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How to deliver software cheaper: the unit economics of DevOps

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Brett KeownDevOps Practice Leader
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The past few years have been difficult for businesses of all sizes, especially in the face of ongoing economic uncertainty. SoftwareOne is committed to helping our customers navigate these challenges and emerge stronger.

We believe that the companies that will thrive now and over the coming years are those that are looking to the future and focusing on their competitiveness and innovation. By investing in new technologies and solutions, businesses can position themselves for success in the years to come.

Unit economics is on the rise in DevOps, and for good reason. By measuring the revenue and costs associated with each unit of software development activity, organisations can gain insights that enable them to make more informed decisions about how to invest their resources and improve efficiencies.

In this article, we will explore the unit economics of DevOps in more detail and discuss how organisations can use this information to improve their performance.

You are probably already familiar with the term "DevOps". DevOps, a combination of development and operations. This area of business technology is revolutionising the software development landscape. It emphasises collaboration, automation, and continuous delivery for faster and more efficient software development processes. It’s a process that to some extent is already present in most forward-thinking IT-centered enterprises. The key to success is to make it as efficient as it needs to be to provide the transformational   results it has the potential to deliver. While many organizations focus on the technical aspects of implementing DevOps practices, it is equally important to consider the unit economics of DevOps.  

Unit economics is the study of the financial performance of a DevOps team or a DevOps project. It involves measuring the costs and revenue associated with DevOps activities, such as infrastructure provisioning, code deployment, and incident response.  In simple terms, unit economics in DevOps is about answering the question: how much does it cost us to build, deliver, and maintain our software? 

How unit economics improves DevOps value? 

Cost Efficiency and Optimisation.  Embracing the unit economics of DevOps empowers organisations to spot and fine-tune cost drivers within their software development lifecycle. By scrutinising the expenses tied to each unit of software delivery, teams can pinpoint inefficiencies, cut out wasteful practices, and streamline their operations.


This savvy, cost-conscious approach ensures that resources are utilised as effectively as possible, ultimately driving down the overall cost of software delivery and maximising profitability. For instance, by eliminating bottlenecks in the deployment pipeline, organisations can drastically reduce the time and effort needed to release each software unit, and this translates  to substantial long-term cost savings.

Scalability and Growth.  DevOps practices can supercharge an organisation's software development processes, enabling scalability. However, scaling can be risky if unit economics are not considered. By understanding the economics of each software delivery unit, organisations can gauge the viability of their scaling efforts. This means examining how costs, revenues, and productivity metrics shift as volumes increase, and making adjustments as needed. This insight guides smart decisions about scaling operations while maintaining profitability.

Examining metrics like revenue per unit and cost per unit, you can assess how these variables fluctuate with increased volumes. Through optimising unit economics, organisations can confidently ramp up their software delivery capacity, knowing that each unit's economic value remains high and justifies the associated cost. 

Continuous Improvement.  Unit economics in DevOps provides a framework for continuous improvement. By measuring and analysing the vital metrics associated with each unit of software delivery, teams can identify areas for improvement. Whether reducing the time to market, improving quality, or optimising resource utilisation, unit economics acts as a feedback mechanism, allowing you to refine your processes iteratively. This focus on continuous improvement ensures that DevOps practices deliver tangible economic value and help you stay competitive in a rapidly evolving market.

Return on Investment (ROI).  DevOps initiatives require investment in infrastructure, tooling, and training. Understanding the unit economics allows you to accurately assess your DevOps investments' ROI. By tracking economic metrics such as the revenue generated per unit, cost per unit, or customer acquisition cost, businesses can determine the financial impact of their DevOps practices.   This insight empowers you to make data-driven decisions regarding resource allocation, investment prioritisation, and optimisation efforts. By measuring the ROI of implementing automated testing processes, you can evaluate the economic benefits in terms of reduced defect rates, improved software quality, and cost savings related to rework and customer support. 

Business Alignment.  Unit economics in DevOps bridges the gap between technical and business-focused people. It provides a common language to discuss the economic implications of technical decisions. By quantifying the economic value associated with each unit 


Decoding DevOps efficiency.  In conclusion, the unit economics of DevOps plays a crucial role in the success of software projects and businesses. With a solid grasp on the financial and economic side of each chunk of software you deliver, you can achieve r cost-savings, limitless scalability, ongoing improvements and a far greater ROI from your DevOps efforts.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, understanding unit economics in DevOps isn’t just a skill – it’s your ticket to turning a profit, making savvy decisions, and staying ahead in the rat race of modern software development.  Additionally, unit economics facilitates better teamwork between technical teams and business stakeholders, leading to more informed decision-making. 

In the fast-paced world of software development, it is essential to consider unit economics when shaping and improving your DevOps practices as so many organisations are now doing. Businesses that fail to do so run the risk of falling behind their competitors. Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for the next article of the series: how to measure Unit Economics in DevOps? 

Should you need any support with your DevOps journey, don’t hesitate to contact us. Explore our DevOps services.

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A man in glasses is smiling in front of a brick wall.

Brett Keown
DevOps Practice Leader