Software Development Workflows
As any seasoned developer knows, there’s much more to the software development life cycle than simply writing code. When developers, operation, and testing are siloed separately and it becomes difficult to implement agile strategies, lead times balloon and errors multiply. DevOps tools that bring teams together to work on the same project concurrently can streamline the development process and lead to a better end product. Read on for three tips to improve the structure of your development workflow.

Automate Processes Whenever Possible

Even the most collaborative teams can’t stay agile without using automated processes. Whenever a team or an individual has to test or deploy new code manually, time is lost and opportunities for human error are introduced. For instance, regression testing processes should be automated so that teams can keep focus on adding important new features instead of ensuring that those same updates don’t interfere with preexisting code.

Centralizing updates and automatically publishing new product iterations also makes the development life cycle more efficient. In CICD pipelining strategies like this, source code is stored in a central repository, where any changes made by individual team members are automatically tested, built, and deployed at scale without the need for manual intervention. If the changes made are ready to ship, the new product is pushed automatically; if there is an error or revisions need to be made, testing and operations teams can be alerted immediately, and the task can be added to their workflows.

Review and Improve Workflow Practices

Automating the development process can be a boon for production schedules, but automatic behavior can be a major issue for the humans that make up software teams. When things run smoothly for the most part, it’s easy to stop examining the workflow for inefficiencies and let go of best practices that don’t feel “necessary” in the moment. Software development, by its nature, happens in a dynamic environment; changes in market trends, new cybersecurity threats, and other environmental factors can upend what feels like a stable, infallible workflow.

When circumstances change, the best thing to do is go back to the basics of agile development: clear the backlog, re-commit to daily standups, and ensure that best practices are being implemented everywhere, from design groups to project management. Remember that DevOps and agile aren’t at odds—DevOps practices like continuous development and automation are an important part of implementing agile strategies in software teams.

Eliminate Redundant Work and Avoid Burnout

Inefficiencies in the development life cycle are a direct result of inefficiencies in team practices. One common issue is a failure to define all the criteria that must be met in order to consider a task complete. A hazy definition of “done” slows progress as team members shuffle features and updates back and forth between siloes, especially since task completion typically means something different to development teams than it does to operations and testing teams. Features should be considered “done” when the product is ready to ship. Continuous integration and delivery practices can reduce the friction associated with meeting different criteria for readiness, as it ensures that anyone involved in the process of developing, testing, or writing new code is alerted to an issue as soon as possible.

Inconsistent criteria for task completion can also cause in-progress tasks to pile up, which causes individual team members to lose their focus. With seven or eight in-progress tasks, developers are likely to bounce between different projects, never achieving the deep focus necessary to deliver the best possible product on each one. Worse yet, an excessive number of tasks in progress can prevent teams from ever clearing backlogged tasks, and can create the perception of an insurmountable workload, leading to burnout and low morale. Limiting works in progress improves efficiency and keeps everyone focused on essential goals.

The inherent complexity of software development means that teams should always be looking for ways to streamline schedules, minimize errors, and improve output. Smart use of agile practices ensures reliable, error-free software.