Continuous deployment 101: Best practices for the popular engineering approach

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  • IT and Engineering

Continuous deployment is the darling of agile development today—and for good reason. Gone are the days of year-long release schedules and oversized software initiatives.

In today’s fast-paced development environment, businesses and organizations have to move quickly to remain competitive. They must strive for accelerated delivery and shorter time to ROI.

Continuous deployment can help get your business there.

So what is continuous deployment and how can you harness it in your own development? 

We break it all down below. Use the following continuous deployment best practices to help your team develop software faster, more frequently, and with fewer issues.

What is continuous deployment?

Continuous deployment is best described in relation to and in tandem with continuous integration processes. These two terms are often used interchangeably to describe an agile development and release process characterized by frequent and rigorous quality assurance and testing and regular delivery of builds to users.      

Continuous integration 

Continuous integration (CI) I is an agile method of development where developers integrate code into a shared repository regularly (usually multiple times a day), and the changes are then automatically tested. This process pairs continuous builds and test automation to ensure a solid code base.

The goal is to ensure that the most up-to-date (and tested) code is reflected and maintained in the source code, preventing backups and delays when multiple devs are working on sections of the code at the same time. By frequently integrating their builds in the shared repository, every team member can confidently work on the same version of code.   

Continuous deployment

Continuous deployment (CD) is the next step after CI. It is the ongoing delivery of features as they are updated, tested, and ready for release.

Benefits of a continuous iteration and deployment process

A continuous development and release process offers numerous benefits for the team and organization, including:

  • Reduced lead time resulting in earlier ROI and feedback from users
  • Improved collaboration
  • Faster iterations
  • Accelerated product delivery
  • Increased visibility of bugs and issues
  • Low-risk releases

By automating testing, addressing bugs and other performance issues immediately at their source, and releasing updates as they are delivered, software teams can improve their velocity, productivity, and sustainability all while delivering higher-quality builds to market.  

Continuous integration best practices

Precisely how your team or organization implements a continuous integration and deployment process will vary depending on your needs and dynamics. However, there are a few central pillars to successful CI and continuous deployment. Apply these continuous integration best practices to your CI/CD pipeline for optimal results.

Maintain a central code repository

Development teams typically work on multiple pieces of code at a time that need to be orchestrated together to build a cohesive product. Without a clean code repository, the updated lines of code can quickly derail a build. For CI to work, make sure your team commits to a central code repository with a revision control system in place to avoid messy code builds.

UML class diagram for domain models (click on image to modify online)

Automate the build and deployment

For the “continuous” part of continuous integration and deployment to work, you need to automate wherever you can. Automating the build should include steps like:

  • Compiling the code
  • Executing unit and integration tests
  • Deploying into a production-like environment

Build automation not only increases efficiency and velocity but also produces lower-risk releases that have undergone systematic testing.

Commit to the baseline daily

For a smooth CI process, teams need to commit to the baseline regularly (multiple times a day if possible). By committing regularly, dev teams can reduce the number of conflicting changes and address them quickly at the source.

This practice saves valuable time and effort in the development process as team members can have high confidence in the code they’re working on and the releases they produce.

Using Lucidchart to streamline your processes

When it comes to agile development, communication and clear processes are critical to a successful project. This is especially true for continuous integration and deployment methods that rely on every dev member to check in daily.

Lucidchart helps agile teams streamline and track their processes through visual process flows. Through collaborative diagrams and customizable templates, teams can visualize and document their continuous deployment processes and identify gaps or inefficiencies in the pipeline

CI/CD toolchain example (click on image to modify online)

Our platform integrates with leading project management software like Confluence and Jira so you can create a central repository of your processes and updated network documentation. Plus, Lucidchart offers multiple sharing options so your team can easily access the information they need when they need it.

Keep everyone aligned and on task with our CI/CD task board template.

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About Lucidchart

Lucidchart, a cloud-based intelligent diagramming application, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This intuitive, cloud-based solution empowers teams to collaborate in real-time to build flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, customer journey maps, and more. Lucidchart propels teams forward to build the future faster. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit

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