These Metrics Are Used by Netflix, GitHub, and to Keep Getting Better

Every engineering group should have a metrics for engineering success program to provide a standardised method of measuring and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the progress and success of their organisation. This program can be used as a guide for engineers to identify areas for improvement by tracking lead time, code review, merge, and deployment times. By monitoring these metrics over time, engineers can gain insight as to where they can make adjustments and improvements in their processes, thus optimising their engineering success.

Charity Majors, CTO of, Dana Lawson, VP of Engineering at GitHub, and Kathryn Koehler, Director of Productivity Engineering at Netflix, recently shared their insights on how to create and sustain a culture of continuous improvement within an organisation’s engineering department, as well as how to create a program to measure technical accomplishments. All three industry leaders highlighted the importance of having a clear plan of action and expectations in order to ensure that the engineering team is able to successfully develop and grow.

These are the most important points to remember:

A Proven Approach to Estimating Programmer Efficiency : (SPACE) Methodology

The engineering community is abuzz with excitement and anticipation surrounding the SPACE framework, a system for assessing the success of projects. This innovative framework was developed by a team of engineering managers and researchers, Nicole Forsgren, Margaret-Anne Storey, Chandra Maddila, Thomas Zimmermann, Brian Houck, and Jenna Butler, as a means of defining, quantifying and forecasting the actions of developers that result in more secure and speedy software and applications.

Satisfaction and happiness (S), performance (P), action (A), communication and teamwork (C), and effectiveness (E) make up the acronym SPACE.

Managers and supervisors may benefit from utilising the SPACE framework in order to gain a greater understanding of their employees and the progress they are making. This approach to software development is just beginning to gain traction, but it has already been adopted by some major companies such as Netflix and GitHub.

When queried about the advantages of transitioning to the metric system, Koehler of Netflix replied, “There isn’t a single metric that applies to everyone.” She went on to say, “College students who excel in their studies typically measure metrics such as the amount of time spent on assignments, the number of lines of code written, and the amount of projects completed. This is how productivity is evaluated. Nonetheless, the SPACE methodology focuses on health and enjoyment.

An early version of the SPACE framework, which included the DevOps Research & Assessment model

The DevOps Research & Assessment (DORA) model was developed to enable organisations to measure and benchmark the performance of their software delivery against the market standard. When creating the DORA model, the team identified four key performance indicators as the primary focus: frequency of deployment, mean lead time for modifications, change failure rate, and time to recovery. This model predates the SPACE framework, which has been used for similar purposes in recent times.

Most importantly, your company’s success metrics program will include data points and measures that are specific to your organisation.

Lawson from GitHub commented that the DORA metrics can be a beneficial starting point to gain insight into a company, but cautioned against relying solely on analytics without considering other factors. She highlighted that it is important to not read the metrics in isolation, as this would not give a comprehensive understanding of the situation. She also noted that there are many factors which are unique to each organisation and should be taken into consideration for an accurate picture.

Could there be a need for a sixth metric of DORA’s effectiveness?

The correct response is “yes.” Reducing developers’ stress and protecting their personal time is the subject of the fifth framework metric.

Data and analytics may help you prevent burnout

Metrics such as SPACE and DORA offer a comprehensive overview of the performance of your business, enabling you to identify any areas that may need attention. Furthermore, they can be used as a basis for goal-setting and planning by your engineering teams, helping to ensure that your organisation is equipped to reach its objectives.

The sustained practice of compelling engineers to work beyond the typical business hours may have long-term repercussions in the form of burnout. To forestall this, it is important to implement key performance indicators (KPIs) that help to guard against overworking developers. The well-being of employees should never be disregarded and is of paramount importance – this is why quantifiable success markers and metrics are so imperative in order to efficiently manage time and set achievable objectives.

Once a successful metrics program has been fully implemented, it should not be used to assess employees on an individual basis. It is important to ensure that all staff members are aware of the existing success metrics that have been set in place by the company.

Is information the foundation of everything?

Data can be used as a powerful tool for engineers to focus their efforts on the most important tasks and to measure the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most relevant to the organisation. By leveraging data, managers can gain visibility into the overall progress and performance of the company.

Businesses should continuously assess their data and respond appropriately. By considering company activities, relationships, and transactions as information streams, data transformation can be further enhanced. Through the establishment of appropriate indicators of success, engineering teams can access huge volumes of historical, financial, operational and transactional data, which can be used to foster ongoing progress.

Overall, performance enhancement via the use of success measures is possible

It is essential that all factors influencing the workload and productivity of your engineering team are considered when devising a metrics system to measure their success. This should include the amount of time they are able to spend on tasks without being disrupted, as well as any other relevant criteria.

A few additional suggestions for optimising your engineering success metrics program are shown below.

  • It is essential to analyse the metrics on a regular basis. To ensure that everyone is informed and aware of our progress, we should discuss the metrics at the beginning of each meeting. This will enable us to identify which areas are performing well and identify any areas that might require adjustment.
  • It is advisable to take small, incremental steps when beginning to measure and track metrics. To begin, only one to three metrics are necessary. Keeping track of basic statistics, testing new strategies, and monitoring the progress of these metrics will help you to gradually incorporate more complex measurements in the future.
  • It is important to not just focus on metrics associated with actual execution. Incorporating key business metrics into your daily engineering activities will help to clarify the reasoning behind your efforts.

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