What is Continuous Development?
February 2nd, 2023
It wasn’t too long ago that the traditional method of platform and application development was to release all updates in one large batch.
Using this method, developers work on any and all updates - security patches, bug fixes, user experience enhancements, feature improvements, and much more – in their entirety, first. Then, they put the updates through various development phases and house everything in a staging environment until it’s finally ready to be released; which can take weeks, months, sometimes even years.
On top of long development cycles, the main problem with this process is, all of it took place before users even had a chance to interact with it. Who knows if, after all of that waiting, the updates actually worked for the people it was meant for.
Now, this traditional method is being challenged by a process called Continuous Development.
What is Continuous Development?
Continuous Development (CD) is an incremental, iterative approach to software development in which updates are released in small, on-going batches. It ensures that code - even if it has new features, configurations, bug fixes, experiments - is always in a deployable state in a production environment.
Instead of a “grand opening” kind of platform launch, not to be touched again until a litany of changes are needed, CD delivers in consistent and effective batches. Results and data can also be evaluated continuously, so iterations can be made immediately.
In other words, it’s an approach where progress is more important than perfection.
Think of it like maintaining your car. Small habits like getting an oil change, inspecting the headlights and turn signals, and rotating the tires every so often will pay off in the long-run; improving your car’s performance, longevity, and cost-savings overtime. The same goes for websites, but instead of oil changes and rotating tires, it's updating security patches and enhancing intuitive workflows.
Benefits of CD
- Greater visibility / involvement of team members
- CD divvys up tasks and places some power back in the hands of internal teams, so they don’t have to depend on dev teams for more simple updates or tasks.
- Improved product quality
- Continuous improvements result in better-quality software. When you are continually assessing, improving, and assessing again, best-in-class platforms result.
- Releasing in small-batches allows you to avoid the buildup of technical debt that inevitably necessitates a major project, which will involve much more time and money spent.
- Easier to fix bug issues and errors
- Instead of waiting for errors to arise, so site owners can create a list to be tackled at the next update, CD will proactively address and fix them as they come.
- Better customer experience
- Site users aren’t waiting long periods of time before the next iteration is released for improved functionality, bug fixes, and necessary updates. Additionally, the site becomes more and more reflective of the visitors’ preferences, by owners making incremental changes based on the data recorded.
- Reduces project risks
- Results in a lower error ratio, because on-going, consistent updates allow owners to precisely define and tackle the tasks at hand, before moving onto the next set.
- Increased productivity
- With less time set aside for major site overhauls, team members can spend more time on other projects, strategizing, or whatever else is most beneficial to the organization.
- Maintain relevance
- No matter the industry you work in - healthcare, manufacturing, higher education - you’re probably no stranger to its rapidly changing market and technologies. With CD, you’re better able to respond to those unceasing changes with a site that always stays up-to-date.
The steps towards CD
Interestingly enough, the steps are quite simple. You don’t need a huge organization or a large team of developers. Just motivation to improve.
But we know that on top of that motivation you already have, you also came here for some concrete advice:
- Always be auditing
- When it comes to your digital platform, sometimes it’s best to get back to basics: Asking yourself, “What within our current workflows and processes is working well?” “What’s not?” Itemize your needs in a priority list to tackle improvements to your platform in the most effective way.
- Implement the improvements
- Whether you have an entire dev team or need to depend wholly on outside help, our digital experts will align with any and all stakeholders seamlessly to continuously deliver on your priority needs, while equipping you with the knowledge and tools necessary to ensure you’re self-sufficient in continuously optimizing your platform from that point forward.
- Maintain your monitoring
- Continue to assess and evaluate the results from enhancements on your platform and iterate accordingly. In addition, record and act on feedback from internal teams on workflows and adjust as needed.
- Rinse and repeat.
How we work with it
As is the spirit of our guiding principle, our implementation of a CD process will always be completely customized to our client and their unique needs.
We’re proud to have a lot of lived experiences with CD. In fact, our typical engagements can be broken down into two basic forms: full build and continuous build. The latter, as you might’ve guessed, pertains to CD.
Chris Locher, FFW America's VP of Delivery, provides additional insight: “CD is most often applied in builds where our clients need to see immediate results and our continuous builds because, rather than targeting a large launch of a full website or application, we’re focusing on taking feedback and recommendations to maintain and improve a website or application.”
If you’re looking for more information on CD, here are some additional resources that come straight from the minds of our digital experts:
- Future-proof and remote-proof your site with continuous development
- How to upgrade your site without needing to make sweeping changes, as well as more information on the agile framework.
- How We Killed the Website Replatform
- We highlight a real example of our CD work with Delphix, and how it's been a major player in refining and evolving their platform to scale their efficiency and thus, their entire organization.
And how we can help you
- Chris Locher, FFW America's VP of Delivery.
A partnership with us is long-term; we’re a strategic ally that is committed to your continued success. As a devoted partner, we ensure you’re equipped with not only the solution you need, but also acquire the knowledge of the why behind it and how to effectively operate it as it best suits your needs for the long run.
CD is a great solution for many organizations. But our mission is to find a best-fit solution, custom-made for you. If you’re implementing a continuous development process, considering it, or just curious to know more, contact us to speak with one of our digital experts about your unique needs and questions!