What can a 4-year study of high-performance technology organizations teach us about the frustrating trade-off between quality and speed?

There is conventional wisdom that implies that you need to compromise quality to go fast.

For instance: Gartner defined in its glossary a "Bimodal IT model" where enterprises need to invest in two mutually-exclusive working models for building software. One model emphasizes safety and accuracy, and the other emphasizes agility and speed. These models imply that you can't get both speed and stability at the same time.

The same mindset resulted in many software engineers and leaders jeopardizing quality for the sake of speed.

Speed depends on stability.

The book "Accelerate: Building and Scaling High-Performing Technology Organizations" is based on a four-year study that explores the correlation between stability and quality. They found that organizations with fast delivery lead time and deployment frequency have lower times to restore service and lower change failure rates.

Allowing your team to improve quality is what will enable it to go faster in the future.

Slow down to speed up

The first step you can take as a leader is to permit the team to put quality first. Focus on getting significant automated testing and a healthy continuous delivery pipeline to achieve a high delivery lead time and deploy frequency.

By doing so, your team will improve its speed and stability while also reducing customer defects, rework and delays.

The end of the bimodal IT model

Companies like Facebook and Google need to make hundreds or thousands of changes per day.

There is no way they could do that many changes in an unstable environment. Speed depends on stability, and good IT practices give you both.

That's why, for such a massive speed, quality and stability are essential.

Matias Lespiau

Matias Lespiau

Madrid, Spain