Software Development Workflows

As any seasoned developer knows, there’s much more to the software development life cycle than simply writing code. When developers, operations, and testing are siloed separately, it becomes difficult to implement agile strategies, lead times balloon, and errors multiply. DevOps tools that combine teams working 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, and QA testing tools should be used so that teams can keep the focus on adding critical new features instead of ensuring that those same updates don’t interfere with preexisting code.

Centralizing updates and automatically publishing new product iterations make 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 are ready to ship, the new product is pushed automatically; if 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 significant 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” at 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 essential to implementing agile strategies in software teams. Learn more about agile development.

Eliminate Redundant Work and Avoid Burnout

Inefficiencies in the development life cycle directly result from inefficiencies in team practices. One common issue is a failure to define all the criteria that must be met 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. Parts 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 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 focus. With seven or eight in-progress functions, developers are likely to bounce between different projects, failing to achieve 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 look for ways to streamline schedules, minimize errors, and improve output. Clever use of agile practices ensures reliable, error-free software.