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Discussion on: How do you measure engineering performance and process healthiness?

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trashhalo profile image
Stephen Solka

Your most basic metric of process health is points delivered per sprint per team. There are dragons here and it takes a lot of nuance to get this right. Never have a conversation about this metric with an engineer because discussing points breaks points. See Goodhart's Law

The best way to use it is just to track it over time. When there is a change to the trend have a conversation with the team lead. The topic of the conversation is there anything interesting that happened this sprint? Gather more data. See if there is anything to learn. Changes in points both directions are a hint to you to dig deeper and see how everyone is doing.

Another good metric is time from ticket first goes to "in progress" to "complete". Tickets that hang around for a long time in a in progress state are a indication that size of your tickets may not be quite right.

I can go on and on about the kinds of metrics you can track about teams and engineers. But I cannot stress this enough. There is no magic bullet number for process health. Every data point must be treated as directional or you risk creating a really toxic engineering culture.

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georgeguimaraes profile image
George Guimarães Author

Hey, Stephen

Thanks for the answer! I stopped estimating User Stories in Story Points because I've seen the team having time-consuming discussions on whether a given US worth 1 or 2 points.

So, instead of estimating, I like to have some discussions on "how to implement given User Story." It's a good practice that aligns the team and turns anyone eligible for developing it later. In other words, it avoids queues and improves the overall speed of development.

So, instead of measuring Story Points, I rather measure the number of delivered User Stories.

When it comes to the metric from when the ticket first goes to "in progress" to "complete", I'm total with you!

I call this metric Lead Time, however, some people call it Cycle Time. I explained why I don't like Cycle Time in this article.

I also wrote another blog post called 50 Shades of Lead Time that explain how to apply this idea to other steps of software development.