Definition ofContinuous Improvement
Continuous improvement is the process of constantly refining software processes and practices in an effort to increase efficiency of teams and quality of the products they produce.
A combination of agile methodologies and lean principles provides a solid foundation for the practice of continuous improvement upon which the practices of continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) can further catalyze ongoing improvement.
Agile methodologies, including Scrum and Kanban, emphasize flexibility, collaboration with stakeholders, and responding to change over following rigid frameworks. By its nature, continuous improvement requires all of these traits in teams and companies.
Flexibility is required to adapt to changing environments and economics.
Collaboration is required to build the right features at the right time.
Responding to change is required to allow changing processes and procedures to best match the team, company, and competitive landscape over time.
Lean principles are a set of practices focused on eliminating waste, optimizing processes, and delivering value to the customer. These can be utilized in software development to eliminate unnecessary steps, allowing teams to improve efficiency and reduce cycle time. As with Agile practices, Lean principles are not a one-time implementation; they are part of a conscious, ongoing effort.
Continuous integration (CI) is the antithesis of Waterfall and is the process whereby a software team continuously integrates and tests code throughout the development of a feature or product.
As with Agile development generally, CI moves the whole software process toward just-in-time, allowing teams to catch issues early on and improve product quality.
Continuous delivery/deployment (CD) is used in conjunction with continuous integration (and is often referred to in tandem as in “CI/CD”) to deliver value in the form of new features and improvements on a frequent or continuous basis. This is done by automating deployment processes and thereby reducing cycle time and allowing the team to focus on improving the product further.
These practices together, allow organizations to continuously improve and deliver more value to customers, which, in turn brings more value to the business.
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