Efficiency & Flow
The efficiency and flow metrics keep all stakeholders in the loop on the progress of tasks in a team. It helps managers and leaders to stay in sync with delivery timelines and helps developers to gauge how successfully their team brings a work to completion. These metrics often include measures of time or speed through a system, number of handoffs, interruptions, and a developer’s ability to stay in a state of flow.
Measuring these metrics are helpful in spotting and removing inefficiencies in the software delivery process.
Measuring and improving efficiency and flow often call for a balanced approach between individual and team priorities. For example, when managers try to optimize an individual developer’s maker time by reducing meetings or communication requests, it has a negative impact on that developer’s ability to participate and contribute to a teammate’s requests or team activities. Similarly, when leaders optimize team efficiency, it is easy to prioritize completion metrics while paying only little regard to testing or defects. Hence, leaders optimize efficiency and flow metrics by moulding processes that provide customer satisfaction and user value.
What to measure?
Teams capture the efficiency and flow using:
- Efficiency and cohesion in a team and system performance can be measured using code review quality and timing
- Availability and usage of maker time to capture the ability of an individual or team to stay in flow and practice deep work.
- Volume, quantity, timing, and spacing of interruptions and their corresponding impact on developer focus.
- Number of handoffs in a process and across different teams measured to minimize delays.
How to use the SPACE framework?
As leaders approach the task of measuring their engineers’ productivity, it is imperative that they develop a holistic perspective of developer productivity, keeping in mind the many intractable but immensely important activities a developer does to get a project to completion. In order to fully appreciate this complex engineering process, a measurement system has to capture several metrics across multiple dimensions of the SPACE framework.
More importantly, leaders have to always add perceptual metrics using feedback and survey data to get more accurate and complete information about a developer’s work.
Such a system of metrics creates “ a constellation of metrics under tension” that leads to a balanced and holistic view that helps to reinforce smarter decisions and tradeoffs among team members.
While embarking on the process of measuring employee productivity, organizations and leaders have to renew their commitment to maintaining employee privacy and creating a metric system free from biases by ensuring anonymized data processing.
Understanding engineering productivity in the era of hybrid work
The baseline to approaching and understanding engineering team productivity has seen a tremendous shift with the adoption of the hybrid work model. What was once a rather obscure, complicated, and archaically output-based system of counting git activity is now evolving to be more expansive, more nuanced, wholesome yet complex, and increasingly multidimensional.
This shift can be attributed to the demands of the location-agnostic workplace, with team members being distributed across geographies and work spaces. This distributed nature obscures managers’ and leaders’ visibility into their team’s activities and contributions and introduces challenges to gauging and preempting blockers and bottlenecks. This led to a need to develop a data-driven understanding of engineering productivity as a tool to get visibility into developer activity, task progress, and workplace processes so that managers and leaders could equip teams for better alignment and focus, better-informed decision making, and providing better leadership.
Along with the lack of visibility into team effort and task progress, hybrid leaders also battle the obstacle of not being able to gauge and improve employee well-being, satisfaction, and engagement. Thus, it became imperative that any measurement of developer productivity should include measuring and managing developer health, satisfaction, collaboration, and innovation. This expanded approach to productivity to ensure sustainable gains can enable organizations and managers to provide better leadership.
Additionally, in the hybrid workplace, more developers’ focus time and makers’ time is impacted due to distractions such as meetings, communication notifications, and a prevalent culture of staying always-on. Although the hybrid workplace needs robust communication, engineering leaders have to start relying on collaboration analytics and insights in order to balance communication with optimum makers’ time.
Engineering teams have been pioneers of tech-focused work models that use highly sophisticated and tried and tested work methods like async work, agile methods, and management that were suited for remote or distributed work. Now, as the world of work reimagines a new future of work, engineering teams have the unique opportunity to leverage their expertise to reimagine a new normal. As all businesses grow to become powered by digital technology, engineering teams have taken the spotlight of rebuilding the notion of work on the foundations of productivity, innovation, and continuous optimization that consistently creates immense value. A good place to begin this paradigm shift will be by changing how engineer productivity is measured.
💡 Hatica is an engineering analytics platform that helps development teams build sustainable productivity and ensure optimum employee experience by tracking several SPACE metrics like cycle time, DORA metrics, focus and meeting time and more.
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