It is conventional wisdom that as you deliver software faster, the risk of a bad customer experience increases. There always seems to be a valid case to be made for one more day, one more week to make sure that things are done just right. And when things do break, we tend to put in process and checks and balances to make sure that we get everything right at the expense of slowing things down.
In larger organizations, as engineering teams deal with proxies for their users, it is easy to lose sight of why it is necessary to move fast and to obsess on reducing risk. The reality is that the best way to fully eliminate risk is to never release anything. In that extreme example, most organizations will not remain in business for long.
When faced with business pressure to deliver faster, engineers often hear that as "work harder" or "work longer" and then translate that to a demand of "we need more people". But what the business needs, is for engineering teams to innovate and transform themselves in a way that they reduce risk while still moving faster than ever before. Waiting one more day makes your business lose an opportunity to create value quickly and stay competitive.
What a competitive technology organization needs to figure out is how to have confidence in what they are building and how to limit the impact of a failure when it occurs. To enable these, teams need to look at transforming themselves in all dimensions and train themselves to think very differently. Slow, incremental change is not sufficient.
Some of the practices that can, when meaningfully implemented, enable a software engineering team to deliver business value faster while still managing risk are:
A lean software delivery lifecycle
Extreme automation of all tasks and processes
A clear technology architecture
A structured release and rollout strategy
Over the next few posts, I will be going deeper into each of these areas and cover how a combination of these can be valuable goals for a team looking to transform themselves to move fast and create business value.