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4 Step Guide to Improving Software Delivery

Julian Colina
December 15, 2020
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First of all, delivery matters.

It's the one core metric that differentiates the best teams in the world from the average joe's.

And yes, it's been proven that engineering performance drives company success.

Profit, market share, customer satisfaction are all highly correlated with engineering performance.

Sound crazy? It's not.

Faster delivery equals:

  1. Faster value to customers
  2. Faster feedback on the product
  3. Less risk of building the wrong thing
  4. Less cost of building the wrong thing

All this boils up to faster experimentation and value flow to customers which means happier customers and more revenue.

Framework for Improving Delivery

Here is a ridiculously simple framework for improving your team's delivery.

We've worked with >200+ engineering leaders using this dead simple process. It helps uncover bottlenecks, issues, and advocate for change which ultimately it helps engineers improve their day-to-day experiences and drive team performance.

1) Get Baseline

Get a benchmark to start improving. Before you start to optimize delivery, you want to know where you're at now and we suggest starting with core delivery metrics. Cycle Time (speed), Deployment Frequency (how often you deploy), and Change Failure Rate (how often those deployments need fixin'). These give you a great high level view on how the team is delivering.

Note: If you need some help calculating these, reach out to us at hello@usehaystack.io and we'll share some tips.

2) Find Bottlenecks

Start fishin' for what's holding you back. Every team runs into issues and bottlenecks, it's part of the job. But now it's time to understand these issues and prioritize the biggest opportunities to start tackling. Just like prioritizing features, you're looking for the biggest impact and lowest cost opportunities to tackle first.

Note: At Haystack we help map out your delivery process from commit to deploy - help you spot the bottlenecks but if you're new to this maybe a simple team survey can suffice.

3) Invest in Change

Remove the roadblocks. Now that you understand some key bottlenecks, let's kick off a discussion with the team to understand how we can improve. Do we need tooling, automation, or better processes? Great. Let's come up with a plan and try it out for a sprint.

Note: This part is tricky because investments take time and money - if you're having trouble with this go back to Step #2 and make sure you've got the data to back your investment.

3) Measure Impact

Don't set it and forget it. Why make a change without knowing if it worked? You don't deploy a hotfix without re-testing it into production, right? Measure the impact. That way your team can see the progress, understand what worked (or didn't), and drive further improvement.

Note: This part is critical - it's important to keep track your core delivery metrics and see the impact your changes are having on delivery.

Is your delivery improving?

Constant improvement is how the best teams in the world approach engineering performance.

It's not an accident Google and Netflix deploy >1k times per day and still improving.

It's a structured approach to improvement that is simple, proven, and drives big gains.

Sign up for Haystack and see how this crazy simple process has helped drive 40% faster delivery on average.

Want to see how we use this framework? Check out our story.

 

Haystack helps engineering leaders identify burnout and team health patterns. Instead of guessing if you're improving, or constantly bothering your team for updates, simply use Haystack to get alerts in your inbox every morning. Plus a dashboard to track improvements over time.

Try it for free

About the author

Julian Colina
CEO & Cofounder of Haystack.

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