You only have to say “big bang release” to me and it causes my blood pressure to rise. Arrrgggghhhhhh!!!! Too many bad memories! I’ve been involved my fair share of painful big bang releases to know that they should be avoided, but we get into a cycle that’s hard to break! Almost as though we become anesthetised to the pain, all passion to improve is drained from us as we’ve accepted that “this is just the way it is”.
We’re in the software business because we enjoy being part of creating something, hopefully something we think is great! This is what we want to concentrate on, the more we firefight with releases the more team moral drops and people become disengaged. Some team members have never been the same since going through a number of these! The agonising release process has taken its toll, the hunger to work for the team has gone…forever!
So what can you do? You bang on your managers/directors/CTOs door and shout “Continuous Delivery”! (ok…knocking on the door might be a better approach!) As managers, we need to be driving these ‘negotiations’, we have to influence others of the benefits because if no one is talking about it, nothing will happen. If you’re not doing Continuous Delivery (CD) then your competitors are, watch for management’s reaction after you mention that! But it’s not only about getting a competitive advantage, this could be what your team needs to ignite that motivation. Releases being a ‘non-event’ means developers have more time for they enjoy!
Depending on the size of your organisation there will be different challenges. I have tried to push CD changes through in a large corporate environment without ‘official’ backing from upper management, it doesn’t work! Operating a project in stealth mode that impacts outside teams will result in failure. Doing CD properly affects all stakeholders so buy in from the top is essential, smaller companies may have more flexible options, but either way all those affected need to know what is happening and why.
So, the hard part is getting the backing! Start by getting the book…reading it would help too! Get a few copies, leave them strategically around the office! Start talking about CD! As you do you can gauge the reaction from your teams. Work with those who are interested, do a lightning talk, pilot a small process to show to others who are not sure. You want to gain momentum, having more people speaking positively about this will do wonders when influencing others!
At the same time We have to be honest, there will be challenges too so don’t hide away from them but if you’re in big bang turmoil the benefits usually outweigh those obstacles you need to overcome. These blogs can help build a case:
- InfoQ: Continuous Delivery: Huge Benefits, but Challenges Too
- ThoughtWorks: The Case for Continuous Delivery
Are you doing continuous integration already? You may already have other processes in place that would make the change easier, see how you measure up on the maturity model:
Print out copies of the model and put them up in the office, mark one’s you’ve done already. Keep people talking about CD!
It’s my opinion that CD is not a passing trend, it is here to stay. Yes, there are challenges and CD is not going to solve all your problem but it is a process that gives stability across your deployment pipeline. We can get on board or watch our competitors deliver software faster to our customers!