When it comes to assessing progress, engineering managers often focus too heavily on metrics that are not indicative of success, potentially leading to the failure of their business plan. However, the metrics used as markers of progress may not necessarily have an effect on the broader aims of the organisation.
After two decades of leading software development teams, Rob Zuber, Chief Technology Officer of CircleCI, has identified three metrics as providing the most beneficial insights.
- Metrics of velocity
- Metrics for morale
- Metrics for business
Let’s take a closer look at each of these indicators.
Metrics for velocity
Engineering velocity metrics are highly effective due to their focus on outcomes. With these metrics, it is possible to accurately measure the level of efficiency and speed of engineering processes. As a result, they are regularly monitored, allowing for a clear understanding of how well the software delivery process is functioning.
- Formerly the Head of Engineering at Zapproved, Moses Mendoza utilises throughput metrics as a key indicator for recognising potential bottlenecks in engineering operations. Throughput metrics provide a reliable measure of the output of any given engineering operation.
- As a manager in the engineering field, it is important to stay informed about the productivity of the team in order to optimise workflow. Keeping tabs on the team’s progress can help to provide the necessary data to make informed decisions which can ultimately lead to more effective workflow.
- The length of time between the start and completion of a process phase is referred to as its lead time. This lead time could be affected by communication issues, equipment malfunctions, or the state of the pipeline itself.
- Thus, engineering managers may learn where the process is slowing down by tracking lead time.
- You need to know how much work your team can get done in a sprint without sacrificing quality in order to meet your company’s goals.
- Livestorm’s Chief Technology Officer Tom Forlini recommends that engineering managers pay attention to these three sub-metrics of sprint velocity:
- This metric provides an assessment of the effectiveness of the sprint by demonstrating the number of tasks that were initially planned versus the number of tasks that were completed at the end of the sprint. It gives an indication of the team’s capability to effectively plan and execute tasks.
- As engineering managers, it can be beneficial to look beyond time as a unit of measurement when assessing the difficulty of a situation. One alternative is to use narrative points, which assign a value to each story to determine the level of difficulty associated with it. This evaluation can take into account a variety of factors, such as complexity, effort, and risk. In this way, the number of problems can be weighed against the number of narrative points to accurately assess the difficulty of a situation.
- It is essential to maintain a balanced approach when considering different types of issues, such as rewriting code for a new feature and finding bugs. These two tasks can present different levels of difficulty, with one potentially requiring more time and effort than the other. Thus, it is important to ensure that an adequate proportion of resources are allocated to each category in order to meet objectives efficiently.
With these measurements, you may calculate rough estimates of your team’s output and utilise that information to allocate tasks effectively.
Metrics for morale
Engineering managers may leverage morale indicators to gain an in-depth understanding of their employees’ views and opinions about the organisation and its leadership. This can provide the organisation with valuable insights which can be used to make informed decisions and create an environment that is conducive to employee satisfaction.
Morale measures, unlike velocity indicators, are not tangible. Unfortunately, this is most likely why most engineering managers undervalue them.
It is widely acknowledged that engineers who are satisfied in their job roles are more likely to stay with their organisation for a longer period of time. Consequently, it is important to measure employee morale in order to track staff retention. To assess the morale of engineers, Mendoza suggests having direct conversations with workers, administering surveys, and encouraging team leaders to openly communicate with their team members to gain insight into their feelings.
Metrics for business
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are essential metrics that should be monitored, recorded, and evaluated in order to accurately assess the overall performance of a particular business function. By keeping track of KPIs, engineers on the team can gain a better understanding of how their work contributes to the larger objectives of the organisation.
Therefore, it is crucial to keep tabs on company KPIs in real time.
How to make the most of these numbers:
- You can help your team to internalise the metrics by conducting regular reviews, ensuring that their work is in alignment with the company’s goals. Doing so will ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives.
- It is not advisable to attempt monitoring an excessive number of metrics simultaneously. Initially, it is recommended to identify and track a few essential indicators, and then gradually expand from there.
- Rather than concentrating on individual measures in isolation, it is beneficial to gain an understanding of how they interact with one another. To gain a comprehensive perspective, it is advantageous to understand how technical measurements can influence business metrics.
Engineering managers may recognise that numerous aspects can be essential for improving the productivity of their engineering team. However, velocity, morale, and business indicators are particularly important in driving data-driven decision making, evaluating team performance, and enhancing the overall company strategy. These metrics provide a better understanding of the team’s current standing and performance and can be used to identify areas of improvement and develop solutions that can increase productivity.
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