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1. Start with the low-hanging fruit
The first step to take towards the optimization of your development processes is to get rid of all the unnecessary steps taken in these processes. There’s a good chance that, over the years, the development pipeline has grown some side branches that actually don’t contribute much to the development process at all. So, before even thinking about adding, automating, or optimizing certain steps in the process, take a good look at all the individual processes and find out what steps you can fully eliminate.
”Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined” - Tim Ferriss
Now the unnecessary processes have been eliminated, it’s time to have a close look at all the functions within the development processes you want to optimize and automate, and which of them involve the least amount of human interaction in the first place. Probably one of the most complex challenges of automation is the transition from human-controlled tasks towards automated tasks. Perhaps you already have partly automated processes, which can easily be turned into fully automated procedures. Once the easy part is done, you can start focusing on the bigger elements of the development process that probably require more attention and effort.
2. One at a time
Not only is it important to start with the automation of the easiest development process, it’s also essential not to try to do it all at once. Automation requires detailed insights into your existing processes and concrete strategies to achieve a steady flow towards the digital transformation of your product or business. When focussing on a myriad of processes you want to automate all at once, chances are you’ll lose track of your strategies and chaos will ensue. Instead, focus on one function within the development process at the time.
3. Implement a CI/CD strategy
Once it’s clear what elements can and should be optimized and automated, it’s time for action with a solid automation strategy. For software developers, continuous integration and continuous delivery, or CI/CD, is an efficient way to automate essential stages in the process of development. CI/CD can be defined by a set of principles and practices that allow development teams to accelerate the process of making changes in code, based on automated deployment steps. It’s a popular practice among big app development agencies, and enables developers to focus on meeting their business requirements and delivering high-quality code. Continuous integration allows developers to automatically test the quality of their code, potential syntax errors, and integration issues. In short, CI is a way to establish a consistent and automated way to build, package, and test apps, which makes the development process more agile, and heightens the quality of the end-product.
Continuous delivery comes up after the process of continuous integration, and automates the delivery of applications to specific technical environments, like development, testing, and production environments. CD provides an automated way to apply code changes within these environments. So, the CI/CD combination is a great way for app developers to automate and optimize their programming, testing, and delivery processes.
4. Familiarize your employees
As mentioned before, one of the most difficult aspects of a successful digital transformation is the switch from manual procedures to technology-controlled, automated processes. Not only can it be a challenge to teach your developers to handle these technologies, they also have to be convinced of the benefits in the first place. Keep in mind it will take time for optimizations and automated practices to become familiar and run smoothly. With every change of strategy, you need time to allow the developers to grow into the new processes and turn them into habits.
As an employer leading the process towards the automation of your development processes, it’s your task to guide your team through this process of familiarization. When you speak of automation, focus on the benefits for both their current situation, as well as their chances of growing into higher positions with the help of technology. In our blog about user adoption, you can find 11 tips and tricks stimulate your employees to get familiar with new technologies and take the step towards business process automation, and software development automation in particular.
5. Document and measure
An essential way to avoid chaos besides focusing on one process at the time is to make sure to document and measure the process towards your digital transformation. Take notes of how the automation of every single function has an effect on the overall workflow of your development team. This can be done by carefully defining KPIs you’re planning to achieve with your automation, and keep track of your data along the way. If you’re in the process of adopting a CI/CD strategy, it’s important to define what you want to achieve with this strategy. While implementing CI/CD in your development processes, you keep a constant eye on the effect it has on your productivity and agility.
You can use tools like Google Analytics to check if the automation of certain functionalities has an impact on your website traffic, or even the amount of generated leads. A popular methodology used by big tech companies all over the world is the method of Lean Analytics. Lean Analytics is a way to closely measure and keep track of the current state of your business, and allows you to quickly adapt your strategies when your collected data isn’t showing the progress you aimed for.
6. Delegate what you can’t automate
Unfortunately, not all processes can be automated nor eliminated. Perhaps technology isn’t advanced enough for certain tasks yet, while these tasks are too important to eliminate. Another option to still be able to optimize processes like these is by delegation. Perhaps you are a developer yourself, or you’re managing an organization with development practices. In that case, it might be a good idea to look into some extra hands to keep your development process running smoothly. There are enough freelancers who are willing to take over certain recurring tasks in the development process that aren’t ready for automation yet.
Need a hand?
Our developers at Lizard Global are specialized in working agile, and most of our processes are automated and optimized with a solid and efficient CI/CD strategy. Not only can we help you with the development of your application, we can also guide you through the entire process of automating your business and work processes and help you step-by-step towards a successful digital transformation. Can you use some help? Get in touch and we see how we can optimize your development and business processes with the power of automation.