Faster cycle times are a cornerstone of DevOps. Cycle time refers to how fast the development process is—its velocity. Under DevOps, faster cycle times are used as an essential benchmark. But they’re not everything. You still need to know whether the changes you’re making to your DevOps practices are producing positive outcomes.
That’s where feedback loops come in. Feedback is one of the levers teams can explore to speed up and control development. The most important feedback comes from the end user—how fast you develop is pointless if it’s missing the mark.
By automating the code testing and delivery process, teams receive feedback on their work faster. They can push features and improvements to the production environment with more agility — and address errors or quality-of-life issues with greater responsiveness. This helps reduce cycle time, which Gartner defines as “the time it takes to complete a process or service operation, including all value-adding and non-value-adding time.”
But timely feedback doesn't just allow teams to deliver functionality to customers faster. Faster feedback inherently improves the process of innovation. When DevOps systems work as they should, projects move quickly and smoothly through the pipeline. Then teams can gather their resources to facilitate true creativity. Ultimately, a faster DevOps cycle time leads to rapid innovation.
Feedback and Innovation through the Five Steps
Speeding up the DevOps cycle is a key step on the pathway to a successful digital transformation. At Copado, we’ve defined five steps to DevOps success:
We're going to look at how each of these steps provides faster feedback, reduces DevOps cycle time, and fosters a culture of innovation.
The DevOps cycle supports increased visibility throughout the software development
pipeline. Without visibility, it’s impossible to allocate time properly and collaborate effectively. When working in a single DevOps platform, information is no longer siloed, and greater levels of visibility are achieved. These greater levels of visibility lead to faster feedback.
Automated processes push commits down the pipeline while pushing feedback up. Faster feedback = teams can generate new ideas and new features faster.
But more than that, visibility gives more people insight into all the components and dependencies involved with complex software development. It’s a starting point for developing a plan to optimize and scale. Visibility doesn't just encourage innovation; it targets innovation in the most useful direction.
Without DevOps, organizations frequently silo information — even without meaning to. Teams and even entire departments operate autonomously, without exchanging information. This lack of visibility means that teams may not always be moving together; they may be moving toward distinctly different goals. Ensure everyone stays on the same page by selecting clear, value-driven metrics.
Enhanced visibility gives teams the information that they need to not only create but to move in the same direction.
Of course, faster feedback also plays a pivotal role in enhancing quality. Through faster feedback, organizations meet client requirements more accurately. The visibility fostered in the first step of DevOps enlightenment works to provide teams with guidelines they can follow for improved quality and change management.
In DevOps, teams achieve quality through automation, testing, and quality gates. Teams don't need to spend an extraordinary amount of their time simply testing and re-testing; quality is affirmed through automated processes. This also reduces the cost of mistakes. When people trust their testing strategies, they feel more free to experiment and try new things. One wrong step won’t bring the whole project down. By creating a stable, self-testing system, organizations can provide the time and bandwidth necessary for true innovation.
Organizations can't build innovation upon a rocky landscape. When an organization's product quality is poor, the focus must be on developing that quality. Further, an organization can't seek to speed up or automate its systems if it hasn't ensured quality, stability, and governance. Thus, quality must always come before and with innovation.
As the product pipeline accelerates, innovation occurs at a faster pace. The pipeline pushes commits faster, which garners product feedback more quickly. Teams respond to client needs with greater agility — and teams have more time to create and innovate.
Ideally, the DevOps pipeline provides the organization with a firm foundation through automation and enablement. Teams can then use their given agility and resources to innovate and strategize. Speed is essential to the DevOps process, but the major components must be in place before prioritizing the speed of commits.
As companies improve their DevOps, their DevOps cycle time naturally accelerates.
Ideally, a company should push essential commits within 24 hours. It's this speed that provides true agility within a shifting market, in addition to improving security and governance in a world filled with threats.
Innovation is the fourth step of DevOps enlightenment. But the process of DevOps doesn't end there. DevOps, like CI/CD, is a continuous and iterative process. By building resilience, organizations can further foster innovation without disruption.
Resiliency improves the organization's stability and footing, thereby making it so that teams can innovate and create.
Improve DevOps Cycle Time through Faster Feedback
In today's competitive marketplace, the ability to innovate quickly is essential. DevOps processes create a culture, philosophy, and infrastructure that supports agility and enablement, giving teams everything they need to innovate quickly. Organizations can leverage faster feedback cycles to improve DevOps cycle time.
- Ensure the visibility of feedback. DevOps thrives on information flow. Return feedback upstream at every stage of the product pipeline.
- Promote healthy automation. As the organization grows, automation will improve scalability and consistency. Healthy automation moves a commit from one stage to the next, thereby accelerating feedback cycles.
- Leverage quality gates and compliance checks. When team members can rely upon their system for quality checks, they can spend more time on the creative side of the development process.
- Prioritize and reward innovation. Innovation isn't something that you can automate or control. Without a healthy environment, innovation can’t grow. Prioritize and reward innovation from the top down.
Transparent, visible, and timely feedback will naturally lead to innovation and improvements. If you’re seeking to improve your DevOps cycle time, improving feedback can help.