DevOps - Cadence vs Velocity

A developer recently asked me “What is the real difference between Cadence and Velocity?   Aren’t they both just talking about speed?”   Hmmm…  Good Questions.


Generally thinking cadence can be tied to rhythm.  One thing to remember is that the DevOps value stream is much broader in scope than just Dev and Ops.  So what are we looking at here?  The rhythm of code integration, and how we align with that things like integrated testing?  Yes, but also consider that the code development integration and deployment has to be in rhythm with the demand that is coming from your Customer and Business side.  If we are not in sync or have the same cadence as the business demand all other measurements may not be beneficial.     Alright, now let’s consider that your design and development teams work diligently to implement Agile Software Development principles to align and sync with the business.  If the cadence in test and deployment is not in sync then you have a potential bottleneck and the cadence is off from the business.  It doesn’t matter if Dev is moving more quickly if Ops is not speeding up also. Companies cannot survive in today’s fast paced, competitive, technology driven business environment doing things the way they’ve always done them.  The impacts are too great. Cadence and integration with the business is a must.


In Agile we learn that velocity is the measure of work that can be completed in a specified interval. In other words this is the amount of work that your team can absorb in that time box.  Therefore, as IT Service providers we need to measure our velocity in order to ensure that we are in sync or have the same cadence with the business.  Every stakeholder in the value stream that starts from idea to end of life for a product or service must ensure that their velocity does not break others who are working upstream or downstream from them.   In DevOps it’s the first way.  The first way is “the flow of work from left to right” or from business requirements all the way through to end of life. 

Although both cadence and velocity have an element of speed to them they are very different and can and should be measured to ensure alignment with the business and for optimization in a DevOps culture.  Understanding concepts, principles, and practices for DevOps can help to increase your velocity and ensure that your cadence is in sync with business demand. 

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