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An Engineering Leader's Guide To Building a Data-Driven Engineering Team

Discover how to build a productive, and data-driven engineering teams. Unlock quality, effectiveness, and innovation in software development.
An Engineering Leader's Guide To Building a Data-Driven Engineering Team

Everytime I have met an engineering leader, this has been a constant question in all of these conversations, “Are you data blind or data-effective?” And the responses to these questions have never stopped to surprise me. 

In the dynamic landscape of technology, the success of any engineering team is intricately tied to its ability to harness data effectively. A data-driven approach not only empowers teams to make informed decisions but also fuels a culture of continuous improvement and engineering excellence. In this blog post, I am going to talk about  the key strategies for building data-driven engineering teams and how platforms like Hatica can be pivotal in this transformative journey.

1. Define Clear Objectives

To start building a data-driven engineering team, it's essential to define clear objectives aligned with business goals. Understand what success looks like for your organization and identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter the most to you and your team. These objectives will serve as a compass for your team, guiding them in their data-driven endeavors. 

This is where tools like Hatica provide a myriad of metrics that can be helpful & confusing if there is no clear objective. For many teams that are new to the notion of measuring developer productivity or engineering excellence, the best first step is to align on what are the objectives and then work down from there to the metrics that matter. 

Also, keep in mind that the same metric may not be relevant to every team, some teams might be inherently better on cycle time than others but might struggle with low planning accuracy. Encourage teams to scour through the data but foremost have them identify areas of improvement and define the objectives for themselves. 

By defining custom teams in Hatica, it is possible for engineering managers and leaders to quickly hone in on the metrics that their team needs to focus on. 

2. Establish a Culture of Data Literacy

Data literacy is the cornerstone of a successful data-driven culture. But the hard fact is it doesn’t come naturally to either teams or their leaders. Once you have defined clear objectives for your engineering teams, you will have to consciously make an effort to ensure that your engineering team is well-versed in interpreting and utilizing data. You will have to provide training sessions, workshops, and resources to enhance their understanding of data analysis tools and methodologies. 

A well-informed team is more likely to derive actionable insights from the available data. Or else the data is going to be confused for a means to micromanage the team which is only going to be counterproductive. By relying on the data at each stage of the Engineering system from planning through, execution & retrospection, teams don’t fall back into their old ways. 

Hatica enables short-linking dashboards for easier sharing, so everyone looks at the same data points with 1-click. Additionally, by integrating with email, Hatica reports provide a proactive view to engineering leaders on a regular basis. In 2024, we will take this to a whole new level by integrating other communication channels beyond email & Slack and releasing new AI models that proactively surface insights as soon as the teams log into the dashboards.

3. Implement Robust Data Infrastructure

This has not been easy though. Building a data-driven engineering team in 2024 requires more than just goals and dreams. You need a rock-solid data infrastructure.

In 2024, investments in tools that simplify data integration, storage, and retrieval is going to be inevitable. Hatica’s engineering management platform empowers teams with a centralized platform for teams to access, analyze, and visualize data effortlessly, along with comprehensive data management.  

In 2023, we brought together data from a variety of engineering data sources and we will continue to  enrich our engineering data ecosystem by bringing in new data sources. 

Already, Hatica is the only tool that has as many distinct connectors. That said, we heard your feedback, so going into 2024 will be releasing connectors for Asana, Sonarqube and many more

Additionally, we are committed to not just surfacing the insights from our data platform, we will democratize this data by exposing it directly via a querying interface. 

I cannot wait for that to happen. You ask for it, and Hatica will be able to answer that for you in an interactive-intuitive fashion. 

4. Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration

The whole idea of breaking work silos and bringing teams together with the help of data has been our goal. A data-driven approach involves input from various departments. To foster an environment where engineers, data scientists, and business analysts can collaborate seamlessly, sharing insights and leveraging each other's expertise; it is imperative that this cross-communication is on an autopilot mode rather than demanding huge manual intervention.

For this to happen, it is important that the management has a north-star metric to align themselves to. 

5. Define Key Metrics and Key Results (OKRs)

Establishing key metrics and key results (OKRs) then becomes crucial for steering your engineering team in the right direction towards that North Star metric. Define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals aligning with your business objectives. 

One has to regularly track and evaluate progress to ensure that the team stays focused on achieving its key results. And back that up with data - even better!

In 2023, we introduced Hatica Goals which serves as the foundation for teams to define working agreements & hold themselves accountable to continuous improvement. 

Hatica Goals feature for modern engineering teams

We are already working on expanding the Goals feature by introducing new Goal types and making it easier for teams to raise-the-bar in 2024.

(Btw, you can always let us know the kind of engineering goals you set for your teams and we will ensure that we have got you covered.)

6. Adopt Advanced Analytics and Machine Learning

In the advent of Generative AI and advanced analytics, tools need to have capabilities to extract deeper insights from your data. Platforms like Hatica can integrate machine learning models into your workflow, allowing your team to make predictions, identify patterns, and automate decision-making processes.

By using outlier detection, Hatica helps engineering teams to focus on things that matter. Focusing on the outliers improves the average but we realize that outliers are outliers and making process changes to drive improvements in outlier scenarios does not drive significant improvement in common recurring scenarios.

In 2024, we are going to further enhance these capabilities by bringing to bear advanced machine learning algorithms as well as leveraging AI models to make it easier to spot outliers, conduct root-cause analysis and empower engineering teams at all levels. 

Because modern day engineering teams need modern solutions to up the ante!

7. Implement Real-Time Monitoring and Alerting

Well, another important aspect is to enable real-time monitoring of your systems and applications. Implement alerting mechanisms to notify the team of any anomalies or performance issues. Hatica Dashboards, for instance, provides real-time visualization capabilities, allowing your team to stay proactive in addressing potential challenges.

With the Goals feature, which enables teams to stay on track with the metrics that matter to them, Hatica offers instant visibility into PRs that are breaching the thresholds set by the team (via its Dev Cycle Time dashboard). 

This instant visibility is surfaced in the app, Slack & email notifications.

Unlike other systems, Goals in Hatica are defined and adopted by the team vs. cascaded top-down. We understand that Engineering teams operate best when they have a level of autonomy and this belief is reflected in how we designed the Goals feature.

In 2024, we are further enhancing this by enabling real-time goal notifications to other channels beyond Slack & email.

8. Cultivate a Continuous Improvement Mindset

At Hatica, we shipped 120+ updates to our  analytics platform in 2023, that’s over 10 enhancements each month. Today, Hatica has the broadest range of connectors, enabling our customers to ingest and analyze data across the spectrum of tools that engineering teams use. One of the more popular connectors this past year has been the Linear & ClickUp connector. 

No other providers offer such unprecedented levels of app connectivity and we’re just getting started. This is possible because we took a platform approach to building our connectors.

This has been possible because of building a culture of continuous improvement by regularly analyzing the results of our data-driven initiatives. Continuous improvement ensures that your engineering team remains adaptable and resilient in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.

In 2024, we plan to  take this to the next level by enabling customers to build their own connectors to ingest data into Hatica from their in-house, custom-built applications. That is going to be super cool. This has been a popular request from some of our largest enterprise customers and we’re thrilled to release this soon.

9. Ensure Data Security and Compliance

But as you go on to build a data-driven engineering team, you will have to prioritize data security and compliance in today’s time. Implement robust data governance practices and ensure that your team adheres to industry regulations. Platforms like Hatica provide security features to safeguard sensitive information and maintain compliance standards.

Hatica is SOC2 & GDPR compliant and we take these certifications very seriously. It is often treated as a check-the-box activity to become compliant by many vendors, so instead of making this a one-time, check-the-box activity, in 2023 we implemented automated audits on all our systems to stay compliant. We also rolled out https://trust.hatica.io/ to transparently showcase our compliance. 

And having done all of that also sometimes doesn’t seem enough. Because Ubuntu! What we are without one another. 

10. Celebrate Successes and Learn from Failures

To acknowledge that we ensure to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of your data-driven engineering team. Whether it's optimizing performance, resolving critical issues, or achieving key milestones, recognition boosts morale and reinforces the value of data-driven efforts. Additionally, treat failures as opportunities to learn and refine strategies for future initiatives. 

To Data, To Data-Driven Teams, To Success! 

Bottom Line: Modern Engineering Teams Are Embracing Data-Driven Development 

Tech is evolving at breakneck speed, and the only way to stay ahead is to embrace data as our compass. However, the true power lies in “how” we implement data-driven insights to improve engineering workflows. It demands a combination of cultural, organizational, and technological shifts. 

​​By fostering a culture of data literacy, investing in the right training, and leveraging robust platforms like Hatica, you can empower your team to achieve engineering excellence through data-driven decision-making. 
You are just one step away from embracing the power of data, and watch your engineering team thrive in the ever-evolving world of technology.

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Table of Contents
  • 1. Define Clear Objectives
  • 2. Establish a Culture of Data Literacy
  • 3. Implement Robust Data Infrastructure
  • 4. Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration
  • 5. Define Key Metrics and Key Results (OKRs)
  • 6. Adopt Advanced Analytics and Machine Learning
  • 7. Implement Real-Time Monitoring and Alerting
  • 8. Cultivate a Continuous Improvement Mindset
  • 9. Ensure Data Security and Compliance
  • 10. Celebrate Successes and Learn from Failures
  • Bottom Line: Modern Engineering Teams Are Embracing Data-Driven Development 

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Overview dashboard from Hatica