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Engineering Metric of the Week: Commits Without a Ticket Reference

Plandek, June 30, 2021

Metric Definition

Commits without a Ticket Reference is an often-overlooked engineering quality metric.

As the name suggest it tracks the percentage of code commits made to any branch that do not have a related issue management (e.g. Jira) ticket reference present in the commit to enable a full audit history of each commit.

Mature Agile DevOps organisations recognise the need to view Agile software delivery as an end-to-end process – hence also recognise the need to be able to track code commits back to the team/feature/ticket to which they relate.

Example Commits without a Ticket Reference summary chart – Plandek Delivery and Engineering Quality dashboard

Commits Without a Ticket Ref Chart

Analysis of Commits without a Ticket Reference – Breakdown and Filtering Options

Engineering metric dashboards like Plandek enable you to analyse delivery and engineering metrics in a number of different ways. In this case, Plandek will link to a ticket reference based in it being found in any of the below:

  • Commit message
  • Related Pull Request title
  • Related Pull Request description
  • Related Pull Request comments.

Plandek then cross-references the ticket reference with the data gathered from your workflow management system (e.g. Jira) to validate that the ticket is genuine. Once validated, the commit will then be considered as linked to a ticket.

Based on the date of commit the default over time chart (below) plots this percentage based on your date range selection. Breakdown/Filter options include Committer and Repository.

Example Commits without a Ticket Reference drill-down chart – Plandek Delivery and Engineering Quality dashboard

Commits Without a Ticket Ref Drill Down Chart

Related metrics

Commits without a Ticket Reference is one of many delivery and engineering quality metrics. As such it is often used is part of a ‘balanced scorecard’ of engineering quality metrics surfaced in real time at team and programme level.

Other such engineering quality metrics include:

  • Commits without a Pull Request tracks with number of code commits that have been sent to the default branch that do not have a related pull request – and therefore have not been peer-reviewed (a major quality and security concern).

Key use cases

Commits without a Ticket Reference is an important (but often ignored) engineering quality metric. It is particularly important for:
those delivery organisations introducing DevSecOps principles
large scale delivery capabilities with distributed teams (on shore, offshore, contractor, inhouse) and potentially a higher turnover of engineering talent
teams involved in strategically critical software delivery projects
security-sensitive and tightly regulated sectors such as fintech and medtech.

Expected outcomes

Maintaining very low levels of Commits without a Ticket Reference increases the traceability of code commits hence ultimately reducing defects and speeding up issue resolution. As such it is an important ‘hygiene’ metric to ensure the visibility and security of your end-to-end delivery process.

About Plandek

Plandek works by mining data from toolsets used by delivery teams (such as Jira, Git, CI/CD tools and Slack), to provide end-to-end delivery metrics/analytics to optimise software delivery predictability, risk management and process improvement.

Plandek is a global leader in this fast-growing field, recognised by Gartner as a top nine global vendor in their DevOps Value Stream Management Market Guide (published in Sept 2020).

Plandek is based in London and works with clients globally to apply predictive data analytics and machine learning to deliver software more effectively.

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