Profitability & hotfix to release ratios in Agile environments

So I have this theory that, for the average company that uses Agile, the hotfix to release ratio directly correlates with the success of a company.

OK, so “success” is pretty vague, so let’s look at it in more specific terms.


Let’s say a given company’s hotfix to release ratio is very high. So they’re doing at least as many hotfixes as releases (if not more). This suggest that their development team’s primary focus is on fixing existing bugs and/or rushing in changes to the application. Which leaves less time for developing new products/features/advancements. Thus less value added to their existing product, meaning fewer shinies (as it were) that marketing can use to drive in leads. Or fewer products to add to the market. All of which will shrink profits.

Customer Satisfaction

One thing that could cause very frequent hotfixes to be necessary is the discovery of bugs on the production version of the application. So if these are major bugs, it’s probably guaranteed that users are noticing them, and are none too pleased about them. Regular occurrences of bugs on production imply a lack of solid QA, meaning there might be even deeper flaws in the application that simply haven’t been discovered yet.

Even minor bugs that are getting hotfixed, such as grammar edits, imply a sloppiness in the application itself. And who wants to use a sloppy application?

Employee Satisfaction

Frequent hotfixes also imply a process issue. Lack of proper QA is in itself a process issue, and will lead to frustration for all parties involved when development work isn’t properly tested – or when a proofreading process for copy is inconsistent to nonexistent. And, if the hotfixes aren’t QA-related and are simply “mini releases that couldn’t wait”, this implies a team that’s overly focused on the short term and missing out on the long view of the project (well, long view in Agile terms, at least) and are stuck rushing slapped together solutions rather than properly being able to focus to building a good solution (a frustration for anyone who actually likes making high quality work).

So I’d like to make there be a thing called the HFR ratio (for Hotfix Release). You can magically get access to protected Github data and calculate the HFR ratio for different companies (assuming companies generally have a naming schema that indicates if that push is a regular or hotfix release). This could be useful for many purposes, such as determining what companies to invest in, what applications to pay (or not pay) money for, and what companies to pursue employment with.

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