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DORA Metric of the Week: Deployment Frequency

Plandek, April 29, 2021

What is Deployment Frequency?

Deployment Frequency (DF) is a core DevOps metric and more broadly a core Agile delivery metric. As the name suggests, 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. DF 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 DF 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

Deployment Frequency | Plandek 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.

Analysis of Deployment Frequency – Breakdown and Filtering Options

Delivery metrics 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

Deployment Frequency Drill-down | Plandek Dashboard

Related metrics

Deployment Frequency is one of many DevOps metrics, as well as being a broader Agile delivery metric. As such, it is often used as 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)
  • Lead Time for changes
  • 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 and Throughput. However, 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 levels.

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 DF (e.g. bi-annual, quarterly or monthly deployments). Mature Agile DevOps organisations have successfully increased their DF to daily deployments.

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

  1. 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 while availability rises.
  2. Regular releases enable a more effective customer feedback loop so that developers can respond to customer needs more rapidly and reduce time spent building unwanted features.
  3. Engineers feel closer to the customer and hence work more effectively.

About Plandek

Plandek is an intelligent analytics platform that helps software engineering teams deliver value faster and more predictably.

Celebrated by Gartner and Forrester as a ‘leading global vendor’, Plandek mines data from delivery teams’ toolsets and gives them the opportunity to optimise their delivery process using both intelligent insights and predictive analytics.

Co-founded in 2017 by Dan Lee (founder of Globrix) and Charlie Ponsonby (founder of Simplifydigital), Plandek is based in London and currently services the UK, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Find out more about Plandek here: The Plandek Difference.

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