“How is the release pipeline going?,” is a common CTO-EM conversation today. However, whether the two tech leaders find a common language to answer this question- that’s what we are going to talk about.
A common pattern across engineering managers is their struggle in quantifying ‘real’ metrics on engineering work. Mostly, it is about the difference in priorities for EM vs C-suite; the other times, it is about disagreements over ‘what’ needs to be measured- the product, or process, or both.
Understanding, acknowledging, and even tracking engineering performance is a complex task, especially when the company’s tech has an overwhelmingly high pace. This is crazy, and unsustainable in real-world scenarios. That’s where diversifying your metric basket becomes vital. In this post, let’s see the top software metrics that every engineering manager should focus on, along with why they really matter.
Software Metrics From an Engineering Manager’s POV
Tracking software metrics have a compounding effect on overall engineering performance. And that’s why engineering managers today are looking to find robust metrics to support their delivery flows, and work towards creating superior quality products.
Traditionally, software development has been seen as a mechanical process. Even, the waterfall approach is a testament to linear nature of yesteryear SDLCs. However, as tech becomes more specialized, the development approach too has to shift towards quality metrics, and not just insisting too much on velocity, and dated deliveries.
The software economy is already filled with too-many engineering metrics. So how to find the ones matching your requirements?
Usually, EM’s use a three-point approach- a combination of developer well-being, SDLC health, and final product, to find their needle-like metrics from the enormous software haystack. Using a holistic mix of product, process, and people metrics can bring true workability to engineering teams.
Here is the list of 3 best process metrics engineering managers should not miss.
1. Cycle Time
Cycle time needs no new introduction. The metrics is already a sub-part of Google’s DORA metrics, and is a constant reminder for teams to double down on both release quality and velocity.
Cycle time is an indicator of a team’s delivery velocity and tracks time taken to move from first commit to final deployment. A high cycle time should ring warning bells to engineering managers as it is the most fundamental indicator of a healthy SDLC.
Moreover, cycle time as a metric is a goldmine of data and other process indicators, when tracked right. A high cycle time is an opportunity for engineering managers to break down their traditional process silos, and move towards efficient workflows.
If high developer workload is causing spikes in cycle time, engineering managers can delegate work, and even deprioritize non-core tasks from the developer worklist.