- The book Accelerate is based on four years of research by the authors, who are experts in DevOps, software engineering, and organizational performance. The book presents the findings and the science behind the research, as well as practical guidance for improving software delivery performance and achieving business outcomes.
- The book defines software delivery performance as the ability to deliver software with high frequency, low lead time, low change failure rate, and fast mean time to recovery. The book also identifies four key capabilities that enable high performance: continuous delivery, lean management and product development, architectural empowerment, and culture of learning and experimentation.
- The book provides a framework for measuring and improving these capabilities and performance using rigorous statistical methods and surveys. The book also shows how these capabilities and performance are influenced by organizational culture, leadership, and team autonomy. The book offers practical advice on how to adopt and improve these capabilities and practices, as well as how to overcome common challenges and pitfalls.
Accelerate (2018) explores the intersection of software development and organizational performance. Drawing on rigorous research, it reveals the practices and capabilities that allow high-performing technology-driven companies to excel and achieve a competitive edge in the fast-paced digital era.
Introduction: A guide to mastering the art of efficient software delivery.
Table of Contents
- Introduction: A guide to mastering the art of efficient software delivery.
- Continuous delivery lets you make changes without disrupting your organization
- Loosely coupled teams don’t get bogged down in the details
- Empowering teams with tool choices yields better performance
- Lean management drives evolution in software teams
- Tackling deployment pain head-on boosts team performance and morale
- About the Author
Imagine being in a bakery. You’ve got a long line of customers, each wanting a uniquely decorated cake, delivered quickly. Traditional methods might have you baking each cake from scratch, slowly and methodically. But what if there were a way to serve each customer rapidly, with custom cakes that not only looked fantastic but also tasted divine?
That’s the magic of continuous delivery in the software world.
This summary to Accelerate unravels the essence of modern software development, allowing businesses to serve their customers faster and better. It provides a roadmap to transforming your “bakery,” ensuring your team can create masterpieces efficiently and joyously.
Ready to dive into the art and science behind top-tier software delivery?
Continuous delivery lets you make changes without disrupting your organization
The Agile Manifesto was published in 2001. At that time, extreme programming – XP for short – was the go-to agile method for many in the industry. Unlike scrum, XP was highly technical in nature. It emphasized steps like continuously testing and integrating software during development. Continuous delivery takes this idea even further. It’s like saying, “We need to have a good recipe and the right ingredients from the start if we want to bake a great cake.”
So, what is continuous delivery in simple terms? Imagine having a toolkit that lets you make any kind of change to your software – whether it’s adding new features, fixing errors, or trying out something new – and then being able to roll that out smoothly and quickly.
There are a few golden rules to this.
First up? Start with quality. The idea is that it’s easier to start off right than to fix mistakes later.
Second, break tasks down. It’s like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, where you piece together the picture step by step, allowing you to grasp what’s working and make adjustments along the way.
Third, let machines do the repetition. Put differently, use your resources wisely. People are great at solving complex challenges, so let them do that. The boring stuff? Automate it!
Fourth, always aim higher. The best teams always look for ways to improve.
Finally, teamwork makes the dream work. Everyone involved should work together, aiming for the bigger picture – not just their piece of the puzzle.
Now, to make continuous delivery work, you need some solid foundations. We can also break these foundations down into three maxims.
First, have a solid blueprint. Every step in building, testing, and rolling out software should be automated. Only a few steps, like final approvals, should need a human touch.
Second, keep merging. Teams should keep integrating their work and making sure it works to catch issues early.
Last but not least, always be testing! Testing shouldn’t be an afterthought; it should be happening all the time. Only once a job passes all its tests can it be considered “done.”
In short, continuous delivery is all about getting good-quality software out there regularly and reliably. It’s like a well-oiled machine where everyone from the coder to the designer to the tester works together seamlessly. And the benefits? Research says it not only makes software delivery better but also improves team spirit and reduces stress and deployment issues. But like any big change, it needs investment in time, tools, and a willingness to adapt.
If we dive deeper, we see that blending this into the bigger picture of company systems and software structures can be a challenge. And that’s what we’ll be looking at next.
Loosely coupled teams don’t get bogged down in the details
Continuous delivery practices can boost how efficiently software gets to users, improve workplace morale, and simplify the software update process. But there’s a catch: the structure of the software itself can sometimes slow things down.
Imagine if a car’s engine was so sensitively calibrated that making one small change disrupted everything else. In software, we want the opposite. We aim for a “loosely coupled” design, where changes to one part won’t disturb the rest. That way, as a business grows, it can keep improving without many hiccups.
So, what does a great software structure look like? Two things stand out: being able to test changes without disrupting the entire system, and being able to update parts of the software without waiting on others. In the best setups, teams can make big changes without needing to ask for permission or causing extra work for others. Plus, they can roll out these changes anytime, even during the busiest hours, without causing downtimes.
Here’s another cool part: in organizations with this flexible design, teams don’t need to chat all the time. They can work independently, like chefs in a large kitchen. Each is responsible for their own station and component of the menu, but they’re all working toward a complete meal. That doesn’t mean teams shouldn’t talk; it just means they should save their conversations for bigger picture goals instead of tiny details. The chefs get together to talk about how they want the diner to feel, not how to cook shrimp or dress the salad.
Some might argue that more communication is always good, especially in the tech world of DevOps, which is all about teamwork. But think of it this way: if you’re trying to plan a big event, it’s more efficient to discuss broad ideas rather than every minute detail. Similarly, in software, we want communication channels to focus on overarching objectives.
For software to be efficient and responsive to business needs, its structure should be flexible, allowing teams to work both independently and collaboratively when needed. This balance ensures that as businesses grow and change, their software can effortlessly keep pace.
Empowering teams with tool choices yields better performance
Think of a business’s performance. The immediate images that might come to mind are sales graphs or boardroom meetings. But underneath all that, there’s a crucial foundation: the tools and systems that teams use to get the job done.
Every company typically has a playbook. Engineers and tech teams have a set menu of tools and frameworks they can pick from. Why? Well, it’s believed that this method keeps the environment straightforward, ensures everyone on the team is speaking the same tech language, and leads to better deals from tech vendors. Not to mention, it makes sure all the tools are legally cleared for use.
But here’s the twist. By giving teams such a narrow lane, you might be putting speed bumps on their path. Restricting tool choices can stifle innovation and prevent teams from adopting newer, perhaps more efficient, ways to tackle challenges. Data backs this up. When teams have the reins to choose their tools, they tend to deliver better results, and the overall organization moves faster. This makes sense. Who knows better about what’s needed than the tech experts knee-deep in the daily grind of software creation and tech management?
Now, some might argue that a bit of standardization doesn’t hurt. And they’re not wrong. Especially when we’re talking about the structure of systems. Having a common ground ensures fewer hiccups when diagnosing and solving issues. Plus, a standardized approach to security can make sure that safety is woven into the very fabric of projects. But these tools and security protocols should be a breeze to use. If they’re a natural fit, teams will embrace them without a nudge. If they feel forced, they won’t.
At the end of the day, it’s like any consumer product. If it’s user-centric, it’s a hit. Tools for internal teams are no different. If they’re good, they’ll be used.
While the business world often buzzes with debates about which tech or tool is the next big thing, the real focus should be elsewhere. It should be on how these tools make the users feel and the results they drive. Rather than dictating tool choices, the smarter move is fostering collaboration. Listen to the engineers. Understand their needs. Then, hand them the tools that will both make their tasks possible and a joy to undertake.
Lean management drives evolution in software teams
Agile has become a buzzword in software development. But many businesses barely scratch the surface, let alone explore its full potential. They stick to old habits, taking ages to budget and plan, rarely releasing big updates, and putting customer feedback on the back burner.
Enter lean. Inspired by principles from the lean startup movement, it’s all about continuous user feedback. American entrepreneur Eric Ries, in his book The Lean Startup, gave a fresh perspective: start with a prototype, keep your projects small and manageable, and be ready to adapt your product and even your business plans based on what the real world tells you.
Many teams claim to be agile, but they’re stuck following rules and requirements from outside their team. Genuine agile involves the customer from the start. If developers can’t tweak and change their work based on real-time insights without getting a nod from someone higher up, they’re held back from creating something truly amazing.
Research shows the benefits of giving teams a little freedom and allowing them to experiment and change things up during development. When they can get and use customer feedback from the early stages, the business thrives in areas like profits, capturing the market, and efficiency.
But it’s not about letting developers do whatever they want. There’s a balance. Combining freedom with practices like working in bite-sized chunks, keeping everyone in the loop about progress, and constantly listening to customers is the secret sauce. This approach ensures decisions are smart, strategic, and beneficial for everyone involved.
When genuinely agile practices are paired with software delivery, teams felt more motivated and less stressed. Flipping the perspective, when software delivery is on point, it boosts lean product management techniques. It’s a beneficial loop. The more you improve, the more the other benefits increase too. This cycle leads to growth and success.
The big takeaway? Working in small bits, keeping the user in mind, and embracing a try-test-adapt approach is the future of successful software development.
Tackling deployment pain head-on boosts team performance and morale
The wellness and performance of your software team are intricately linked. The tech industry knows the high costs, both monetary and human, of burnout and stressful deployment processes. Let’s wrap things up, then, by taking a look at “deployment pain.”
Imagine the apprehension engineers feel when they’re about to release new code into the real world. This anxiety is a powerful indicator of the team’s software delivery capability. The origin of this pain lies at the intersection of software development and IT operations. It’s like two worlds clashing, with differences in environment, mindset, processes, and even terminology. The more severe this pain is, the more indicators there are of poor software delivery, organization culture, and overall performance.
Consider Microsoft’s experience. Their engineering teams started embracing continuous delivery and saw transformative results. Before embracing these modern delivery methods, the engineers’ work-life balance satisfaction was a mere 38 percent. Post-implementation, it skyrocketed to 75 percent. That’s because engineers were able to manage their tasks more efficiently within work hours, minimize manual deployments, and keep work-related stress contained within the office walls.
But it’s not just the pain of deployment that should concern business owners. An equally troubling sign is when development teams are oblivious to the deployment process altogether. If you ask them about deployments and they respond with, “I’ve never thought about it,” alarm bells should ring. This lack of visibility usually implies hidden barriers, and these barriers keep developers in the dark about the ramifications of their work.
Many in the tech realm ask how to alleviate deployment pain and enhance the work experience of their technical staff. Comprehensive research has shown that certain technical capabilities can reduce this pain. Introducing automated testing and deployment, employing continuous integration, focusing on security from the get-go, efficiently managing test data, utilizing flexible architectures, empowering teams to operate independently, and ensuring version control are pivotal.
In essence, the technical measures that boost our capacity to deliver software swiftly and reliably also play a major role in mitigating the stress tied to code deployment. Having these measures in place ensures not only a robust software delivery system, but a contented, high-performing team.
The Agile Manifesto and extreme programming emphasize agile methods and ongoing testing in software development. Continuous delivery focuses on regularly updating software using key principles like quality, task breakdown, automation, and teamwork. Flexible software design allows for seamless updates. Organizations should balance standard tools with team autonomy. Lean principles advocate for user feedback and adaptability. And addressing “deployment pain,” the anxiety felt during code releases, is vital.
By embracing these methods, software development can be efficient and stress-free.
About the Author
Technology and the Future, Productivity, Entrepreneurship
The book Accelerate is based on four years of research by the authors, who are experts in the fields of DevOps, software engineering, and organizational performance. The book presents the findings and the science behind the research, as well as practical guidance for improving software delivery performance and achieving business outcomes.
The main argument of the book is that software delivery performance matters for organizational success in the modern world, where technology innovation is a key driver of competitive advantage. The authors define software delivery performance as the ability to deliver software with high frequency, low lead time, low change failure rate, and fast mean time to recovery. They also identify four key capabilities that enable high performance: continuous delivery, lean management and product development, architectural empowerment, and culture of learning and experimentation.
The book explains how to measure these capabilities and performance using rigorous statistical methods and surveys, and provides evidence from thousands of data points across different industries, domains, and regions. The book also shows how these capabilities and performance are influenced by organizational culture, leadership, and team autonomy. The book offers practical advice on how to adopt and improve these capabilities and practices, as well as how to overcome common challenges and pitfalls.
I found the book Accelerate to be very informative, insightful, and useful for anyone who is interested in or involved in software delivery. The book is well-written, clear, and engaging, with plenty of examples, case studies, and anecdotes. The book is also backed by solid research and data analysis, which makes it credible and authoritative.
The book covers a lot of ground in a relatively short space, but it does not sacrifice depth or detail. The book provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of software delivery performance and its impact on organizational performance. The book also provides a clear framework for assessing and improving software delivery capabilities and practices, as well as a roadmap for implementing change and transformation.
The book is not only relevant for software engineers, developers, or managers, but also for anyone who cares about delivering value to customers and stakeholders through technology. The book shows how software delivery is not just a technical issue, but also a business issue, a cultural issue, and a leadership issue. The book challenges some of the common myths and misconceptions about software delivery, such as that it is not possible to achieve both speed and quality, or that it is not important for non-technology companies.
The book Accelerate is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn how to build and scale high performing technology organizations that can thrive in the digital age.