One of the many benefits that an Agile approach brings to the table is the concept of continuous delivery. Often overlooked as simply a matter of course when running with an Agile process, the impact that continuous delivery can have in shaping the success of the overall project is huge.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s simple: continuous delivery makes it possible to introduce new development features quickly and reliably by creating, testing and releasing code frequently in small increments.
It feels natural if you’re working in a two-week sprint window to release what you’ve completed at the end of each cycle, but the importance of doing this is much more than just convenience, simply because it’s ready. Continuous delivery not only allows for instant feedback but also empowers stakeholders to make decisions on product direction based on real working software, rather than generalised assumptions.
Stakeholder or user feedback is often a key performance indicator for the success of the project. By releasing functionality piece by piece, you can see quickly whether stakeholders are responding to it. Releasing new features little and often, and building in solid feedback loops, will be a much more effective reporting method than simply using progress charts to establish if the project is on track or not.
Being Agile is all about being able to respond to change quickly. In the IT industry especially, new laws and regulations can be introduced and market trends can come out of nowhere. Continuous delivery allows you to embrace last minute changes, implement them and release them to a live environment without hassle or affecting other elements of the project.
Responding to change and regularly introducing new functionality could give your product or business the competitive edge that is so desperately sought in an often over-crowded and ultra-competitive market space.
The constraints of older Waterfall-led projects meant that mid-project changes had to be handled via often complex change control processes – and even if the change request passed through quickly, the subsequent release could not happen until other developments are completed and tested.
Using Agile and the continuous delivery approach will help ensure that not only is the final product fit for purpose (at the time of delivery, not at the time of initiation), but will also that regular releases keep you ahead of the game and, more importantly, your direct competitors.