DevOps Satisfies Customers
by Lauren Camacci, on Jan 2, 2020 1:00:00 PM
Traditional, manual software development and release processes have long lead-times and often produce buggy results. Given the long lead-times, response times to breaks and customer concerns are often slow. This all leads to downtime.
Downtime frustrates customers, and frustrated customers are more likely to leave your business for a more reliable solution. DevOps increases agility and significantly reduces both response times and lead-times, keeping your customers consistently happy.
Manual Processes: Slow, Buggy, and Hard to Fix. DevOps: Speed and Reliability
Many companies stick with manual software development and release methods because “they work fine enough.” But what may be unclear is the difference between surviving and thriving. You want to provide the best-quality software to customers and meet their demands for speed, accuracy, and security, but manual processes probably aren’t cutting it, even if they seem to be. There are many problems that manual development and deployments cause; DevOps offers a solution to each, near-guaranteed to satisfy customers.
PROBLEM: Long lead times mean waiting.
SOLUTION: CI/CD pipelines mean speed.
Long lead times always frustrate customers but come from many causes. DZone explains “5 Causes of Long Lead Times in Software Delivery,” which include:
- Poor hand-offs: Most traditionally organized shops are “siloed,” where knowledge and processes are separated rather than shared. This leads to the dreaded “toss over the wall” work hand-off, which lacks visibility and leads to errors.
- Bottlenecked or no approval processes: Manually managed approval gates are prone to human error, causing imprecision and creating bottlenecks as teams wait for authorized personnel to release their work. Other shops don’t have these gates in place at all, which allows anyone to push changes to production, often causing breaks and increased downtime.
- Manual deployments: Manual deployments are (from the customer perspective) slow and (from the business perspective) terrible for employee morale. As we explained in a past Inedo blog, buggy manual deployments usually devolve into “a chaotic emergency response situation with war rooms and overnighters, and suddenly you’re living off stale coffee and are lucky if you can get home by midnight.” This damages customer relations and also contributes to high employee turnover rates.
These are just some of the problems with traditional, manual development and deployment methods, each which means your customers have to wait longer. And the longer they have to wait, the more likely they are to leave you for a faster solution.
But Development and Operations are much faster together. As mabl’s DevTestOps Landscape Survey 2019 states, “The top reasons to adopt a continuous integration and delivery pipeline is to deliver new features to users faster, have a stable operating environment, and faster resolution time for production problems.” The communication between Development and Operations in DevOps, in addition to documentation and automating repeatable tasks, means your company can work more efficiently and with the same (or even better) quality. This same mabl report shows a positive correlation between customer happiness and short lead times.
DevOps shortens lead times by using CI/CD pipelines instead of manual releases, allowing you to “typically ship more frequently” and increasing collaboration between Dev and Ops. It also shortens “Mean Time to Repair,” or the time between problem notification and a fix, which increases customer happiness. Tools like Inedo’s BuildMaster and ProGet increase this speed: BuildMaster’s first-class CI/CD pipeline allows you to save time by replicating application templates, automatically testing builds along each stage leading to production, and notifing you when something has failed or if a build can’t continue along the pipeline until permission is granted. ProGet’s private repository eliminates wait times on public feeds, providing instantaneous package delivery.
PROBLEM: Bugs get through to production, creating a negative UX.
SOLUTION: Automation catches bugs long before production.
Manual software development and deployment has so much room for error. Answering the question “Why Does Software Have Bugs?” Software Testing Help explains that bugs causes include:
- Lack of communication or miscommunication from Development and Operations
- Intense pressure to deliver software as fast as possible, sometimes at the expense of quality
- Using the wrong development tools and especially switching between tools too often
- Forgetting to update automation scripts
- Incomplete testing along the development and deployment processes
- Patching without documentation, which can lead to things like configuration drift
All of these can allow bugs and breaks to end up in production, increasing downtime and angering customers.
In contrast, automated testing, from integration all the way to staging, makes testing more thorough, faster, and more responsive than manual testing. Automation catches things earlier in the process so that bugs are less likely to get through to production and are less costly to fix.
PROBLEM: Manual processes respond slowly to problems.
SOLUTION: Automation means speed.
Customers demand constant uptime, or “what percentage of a given period of time is a site or group of sites available to users—to customers, support agents, and employees.” When bugs and breaks cause downtime, customers expect a fast response. But the human limitations of a manual process mean response times are often slower than the modern market demands. This is further complicated by documentation problems so common to manual processes: Attempting to fix things quickly, workers will often make changes without documenting them, leading to issues like configuration drift, which adds time and complexity to repairs, as all changes must be reverse-engineered from zero or little documentation.
DevOps and CI/CD processes are faster, more reliable, and allow quicker responses to customer problems. The feedback loop DevOps creates means that customer concerns never fall through the cracks and can always be handled fast. And with the native documentation of most CI/CD tools, like BuildMaster, companies can eliminate the hunting-around process and focus on restoring total uptime to customers.
DevOps also includes continuous monitoring, so you are often the first to find problems, rather than your customers. The right DevOps tools allow better monitoring as well as issue prevention. With Otter, for example, configuration drift is detected immediately, and the tool can be set to auto-remediate, restoring servers to set configurations and preventing bugs from occurring in the first place. Solutions like VictorOps let incident response happen quicker than is possible with manual.
Simply Put: Customers Like “Faster”
The aforementioned report by mabl states that “there’s a direct correlation between Customer Happiness and Mean Time to Repair.” Customers are much more satisfied when your interactions with them are both accurate and fast.
How Satisfied Are We Talking?
DZone reports on customer satisfaction with companies using DevOps, including data such as:
- "significant increases of up to 52 percent in customer satisfaction"
- "improved customer satisfaction by an additional 29 percent"
- "78 percent of users who paired agile and DevOps reported an increase in customer experience, versus only 58 percent of agile-only users"
This are significant improvements. What could you do with the business generated from a 50% increase in customer satisfaction?
This Helps Your Business Internally Too
Not only does DevOps improve customer satisfaction ratings for your business by improving the internal processes of your company, it can also improve the human aspects of your internal business functions as well. That same DZone article notes that in addition to KPIs like “improved new business growth by 63 percent more” and “increased operational efficiency by an additional 41 percent; and Improved IT-related costs by an additional 65 percent than agile-only environments,” that there’s also a “30 percent advantage in employee recruitment and retention for companies that used agile and DevOps together” and that “74 percent of respondents who added DevOps to agile implementations reported improvements in employee recruitment and retention versus 57 percent for agile-only users.” Simply, DevOps is a win-win-win for customers, businesses, and employees.
Transitioning to CI/CD and DevOps is Worth the Effort
DevOps is the future of software development. It lets you do your work both excellently and quickly, keeping customers happy and helping your business. The right tools can help you make the switch.
Inedo DevOps tools maximize developer time, minimize release risk, and empower stakeholders to bring their vision to life faster. All with the people and technology you have right now. Begin streamlining your CI/CD processes today: