Time management is the bane of many an IT project.
So, how does an enterprise speed up the delivery process and thereby stay ahead of the competition? The answer, according to a panel of IT leaders at the recent ThoughtWorks Live conference in Sydney, is through 'continuous delivery'.
Continuous delivery is a fairly new concept in agile management. The panel, which included representatives from the Commonwealth Bank, MYOB, NBN Co and Suncorp, shared their experiences using the continuous delivery strategy to speed-up software releases, create automatic processes, and talked about the tools for continuous delivery.
Richard Delisser, executive manager of corporate applications at Suncorp, said continuous delivery helped the insurance company significantly cut down its project cycle time during what has been a “tough year” for the insurer.
“Over the 12 months we’ve been hitting it pretty hard, we’ve halved the cycle time, there’s been a lot of automation and we’ve gone from three releases a year to monthly releases. That's is a big step forward,” Delisser said.
“The other thing is the level of automation is starting to be built towards the assets into sums. Over the last 12 months, we have effectively automated about 100,000 days of traditional testing. Continuous delivery brings it all together.”
Delisser said that by automating processes, Suncorp was able to resolve any errors quickly during testing.
“The greatest example was we found a very significant defect a week before we were going to go into production and we were able to resolve that defect and push it through the testing environment in an automated way."
Edwin Butler, operations and applications support manager at NBN Co, found tools to be an essential part of automation.
"Unless you have the tools to automate your environments, you’re not going to get there,” he said.
Tools for continuous delivery are not necessarily an easy quick-fix solution, however. Jason Chapman, executive manager of continuous delivery at Commonwealth Bank, said finding the right tools that will work in your particular organisation is a challenge.
“There’s are number of off-the-shelf tools that we can purchase that still need to work together and I think that in itself is a big challenge,” Chapman said. “Trying to jump in, buy some tools and then make it work for you and for the people that need to use it is probably a mistake.”
Nish Mahanty, software development manager at MYOB, agreed. Tools don’t always keep up with changing needs in the business, he said, arguing that they should be slowly integrated to support people and processes rather than simply used to set up automatic processes.
“It’s not about the tools. You need to get the people right, the processes right and then slowly put in the tools that support those things.”
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