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Webinar Recap: Metrics That Matter with Crosslake and Plandek

Lexi Herbert, March 28, 2023

How should organisations implement cultural change? And what do intelligent analytics do to support a value-led culture of delivery?

These were just a couple of the questions answered during the joint webinar with Crosslake Technologies and Plandek, Metrics That Matter: Using metrics to accelerate value delivery and improve ROI.

Throughout the discussion, Plandek’s COO Will Lytle and Crosslake Technologies Senior Managing Director Kim Walters delved into the core benefits and challenges of implementing a metrics-led approach to software delivery. This webinar aimed to educate tech leaders – such as CTOs, CEOs, and Directors of Technology – about the challenges, benefits and competitive advantages that emerge by implementing a metrics-led culture of delivery.

Keep reading for Plandek’s summary of the three best discussion points and the two most interesting questions from the attendees.

Top 3 discussion points

1. How should organisations even start the conversation about implementing metrics?

I think a lot of companies that are moving into this space, the first instinct that they have is to look towards some of the framework or the established set of metrics in the market, whether it’s Dora or the flow metrics, so on and so forth.

And I think the challenge that we see our clients have with those frameworks is that they’re trying to fit their organization into a methodology that someone else has created in a rather bland way.
– Will Lytle

In our experience at Plandek, a customised set of metrics gives more accurate insights into the current delivery capability, the current stage of Agile DevOps maturity and the specific objectives of the technology leadership team.

So, instead of picking up a rigid and potentially detrimental framework that suits someone else’s use case, organisations should define their own key “North Star” metrics, borrowing from frameworks where appropriate but not just using them out of the box. “North Star” metrics are a set of customised metrics agreed upon by the leadership group, which all team-based metrics funnel upward into. The “North Star” metrics measure strategic alignment and are a great touchstone for non-tech leaders who want to understand the basics of the delivery process.

Overall, “North Star” metrics should guide an early-stage organisation to deliver its objectives and promote scalable conversations/learnings across teams.

2. What are the key metrics that empower an organisation to implement a values-led culture?

Instead of focusing on specific metrics that will make or break a metrics-led delivery process, members of all organisations should look for specific types of metrics combined with specific types of behaviour.

When I look across all of our clients and see some that have been more successful than others, I think a key factor to consider is leadership. The other thing I think is really important is how you interact with teams as it comes to data.
– Will Lytle

In a metrics-led organisation, leadership teams need to be able to set objectives, select “North Star” metrics, and confidently cascade those metrics throughout the delivery organisation.

Integrating metrics into teams is often where organisations struggle the most. Some teams can have a cynical or cautious response to the implementation of delivery metrics: even today, some tools are created for the sole purpose of ‘big brother-ing’ developers who end up being measured based on irrelevant (and dangerous) metrics, such as lines of code written.

Will made sense of the software developer mindset, and their understandable reticence to accept new metrics:

They assume naturally that, ‘Oh, this is somebody who’s measuring me, they’re going to use it as a stick, and so on and so forth.’ So it’s really important to create safe spaces within the organization to find ways in which you can promote success, but also promote failures so that people feel comfortable.
– Will Lytle

In the end, the whole point of implementing metrics is to enable and enhance continuous improvement across teams and delivery streams. When given the right metrics at the right time, teams can work on their own strengths and weaknesses, and can immediately see how and why these changes are impacting the North Star metrics.

3. What does Plandek mean by ‘intelligent analytics’, and how does this support teams to engage with a cultural shift?

When Plandek refers to ‘intelligent analytics’, we are referring to Plandek’s LiveView feature. This feature enables organisations to track their Sprint progress in real-time, thus giving them the opportunity to proactively remove blockers and avoid bottlenecks.

From a tactical perspective, proactively addressing challenges instead of dealing with them retrospectively is critical for team-based adoption. If a tool can empower developers to improve their delivery in real-time, they are far more likely to openly engage with the tool.

As Kim commented, “it [becomes] more of a proactive culture than a reactive culture.”

LiveView is important because it’s so pragmatic: software developers don’t have time to be grinding their way through an interface or a tool that doesn’t immediately serve their needs. With Plandek’s LiveView, organisations have seen an increase in teams readily – and even enthusiastically – adopting metrics-based software.

Top 2 Q&A contributions

Question 1: How do organisations avoid a top-down, ‘big brother is watching you’ scenario from developing between their leaders and their developers?

In short, it comes down to the mindset of the leadership team. Will pointed out that some organisations just aren’t used to having this kind of data, and try to use it or explain it without understanding the data’s greater context.

To avoid this, Kim suggested that the core focus should instead be continuous improvement:

It’s about making sure that you’re constantly moving towards a goal. But that goalpost is always going to be moving because there are always going to be different dynamics and different business outcomes that you want to achieve.
– Kim Walters

Will summarised with a great question for organisation leaders to ask themselves: ‘How is this metric driving a conversation that is meaningful to your business?’

Question 2: What is best practice when it comes to data clean-up or data hygiene when lots of new data is coming in?

What often happens is people feel like, oh, our data’s not in good shape, so therefore we can’t do anything about it. It kind of paralyses progress, right? I recommend quite the opposite, which is to use a tool that helps you visualize.
– Will Lytle

To break down Will’s response even further, organisations shouldn’t be embarrassed or anxious about being stuck in a loop of trying to understand data but being cut off by the sheer volume or state of the data itself. Instead, organisations should see the value in understanding their own patterns – not just in the future, but retrospectively as well.

The implementation of Plandek is useful as it forces organisations to confront and clean up their data. Almost immediately, these organisations start using a tool like Plandek and actually gain value from that same data that they were paralysed by earlier.

Kim added that, as a general rule with data and data hygiene, less is almost always more:

Always start with a few small KPIs or metrics that you want to actually evaluate and get those really clean. And then as you get better and better and your data gets cleaner and your processes get more robust, then add additional metrics and KPIs.

But start small.
– Kim Walters

More reading on meaningful and powerful metrics

About Crosslake

Crosslake was founded in 2010 by an original member of Microsoft’s Engineering Excellence team with the intent to help changemakers buy, build and run technology that creates value.

Crosslake’s unmatched community of technical practitioners – former CTOs, CIOs, architects and engineers – are skilled at translating technology buzzwords into actionable, business-focused insight. Their seasoned judgment is supported by the patented Corsis® platform, which leverages data from more than 3,500 prior technology M&A transactions to define objective, measurable TechIndicators® that private equity investors and management teams rely upon to deliver strategic value creation initiatives and inform diligence.

Find out more about Crosslake here: Crosslake Technologies.

About Plandek

Plandek is an intelligent analytics platform that enables software engineering teams to deliver value faster and more predictably.

Celebrated by Gartner and Forrester as a ‘leading global vendor’, Plandek mines data from delivery teams’ toolsets and gives them the opportunity to optimise their delivery process using both intelligent insights and predictive analytics.

Co-founded in 2017 by Dan Lee (founder of Globrix) and Charlie Ponsonby (founder of Simplifydigital), Plandek is based in London and currently services the UK, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Find out more about Plandek here: The Plandek Difference.

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