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Release Cadence Report - Survey Launched

by Shane Hastie on Mar 28, 2013 |

Ryan Cromwell has released the Release Cadence Report Survey.  Based on the premise that the rate at which software is released is one of the most important metrics teams should be monitoring and reporting on he has launched a survey which examines five areas of team activities.  The survey will remain open until 24 May 2013, following which the results will be made available to the community.

Ryan spoke to InfoQ about the survey and his thinking behind launching it:

InfoQ: Please tell us a bit about yourself and the survey 

I've been a software developer going on 12 years in a wide range of vertical markets.  Having experienced both exciting, successful projects and bound-to-fail marches, I decided 3 years ago to explore the theory and principles that were needed to replicate the successful ones with more regularity.  As a Microsoft ALM MVP I had the opportunity to join the Scrum.org community.  I've since spent time learning from Scrum co-founder Ken Schwaber, providing Scrum.org Professional Scrum Foundations and Professional Scrum Developer training, and mentoring numerous teams and organizations through Agile adoptions.  This past year I made my way back to product development with Applied Information Sciences where I'm able to cash in on my learning alongside incredibly smart individuals around the world all while staying close to home with our growing family.

The Release Cadence Report itself is an independent effort of mine, though my employer has certainly supported me along the way.  The effort was spurred by an offhanded tweet regarding the current Agile reporting and discourse.  I believe the industry has largely moved beyond asking if Agile is the place to be. We now need tools for adopting it's principles effectively.  This survey and publication is my contribution to the community in an attempt to refocus the Agile discussion on "working software as the primary measure of progress."

InfoQ: Why are you running the survey, what is the issue or problem you want to investigate? 

For the past several years I've had the opportunity to guide a number of organizations as they work towards reaching Agility.  In the beginning things are generally amazing.  New levels of collaboration and transparency lead to a shared excitement and motivation.  Increments of high quality software are produced given the information known at the time. The struggle often comes in answering the question: Are we ready to ship?  

Answering this question is not simply about accumulated functionality.  Releasing validates choices in architecture, user experience, feature selection, operations and an unknown number of other small assumptions made along the way.  There are also the assertions made by Daniel Pink in his book Drive that only come true when our creations are in the hands of end users.

Mary Poppendieck suggested not long ago that the interval between releases significantly differentiated the development organizations they worked with.  While I and the rest of the industry have interesting anecdotal stories about the positive influence of releasing frequently, Release Cadence Report aims to bring empirical data to the discussion.

InfoQ: Why is it named the Release Cadence Report?

The term Cadence has been used by a few of the respected Lean/Agile minds such as the PoppendiecksDiana Larsen and James Shore to describe the rhythm of releasing new software.    At the same time that I was finalizing my plans for this effort I was re-reading Brian Harry's post on the shipping cadence of Microsoft Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server in which he mentions shipping every 3 weeks.  This was the topic I was trying to bring attention too.  In the end, my hope is that this effort can help make the term and concept of Release Cadence as natural a part of the Agile discussion as TDD and User Story.

InfoQ:What is the focus of the questions – what areas are you examining?

Certainly the most important set of questions include how frequently your IT organization is releasing software to customers.  Around that information we are focusing on five areas:

  • Market Capability
  • Employee Satisfaction
  • Organizational Composition
  • Methodologies & Frameworks
  • Patterns, Practices, and Techniques

We believe this will help us create a clear picture of what the industry looks like on the scale of release cadences.  We'd also like to make clear what practices are being used successfully so that informed decisions can be made about what might prove successful elsewhere.

InfoQ: When will the survey be completed?

The survey period is scheduled to close on May 24th, 2013.  We'll then take a few months to analyze and prepare our free community report.  We anticipate the Release Cadence Report being published in early fall 2013.  Those who complete the survey or refer responses will receive an early copy of the publication in appreciation of the time and participation.

InfoQ:Do you have any early results, or are there any trends you’re currently seeing from the results so far?

We have certainly seen quite a bit of interest in the survey.  We're seeing a wide range of results come through, but no trends that we're ready to share quite yet.  We'd like to make sure that those contributing are sharing their real experiences and are not influenced by incomplete results.

InfoQ: When and where will the results be published?

Those who have completed the survey should expect to receive an early copy of the report by email.  We appreciate their time and willingness to contribute to the community.  Once that early period is over, the remainder of the community will be able to download the 2013 Release Cadence Report at http://releasecadencereport.com.

InfoQ: Will the raw data from the survey be available for others to conduct analysis?

Partners who refer a certain level of survey responses will have deeper access to the survey data. Partners can read more and sign up at http://releasecadencereport.com/partnerships/.  To be clear, we will never make available emails or other identifying information from the survey such as email domains. This includes all partners.

There has been some consideration towards making 2014 Release Cadence Report data available under a Creative Commons license.  For 2013, our plans only include producing the free community report.


Click here to take the survey.

Watch for an InfoQ article after the results come out. 

 

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