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Metric of the week: Deployment Frequency

Plandek, April 29, 2021

Plandek metric of the week: Deployment Frequency

Metric Definition

Deployment Frequency is a core DevOps metric and more broadly a core Agile delivery metric.  As the name suggest it tracks the frequency with which increments of code are deployed to staging, testing and production.

As the core objective of Agile software delivery is ‘..the early and continuous delivery of valuable software..’, Deployment Frequency is a core Agile metric and represents a core objective of effective DevOps.  Deployment Frequency is also one of the four DORA metrics popularised by the DevOps Research and Assessments (DORA) group.

The software delivery process should be seen as an end-to-end value delivery process – as such Deployment Frequency is best viewed alongside a broader range of agile delivery metrics measuring: value delivery; delivery efficiency; dependability; backlog health; delivery and engineering quality; and DevOps processes.

Example Deployment Frequency chart – Plandek DevOps dashboard

Example Deployment Frequency chart – Plandek DevOps dashboard

The calculation of Deployment Frequency requires surfacing data from CI/CD tools (e.g. Jenkins, CircleCI).  This is typically done via reporting plug-ins to such tools or via an end-to-end delivery metrics dashboard like Plandek (www.plandek.com).

Analysis of Deployment Frequency – Breakdown and Filtering Options

Delivery metric dashboards like Plandek enable you to analyse delivery, engineering and DevOps metrics in a number of different ways.

For example, you can analyse the frequency of deployments by branch, portfolio, programme, repository or team.  As such targets can be set and practical actions taken to increase deployment frequency.

Example Deployment Frequency drill-down chart – Plandek DevOps dashboard

Example Deployment Frequency drill-down chart – Plandek DevOps dashboard

Related metrics

Deployment Frequency is one of many DevOps metrics – and agile delivery metrics more broadly.  As such it is often used is part of a ‘balanced scorecard’ of agile delivery and DevOps metrics surfaced in real time.

The DORA metrics often closely associated with Deployment Frequency are:

  • Deployment Frequency (DF)
  • Mean Lead Time for changes (MLT)
  • Mean Time to Recover (MTTR)
  • Change Failure Rate (CFR).

Key use cases

Deployment Frequency is a key DevOps metric used to ensure that software is delivered early and often.  Much emphasis might be placed on tracking and improving development-oriented metrics such as Cycle Time, Throughput – but the acid test is that the software developed by the engineering team is regularly deployed to live (otherwise all that effort is wasted).  Hence Deployment Frequency is not only a critical DevOps metric, but also a critical broader Agile delivery metric.

It should therefore form a part of a wider group of Agile software delivery metrics tracked over time at team and programme level.

Deployment Frequency is particularly important for:

  • organisations new to Agile software delivery looking to increase their Agile DevOps maturity – installing Agile DevOps tooling and establishing DevOps as an organisational entity
  • organisations with a history of large and infrequent deployments looking to increase their agility.

 Expected outcomes

A high level of Deployment Frequency is a core Agile software delivery objective – as it ensures the delivery of value ‘early and often’.

Inexperienced Agile teams may have a very low deployment Frequency (e.g. bi-annual, quarterly or monthly deployments). Mature Agile DevOps organisations have successfully increased that frequency to daily deployments.

Experience shows that high frequency deployments deliver value more rapidly over the longer term for three reasons:

  • the smaller and regular release size means it is easier to test, deploy and roll back if it fails – so Change Failure Rate and Mean Time to Recover fall – and availability rises
  • the more regular releases enable a more effective customer feedback loop so that developers can respond to customer needs more rapidly and reduce time spent building features not wanted by customers
  • Engineers feel closer to the customer and hence work more effectively.

About Plandek

Plandek works by mining data from toolsets used by delivery teams (such as Jira, Git, CI/CD tools and Slack), to provide end-to-end delivery metrics/analytics to optimise software delivery predictability, risk management and process improvement.

Plandek is a global leader in this fast-growing field, recognised by Gartner as a top nine global vendor in their DevOps Value Stream Management Market Guide (published in Sept 2020).

Plandek is based in London and works with clients globally to apply predictive data analytics and machine learning to deliver software more effectively.

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