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Achieving the cultural change needed to make continuous development work requires a three-pronged approach. First, managers must embrace agility, shifting the development and testing goal to potentially shippable, regardless of the length of the iteration. Second, the organization's understanding of the team must change. And third, managers must change the approach to testing.
It is generally recognized that agility is the precursor to continuous development. However, implementing an Agile methodology will not necessarily prepare an organization to make the cultural shift to continuous development. To make this cultural shift, the entire organization must accept the tenet that the goal of each iteration is potentially shippable software.
This culture shift involves not only the Agile development teams, but also the product owners. Features that can be developed and tested quickly need to take priority over more complex features. This is not an easy change, especially for the product owners and the business. However, they must buy into the idea that quicker development is ultimately more important to customers and better for business.
Changing the organization's understanding of a team is also challenging. It involves a shift from core teams of developers with siloed specialties to the idea of an extended team in which all parts of the IT organization are responsible for software delivery. This means that operations, systems administration and testing need to work in close collaboration and, in effect, become part of the continuous delivery team.
The final aspect involves changing the way testing is accomplished. Because continuous delivery relies on continuous testing, everyone on the team must test and accept responsibility for the outcome. This includes developers, systems administrators and operations. Testers, because they are the testing experts, must manage continuous development from a quality perspective. So, in effect, software testers take on more of a quality management role.
Agility, team definition and testing are equally important. All three aspects must come together to achieve the cultural shift needed for continuous development.
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