How to Tap into the ROI of Continuous Merge
September 19, 2023

Ori Keren

The software development lifecycle is now so ingrained in our lives, it's often invisible to end users.

Updates to the software we use daily are so smooth we rarely even notice them. This is thanks to continuous integration and continuous development (CI/CD), which have streamlined software delivery through frequent and consistent code changes.

We now look to continuous merge to keep perfecting the software delivery lifecycle beyond what CI/CD has made possible. Continuous merge further optimizes the pull request (PR) merge path, reducing cycle time and accelerating software delivery.

How Continuous Merge Completes the Promise of CI/CD

We're all familiar with the inefficiencies that can arise when a collaborator begins reviewing a PR. If another action item pops up for the reviewer, the PR is too long or the assignment of the PR is sub-optimal, the entire process can stall.

What do these inefficiencies look like in terms of data?

■ The average cycle time for a piece of code (first commit to deployment) is 7 days.

■ Half of all PRs are idle (e.g., no one is actively working on them) for at least 50% of their lifespan.

■ Cycle time and idle time doubled for pull requests of 200 lines of code compared to pull requests with 100 lines of code.

These inefficiencies cost engineering teams valuable time — time they simply don't have to lose. On top of bottlenecking the software delivery process, these roadblocks also destroy the developer experience.

Enter: continuous merge, a mindset that encourages the use of automations and policy-as-code to steamline the code review process. Continuous merge is an effort to apply unique treatment to every pull request, and is a response to the one-size-fits-all code review policies that have become commonplace across the industry.

How to Get Started with Continuous Merge

Continuous merge is a mindset that is typically adopted incrementally. The best place to start is by looking for inefficiencies in your coding and PR review process and implement workflow automations to optimize your processes.

Here are some tips for ways you can get started today:

■ Unblock merges for low-risk changes like documentation, dependency updates, tests, logging, non-critical assets, and any other parts of your codebase that don't need as much scrutiny during the review process. You can auto-merge these changes to keep your dev team focused on mission-critical work.

■ Automatically flag security issues, compliance failures, and other unwanted software development practices to reduce the cycles your team spends catching and resolving issues.

■ Establish standards and practices for building code expertise and tap into these experts when they're needed for code reviews.

■ Identify inefficiencies in your CI/CD pipelines and implement workflow automations to reduce the amount of time your dev team spends waiting on services to complete.

■ Set goals for code reviews and implement automatic notifications to alert your team when they're at risk of falling behind.

Continuous Merge's ROI

Teams that adopt a culture of continuous merge see spectacular ROI. In fact, my team analyzed data from 2,000 dev teams and 4.5 million code branches and found that teams leveraging automation saw:

■ PR size reduced by 28.18%

■ Cycle time shortened by 61.07%

■ PR review time improved by 38.14%

■ Pickup time decreased by 56.04%

Continuous merge is a new approach to software development that takes the principles of CI/CD to a whole new level. Now is the time to reap the benefits of continuous merge in your engineering organization to give your company a competitive edge like never before.

Ori Keren is CEO and Co-Founder of LinearB
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