The Silicon Valley PropTech company, Amenify, is on a mission to power services and products for millions of homes. Capitalizsing on the generational opportunity in real estate innovation, Amenify partners with residential real estate operators to create value for real estate consumers across the United States.
Critical to this tall mission is Amenify’s globally distributed engineering team, headed by CTO and Product Officer, Danish Chopra. The engineering team is responsible for launching Amenify’s services, products, and analytics and “to do this, the team has to be at the best of their game, focussed on continuous data-driven learning, growth, and rigour.”
The opportunity for improvement:
Managing a distributed engineering team brings with it unique operational challenges. For Danish, the lack of visibility was one such critical issue. As a leader focussed on supporting his engineers with timely input and guidance, the lack of insight into where help is needed, where blockers exist and how to stimulate learning & growth, was a challenge to Danish.
As with other distributed teams, Amenify-engineering also discovered room for improvement in the way they did Async work. They wanted to streamline and improve their async communication and team management to preserve their engineers’ well-being and productivity.
The rapidly growing company also needed its engineering team to consistently deliver features and services without glitches or bugs. Danish knew that in order to ensure risk-free product delivery, he had to manage his team’s code base and PR health to stay ahead of the game.
Of makeshift solutions:
Danish and his team began their search for an efficient way to not only get visibility but also ensure the well-being of their distributed engineers. They aimed to measure the work effort done by each team, how the work was happening, whether the work was aligned to the business goals and whether the engg team was efficiently supporting the larger strategic mission of the company. They experimented with makeshift processes and workflows and adopted adhoc tools to manage their engineering operations. “We had adopted several adhoc tools that needed manual data input from engineers in various locations. This took a lot of our time that could otherwise be used to focus on building the product but rather and causedcreated confusion.”, says Danish, but none of these solutions provided the deep data-driven insights needed to improve our engineering operations.
More pressingly, Danish says that these stopgap solutions and the other engineering management tools lacked a viewpoint that provided transparency and visibility into the work of the engineers and left Amenify and Danish in a difficult position of being unable to help their engineers grow with data driven feedback.
That's when Amenify discovered Hatica. “I heard about this solution from an engineer friend and decided to explore it. At the get go, their website looked promising but what stood out most was the subject authority they had established through all our interactions both on their blogs as well in our face-to-face interactions - they knew exactly what they were talking about and it was an easy choice to give the platform a shot.”, says Danish, recounting his first impression of Hatica.
A demo, a product tour, and two onboarding calls later, Amenify got started on their journey with Hatica. Right from the start, they gathered valuable insights into how their distributed engineering team was performing. They had already established that they needed better async work practicses to maximise their engineering engg team’s performance, what they didn’t have was the data to support that hypothesis. With Hatica, they could instantly see what processes were hurting productivity, where were the bottlenecks, what could possibly was helping help their team’s performance, and where the gaps existed for improvement, and what could augment their engineering team’s performance..
- Their globally distributed team was working at odd hours to sync on stand up meetings, collab discussions, and team retros - this was affecting the engineer’s work-life balance that Amenify aimed to preserve and promote as the company’s core ethos.
- The management team did not have comprehensive visibility into what tasks were ongoing, which teams were engaged in strategically aligned efforts and who was facing blockers or engaged in low priority or repetitive tasks.
Better Async Work Practices
Equipped with data-driven visibility, Danish and his team immediately got to work. Danish was working with the team of engineers as the CTO. Within 3 weeks of using Hatica, Amenify’s engineering team was able to revamp and upgrade their async work practices.
- The globally distributed engineering team started usinguses Hatica Check-Ins as part of their scrum rituals. With the ability to schedule the stand up check-in at the most practical and convenient time depending on each team member’s time zone, Hatica’s check-ins were a first step towards fully async work.
- Danish and team then used the Activity log along with their async stand ups rituals, giving EMs and leaders the ability to get complete visibility and context into what work was happening in their teams, how much of their teams efforts and contributions were strategically aligned, which teams were blocked, what challenges did their teams face regularly, and how to preempt and mitigate risks for on-time to delivery of the projects.
Increased Maker Time
Team Amenify also encountered an unexpected but delightful outcome by using Hatica-powered async practices. Danish was able to measure a 55% increase in his team’s available maker time, exclaiming, “We increased the average maker time available to engineers by 10 hours and saw productivity jump!”
Note: Maker time is defined as the continuous uninterrupted time a developer gets to code effectively and efficiently. You can read about the maker vs manager’s schedule here.
Clearly, the availability of extended and focused time to work on cognitively demanding tasks without the itnterruption of odd-hour meetings and sync calls, directly contributed to the increase in deep work time for Amenify’s engineers.
Ongoing optimization of engineering operations
With a consistent demand for product updates, feature releases, and product maintenance, Amenify’s engineering team had to ensure there were no risks of bugs and problem code bases. With Hatica’s incisive code churn metrics, Danish and team were able to figure out problem code bases and narrow down repos and services with high code churn. This insight led to the team’s retros improving significantly, becoming a space for strategic discussions that led to improved engineering team rigour and health. The team
- Improved workflows to track and prevent unreviewed PRs
- Feedback conversations based on Github PRs
Improved engineer’s well-being
Danish prioritized the health and well-being of his engineers to ensure long-term, sustainable productivity.
- Using the activity heat map, Danish was able to get visibility into whether his teams have to be up for meetings or for work outside of regular work-hours. This insight further strengthened Amenify’s efforts to design and implement async work practices that promoted work-life balance and preserved engineers’ well-being.
Since adopting Hatica, Amenify has reported a 55% increase in maker time, significant improvement in engineers’ health and well-being, and a seamless and full adoption of async work practices that are powered by data-driven insights and visibility.
With Hatica’s cycle time metrics, Amenify’s engineering team was able to get granular visibility and clear information about their workflows which helped them identify bottlenecks and implement improvements in their teams’ PR pickup time. With this workflow optimization, the team was able to reduce their cycle time by 18%.