arnold Goldberg, vice president of customer engineering for PayPal. “Integrating new features might be the wrong thing to do if, for example, there are challenges with performance, stability or availability.”