How to Speed Up Software Release Cycles and Maintain Quality

There’s always an underlying pressure for software engineers and developers to get things done more quickly. But whenever there’s a need for speed, it can also impact on product quality. And bad software is no good to anyone.

We’ve already looked at the different things that can slow down your software release cycle, but what can you do to speed it up? We’re going to hit the ground running by introducing the process of software release management, discussing a few of the pain points, and diving into the tried and tested tactics to get quality software out into the world more quickly.

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What is software release management?

How do you choose between speed and quality? With considered software release management, you don’t have to. 

Software release management is the name given to the process of optimizing every aspect of your software release cycle (from development and QA testing to deployment and tracking). Tracking the right metrics and following software release management best practices will help you get your process on track. 

What are the pain points for developers?

Speed is important. Of course it is. The faster you can deliver software to the market, the stronger your competitive edge and the more profitable you’re likely to be. But that level of urgency can create several pain points for developers.

Internal pressure for quick releases

First, let’s get one thing straight. Regardless of what you’re being told by your higher-ups, speed is never the goal of a software release. Quality is always the priority. However, with impossible timelines and ridiculous release cycles, it might not always feel like it. 

Working in an environment where there’s constant internal pressure for quick releases, it’s hardly surprising that products can be strewn with errors. As a developer, you need to make peace with the fact that the release cycle is shorter than you might like and implement proper software release management practices that minimize the risks.

A lack of resources

Every team would love to have an endless pool of QA resources, but that’s not how the development world works. Instead, many companies have a lack of internal resources and no way to scale that up quickly when those software release cycles come around. 

Inevitably, the result is that QA teams are often stretched to their limit, which slows the release process down. The fix is simple, you just need more testers, but where do you find them at such short notice when the usual recruitment process takes so long?

Sure, overtime can get your team working more, but working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you get more done. In fact, workaholics can often wind up creating more problems than they solve.

Inefficient processes

Waiting is waste in its purest form, yet so often, wait time due to inefficient processes is the cause of bottlenecks and delays that slow down work progress. One common example of where waiting can lead to waste is the gap between deploying from stage to production. 

Most issues with wait time can be removed by a change in your process. One of the simplest ways is to remove a human approval process that you can check by other means. But then you’re faced with the challenge of balancing manual processes with automation.

3 tactics to speed up your software release cycles

1. Create a consistent release schedule

Once you have a clear picture of the current state of the process, you can then establish and schedule a consistent software release cycle. Generally speaking, shorter release cycles with small changes are easier to stick to than longer cycles with big overhauls.  

When creating your schedule, think about things like:

  • What are your release goals?
  • What timelines make sense for your business?
  • What expectations do you have for quality standards?

Once you have a schedule in mind, communicate and document your release plans. That makes sure everyone is on the same page and creates a routine that teams can organize around. It allows your teams to discuss and document release issues regularly and provides a timeline for your stakeholders and customers. 

2. Implement continuous testing

One of the most common bottlenecks in the software release process is when testing only occurs at one point in the cycle. The good news here is that the fix is simple and comes in the form of a process called continuous testing. 

Continuous testing is the practice of running automated tests at regular intervals every time you make a change to the code. The tests lead to faster feedback so you can identify defects sooner and resolve them more quickly. However, continuous testing can only be effective in a regularly updated testing environment, so you must make it standard practice to deploy smaller code updates frequently to keep the wheels spinning. 

As well as reducing the time is takes you to provide feedback to your developers, continuous testing can also improve the overall quality of your software at every stage of the process.

3. Balance manual and automated testing

With QA teams expected to perform tests within shortening developing cycles, automated testing lets you keep up with the constant stream of releases. But manual testing is still an important testing strategy. 

Manual testing is critical to understanding the user’s perspective and finding defects before the software is customer-facing. Manual testers mimic and anticipate the actions of users to create an experience that they value. Therefore, if you want to speed up your software release cycles while maintaining quality, you need to find the right balance between manual and automated testing.

4. The software release tug of war

When it comes to high-velocity software releases, speed and quality will always be a tug of war. But by putting the right processes in place and giving your teams the tools they need, you can create an environment where you deliver better software more quickly, every single time. Find the perfect balance between automated and manual testing at Global App Testing. We offer automated manual testing via our On Demand platform to give you access to real testers, with real devices, that you can scale up at any time. Start your 14-day free trial or get in touch with one of our experts so we can answer your questions.

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