Shortening the Tail

This post is from by Jim Highsmith.

In Agile Project Management, I wrote a short section on a performance metric called “shortening the tail.” I liked using the metric, tail length, because it is easy to calculate and tells a lot about an organization’s Agile implementation. It’s not a vanity metric, like the number of developers who have attended a refactoring seminar, but a true learning metric because it focuses on a key tenent of Agile development—running, tested software. It’s also a metric that can help an organization move closer to Continuous Delivery.

The tail is the time period from “code slush” (true code freezes are rare) or “feature freeze” to actual deployment. This is the time period when companies do some or all of the following: beta testing, regression testing, product integration, integration testing, documentation, defect fixing. The worst “tail” I’ve encountered was 18 months—18 months from feature freeze to product release, and most of that time was spent in QA. Routinely I find software companies whose tail is 4–6 months of a 12-month release cycle. Then, there are other companies, and a growing number of software companies, that have honed their processes to a zero tail length—they are truly doing Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment. Using the tail length metric, particularly in products or applications that have large legacy code bases , can help organizations monitor their progress towards CD.

Click here to see the full post.

This entry was posted in Agile. Bookmark the permalink.