Implementing a System of Continuous Experimentation in a Software Startup - A participatory action research study
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By nature, startups face a variety of challenges that well established companies do not. They are newly created companies with no operating history, very limited resources, and they work in an environment that is uncertain, dynamic and often with many competitors. The Lean Startup provides a generic framework to guide any startup through these challenges, but lacks the detailed framework for conducting systematic, experiment-based software development provided by the RIGHT model. The implementation of such a system of continuous experimentation poses a series of challenges such as cultural changes in the organization and requirements for the software development process, in addition to the investment in time and resources needed to build the technical infrastructure. Through a participatory action research study, the RIGHT model is implemented at the software startup Hold, which before the research did not have any experimentation taking place, and in general, no lean practices were employed. This study documents the requirements of implementing the experimentation system on company culture and structure, the software development process and the technical infrastructure. The results presents the evolution at Hold, measured against the Experimentation Evolution Model, and shows how the RIGHT model was implemented as part of the product development process. The thesis concludes that the benefits of implementing a continuous experimentation system far outweigh the investments needed, that the cultural shift of the organization was largely positive, and suggests an abstraction of the experimentation system is needed to shift the focus of experiments from being purely on software development to include every aspect of the product development process.