4 best practices leading orgs to release software faster

Jun 8, 2023 · 5 min read
Kristina Weis GitLab profile

Releasing software faster is one of the biggest goals of many organizations — and for good reason. It helps them keep up with competitors, land and keep more customers, improve employee satisfaction, and much more. But maintaining that velocity requires investment in processes and technologies that help DevSecOps teams deliver, secure, and deploy software faster without compromising quality.

In our 2023 Global DevSecOps Survey we asked more than 5,000 development, security, and operations professionals about everything from deployment frequency to the practices teams have adopted – all to learn what the most agile and efficient organizations have in common. One respondent, a director of IT security in the retail sector, summed up the challenge as follows: “Software customers are increasingly vocal and demanding, expecting faster releases and greater customizability. Developers will need to keep up with these demands while still maintaining stability and usability.”

So what’s helping organizations be more productive and efficient? Here are four of the best practices that, according to the survey, help organizations release software faster and deploy more frequently:

1. Running applications in the cloud

One of the benefits people commonly attribute to deploying to the cloud is increased development speed. As it turns out, this year’s survey shows there’s some serious truth to that. Respondents with at least a quarter of their applications in the cloud were 2.2 times more likely to be releasing software faster than they were a year ago — and respondents with at least half of their applications in the cloud were 4.2 times more likely to deploy to production multiple times per day.

Several respondents commented on the value of the cloud while also acknowledging the complexities cloud computing can bring to software development. An IT operations manager in the industrial manufacturing sector shared that “developing software that is designed for the cloud-native environment” is one of the top challenges facing software development this year. Likewise, an IT operations manager in the telecommunications sector said: “With the increase in the use of cloud computing and IoT devices, there is a greater need for secure coding practices to protect sensitive data from cyber attacks.” As organizations move to a cloud-first model for software development, they will need to adopt technologies that allow them to build natively in the cloud while keeping security top of mind throughout the development process.

2. BizDevOps

Though DevOps and DevSecOps mostly steal the show in terms of methodologies, some organizations go a step further and practice BizDevOps — that is, incorporating business teams alongside development, security, and operations teams. An IT operations manager in the software sector emphasized the importance of collaboration with the business, sharing that “as software projects become larger and more complex, developers will need to work closely with other team members, including designers, testers, project managers, and business stakeholders.” This approach appears to be paying off for some: Respondents whose organizations practice BizDevOps were 1.4 times more likely to be releasing software faster than they were a year ago.

3. CI/CD

It’s not surprising that automating the software development lifecycle with CI/CD would help teams release software faster and more efficiently; however, it’s nice to see confirmation and put some numbers to the difference it can make. The survey shows that respondents practicing CI/CD were twice as likely to deploy multiple times per day and 1.2 times more likely to release software faster than they did a year ago.

Despite the value of CI/CD for driving efficiency, respondents also identified challenges. For instance, an IT operations associate in the aerospace/defense sector pointed to “management that doesn't understand CI/CD at all” as a blocker to more efficient software development. Meanwhile, a software development intern in the biotech sector shared that “tools to automate CI/CD, together with code editors, APM software, and defect trackers, can help with a faster and quality development cycle,” but “companies are hesitant to spend on tools that can help increase their developers’ productivity.” These responses underscore the value of investing in tools that unify CI/CD with other DevSecOps practices — such as incorporating security early in the development process and creating tighter feedback loops — to help organizations break down development silos.

4. DORA and other metrics

Organizations that make a conscious effort to track key development metrics are more likely to improve them, according to the survey. This makes sense because by virtue of an organization choosing to track a metric, they’re signaling to their teams that it’s important, likely reminding them of whether the metric is improving (or not) periodically, and quite possibly prioritizing initiatives aimed at improving those metrics. We found that respondents whose organizations track their DORA metrics and other similar metrics were 1.4 times more likely to deploy multiple times per day.

A deeper dive on productivity and efficiency

For a deeper look into release velocity and deployment frequency, and all the practices that made respondents more likely to release software faster and deploy multiple times per day, check out our 2023 DevSecOps Report: Productivity & Efficiency Within Reach.

The report also digs into two other key factors that can have a big impact on productivity and efficiency: how long it takes to onboard new developers and how difficult or easy it is for organizations to attract, hire, and retain developers. We’ll show you where things stand and the practices that made respondents more likely to be successful.

Read the highlights from “Security Without Sacrifices,” the first report in our 2023 Global DevSecOps Report series.

“Here are the best practices that organizations deploying more frequently have in common, according to GitLab's 2023 Global DevSecOps Survey.” – Kristina Weis

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