Measuring Software Engineering Productivity
How do you measure developer productivity, how are DORA and SPACE related, and some hard-learned lessons on this topic.
Q: I’d like to measure the productivity of my engineering team and use it to improve how we work. How would you suggest I get started?
This question comes up sooner or later at every company. At startups, it’s often the CEO telling the CTO they want to see some metrics, as they’re concerned how much the engineering team costs and want to promote efficiency. At larger companies, engineering leaders often want ways to “debug” teams with productivity issues.
A few weeks ago, we did a community thread on measuring engineering productivity in which engineering leaders in the community shared thoughtful insights on what worked in their environments.
To dive deeper in this topic, I pulled in Laura Tacho, a VP of engineering and a leadership coach who’s faced this exact issue, has rolled out GitPrime (now Pluralsight Flow) and got burnt in the process and has since dived deep into this space.
Laura is well-known in the Docker community, being involved from the early days as a software engineer and then an engineering leader. She was Senior Director of Engineering at CloudBees; a CI/CD SaaS solution. She took on VP of Engineering roles at two scaleups, before becoming a leadership coach to engineering leaders.
Laura gave the talk What Dashboards Don’t Tell You at LeadDev London in June 2022. She also runs the cohort-based course Measuring Development Team Performance, which is a hands-on take on this topic. The course is three days long and applications for the next cohort close on 4th August.
In this article, we will cover:
What is productivity?
Rolling out a developer productivity tool
The SPACE framework and an updated mental model
Where to start
As a disclaimer, I am an investor in and an advisor DX which Laura mentions in this article. Laura wrote this guest post independently, and I did not ask her to mention the company.
Over to Laura: