How to Use Progressive Deployment to Address Dev Team Burnout

Software development teams are experiencing high levels of burnout. Progressive delivery can address the stress, workload, and other contributing factors to alleviate burnout and lead to improved software quality and delivery speed.

A survey found that 83% of DevOps professionals report feeling burnout, a concerning statistic. The pressure on software development teams is higher than ever as more business moves to the cloud and customers embrace SaaS offerings, increasing the demand for new features and faster bug remediation.

Completeness, quality, and stability of the product drive customer satisfaction, and the responsibility to fulfill these requirements lands on the development team’s shoulders. Reducing redundancy and tediousness in the development cycle will lighten developers’ workload and result in higher quality products and happier customers and employees. Adopting automated processes and updating tools will help alleviate developers’ stress and speed up the speed of software delivery. Specifically, progressive deployment, the next generation of continuous deployment (CD), can be the solution to managing your team’s workflow, allowing them to focus on what they really want to do – write great code with the GitOps approach they know and love and seamlessly deploy the resulting software.

Let’s examine the causes of development team burnout and how team managers can proactively address those issues through process improvements.

The Demands on Development Teams

Development teams’ feelings of exhaustion are understandable. Teams face intense pressure to speed up the delivery velocity while maintaining or improving software quality and reliability. The work of developing and updating a software application is mentally taxing and pressure-inducing, especially under the expectation of continuous product deployment. Add in changing requirements and new customer demands, and you can begin to understand why burnout has increased.

The pandemic only exacerbated the pressure as teams also had to deal with new remote work processes and manage their home lives during uncertain times. In summary, stresses development teams face include:

  • Increased workload resulting from businesses moving to the cloud
  • Increased customer demand for new features and fixes delivered quickly with high quality
  • Pressure to maintain software reliability and service stability and avoid service outages. According to an IT intelligence consulting reporta single hour of downtime costs businesses between $100,000 to $5 million per hour

Trying to meet these expectations with inadequate processes and tools creates stress and frustration. Manually executing repetitive tasks that could be automated adds to the mental and physical stress of development teams and prevents developers from focusing on writing new code and addressing known problems, which are the tasks they prefer to be working on. Computer Weekly found inefficient processes were the second highest source of burnout for developers. Manual processes also introduce the possibility of human error, another time-and-energy sucker that impacts overall quality and productivity.

See More: Developer Burnout Is Real, Here’s What To Do About It

The Impact of Burnout

Burnout affects performance, leading to a drop in team productivity and efficiency and a decline in service delivery quality and speed. The less efficient your team is, the more it impacts your bottom line. McKinsey reports businesses with higher release rates achieved four to five times faster revenue growth than companies with lower release rates. Organizations that fail to improve the software delivery cycle will fall further and further behind competitors.

Managers play a pivotal role in their development teams’ productivity and engagement. A common mistake supervisors make is viewing the software creation process as a people problem, not a process problem. Leaders who approach it as a people problem attribute issues to the team’s effort and assign more work to improve output. This tactic contributes to burnout and poor-quality software. Process-focused managers listen to input from their employees, pinpoint the root cause of the productivity bottleneck and fix it.

Developing and using the right performance metrics is a great starting point for managers to drive process improvement, ultimately resulting in better products and more engaged development teams. The most common set of base metrics used by high-performance teams developing cloud-native applications is the four core DORA metrics:

  • Deployment frequency: how often an organization successfully releases to production.
  • Lead time for changes: the amount of time it takes a commitment to get into production.
  • Change failure rate: the percentage of deployments causing a failure in production.
  • Time to restore service: the length of time it takes to recover from a failure in production.

Analyzing these metrics can help team leaders identify where efficiency issues exist to begin improving workflow.

Progressive Deployment as the Solution

Progressive deployment is a technique for releasing new applications that enables organizations to manage the number of users exposed to a new production code. It includes a variety of deployment strategies to progressively manage the “blast radius” of a production code change, modulating the size of the audience exposed to code in a controlled manner. Automated Continuous Deployment solutions enable developers or DevOps engineers to simply press a button to activate deployment pipelines. The process then executes the mundane yet complicated tasks necessary to reliably deploy code and eliminates unnecessary human intervention that often leads to human error.

Progressive deployment pushes updates to a select subset of users to gather data on the health of the software. If everything is running correctly, the new functions are delivered progressively wider. If the system encounters an issue during deployment, it can automatically roll back the software to a previously designated version. Progressive deployment enhances the feedback loop between developers and operations teams, makes deployment seamless, improves service delivery quality and minimizes human errors and downtime.

The process enables developers and DevOps engineers to rapidly troubleshoot deployment issues while maintaining the quality of service for their customers. Therefore, developers have more time to do what they love and were hired to do – write great code. With the lightened workload, teams have time to accomplish all of their work, which according to Gallup, makes people 70% less likely to experience burnout. DevOps professionals also feel more accomplished when completing high-level projects without mundane tasks taking up time. Accomplishment is a driver of motivation and an antidote to burnout, according to Psychology Today.

Getting Buy-in on Progressive Deployment Solutions

How do you get management to buy into improving tools and investing in automation? It starts with the development of metrics. Because reliable deployment ties so closely to revenue generation and meeting customer service level agreements, deployment performance metrics allow DevOps teams to easily build a compelling economic argument for improving development velocity and code reliability through progressive deployment. Any CFO worth their salt can calculate the cost of lost revenue or service level agreement penalties due to service downtime. Developers and/or DevOps engineers can experiment on a small scale with tools that support progressive deployment to begin measuring improvement and justify enterprise adoption of the necessary processes and tooling.

Tools and processes significantly influence developers and DevOps professionals’ job satisfaction and work quality. Progressive deployment addresses shortcomings in processes by eliminating tedious tasks, streamlining deployment, building in higher quality updates and providing a better experience for your customers. The solution lightens workloads, lifts the burden of troubleshooting and allows teams to focus on the job they love, all of which keeps them engaged and motivated. Engaged employees create better products and faster cycle times, leading to satisfied customers and happier employees.

Have you been able to manage burnout better with progressive deployment? Tell us how on Facebook, Twitterand LinkedIn. We’d love to know!



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