[SURVEY RESULTS] The 2024 edition of State of Software Modernization market report is published!
GET IT here

How to Improve Software Delivery Speed (and Is It Worth It)

Last updated on
October 3, 2023


What is delivery speed?

Delivery speed is the measure of how quickly your valuable software can be delivered to users. This metric focuses on reducing the time from idea to implementation.

Why measure delivery speed?

Measuring delivery speed will allow your team to identify bottlenecks, optimize processes, and deliver software faster. I will enable your organization to stay competitive and meet customer expectations.

Read on to uncover the risks, benefits, and actionable strategies for measuring delivery speed in software development.


How to Improve Software Delivery Speed (and Is It Worth It)


 If your software development process is lagging behind, it may leave you struggling to meet customer demands and losing out on market opportunities. 

As a result, your company may miss business growth and suffer from a tarnished reputation.

Dive into this article to unlock the secrets of optimizing your software delivery and pave the way for faster, more successful releases with measuring delivery speed. Unveil actionable strategies to accelerate your delivery process and stay ahead of the competition. 

What is delivery speed?

Delivery speed is a software development metric that measures the time it takes to deliver valuable software to users. It's a vital aspect in today's fast-paced, competitive world of software development.

When we talk about delivery speed, we focus on reducing the time it takes from the initial idea or requirement to the point where users can start benefiting from the software. It's all about getting value into the hands of users quickly and efficiently.

Achieving a high delivery speed involves several factors. One important aspect is the ability to release software frequently, ideally in small increments. By breaking down work into smaller pieces, your team can deliver functionality more frequently, gathering feedback and adjusting course along the way.

Delivery speed is all about delivering valuable software to users quickly. It requires a combination of practices, such as frequent releases, efficient development processes, Agile methodologies, a culture of learning, and effective metrics. By focusing on improving delivery speed, your team and organization can stay competitive, respond to user needs faster, and continuously enhance their software delivery capabilities.

Why to track delivery speed?

Tracking delivery speed is crucial in order to optimize your company’s efficiency, meet customer expectations, and stay competitive. It allows your team to identify and eliminate bottlenecks, streamline processes, and deliver software faster, resulting in improved productivity and reduced time-to-market. 

By tracking delivery speed, your organization can ensure timely delivery, enhance customer satisfaction, and drive business success.

Benefits of improving delivery speed

Improving delivery speed in software development brings numerous benefits that positively impact both your team and organization. Here are five key advantages of enhancing delivery speed:

Faster time-to-market

By improving delivery speed, software your team can release valuable features and updates more frequently. This translates into shorter time-to-market, allowing your organization to stay ahead of their competitors and quickly address user needs.

Enhanced customer satisfaction

Faster delivery means that users can start benefiting from new features and improvements sooner. This increases customer satisfaction as they receive value quicker, and their feedback can be incorporated into your future iterations. By continuously meeting customer expectations with timely releases, your organization can build stronger relationships, retain customers, and gain their loyalty.

Increased agility and adaptability

Improved delivery speed aligns with Agile principles and practices, enabling your team to respond rapidly to changing requirements and market demands. Agile methodologies emphasize iterative development, frequent feedback, and course correction. By delivering software quickly, your team can gather feedback, make necessary adjustments, and adapt to evolving needs, ensuring that the delivered product remains relevant and valuable.

Early risk identification and mitigation

By delivering software in smaller increments, teams can uncover issues and potential challenges earlier in the development cycle. This allows for timely resolution, reducing the impact of risks and avoiding large-scale problems. The ability to address risks early on leads to higher quality software and a more reliable product.

Continuous process improvement

Focusing on improving delivery speed encourages a culture of continuous improvement within your teams and organization. This data-driven approach enables your team to make informed decisions, implement process improvements, and refine delivery capabilities over time. Continuous process improvement leads to higher productivity, better collaboration, and increased efficiency in software development.

Risks of focusing on delivery speed

While measuring and improving delivery speed is beneficial, it's important that you are aware of potential risks that can arise if a product development team solely focuses on this metric. Here are five risks to consider:

Sacrificing quality

​​When your team prioritizes delivery speed above all else, there's a risk of compromising software quality. Pressing for faster delivery may lead to cutting corners, skipping essential testing, or neglecting proper code review processes. This can result in a higher likelihood of bugs, poor user experience, and technical debt that hampers long-term productivity.

Ignoring user needs

Exclusively chasing delivery speed might divert your attention from understanding and addressing user needs effectively. Your team may rush through requirements gathering, user research, or usability testing, resulting in software that fails to meet user expectations. It's crucial to strike a balance between speed and a user-centric approach to ensure the delivered software truly adds value.

Limited innovation

Overemphasizing delivery speed can stifle creativity and innovation within your development team. In a rush to deliver quickly, your team may opt for safer, more predictable solutions rather than exploring new ideas or taking calculated risks. This conservative mindset can hinder the discovery of novel approaches or disruptive solutions that could have a significant impact on the product.

Neglecting technical debt

If you focus solely on delivery speed, it may lead to neglecting the accumulation of technical debt—a term for suboptimal or unfinished code that needs refactoring or improvement. Ignoring technical debt can hinder future development efforts, impede flexibility, and ultimately slow down delivery speed.

Disregarding team well-being

Constantly pushing for faster delivery without considering the well-being of the development team can have adverse effects. An intense and relentless focus on delivery speed can lead to burnout, decreased morale, and even higher turnover rates. It's vital that you prioritize a healthy work environment, work-life balance, and sustainable practices to ensure the long-term success and satisfaction of the team.

How to measure delivery speed?

Measuring delivery speed involves tracking key metrics that provide insights into the time it takes to deliver software. Let's explore an example of how to measure delivery speed using three important metrics: lead time, cycle time, and deployment frequency.

Lead time

Lead time measures the time it takes from the initiation of work (such as a new feature request or user story) to its delivery. It captures the end-to-end duration of delivering a specific functionality. 

For example, if a user story is created on Monday and released on Friday, the lead time is five days.

Cycle time

Cycle time focuses on the time it takes to complete a single work item. It measures the duration from when development work starts to when it is considered done. 

For instance, if your developer begins working on a user story on Tuesday and completes it on Thursday, the cycle time for that user story is two days.

Deployment frequency

Deployment frequency quantifies how often new software is released. It reflects the frequency of deploying changes to a production environment. 

For example, if your team releases new software twice a week, the deployment frequency is two releases per week. 

Continuous monitoring

Continuously monitor and track these metrics over time. Use tools like project management software, issue trackers, or custom dashboards to collect and analyze the data. This allows the team to identify trends, patterns, and potential areas for improvement.

For instance, the team may notice that the average Lead Time has increased over the past few sprints, indicating a potential bottleneck or inefficiency that needs to be addressed.

Measuring delivery speed involves tracking metrics such as lead time, cycle time, and deployment frequency. By continuously monitoring these metrics, analyzing the data, and making iterative improvements your team can enhance their ability to deliver software quickly and efficiently.

Alternatives to delivery speed

While delivery speed is a crucial metric in software development, there are alternative approaches that your team can consider based on their specific goals and circumstances. Here are a few main alternatives to delivery speed:

Quality focus

Rather than prioritizing speed, you can choose to prioritize quality as a primary objective. In this approach, the emphasis is on delivering high-quality software that meets user expectations and exhibits robustness, reliability, and excellent user experience. Your team may invest more time in extensive testing, code reviews, and quality assurance processes to ensure the software meets the highest standards.

Choose quality focus when:

  • Building mission-critical systems where reliability and stability are paramount
  • Releasing software with minimal defects and ensuring a positive user experience
  • Working on projects where regulatory compliance or safety considerations are essential

Scope control

Scope control focuses on managing and controlling the scope of work within a project. The goal is to prioritize and deliver the most valuable features while consciously managing the number and complexity of the requirements. By carefully scoping and prioritizing features, your  teams can ensure a more manageable workload. 

Choose scope control when:

  • Facing resource constraints or tight deadlines
  • Prioritizing core features that provide the most value to users
  • Balancing the need for delivering a functional product within limited resources

Innovation and experimentation

Innovation and experimentation involves exploring new ideas, technologies, and approaches to drive innovation within the software development process. Rather than solely focusing on speed or specific deliverables, this approach encourages experimentation, creativity, and the pursuit of groundbreaking solutions. It will allow your team to take risks, learn from failures, and uncover new opportunities.

Choose innovation and experimentation when:

  • Engaging in research and development projects
  • Seeking to disrupt existing markets or create novel solutions
  • Emphasizing learning, exploration, and driving innovation within the team

User-centric design:

User-centric design centers around understanding and addressing the needs, preferences, and behaviors of end users. It involves conducting user research, usability testing, and incorporating user feedback throughout the development process. By putting users at the forefront, you can create software that provides a seamless, intuitive, and satisfying user experience.

Choose user-centric design when:

  • Developing consumer-facing applications or products
  • Receiving direct user feedback is critical for success
  • Prioritizing user satisfaction, engagement, and adoption

Next steps

Measuring delivery speed results in staying competitive, responding to user needs faster, and continuously enhancing software delivery capabilities. By leveraging the right metrics, teams can optimize their delivery process and drive success in software development.

To expand your knowledge on software delivery performance metrics, process metrics, and additional software development metrics, explore our articles and begin constructing a complete set of metrics for your product right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

No items found.

Our promise

Every year, Brainhub helps 750,000+ founders, leaders and software engineers make smart tech decisions. We earn that trust by openly sharing our insights based on practical software engineering experience.


Olga Gierszal
Software Engineering Editor

Software development enthusiast with 6 years of professional experience in the tech industry.

Read next

No items found...

Get smarter in engineering and leadership in less than 60 seconds.

Join 300+ founders and engineering leaders, and get a weekly newsletter that takes our CEO 5-6 hours to prepare.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.