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Measuring DevOps: How to keep track of developer productivity
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Measuring DevOps: How to keep track of developer productivity

Venue.sh
Venue.sh
5th March, 2024
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Venue.sh
Venue.sh
5th March, 2024

Searching for a way to measure the impact of DevOps on your organisation? Discover how to track your developer productivity.

Once you’ve implemented DevOps in your organisation, your next thought might be how to measure its impact. Yet, when compared to other critical business areas such as customer operations or sales, software development is often left unmeasured.
Software development work is collaborative, complex, and creative, and the link between input and output can be unclear. Therefore, to measure its success requires different metrics for different levels such as systems, teams, and individuals. Hence why measuring developer productivity requires some out-of-the-box thinking.
So, how do you know if a DevOps environment is benefiting your organisation?
To measure DevOps’ impact, you can track and benchmark your developer productivity – and yes, it can be done! In this blog, we will explore why it’s important to measure DevOps and how to do it. Let’s get started.

Why use productivity insights?

McKinsey states that top tech businesses aim for their developers to spend up to 70% of their time on fundamental and fulfilling activities including building, testing, and coding. So, to be in the top field of tech businesses, the aim is to enable your developers to spend enough time on tasks such as coding and not on low-value tasks such as provisioning infrastructure, running manual unit tests, and managing test data.
Metrics can help you assess whether you’re hitting this target and form the basis for your next steps.
With concise, detailed productivity insights and data, you can get answers to fundamental questions about your software engineering talent. It can form the basis of your response to questions such as “What are the roadblocks preventing engineers from doing their best work?” and “How is workplace culture affecting developers from being able to produce their best work?”.
Insights can also help you define whether you have enough software engineering talent, and how to properly identify if they’re spending time on activities that truly drive value.

Take time to consider your metrics

As we’ve already mentioned, unlike a function such as sales, where a measuring system of money earned or deals closed could be used to measure the success of a team or individual, software development calls for different methods of measuring.
For example, you might think it a good idea to track progress through deployment frequency, but it depends on all team members doing their respective tasks and is, therefore, not a good indication of individual performance.

Metrics for measuring developer productivity

Here are examples of useful metrics to measure developer productivity:
Developer Velocity Index benchmark is a survey that measures an enterprise’s technology, working practices, and organisational enablement and benchmarks them against peers. This comparison helps unearth specific areas of opportunity, whether in backlog management, testing, or security and compliance.
Contribution analysis. Assessing contributions by individuals to a team’s backlog can help unearth the trends that block the optimisation of that team’s capacity. Using this kind of insight, team leaders can manage clear expectations for output and improve performance, identify opportunities for individual upskilling or training, and evaluate role distribution within a team and make adjustments.
Talent capability score. Based on industry standard capability maps, this score is a summary of the individual knowledge, skills, and abilities of a specific organisation. This can present coaching and up-skilling opportunities, and inspire a rethink of talent strategy.

How to get started

Implementing metrics doesn’t always involve big changes and transformation. You can kick start the process with a few key steps:
Learn the basics. Bring leaders who are not engineers, or who have been in management for a long time, up to speed with details about the software development process and how it’s evolving.
Assess your systems. Most organisations will need to assess their tech stacks and potentially reconfigure them to be able to identify improvement opportunities and measure developer productivity.
For example, to measure test coverage (the extent to which areas of code have been adequately tested,) a development team needs to equip their codebase with a tool that can track code executed during a test run.
Build a plan. Avoid getting lost in the data and start with one area that you know will result in a clear path to improvement. A good place to start is identifying friction points and bottlenecks. No matter how comprehensive a plan, it is is not a silver bullet - but it will provide structure to your approach.
Measuring productivity is contextual. Look at the entire system overall and understand how to improve the development environment at the system, team, or individual level.

Conclusion

To maximise the benefits of measuring productivity, leaders and developers need to look past the outdated idea that engineering is too complex to measure. As developer productivity and happiness becomes ever more relevant to businesses looking to attract and maintain top talent, providing a workplace and tools that allow engineers to do their best work and fosters their creativity is more important than ever.
By taking steps to measure developer productivity, you can more easily identify hidden friction points that block work and creativity.

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