Why is it so challenging to deliver quality software?
In today’s challenging economy, businesses are under increased pressure to reduce overall costs while mitigating and controlling risks. The reality is that many businesses struggle to successfully deliver quality software on time and on budget that meets their market needs. Why is it so difficult to deliver a product that aligns to the business goals?
Organizations face a combination of technology challenges due to their complex IT environments. These environments serve multiple business functions, consist of large application portfolios and have significant custom development needs with steep quality requirements. In order to deploy new functionality in these complex environments, large-scale updates to multiple systems are necessary. Software delivery is challenging and, if not coordinated properly, can affect delivery schedules, cost and quality.
Software delivery challenges
Many factors contribute to the challenges of software delivery. These include the following:
1. Increasing complexity of software
The definition of software is changing rapidly. Software delivery is no longer confined to a single application but is now a coordinated process of design, building, testing and releasing many interconnected composite applications. In addition, vendor ecosystems have also grown complex. Today organizations depend on value-added solution partners following varied development methodologies such as packaged, outsourced or custom, along with traditional in-house development.
2. Release management challenges
Any software delivery is realized by multiple releases that vary in size and complexity. These often encompass multiple interrelated systems with integration complexities and foundational architectural requirements. Such complex environments make it challenging to understand, monitor and bundle discrete release components (for example, projects or enhancements) in a manageable approach.
3. Outdated program management approach
Even with the recognition that software projects are very different in nature from other projects, many organizations are still using traditional, engineering-focused project management methods and tools. Even with well-defined project plans, delivery teams find those plans completely irrelevant when related components are delayed, which have a far-reaching impact on the entire organization’s release calendar. Most companies continue to manage these processes with spreadsheets and graphical presentation tools that don’t provide deep understanding of the business impact when managing a release.
4. Product and requirements management challenges
Organizations have a product or a service that is the core of their business. Developing and maintaining a product or service is a compromise between what customers demand, what they think they need and what technology can offer. It is extremely important that companies maintain a strong pipeline of new products in their product portfolios. In most organizations, the strategic management of the portfolio—and subsequent processes of software delivery that drive requirements and tactical project plans—are often highly compartmentalized, poorly defined and seldom enabled by collaborative and automation technologies.
Facing these challenges
Organizations must stop crippling themselves with poor product planning and traditional program management processes and embark on software delivery techniques. To successfully run a high-value software delivery project, organizations must break down the silos that exist between roles, divisions and physical locations. Strong delivery management practices can improve the quality of production releases and reduce the risk of schedule and cost overruns. And this is where DevOps comes into play.
Using the DevOps continuous software delivery practices, you can get the following benefits:
Correct use of software delivery processes can result in the ability to connect the business releases to user needs as well as business needs to application requirements, and application requirements to test cases that effectively connect strategy with delivery. Well-executed software delivery can provide full traceability to help ensure that value and benefits are realized, and that correct IT rationalizations have been made. There are plenty of businesses that, by mitigating risks and having a systematic approach to software delivery, have achieved improvements in their success rates leading to a decrease in operational costs and a better and greater impact to their business outcome.
This raises an important question: What exactly is continuous software delivery? Watch for my next blog post, where I’ll dive into that question in greater depth.