Innovation, agility and speed are all synonymous with market leadership. A company’s ability to rapidly deliver quality applications that support business goals, meet customer demand and drive innovation is critical to business success, and some would say to a company’s survival.

Added to this is the reality that expectations for application performance and availability are rising with increased adoption of mobile devices, social media and the cloud. As applications have become a competitive focus for companies, organizations are laser-focused on how to deliver the right applications to market quickly. That’s where "continuous delivery" comes in.

Continuous delivery is a collaborative, agile software delivery process that involves deploying smaller sets of features more frequently, and through an integrated and automated set of processes, bringing a new app or new version from code to production.

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When implemented collaboratively by development and operations teams, continuous delivery not only drives agility in the software delivery approach but produces real quantitative and qualitative return on investment for organizations. Studies have shown that companies with a continuous delivery capability are able to deploy their software up to 30 times more frequently than their peers.

As organizations recognize that “real ROI” is derived from investing in a more collaborative and agile software delivery process, a number of companies are addressing this market need. Companies within the DevOps/continuous delivery ecosystem include BMC, Electric Cloud, HP, Chef and Puppet Labs. Offerings from these companies streamline the process of bringing an application from development to production.

So the next question is, how can my company see “real ROI” from a continuous-delivery approach? How do I actually quantify what benefits this would bring to my team?

The good news is that while implementing a continuous-delivery approach requires a “skills adjustment,” it does not typically demand additional headcount or even an upfront investment. Also, keep in mind that an organization can adopt continuous-delivery best practices in stages, with each automated step delivering additional quality and efficiency-related value.

Lets take a look at how a team can actually measure the potential ROI of a continuous-delivery approach. There are three distinct areas that are measurable:

  • Revenue gains from delivering features, enhancements and fixes to market faster
  • Cost reduction due to increased quality and fewer application failures
  • Gains from increased IT and development team productivity

Continuous delivery allows organizations to deliver features and fixes much faster, allowing companies to respond more quickly to market demands and gain competitive advantage. A survey commissioned by Computer Associates found that companies reported almost 20 percent increase in top line revenue.

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The second measurable benefit is fewer failed applications due to increased application quality. Usually, companies calculate the cost of application failures using measurable costs associated with complete failures or chronic poor performance. A survey by Puppet Labs found that DevOps-enabled organizations experience a full 50 percent fewer application failures.

Another approach is to measure the time to recover from an issue. RebelLabs found in their research that teams who have not yet implemented continuous delivery (40 percent of those surveyed) take on average 60 minutes or longer to restore service in case of an application issue, with the majority of incidents lasting at least 30 minutes. In contrast, those who were taking advantage of continuous delivery are able to restore services in well under 30 minutes on average.

Companies will also save time and money with increased IT productivity. In many organizations, valuable time is eaten up due to inefficient processes, lack of visibility and reliance on repetitive manual tasks. Additional examples of time “wastage” include time spent by developers diagnosing problems and time spent by testers on manual testing.

The IT Ops & DevOps Productivity Report found that IT engineers in traditional settings spend about three hours more per week to complete their normal tasks as compared to a continuous delivery-enabled organization. This ended up meaning that on average, continuous delivery and DevOps-oriented teams save about 4.9 hours per week per person completing their core tasks compared to traditional IT staff.

There are a few “soft ROI” benefits associated with continuous delivery that are worth noting, including market advantages gained from more flexibility, higher customer satisfaction through faster response to user feedback, boosted competitive advantage and improved employee motivation.

Ultimately, continuous delivery offers a streamlined application delivery mechanism that meets both internal business and external customer demands for innovative quality applications. During the past couple of years, we have already started to see those companies who have truly embraced a continuous delivery model achieve “market-leader” status, and I expect this dynamic to only accelerate.