8 Reasons Why You Need Build Observability

Joseph Sibony
Joseph Sibony reading time: 6 minutes
March 28, 2024


You let out a groan, check your watch, and glance longingly at the door. Maybe if you skipped the build observability tools, you could still finish early and be a hero for your shiny new build…

You shrug, close your desktop, and make your way down the road for a well-earned drink with your workmates.

Cut to a few weeks later.

Work is slammed. Your boss is on the phone. Everyone’s stressed. Nothing works. And you have no idea why.

If only you’d added those build observability tools in the first place.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at why build observability is vital for successful development, and why you can’t afford to overlook these tools to get the best long-term results for your build.

Why build observability matters

In our previous blog posts, we looked at what level of build observability you need for your development team and the types of build observability tools you can get. Here, we’ll dive deeper into the importance of build observability and why you need it.

With development teams under pressure to churn out cutting-edge applications faster than ever, the temptation to swerve build observability is almost irresistible.

But here’s why you shouldn’t: This final step in the DevOps cycle is really important for optimizing development lifecycles, spotting issues faster, fixing problems quicker, and using your past mistakes to improve your future builds.

Without it, you’re not only relying on manual methods like sifting through build logs to spot errors — you’re also likely opening yourself up to even more issues in the future.

Build observability benefits

As a quick reminder, build observability tools use data visualization to analyze large volumes of build data, giving actionable insights through reports, graphs, charts, and alerts.

Build observability focuses on monitoring and understanding how builds perform once they’re in production, sharing information about build duration and frequency, failure reasons, ongoing tasks and task durations, and error locations.

So in the high-stakes world of development, where the speed of development and deployment can make or break a project, build observability is a catalyst to a successful build.

Here are eight key benefits of implementing build observability into your development projects:

1. Keep a better eye on CI and DevOps

DevOps professionals oversee the entire software development lifecycle, from coding to deployment.

Build observability acts like a powerful lens, giving you incredible insights into the behavior of Continuous Integration (CI) and DevOps processes. And in an industry where every second counts, it’s essential to understand the efficiency of CI and DevOps behaviors.

By quantifying metrics like build frequency, resource usage, and success rates, you can easily identify bottlenecks, allocate resources more effectively, and ensure that each build is running at peak performance.

Ultimately, build observability tools help development teams make more informed decisions and optimize their workflows.

2. Easily identify trends and anomalies across builds

Spotting trends and anomalies in large-scale complex projects can be tricky at the best of times.

But using the traditional approach of manual analysis to do it is like finding an invisible needle in multiple different haystacks.

With build observability tools by your side, you can highlight patterns, fluctuations, and performance differences across projects without the drama. And you can imagine how much time that’ll save you.

It also means you can answer those awkward but important questions, like: “How long does the average build take?”, “Are there recurring delays in different builds?”, and “Are certain projects consistently underperforming?”

This helps you make more data-driven decisions, be proactive about any performance issues, and put a more reliable and efficient build process in place.

3. Speed up troubleshooting with bottleneck visualization

With so many processes going on in development, it can be really hard to edge your way past the bottlenecks. Leaving you feeling stuck, working slower, and getting nervous as the clock ticks away.

That’s why visualizing points where these processes collide, with build observability tools, can really help with strategic pipeline planning.

After all, the faster the development team can spot and resolve bottlenecks in the build process the smoother the overall development cycle will be.

And this visualization is a game-changer for development teams.

By planning pipelines more strategically, they can minimize downtime and ensure that builds flow seamlessly. This also allows them to preempt where and when processes might bottleneck, allowing them to optimize their pipelines and boost overall efficiency.

4. Easily find areas for improvement

Don’t you want to continuously improve your builds? That can be extremely difficult without build observability tools.

Build observability not only highlights current issues but also provides the data needed to pinpoint opportunities for improvement. Development teams can slice and analyze build data to understand why and how things go wrong, ultimately addressing the root causes of problems.

Build observability tools help development teams identify when build times start increasing, which then allows them to uncover common issues and root causes — whether it’s looking at overall trends or diving into specific friction points.

And with all this knowledge to hand, you can work toward new efficiencies and quicker resolutions to issues, preventing small problems from snowballing into big delays.

5. Better debugging

Better debugging” — magic words to any developer’s ears.

And that’s exactly what build observability tools can help do, by spotting recurring problems either in specific builds or throughout the development process.

Better observability means spotting patterns in build errors more quickly, helping you to proactively address issues. And with real-time monitoring, tools can detect bugs earlier, preventing them from escalating and potentially disrupting the entire build.

So, build observability not only accelerates debugging — it also makes development pipelines more resistant to errors.

6. Eagle-eyed error spotting

And speaking of errors, how about something that monitors them for you automatically?

No more time wasted manually sifting through logs. No more false flags.

Instead, build observability tools use data visualization to present errors clearly and unmistakably, whether highlighted in charts, or through real-time alerts.

This means faster and more efficient error identification and analysis.

7. Solve the mystery of “Who broke the build?”

It happens more often than you’d like to think. The entire build is gone because someone accidentally pressed the wrong button. Or the cat walked across the keyboard.

And without the build observability tools to tell you how and who was responsible, it’s an awkward guessing game between your teammates, trying to trace back their efforts and save face.

But identifying the individual or team responsible for a build issue is crucial.

So to help with this, build observability pinpoints the cause of errors, so developers can address them immediately. This accountability helps the relevant team members understand how to avoid making the same mistakes again, and also streamlines your troubleshooting process for future builds.

8. Make better decisions with simplified reports

Gone are the days of writing out your data decisions on the back of a receipt.

By automatically organizing your build data into neat, digestible charts and reports, build observability tools can help you present a high-level strategic view of your builds and help your colleagues and bosses better understand why you’ve made the changes you’ve made.

So this will not only make your builds and decision-making better—it will also provide your company with better communication, transparency, and accountability in the long haul.

Getting the best out of your builds

Build observability has evolved from being an optional tool to a vital component of development processes, averting disasters and streamlining efficiency.

And for development teams, build observability is not just a technological upgrade — it’s a strategic necessity, serving as a compass that guides them to success.

Ultimately, by transforming the development lifecycle into a well-guided journey, developers can be more empowered to navigate challenges, optimize processes, and confidently deliver high-quality applications.

You can dive deeper into the importance of build observability in our new whitepaper!

Joseph Sibony
Joseph Sibony reading time: 6 minutes minutes March 28, 2024
March 28, 2024

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