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Mobile DevOps platform

Why Mobile DevOps matters — and how to actually adopt it on your mobile team

Mobile DevOps practices will improve the quality of the apps you ship, help you release updates more frequently, and improve your team’s happiness and efficiency. How you actually implement Mobile DevOps is up to your team, and it requires changes in both tooling and culture.
The Problem

Mobile app releases are slower and more complex

Compared to web and other kinds of deployment, preparing mobile builds and releasing apps is an inherently slower and more gated process. Building binaries is cumbersome and made even more difficult by things like code signing and automated testing flakiness. And, because the quality bar for shipping packaged code is much higher, more checks and sign-offs are required all along the way. The app stores impose additional requirements and roadblocks - third party review processes layers on waiting time and uncertainty (not just on the Apple side these days!).
The Solution

Mobile DevOps emphasizes automation and collaboration to unlock faster iteration

Mobile DevOps-minded teams who are able to implement holistic, end-to-end automation can not only speed up specific steps in the release process, but also reduce or eliminate the waiting periods and handoff friction between steps. Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) are each important pieces, but automation should touch areas beyond CI/CD pipelines like UI and E2E testing, branching and other git management, automated alerting and comms, and rollouts.

Under Mobile DevOps methodology, an emphasis on visibility and shared responsibility across roles and teams – think engineering, product, QA, and beyond – also plays a huge role. When all stakeholders across the wider development team are more aware, looped into the same workflows and looking at the same data, they become better allies and everything gets quicker and easier.

What even is Mobile DevOps?

Mobile DevOps simply refers to DevOps practices applied to mobile app development. It’s an important distinction: the mobile use case involves a unique ecosystem and challenges that call for an equally unique and specific application of DevOps principles. Throughout the entire software development lifecycle, and especially towards the release end of the process, Mobile DevOps allows mobile teams to better structure, coordinate, and automate many of the steps and processes involved.
The Problem

Mobile app users are less forgiving, and harder to please

Broken functionality and bad user experience on mobile very often leads to users leaving negative reviews and uninstalling your app entirely. Whereas most web users will casually refresh the page or leave and return later when they run into issues on a website, bugs and crashes in mobile applications are much more disruptive.

Because responding to user complaints and releasing fixes for crashes or other issues is relatively slow for mobile compared to web, the stakes are even higher. For mobile, testing and other guardrails around quality are critical during the development process and during the release process itself, as are monitoring and hotfix preparedness post-release.
The Solution

Mobile DevOps improves app quality and helps you recover when things do break

The Mobile DevOps combo of improved collaboration and increased automation helps teams safeguard quality and address issues more quickly when they do arise. Better testing under Mobile DevOps is one key factor: not only is automated testing expanded, but testing in general – both automated and manual – becomes a more integral part of the entire development and release lifecycle. And to catch issues that surface outside of testing, a Mobile DevOps stack that includes monitoring to track user behavior and app performance, and feedback loops (both human and machine) that then feed anomalies back into the system, can have a huge impact both pre-production and in prod.

Improved release performance under Mobile DevOps ensures that when issues are identified in production, teams can ship fixes as quickly as possible. Plus, teams also keep users happy by getting any other new feature work into their hands more often with normal releases that are frequent and seamless.
The Problem

Mobile testing & monitoring are difficult because of fragmentation across devices and long-tail versions

Teams building for Android, iOS, and other platforms (think desktop, TV, wearables, etc.) have a wide range of devices to consider. Each has different capabilities and screen sizes, and they’re subject to a variety of operating conditions (e.g. poor or non-existent cell service). There’s also a long tail of different versions to contend with, both operating system versions and app versions. The latter is especially tricky because teams can’t be certain that new updates or important hotfixes they ship will be adopted immediately by all users. Although many users have automatic updates turned on these days, teams will always need to accommodate some percentage of lagging users on trailing, out-of-date versions.
The Solution

With Mobile DevOps as a framework, teams can handle the fragmented mobile ecosystem with less overhead  

Under Mobile DevOps automated testing should already be a given, but it’s especially powerful when used to extend the reach of testing workflows to cover all the possible combinations of device type, operating system, operating environment, etc. Automated testing that leverages fleets of real mobile devices (in a device farm, say) can be especially useful for catching all possible edge cases. For especially complex test cases, manual testing remains essential as well.

When it comes to monitoring, the Mobile DevOps methodology around breaking down silos can help development teams stay on top of the huge variety of devices and versions their users are on. Pulling together siloed data and inputs from across roles and tools can ensure a full picture is at the fingertips of the entire team, with anomalies easier to detect within any subpopulation of users.
The Problem

Mobile app development requires close collaboration between roles and teams that are often siloed

More than most other kinds of software development, building and shipping mobile apps requires close collaboration between roles that cut across the entire organization. Throughout the development and release lifecycle, engineers, product and project managers, QA analysts, internal and external testers, designers, copywriters, and marketing folks are all involved. In many cases, additional stakeholders from security, compliance, and leadership need to be looped in. There are even interdependencies with entire other teams, for example the backend teams that build the APIs that the mobile app consumes.

Effective collaboration is never easy, but it becomes exponentially more difficult when it has to play out across so many different roles and teams. Naturally, silos exist between the various groups and that can make communication and handoffs difficult and risky.
The Solution

Mobile DevOps breaks down silos by increasing transparency and creating shared spaces

Mobile DevOps promotes the creation of shared spaces that can bring together the entire cross-functional mobile organization. Beyond Slack and spreadsheets, a mature Mobile DevOps setup will have accessible, unified dashboards or other environments that help any viewer understand the status of mobile work and execute items that call for their input. Shared spaces also take the form of mobile-wide meetings like Lunch & Learns that foster dialogue and knowledge-sharing.

Even when an organization has dedicated Mobile DevOps or release teams, they will be in close contact with the rest of the org to ensure alignment and understanding with product teams and other disciplines involved in the mobile effort. Companies might look to set up rotations that place folks from dedicated Mobile DevOps and release teams onto product-focused teams, and vice versa, to increase empathy.

Put Mobile DevOps into practice

Actionable ways to change your mobile team’s culture & tools for Mobile DevOps success

Democratize mobile releases to iterate faster and more confidently

Releases are the Olympics of Mobile DevOps: they’re the part of your development lifecycle where your entire team must operate at peak performance. Distribute release responsibilities and be transparent in  knowledge-sharing around the release process to eliminate single points of failure and make releases faster and less risky at the same time.
See how Runway democratizes releases by clearly delegating responsibilities and distributing cognitive load across the team ->

Give agency to everyone on your mobile team

Bottlenecks and extra overhead result when team members aren’t directly empowered to do the things they need to do. Look for ways to make it possible for everyone on the team to chip in, and make doing so approachable. A healthy culture around documentation and effective self-serve tooling both go a long way here.
See how Runway combines deep functionality with helpful guardrails to empower your whole team ->

Meet your mobile team in their day-to-day

Team members with different roles naturally spend time in their own domains, with specialized tools. In addition to creating mobile-wide dashboards and other shared spaces, look for ways to cross-pollinate data out into individual tools and teams to keep everyone on the same page, even when they’re on their own particular “home turf”.
See how Runway automatically keeps the different pieces of your toolchain in sync ->

Use data to measure your team’s Mobile Devops performance

Quantifying the impact of your team’s Mobile DevOps evolution is as important as investing in change to begin with. By tracking just a handful of metrics (e.g. DORA metrics) across your development lifecycle, you can gain a deeper understanding of how your team is performing, and build a data-driven framework to help you incrementally improve your Mobile DevOps practice.
See how Runway captures and helps you track Mobile DevOps metrics across all your mobile teams, apps, and tools ->

More on why Mobile DevOps matters, and how to actually put it to use

Runway is the first platform for Mobile DevOps

By integrating across your existing tools, Runway unlocks a whole other level of automation and gives your entire team a shared space for out-of-the-box Mobile DevOps success.
“This is must-have software for any modern, DevOps-oriented mobile engineering team.”
Annica
,
Director of Mobile Engineering

Release better with Runway

End-to-end automation and a single source of truth for your entire mobile team
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