Building blocks for continuous experimentation

Development of software-intensive products and services increasingly occurs by continuously deploying product or service increments, such as new features and enhancements, to customers. Product and service developers need to continuously find out what customers want by direct customer feedback and observation of usage behaviour, rather than indirectly through up-front business analyses. This paper examines the preconditions for setting up an experimentation system for continuous customer experiments. It describes the building blocks required for such a system. An initial model for continuous experimentation is analytically derived from prior work. The model is then matched against empirical case study findings from a startup company and adjusted. Building blocks for a continuous experimentation system and infrastructure are presented. A suitable experimentation system requires at least the ability to release minimum viable products or features with suitable instrumentation, design and manage experiment plans, link experiment results with a product roadmap, and manage a flexible business strategy. The main challenges are proper and rapid design of experiments, advanced instrumentation of software to collect, analyse, and store relevant data, and the integration of experiment results in both the product development cycle and the software development process.

Fabian Fagerholm, Alejandro Sanchez Guinea, Hanna Mäenpää, Jürgen Münch (University of Helsinki): Building blocks for continuous experimentation

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