Bugs, defects, errors — they are an inevitable part of software development. Whether you’re part of a small organization or large enterprise you can expect to encounter them in your software development process. Most organizations have two key objectives in this area: reduce the number of bugs (a popular KPI, reduce rate of defects introduced into production to zero), and implement a process to identify and fix bugs early in the software development process, when it’s faster and cheaper.
One of the most effective ways to ensure bugs get fixed quickly and consistently is to apply a continuous delivery (CD) model to your software development and delivery lifecycle. Continuous delivery not only enables you to fix bugs with speed, but it also gives you greater flexibility over your infrastructure. In this article, we’ll explain how you can use CD to make your business more efficient.
The benefits of continuous delivery
Continuous delivery is a software development practice focused on continuity. It enables you to release new features, make configuration changes, and push bug fixes into production quickly and safely while keeping your code in a perpetual, deployable state, even when there are multiple developers making changes continuously.
The best thing about continuous delivery is, done right, the model can work for organizations of all sizes — from “two pizza” teams to large, enterprise teams. Below are a few of the most significant benefits of implementing a continuous delivery pipeline.
Better productivity and efficiency
One of the biggest bottlenecks of traditional software development pipelines is that developers have to spend days or hours setting up their environment. This leads to inefficiencies and delays, and consequently, slow to deliver new features and loss of revenue or market opportunity over time.
With continuous delivery, environments are provisioned automatically, without manual intervention. This gives developers and testers the ability to devote more time to other valuable tasks, which significantly improves the productivity and efficiency of the business.
A continuous delivery model can help you discover errors in your scripts and deployment processes, and reduce the risks associated with releasing a new product. And because the number of code changes decreases with subsequent releases, it becomes easier to fix problems that arise in the future.
You also gain the ability to roll back releases in case there’s a failure, reducing the likelihood of launching broken product to your customers — you know, that stress your team experiences on release day.
Continuous delivery typically introduces the art of delivering smaller but more frequent updates. This has the dual effect of providing a steady flow of enhancements (think customer responsiveness) and fewer big bang releases (think more manageable scale, lower risk).
Better product quality
In traditional software development (like waterfall model), there’s always a possibility that errors could crop up after the release of a new product. This usually happens because of manual configurations from developers and testers in your team.
A continuous delivery pipeline helps solve this problem by giving you the ability to perform tests on the code base immediately after a code commit. This allows you to detect and fix problems before release and helps your organization save time in the process.
Best practices for fixing bugs
When it comes to fixing bugs, we recommend that you apply the tips below to ensure you get the best results. These tips are useful regardless of the complexity and size of your infrastructure.
Use the same environment
The first thing you need to do is ensure your developers, QA, pre-production and production teams run the same environment. Doing so will alleviate the teams from having to ask, “It works in my environment, does it work in yours?”, and create better efficiency in identifying and fixing bugs that appear in your pipeline. (Hint, if your environments are consistent, then defects should be easily replicated in dev, test, prep-prod and prod.)
You should also test your code under production conditions to ensure that everything works as it should, and let everyone in your team know which parts of the product will be affected by new or updated code before a release.
Prioritize your bug fixes
In the typical environment of limited skills and resources, prioritizing bug fixes is important. The same holds true when implementing a continuous delivery pipeline. But how do you decide which bugs to focus on first?
The answer is to use data. Look at the usage data in your applications and prioritize bugs according to their relative impact on your application’s performance.
For example, if a bug appears in features of your application that are rarely used by customers, you can give that bug a lower priority, assign attention elsewhere, and come back to it later. Similarly, a bug that appears in a frequently used part of your app should get higher priority. Bugs discovered and reported by users should typically receive higher priority and get resolved before your next release to demonstrate customer responsiveness.
Create a performance testing team
Another way to ensure bugs get fixed quickly is to create a dedicated performance team responsible for running product stability tests on new releases. This team should be able to assess the risks associated with new features, and determine how the application’s performance might be affected.
To ensure best results, you should keep your performance team current with relevant information about each bug and ensure that they have an appropriate production environment for testing. This will help your organization deliver software quickly and consistently, and reduce the amount of time it takes to fix issues.
Have other tips to share about fixing bugs and getting features to market faster? Write them in the comments below.
Jerome Okutho is a marketing manager at nClouds — AWS consulting providers.