Tracking the Speed of Software Development


The prime driver for many companies embracing DevOps remains the desire to make the software development process faster. We continually state the following: increased software engineering velocity is a must in today’s competitive business marketplace. Finding the right metrics to track application engineering speed is essential in determining the true return on investment.

What follows is an analysis of a few metrics to help you determine the speed and overall efficacy of your software development team. Perhaps these insights help support the value of your methodology to the executives at your company? Good luck!

Finding the Right Metrics for Software Development

When it comes to tracking software development, finding the right metrics is vital. The continuous integration platform company, CircleCI, published a study looking at some suitable options. An article about their efforts appeared last week in SD Times.

The company’s study leveraged the data from organizations using CircleCI’s platform. It tracked software development efforts from the first half of 2017. CircleCI discovered that three specific metrics reveal a software development team’s overall maturity as well the velocity of their SDLC.

Deploy Time, Deploy Frequency, and Mainline Branch Stability topped the company’s list of metrics. The first two appear to be easily tracked, but what about the third? Jim Rose, CEO of CircleCI, commented on the definition of Mainline Branch Stability.

“If you had to release the most recent version of your code right now, right this second, could you? Is your mainline green and can you deploy whenever you need to?” said Rose. The CircleCI report noted that 80 percent of the companies maintained a deployable codebase 90 percent of the time.

Ultimately, this metric provides a great way to track an organization’s progress towards the DevOps “Holy Grail” of continuous deployment. The top companies using Circle CI – in the 95th percentile – are essentially able to deploy all the time. However, the worst firms – in the 5th percentile – can do so only half the time.

What about Deploy Time and Deploy Frequency?

Deployment time and frequency are traditional metrics used in software development for decades. CircleCI feels they still provide value in a modern Agile or DevOps process. According to Rose, Deploy Time answers this question: “How long does it take between the time you make a commit until it gets into the data center?”

The top companies in their report are able to fully deploy code in less than three minutes. Those denizens of the 5th percentile on average spend a half-hour on each deployment. A smaller deployment time obviously indicates a more efficient and inexpensive process.

Obviously, Deploy Frequency then answers this question: “How often do you deploy and how quickly are you pushing changes?” The top organizations in their survey deploy 32 times a week, while the lowest only are able to deploy eight times each week.

Making Software Development Faster

It helps software development organizations when they understand where they stand compared to other companies in their field. Providing a goal to strive for is essential, especially when CIOs and other execs want to see ROI as quickly as possible. Rose commented on a few best practices for development teams to follow.

“You need to make sure you have a great code review process, pull review process, and a robust set of tests that are automated and constantly run every time someone is making a commit so that you know well before you merge into the mainline that the merge is going to work,” said Rose.

For additional information and advice, check out CircleCI’s report at the following link.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Betica Blog. Stay tuned for additional insights from the software development world.