Continuous deployment means continuous engagement

Photo by United States Marine CorpsJust as effective Agile causes positive organisation changes beyond the tech team, so continuous deployment has similar wide, positive benefits.

Superficially it’s a tech change: as soon as a technical changes passes its (automated) tests it gets deployed into production. But there are behaviour changes that are required to make it work effectively, and those are not all in the tech team.

For example, once a change is deployed it’s monitored and subsequent actions of what to focus on are based on the results. So product owners or product managers need to think in smaller increments. Development and systems teams move away from so many “special cases” (also known as “projects”) into a more business as usual state. These continuous visible changes require stakeholders all round the business to engage with the tech team on a more continuous basis—and vice versa. So there is no more “out of sight, out of mind”—it is no longer possible for non-tech stakeholders to think that the next delivery or the next showcase is two weeks or two months away, so they can stop thinking about the digital side until then. That kind of thinking no longer works.

In other words, the feedback loop becomes so small for the technical deliveries that it forces a similarly tight feedback loop for all the product stakeholders. Of course, that includes the end users or customers, too. Testing is more open; it is easier to fail small than spend time creating  (unobtainable) perfection; people recognise that they cannot second-guess their users and it’s more beneficial to act on real data instead of speculation.

For most, this is a significant culture change. But it’s definitely a change for the better. It’s a change that brings all the key players much closer together, and embeds much more responsive behaviours into the organisation’s culture.

Photo by United States Marine Corps