The State of Software Delivery 2024
May 14, 2024

Rob Zuber

The fundamental goal of engineering leaders is to streamline development processes while boosting efficiency and output quality. CircleCI's recent 2024 State of Software Delivery report highlights the practices of elite software delivery teams, in turn providing insights that can help us achieve these objectives.

The report's data analyzes specific developer productivity metrics year over year, including workflow duration, throughput, recovery speed, and success rate. This year, developers routinely met or exceeded the following metrics:

■ Workflow durations at 10 minutes or less

■ Recovery from any failed run occurs in under an hour

■ Success rates hitting above 90% for the default branch of their application

■ Deploying as often as their business requires and at least 1+ times per day

I recently had the opportunity to discuss the report's findings in more detail with the Author, Ron Powell. Here's a roundup of key takeaways from our discussion.

Teams Are More Productive Than Last Year

The report highlights a significant increase in throughput — 11% across all branches and an astounding 68% on production branches — showcasing a heightened focus on delivering new features efficiently.

The ability to deliver rapidly and consistently reflects a commitment to staying at the forefront of development practices. This rise in productivity correlates with adopting advanced CI/CD practices that streamline processes and reduce the overhead associated with deployments.

Recovery Speed Meets Benchmark for the First Time

The median team now recovers from errors in under 60 minutes — meeting the industry-leading standard for the first time in the report's 5 year history. Powell also shared that by reducing mean time to recovery (MTTR), teams have been able to maintain a continuous flow of development and operations, which is crucial for meeting our project timelines and quality standards. This rapid recovery is instrumental in maintaining a seamless development cycle, ensuring that teams can quickly address and rectify issues without significant delays.

Impact of AI Tools

The integration of AI tools has revolutionized traditional development processes, automating routine tasks and offering sophisticated solutions to complex problems. The report's findings suggest that AI tools have played a pivotal role in this year's recorded productivity boost by facilitating more efficient code generation and faster issue resolution. AI has enhanced throughput, but it has also fundamentally changed how we approach problem-solving and innovation in software development, as it requires new skill sets and processes to be used effectively.

A Clear Call to Action

Teams keen on achieving these benchmarks should work on incorporating the following recommendations:

■ Embrace smaller, agile teams: Smaller teams are more nimble and can adapt quickly to changes, a trait that the report identifies as key to high productivity.

■ Integrate robust testing and error reporting: Establishing comprehensive testing protocols and immediate error reporting mechanisms significantly reduces downtime and improves overall code quality.

■ Utilize AI-powered tools effectively: Leverage AI for more than just automating tasks — use it to predict potential issues and optimize processes before they become bottlenecks.

These insights shed light on the evolving dynamics of software development, emphasizing the importance of speed, efficiency, and adaptability. The practical applications discussed highlight a collective move towards more refined, responsive, and robust software development practices. By experimenting with and adopting these strategies, teams can not only improve their performance but also stay competitive in the fast-paced tech landscape.

Rob Zuber is CTO at CircleCI
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