Be Careful: Agile and DevOps Practices Can Break Your Businessby@jakebrereton

Be Careful: Agile and DevOps Practices Can Break Your Business

by [email protected]June 7th, 2020
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Few industry trends have been as disruptive as the Agile software development revolution. But the same wave of innovation that’s allowed dev teams to get more value into the hands of users faster has left the majority of non-technical teams across the business reeling.

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Few industry trends have been as disruptive as the Agile software development revolution. But the same wave of innovation that’s allowed dev teams to get more value into the hands of users faster has left the majority of non-technical teams across the business reeling.

With Agile reaching peak adoption, an explosion of CI and CD tools enabling teams to build and ship code faster than ever before, and DevOps fueling an enormous wave of automation, teams from Product Marketing to Customer Support to Sales are falling further behind. The end result is more code being delivered faster, but at the cost of an increasingly substandard customer experience.

LaunchNotes solves this problem by communicating the right information about all upcoming product changes to the right people at the right time.

Agile has succeeded for software teams

In 2001, at a ski resort in Utah, the Agile Manifesto was born. This Manifesto laid the groundwork for a radical shift in the focal point of software development:

“…to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”

Fast forward almost 20 years and Agile has become the world’s most popular software methodology.

The most oft-quoted of Agile’s four tenants is “working software over comprehensive documentation,” and, based on Agile’s widespread adoption, today end users are getting a lot more working code.

VersionOne’s 2019 State of Agile report not only found that 97% of organizations are using Agile dev practices, but that 63% of these organizations are experiencing faster delivery times as a result.

18 years after the Agile Manifesto was penned, it seems the authors’ vision of software teams regularly surprising and delighting customers has been realized. Today, Engineering teams are getting working software into the hands of their users more often, and end users are enjoying more features and updates as a result.

Greater value into the hands of users faster than ever before. Everyone wins, right? Not so fast.

This acceleration in delivery has left many non-technical teams reeling

…and the end-to-end customer experience broken.

It takes far more than just delivery of code to create a fantastic experience for end users: Customer Support agents who can answer questions accurately because they’re familiar with product updates, Product Marketing teams that use targeted messaging to get users excited about new features, and Account Executives who promptly follow up with client teams to walk through new releases they’ve been waiting for.

The problem is non-technical teams across the business haven’t been able to keep up with this rapid acceleration in software delivery to users and the overall user experience is suffering as a result.

Over the past four years, as the Head of Marketing for Jira, I had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of agile software development teams around the world. Without fail, during every customer visit I was asked, “Can you talk a little bit about how your Marketing team stays in sync with what your developers are doing? We have a lot of teams around here struggling to stay on top of what’s shipping when.”

And it’s not just anecdotal. For the first time in their eight consecutive years of publishing the State of DevOps report, in 2019 Puppet began to see non-technical teams throughout the business become a limiting factor in high performing software teams increasing their speed of delivery:

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to hear of teams that can actually deploy more frequently, but are constrained by the business (for example, waiting for the results of a user engagement experiment, marketing launch requirements, etc.).”

This challenging reality is not only widespread, but worsening by the year.

The rise of DevOps is pouring fuel on the fire

DevOps transformations are bringing dev and IT teams closer together and allowing many businesses to leverage smaller batches and automation to lower failure rate, accelerate time to resolution, and better manage unplanned work. The DevOps wave has also had the desired effect of further accelerating deployment frequency and decreasing change lead time. However, for non-technical teams struggling to keep up, this progress is only exacerbating the problem.

Google’s 2018 Accelerate DevOps report indicated that high-performing software development teams had achieved change lead times of less than an hour. While this rapid acceleration is a win for dev and IT teams, it’s only leaving non-technical teams throughout the business further behind. And, again, the customer experience suffers. When software is being released to production in under an hour, how are Customer Support agents expected to be able to answer questions about these updates? How are Product Marketing teams supposed to translate the value of these changes to end users?

And none of these trendlines are slowing. In their 2019 Accelerate DevOps report, Google found that industry velocity is only going to further increase:

“…the [software] industry has “crossed the chasm” with regards to DevOps and technology transformation. Industry velocity is increasing and speed and stability are both possible… [which] reaffirms the importance of technology that enables organizations to deliver value to their stakeholders.”

As the number of DevOps tools in the market continues to multiply, and dev and IT teams continue employing things like smaller batching and automation throughout their development processes, the result will be even faster release cycles at the cost of further devolving customers experiences.

So, what’s the solution?

LaunchNotes: release comms that stay ahead of your release process

LaunchNotes ensures every stakeholder in your business is in sync with what your development teams are working on, and where that work is in the development and release cycle. Regardless of how fast your Engineering teams are shipping software, LaunchNotes proactively notifies all appropriate stakeholders of upcoming changes that are relevant to them.

While many project trackers do a great job of keeping track of the current status of work, this information is only available to the people, or teams, who regularly access that project tracker. LaunchNotes is the communication layer that sits on top of your project tracking system and sends specific and consolidated updates about work being done to stakeholders across the business.

With the click of a button, stakeholders can subscribe to any workstream or category of work relevant to them and choose their preferred communication channel: Slack, email, or Microsoft Teams. Then LaunchNotes does the rest, automatically communicating progress to each stakeholder.

The end result is individuals across the business being proactively notified about the release streams they care about in real-time, meaning no product change will ever reach production without Product Marketing, Support, Sales, and anyone else who’s interested, aware of what’s shipping when.

LaunchNotes was built by three people who have collectively spent more than 25 years building, marketing, supporting, and selling software — three people who have been on all sides of this issue and know firsthand that building a successful software business takes more than just fast delivery times and increased uptime.

Both the Agile and DevOps movements have had a profound impact on the speed at which software teams can get value into the hands of users. We created LaunchNotes to enable entire organizations to move at this same speed and work synchronously with their dev teams, no matter how fast software is reaching customers.

Imagine the elevated experience for your end users and your teams when your organization gets this right. When every team across the business can successfully delight your customers.

Take it for a spin and tell us what you think

In honor of LaunchNotes being generally available today, we’re offering the first 50 people that sign up through this link a full month of any paid plan, completely on us. That’s a 30-day free trial, plus a month of free service. And the only thing we’d love as much as you trying the product is you sending us your honest feedback on it. When and if you do have ideas to share, please reach me anytime at jake[at]

And if you’re not interested in the product right now, but still want to chat about Agile or DevOps trends, tell us how your teams are currently handling internal hand-offs, or nerd out on anything Product related, we’re all ears for any of that too!

Drop the team a line at hey[at]

We look forward to hearing from you!

Previously published at