Benefits of Continuous Delivery for non-technical roles

Tim Dorr
CTO and Founder

Continuous Delivery offers a new approach for delivering software that centers around pushing updates live as soon as they are developed and tested in order to increase the speed and frequency of delivery.

In doing so, Continuous Delivery yields many benefits. For example, it enables organizations to get customer feedback faster, allows QA teams to improve coverage and lower costs while making testing more efficient and enables developers to reduce risk by working on smaller pieces of code in shorter time frames.

The list of benefits of Continuous Delivery goes on, and along the way it’s easy to overlook the positive impact of this delivery approach for non-technical teams. However, teams like sales, marketing and product design stand to gain a lot when their technical counterparts adopt Continuous Delivery.

How to bring Continuous Delivery to non-technical teams

Before we explore the benefits of Continuous Delivery for non-technical teams, it’s important to first understand how to bring them into the process.

The most common way to do this to date is through the use of staging environments, which offer a place for users of all kinds to view software updates before they go live. However, staging environments do have limitations, as they are typically a contested resource. Most organizations have a set number of staging environments, and introducing any additional environments requires manual development work to stand up and maintain. This situation means that staging environments are largely reserved for QA teams, with only certain opportunities for non-technical teams to use them, all of which are time-constrained.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this challenge: Review Environments. Review Environments are temporary spaces to run applications separate from production that can be stood up with a single command. Essentially, they remove the manual setup and maintenance from staging environments to make it quick and easy for teams to spin these environments up and down as needed without any operational burden. This ease of use means that organizations can have as many Review Environments as they need at a given time, which makes them an uncontested resource. In turn, this makes it possible to give non-technical teams the time they need to review live updates and, therefore, participate in the Continuous Delivery process.

How non-technical teams benefit from Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery is a technical process, but its benefits extend far beyond the technical work of teams like developers and QA analysts.

Overall, Continuous Delivery supports faster cycle times to bring software updates to customers faster, whether that’s new features or bug fixes. This speed to market helps keep existing customers happy and offers opportunities to draw in new customers (or even expand relationships with existing ones).

Diving deeper, some of the biggest ways non-technical teams benefit from Continuous Delivery include:

  1. Viewing software in action before it goes live

    If you have multiple environments for Continuous Delivery, whether it’s Review Environments or a more traditional staging environment, you can easily give product designers and product owners an opportunity to view the software in action before it goes live. This opportunity allows them to interact with the feature and make sure everything works as expected when it’s actually built out, which is a big benefit compared to the status quo of sending these team members static screenshots.

    For example, designers can click around and understand how their design actually got implemented to make sure it matches what they intended. If it doesn’t, this review period gives them a chance to raise any issues and work with developers on changes before the updates get into the hands of customers.

    Meanwhile, product owners may have a good idea of what a feature looks like in total, but the process of developing software usually involves building small components that plug together to make a big feature, which can make it difficult to see the forest for the trees. As a result, the ability to see all of those components working together as part of the bigger feature is extremely valuable for product owners to validate functionality.

  2. Capturing real-world feedback by giving customers exclusive access

    Giving sales and marketing teams as well as product owners access to in-progress updates within Review Environments (or a staging environment) offers a unique way to capture customer feedback. Specifically, these teams can grant customers (or prospective customers) temporary access to play around with a new feature. Doing so offers new ways to:

    • Sell and market products: Allow marketers to build materials for an upcoming release based on an actual working version of the product and enable sales to weave the promises of a roadmap into the actual sales pitch. For instance, it’s one thing to tell someone during a sales cycle that a new feature is in progress, it’s another to show them how you’ll deliver on that promise by giving them an exclusive sneak peek into how it’s shaping up so they can better understand it and guarantee it’s something to which they’ll actually have access – not simply a pie-in-the-sky pitch to get their business.
    • Capture customer feedback: Get real, actionable feedback on new features from the people who will actually use it and buy it from you. Conducting market research and using those signals to brainstorm new features is a good start, but sitting down with a real person and hearing what they think – particularly when they can get hands-on with that feature – is what will really move the needle for your product. Market signals might differ from what your customers actually want when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of using your product, and features can quickly whither and die if they’re not built (and iterated on) with a deep customer focus. Getting actionable feedback from real users who are hands-on with a feature is the best and most efficient way to develop that customer focus.
  3. Strengthen the manager-direct report relationship for developers

    While developers are certainly technical, their relationships with their direct managers is not technical by any means, and Continuous Delivery can help improve this more human aspect of an otherwise technical part of the business.

    Typically, a manager will share with their direct reports what needs to be built and how it should be built – and then trust that at the end of the day it will turn out as expected. Continuous Delivery can help fill that gap by providing managers with an instantaneous view into how everything is shaping up at any given point in time to relieve a lot of stress that often exists in these relationships.

    For instance, it’s common for manager-direct report relationships to become tense if there’s a mismatch of expectations, but this mismatch usually stems from not having the necessary level of visibility into what’s going on. When that happens, by the time a manager does get any visibility, their direct report has already done so much work that changing course creates tension.

    Continuous Delivery flips that model on its head by providing managers with granular visibility into their team’s work. Review Environments make this even easier by enabling users to spin up new environments in an automated way, also without requiring any additional development work to maintain them.

Ready to bring Continuous Delivery to your organization?

Continuous Delivery holds enormous potential to improve not just the technical aspects of software delivery, but also non-technical aspects like product design, marketing and sales and even the relationships between developers and their managers.

If you’re ready to bring this approach to your organization and start realizing benefits like these, contact us today to learn how Spaceship can help.

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