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The Plandek Next Gen Platform

Plandek the rapidly growing SaaS provider of end-to-end software delivery metrics and analytics, announces the release of the Plandek NextGen platform to new and existing customers.

The Plandek NextGen platform cements Plandek’s position as a global leader in the provision of end-to-end software delivery metrics and analytics.  The platform provides a range of capabilities not achievable with competing solutions, to make it the natural choice of enterprises looking to greatly increase visibility across complex, Scaled Agile software delivery environments.

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

Unlike competing solutions, Plandek NextGen solves the problem of “superficially interesting data”.  Instead, it provides actionable insight to enable hard-working software delivery teams to deliver higher quality software at higher velocity.

Plandek NextGen’s differentiating capabilities include:

Plandek NextGen underpins Plandek’s proprietary Insight-driven Agile Delivery© (IDAD) framework, used to help clients select metrics and embed them across their delivery environments, to drive continuous improvement.

Dan Lee, Co-CEO of Plandek comments: “Plandek NextGen really is a game-changer.  It offers a depth of functionality for enterprise clients simply not available with any other analytics solutions.”

Will Lytle, Customer Success Director of Plandek adds: “Plandek NextGen is the result of close collaboration with our customers.  It is designed to address the critical use cases that they experience – and so help them deliver software more effectively in the ‘new normal’ world”.

 

About Plandek

Plandek (www.plandek.com) was co-founded in 2017 by Dan Lee (founder of Globrix) and Charlie Ponsonby (founder of Simplifydigital).

Plandek is a global leader in the provision of end-to-end metrics and analytics, to reduce risk and improve effectiveness of software delivery, and is used by customers in the US, Canada and Europe to transform their software delivery effectiveness and risk management.

By Russ Wingfield

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to hear first hand our client’s reaction to the latest version of Plandek that is just days away from being live. My favorite quote so far is from a user who currently uses Plandek, Jira & Confluence in combination for reporting:

“I have a Confluence dashboard that I can replace and improve upon in a few minutes with this new version of Plandek.”  

The current incarnation of Plandek is still providing great insights to teams and organisations and allows automated and enterprise-level aggregation for our clients. However, for clients and users who want to take their insights on to the next level, the new features shortly available in Plandek will be just what they need.

Organise your data however you want with Data Sets

Plandek allows clients to bring together Agile delivery and engineering metrics from a number of sources including Work Item Tracking tools (like Jira or ADO), Code Repositories (like GitHub or GitLab) and CI/CD Pipelines (like Jenkins, TeamCity or CircleCI). These can now be organised in any way that suits each organisation we work with into discrete collections of data that we call Data Sets. These Data Sets can then, in turn, be organised into Super Sets reflecting any hierarchy or grouping required.

Slice and dice your metrics with Breakdowns

Seeing the trends in your data has never been easier with Breakdowns. Pick from a number of different fields in each metric and view the data broken down by those fields. Simples. In the example below, you can see a range of Jira fields available that can be used to view a variety of metrics. We can add any custom fields needed, and each breakdown can be viewed as a total (for a given time range) or in a time series across the same period.

 

Make your metrics bespoke with Filters

By allowing our users to filter each metric by a variety of standard and custom fields, very specific metrics can be created. For example, a team might want to keep a sharp focus on their priority defects. By simply filtering by Issue Type and Priority, selecting the appropriate values for the teams, a bespoke dashboard like the one below can be created. This is just one example, with filtering (and breakdowns) the different perspectives that can be created is almost endless.

In  addition to the above, we also have some other great features to improve our users’ metrics experience:

In summary, it’s a hugely exciting time for the Plandek product, and getting relevant insights for your delivery and engineering teams is about to get a whole lot easier. I can’t wait to get more feedback from users as it begins to roll out and look forward to sharing more on this blog in the coming weeks.

Critical Metrics to Keep Delivering Software Effectively in the “New Normal” World

By Charlie Ponsonby, Co-CEO Plandek

Key Takeaways

The world has changed dramatically and a “new normal” has appeared almost overnight – a time of remote working, great uncertainty, changing priorities and dramatic cost pressures.

Software delivery teams sit at the heart of this challenging new environment as organisations look to them to deliver more, for less in strategically critical areas.

Metrics, visibility and risk management were already an increasing priority in Agile software delivery – particularly in large scale organisations. But recent events have seen these catapulted from important to essential, as the ‘new normal’ world presents a whole new set of challenges.

This article describes how one company (which itself is involved in data-driven software delivery) – is practicing what it preaches, by not losing sight of a few key metrics during this period of intense change and uncertainty.

Using metrics to understand the health of your delivery capability in the ‘new normal’ world

The ‘new normal’ world creates three sets of immediate challenges for delivery teams:

It is vital that technology leadership fully understand the health of their delivery capability.  How are teams really feeling?   How is the delivery process being affected by remote working and rapidly changing priorities?  And is Time to Value slowing dramatically and if so how do we mitigate?

And this, in turn, means better visibility of processes and teams and the ability to track a set of critical metrics that objectively answer questions such as these.

For organisations delivering software in an Agile way, a sensible place to start is a set of metrics that tie back to core Agile principles – so that everyone is focused on the ultimate Agile goal of increasing customer satisfaction through “the early and continuous delivery of valuable software” – despite the challenges thrown up by the ‘new normal’ world.

As Reuben Sutton, Plandek’s VP Engineering notes:

“We have had to move to a fully remote working environment overnight, during one of the most intense software delivery periods our company has ever known.  The Agile delivery metrics that our teams track and understand have been our ‘North star’.  We know that we are still going in the right direction, as we can see it objectively in the metrics.”

Creating a hierarchy of simple metrics that everyone understands

The world has changed dramatically and a “new normal” has appeared almost overnight – a time of remote working, great uncertainty, changing priorities and dramatic cost pressures.

Software delivery teams sit at the heart of this challenging new environment as organisations look to them to deliver more, for less in strategically critical areas.

Metrics, visibility and risk management were already an increasing priority in Agile software delivery – particularly in large scale organisations. But recent events have seen these catapulted from important to essential, as the ‘new normal’ world presents a whole new set of challenges.

This article describes how one company (which itself is involved in data driven software delivery) – is practicing what it preaches, by not losing sight of a few key metrics during this period of intense change and uncertainty.

Figure 1. The principle of a metrics hierarchy supporting the core objective of Agile software delivery

Critically also, the key is to adopt leading metrics that are deterministic of improving the process (and predicting likely outcomes) – rather than lagging metrics that simply “look in the rear-view mirror”.  So, what is a sensible set of metrics to adopt?

The top of the metrics hierarchy – five overall delivery health metrics for the ‘new normal’ world

We have chosen five simple metrics that capture the overall health of your delivery capability as it navigates through the tricky road ahead.  These metrics have three characteristics:

The metrics that we have selected are shown below in Figure 2.

They need to be sponsored and viewed at aggregate level by technology leadership.  And they are supported by a set of sub-metrics that are cascaded down the organisation to the team level, so that teams work to continuously improve them and hence deliver to the technology leadership’s overall delivery goals.

 

Figure 2. The five core metrics that underpin delivery health in the ‘new world’

Together these five metrics summarise your “Agile health” – your ability to deliver software effectively, despite the constraints.  They are meaningful when tracked over time at an aggregate level – and give your whole organisation a simple set of metrics around which to align.

  1. Time to Value – the core Agile metric tracking how “early” you are delivering value for customers.  Measured from the beginning of the development process through to deployment.
  2. Deployment Frequency – key metric of how “continuously” you are delivering
  3. Throughput – how much value you are delivering.  There are many ways Agile teams will measure this, but Story Points, Value Points or Tickets Completed are a common place to start
  4. Defect Density – a key measure of your ability to continue to deliver high quality software, commonly measured by the ratio of stories delivered to escaped defects (or production defects)
  5. Team Engagement – our favourite metric in the ‘new normal’ world of remote working.  Best collected via polling on collaboration hubs like Slack and in our view the key leading indicator of delivery health, as software delivery is absolutely dependent on your team struggling with the pressures of the current environment.

As Reuben Sutton comments: “These are the metrics that I have held close as the level of uncertainty has increased in recent weeks.  We all understand them, it’s pointless to try and gamify them – and assuming they remain in relatively good shape, I can stay confident that we will continue to deliver effectively going forward”.

Cascaded metrics – our top 5 delivery metrics for managers and teams in the ‘new normal’ world

The power of metrics is realised if they are vocally sponsored by leadership and are then cascaded across the organisation to the key functions, programs and Agile teams (squads) responsible for software delivery.

As shown in Figure 3, our preferred cascade of metrics fall into easily understood areas, all of which drive the five over-riding Agile metrics shown in Figure 2.

The metrics fall into seven logical groups, which are measurable (and actionable) at the program and team level and which drive delivery team health and effectiveness.  These are:

  1. DevOps process effectiveness metrics – includes metrics such as Deployment Frequency and Lead Time for Changes and remain key measures of the team’s ability to deploy effectively despite the new pressures
  2. Backlog analysis – backlog size and health metrics are always an important leading indicator of program health and are even more salient at a time of remote working and constantly changing priorities
  3. Development process efficiency – Flow Efficiency is a little measured but critical metric, especially at a time like this. It looks at the proportion of time that a team is actively working on a ticket (i.e. active vs inactive states of delivery). Ensuring that collaboration remains high and members are effectively working together during this period is a critical measure of your delivery health.
  4. Throughput and Time to Value – the core Agile metrics of Velocity, Cycle Time and Lead Time have never been more important as is the measure of throughput
  5. Delivery Accuracy – evidence shows that if teams (working in a Scrum Agile environment) are unable to deliver their Sprint goals accurately, then the predictability of output over longer time periods and broader team sizes is seriously compromised.  Predictable delivery will be a highly valued capability in the ‘new normal’ world, hence the leading indicator of the Completion Rate is so important. Completion Rate shows the percent of planned story points completed over a time period
  6. Quality – this is always a ‘north star’ Agile metric and can be measured in many different ways. We like Defect Density as an expression of defects created per unit of code, but also feel strongly that First Time Pass Rate is an important measure at the individual engineer level (but only when viewed in context within the team)
  7. Talent – we can’t emphasise enough how important we believe it is to really understand how your team is feeling in the ‘new normal’ world.   We think you should track a measure of morale and also a measure of how well people view their team to be functioning in the new remote working environment.

Figure 3. Suggested programme and team level metrics in the ‘new normal’ software delivery world

 

There are a lot of metrics here to consider (and too many to realistically collect without an Agile metric BI platform).  So, if we had to choose five simple metrics to start with in the ‘new normal’ world, the top five that we would choose are:

 

Deployment Frequency Critical DevOps metrics such as Deployment Frequency which confirm our ability to maintain the continuity of our delivery 
Flow Efficiency Development efficiency metrics such as Flow Efficiency (the % of time tickets spend in an active versus inactive status) which are likely to be negatively impacted as teams move to unfamiliar remote working
Cycle Time and Lead Time Cycle Time and Lead Time – the critical measures of time to value, which are also likely to suffer in ties of change and stress
Completion Rate Completion rate which measures our ability to deliver our sprint goals over time.   This is highly likely to be negatively impacted in the new normal world and will then adversely affect the predictability of delivery timing
Engineer Morale Score Engineer morale score – (measured in Plandek via polling using collaboration tools like Slack).  This is a critical measure in the new normal world as people adjust to the often unfamiliar set of circumstances that they find themselves in.

As Alice Dunn, Senior Developer at Plandek notes: “It’s been pretty crazy and the move to home working took some getting used to.  So at team level we have really focused on our Cycle Time and our Completion Rate.  We know that if we can keep hitting our sprint goals consistently and our Cycle Time remains tight, we won’t miss a beat in our delivery…”

Choosing metrics that reflect your particular objectives

We hope that many organisations will take the metrics suggested in this article as a good place to start.  And we would agree, as they would ensure that you continue to deliver against the most central Agile principles at a time of rapid change and stress.

However, you may prefer to build your own bespoke metrics set that more closely mirror your own specific objectives.

With this in mind, there are a variety of commonly used metrics setting approaches – such as OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) or GQMs (Goal, Metric, Question) as popularised by Victor Basili which can be applied to define a bespoke metric set.

In our view, whichever route you take is very much up to you, but it is the discipline of tracking and managing to metrics (that reflect core Agile principles) that is critical in the ‘new normal’ world – so that when the chips are down, everyone across your organisation is focused on the things that really matter.

As Reuben Sutton, Plandek’s VP Engineering concludes “Aligning around shared goals and metrics is so critical in difficult times.  We have a simple set of Agile metrics that we track very closely and so far our delivery teams seem able to more than meet the challenges being thrown at us.”

 

Read more by Charlie Ponsonby:

As modern technology organisations, it’s unsurprising that all of Plandek’s clients have now been exclusively working remotely for the last 3-4 weeks. What is more surprising is that on the whole, we are seeing very little detriment in the core Agile delivery and engineering metrics that we provide.

Organisations and their teams have experienced disruption beyond any expectation. Indeed we are all having to adapt quickly to the ‘new normal’ our world has now become. Clearly remote working has been used to great success for many companies previously, but for teams and whole departments to evolve to fully remote working relatively seamlessly is very impressive!

We are lucky here at Plandek to have the data to support that view and provide more detail on 3 core areas below.

Lead Time

The amount of time a ticket spends from the start of a process until the very end when value is created for our customers. Such a pure metric for software delivery teams, and first on our list to see how this metric had fared in these recent times. There were a few overs and unders across our data sets, but clearly the overall trend was flat and Lead Times (as well as Cycle Times) had been maintained against previous levels.

Some organisations have even seen improvements during this unsettled time

Velocity

We looked at both throughput of Story Points (for teams that use them) and the number of ‘Feature’ tickets (the ones that create value) completed over time. Again, overall numbers remained fairly flat, although some of the companies we work with did observe a small dip for a couple of weeks during March. As can be seen below the dip looks to have recovered, and we’ll be monitoring closely in the coming weeks.

A large publishing and analytics company saw a small dip during March

Quality

One of our key Quality metrics is First Time Pass Rate. How often do tickets move through a workflow in a single one-directional flow, from left to right, without regressing backward causing rework. Our clients find this a great indicator of both efficiency and quality, and they were pleased to see that the disruption experienced over the past few weeks has not had any significant effect on this metric. Teams seem to be adapting well and maintaining high-quality standards.

Overall trend for First Time Pass Rate remained flat across out client base

So amongst all the LinkedIn anecdotes about how well or not we are all dealing with the ‘new normal’, here at Plandek we feel fortunate to be able to provide actual measurement of Agile delivery and engineering capabilities for organisations who know the importance of data, especially during these uncertain times.

We are even more pleased to see, from the data, that teams we support are clearly coping incredibly well, and have no doubt that by continuing to focus on their key metrics they can drive continuous improvement 📊

 

Visit our blog and LinkedIn page for more content from the Plandek team.

Find out more about our team.

Insight-driven Agile Delivery© at a time of remote working, uncertainty and cost pressure

by Charlie Ponsonby

The world has changed very dramatically and a “new normal” has appeared almost overnight – a time of remote working, great uncertainty, changing priorities and dramatic cost pressures.  Software delivery teams sit at the heart of this challenging new environment as organisations look to them to deliver more, for less in strategically critical areas.

Metrics, visibility, governance, and risk management were already an increasing priority in Agile software delivery – particularly in large scale organisations. But recent events have catapulted them from “important” to “critical”.

Our experience shows that it is not feasible to deliver software effectively in this new normal environment without a complete end-to-end view of the software delivery process across all teams.

The Plandek BI and analytics tool draws data from the multiple toolsets which underpin the software delivery process, in order to surface metrics and analytics to continually improve the delivery process.  We call this powerful methodology “Insight-driven Agile Delivery” or IDAD.

This short whitepaper discusses the principles of IDAD and how it can be applied today, to deliver software efficiently in the new normal world of remote working teams placed under great pressure.

The case for a data-driven approach to software delivery in the new normal world

Software delivery is a complex, people-driven process with many interdependent stages and contributors.  In addition, software delivery teams often do not respond well to rapid change and uncertainty.

Hence the new normal world of enforced remote working, rapidly changing priorities and pressure on cost and resources are likely to negatively impact delivery performance.  Visibility and metrics, therefore, become increasingly critical, to identify problems early and mitigate risk.

Happily, the software delivery lifecycle (SDLC) is underpinned by a huge amount of data, residing in the toolsets used across the SDLC.  Key toolsets in this regard include:

It is the very large data footprint that resides in these tools that can provide actionable insight to underpin more effective software delivery at times of change and stress (see Figure 1 below).

 

The software delivery lifecycle (SDLC) is underpinned by a huge amount of data, residing in the toolsets used across the SDLC.

 

Insight-driven Agile Delivery© seeks to leverage these data, to continuously improve delivery effectiveness and reduce delivery risk.

The principle of Insight-driven Agile Delivery

It is our assumption that in adopting an Agile software delivery approach, organisations are trying to deliver software in keeping with the principles of the original Agile Manifesto.

The first of the twelve Agile Principles is to increase customer satisfaction through “the early and continuous delivery of valuable software”.  All the other principles (and values) support this core commitment.

 

The first of the twelve Agile Principles is to increase customer satisfaction through “the early and continuous delivery of valuable software”.  All the other principles (and values) support this core commitment.

IDAD looks to surface a set of metrics that track the success of this core Agile commitment – and present the insight to all levels within the delivery organisation – from leadership to team level, which is especially critical when team members are working remotely and are under increased pressure to deliver.

Critically also, IDAD looks to surface leading metrics that are deterministic of improving the process (and predicting likely outcomes) – rather than lagging metrics that simply “look in the rear-view mirror”.

The 5 core metrics that underpin IDAD and which are critical in the new normal world

We are not trying to reinvent the wheel with IDAD – we are simply offering a set of leading metrics that track your ability to continuously improve against the central Agile principle of software delivery.

These metrics are shown in Figure 2 below.  They are well known “Agile metrics” and form the basis of the IDAD methodology.  They can be viewed at an aggregate level by the technology leadership, and as we will see in section 5, they are supported by a set of sub-metrics that directly drive these core metrics.

These sub metrics are cascaded down the organisation to the team level so that teams work to continuously improve them and hence deliver to the technology leadership’s overall delivery goals.

The fifth metric (see Figure 2 below) tracks individuals’ feelings of engagement/morale which is particularly important at a time of remote working and great uncertainty, such as we find ourselves in this new normal world.

 

Figure 2. High-level governance metrics that underpin IDAD

Cascading IDAD metrics – our top 5 metrics for managers and teams in the new normal world

The power of metrics can only be realised if they are vocally sponsored by leadership and are then cascaded down the organisation to the key management areas and Agile teams (squads) responsible for software delivery.

Typically, the management areas most directly involved in the end-to-end software delivery process include Engineering, Quality Engineering, Delivery, Programme Management, and DevOps.

As shown in Figure 3, the cascade of metrics falls into all these areas.

Figure 3. Cascaded IDAD metrics – management and team levels

In the new normal world, some of these metrics become particularly important.  Our top 5 are:

  1. Deployment Frequency. Critical DevOps metrics such as Deployment Frequency which confirm our ability to maintain the continuity of our delivery.
  2. Flow Efficiency. Development efficiency metrics such as Flow Efficiency (the % of time tickets spend in an active versus inactive status) which are likely to be negatively impacted as teams move to unfamiliar remote working.
  3. Cycle Time and Lead Time. Cycle Time and Lead Time – the critical measures of time to value, which are also likely to suffer in ties of change and stress.
  4. Completion Rate. Completion rate which measures our ability to deliver our sprint goals over time.   This is highly likely to be negatively impacted in the new normal world and will then adversely affect the predictability of delivery timing.
  5. Engineer Morale Score. Can be measured in Plandek via polling using collaboration tools like Slack.  This is a critical measure in the new normal world as people adjust to the often unfamiliar set of circumstances that they find themselves in.

Integrating IDAD with your OKR or GQM framework – flexibility to reflect your particular objectives

IDAD is not intended as a rigid framework.  Instead, it is intended as the basis from which clients can build their own bespoke metrics sets that more closely mirror their own specific objectives in this new normal environment.

IDAD is not intended as a rigid framework.  Instead, it is intended as the basis from which clients can build their own bespoke metrics sets that more closely mirror their own specific objectives in this new normal environment.

Many organisations will take the IDAD metrics listed in this paper as a good place to start.  And we would agree, as the IDAD metrics ensure that you continue to deliver against the most central Agile principles at a time of rapid change and stress.

However, there are a variety of commonly used metrics setting approaches – such as OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) or GQMs (Goal, Metric, Question) as popularised by Victor Basili which can also be applied to define a bespoke metric set.

In our view, it is the discipline of tracking and managing to metrics (cascaded throughout the delivery organisation) that is critical in this new normal world.

 

Read more by Charlie Ponsonby:

By Russ Wingfield

 

In response to Covid-19 many companies, including Plandek, have moved to remote working. Working from home in isolation can be challenging and stressful. To help you overcome the difficulties and interruptions to your work routine, we have spoken to the Plandek team members that have always worked from home and asked them to share their tips and tricks. Here are Plandek’s Top 5 Tips for Remote Working.

Tip 1: Establish a new routine

For many people who just need a laptop and a strong WiFi connection to do their job, working from home can seem like a really easy transition. However, one big impact will be the change in routine. No hour-long commute, more life distractions around the house, greater flexibility of working hours, etc. 

 

It’s tempting to put things off and end up working as a student late into the night, but I’ve found it’s much better to treat it just like working in an office. Start on time, take a lunch break, etc.

 

Whatever the changes, embrace them. 

“My top tip would be to keep normal hours. It’s tempting to put things off and end up working as a student late into the night, but I’ve found it’s much better to treat it just like working in an office. Start on time, take a lunch break, etc. It’s obviously far better to work normal hours from the perspective of communication with our colleagues too!” – Robin Hughes, Chief Architect, Plandek. 

Consciously establish a new remote working routine, adapt it in the first days/weeks, and then stick to it!

“Best tip I think is to find some way of separating work from normal life. A dedicated office within the home is ideal, but not possible for everyone. If you can’t do that, you need to find other ways to separate work from normal life. If the table you eat breakfast from is doubling as your desk, then make the time to clear it before setting up your work things. Don’t spend all day in pyjamas, get dressed as though you are meeting coworkers. It helps you get into the mindset for working. These little things really make a difference.” – Drew Neil, developer who usually works remotely.

Tip 2: Recreate social interaction

Apart from a few of the software engineers here at Plandek, we human beings are all social creatures. After any period of remote work, it’s easy to soon begin to miss those small interactions we naturally have each day. From “hello” in the morning, to chats during the frequent coffee runs, and even deep and meaningful discussions over lunch. It’s really important we make an effort to continue to create these situations in a virtual world alongside the more formal work-based video calls.

 

5 Tips for Remote Working

“It’s really important we make an effort to continue to create these [social] situations in a virtual world alongside the more formal work-based video calls.”

 

Drew added: “Working remotely can get lonely at times. You’re going to be messaging coworkers through Slack/email to get your job done, but sometimes it’s good to just have a chat on Slack. Make the same kind of small talk that you would in the office. It’s important to keep that connection with other humans. Also, you can invite your friends to a ‘virtual beer’. Invite them for a Skype chat in the evening, just like you would invite them to the pub. This will help overcome social isolation”.

Other tips include encouraging everyone to keep the camera on during calls, and maybe try a general open call on Slack or Zoom, etc where perhaps for 30 mins each day people are welcome to dial in and have a general catch up?

Tip 3: Maximise online collaboration tools

We all have a plethora of tools designed to help us collaborate in distributed teams, and when the whole team is remote they come into their own. Suddenly we need to actually update Jira as we can no longer rely on a physical whiteboard. Maybe you now need to replicate your physical Kanban board in a tool like Trello, or perhaps you just need to actually learn how to navigate your video call tech of choice!

 

We all have a plethora of tools designed to help us collaborate in distributed teams, and when the whole team is remote they come into their own.

Tip 4: Data to manage delivery risk

One major factor that has stopped many leaders allowing far greater flexibility in remote working has been concerns over the risk of delivery. “Will we still deliver at the same pace if more people work from home?”. Well, as many software delivery teams become distributed overnight, this core delivery risk doesn’t go away. Leaders and Teams need specific and relevant Agile delivery metrics to help them effectively manage that risk and support teams to continue to build high-quality software. 

Lead/Cycle Time with the associated Flow Efficiency will be key to ensuring new bottlenecks or blockers are not appearing in your process. A clear view of the current sprint via Sprint Timelines (see below) could also be critical to keeping the team on track as days and weeks pass.

 

Lead/Cycle Time with the associated Flow Efficiency will be key to ensuring new bottlenecks or blockers are not appearing in your process.

 

Tip 5: Learn and evolve

Remote working for an extended period of time will be a learning exercise for us as individuals and as teams. Take time to reflect on what is working well and what can be improved on in terms of being remote. You could even include it as a topic in your regular team retrospective meetings. Working practices will continue to evolve and don’t underestimate the importance of optimising the effectiveness of remote working and the overall influence it can have on our performance.

We hope our 5 Tips for Remote Working were useful. Plandek team wishes you to stay positive, healthy and productive!

 

Visit our blog and LinkedIn page for more content from the Plandek team.

Find out more about our team.

by Russ Wingfield

You can’t improve something without measuring it…

… and even if you could, how would you know you were improving?

I recently spoke to Julien Therier, Software Engineering Lead for Hivebench (part of Elsevier). He leads the development team behind the Lab Notebook software for the scientific community. He’s been using Plandek for over a year now and has had continued success in driving improvements within the team. He told me that much of the focus had been on best practices:

“That’s where we use Plandek. It helped us to improve our best practices, step by step. We also created our own Plandek dashboard to match our needs. Included a few best practices – like ticket reference in commits, velocity, bugs vs features to avoid code debt.”

 

The trend over the last 12 months clearly show the improvements the team at Hivebench were able to achieve.

 

Julien went on to explain how they continued to use various metrics and reports to regularly review their progress as a team:

“Following our sprint completion on a Monday morning we receive a Plandek notification that our Sprint Report is available. We are then able to use it for our Retro.”

Agile delivery and engineering metrics can often be a confusing and complex landscape, but the team at Hivebench is a great reminder of how simple it can be. Focus on a metric you want to improve, take action to improve it, and then measure and celebrate the success.

 

Stay tuned for more updates!

Visit our blog and LinkedIn page for more content from the Plandek team.

Find out more about our team.

by Russ Wingfield

Welcome to the Flow-ly Trinity

I’ve spent much of the last week or so looking at some common metrics, and they all seem to focus around the Kanban & Lean principle of Flow. Lead Time, Cycle Time and Flow Efficiency are the key 3 (the Flow-ly Trinity!) that many of our users are coming back to. They are proving to be a great way to understand the effectiveness of a team and further insight can be gained when they are complemented by other metrics such as Throughput, Work in Progress and Cumulative Flow.

So, why is Flow so important in delivering software?

Well, software delivery can ultimately be viewed as a system. Generally, a system where changes move from an idea, through some in-progress statuses and out to production. The better changes move through this process normally means teams will see:

Even simple processes will benefit from understanding the key Flow metrics

Even simple processes will benefit from understanding the key Flow metrics

 

I’ve seen the importance of flow from our users in a few different guises. First I spoke to a department leader who wanted to half their teams’ average cycle time over the course of this year and had an OKR written around it. Also, one of our largest clients have a major focus on lead time and recognise it as a key indicator of effective teams.

Most people will equate flow metrics to the use of Kanban over Scrum, and certainly, good teams who move away from Scrum do begin to focus on these metrics. However, what I particularly like about these measures is that they don’t care which Agile framework you are using and will give any team some great insight into how they can improve.

 

Stay tuned for more updates!

Visit our blog and LinkedIn page for more content from the Plandek team.

Find out more about our team.

by Russ Wingfield

Secret Escapes share how they help their engineering teams via a key Plandek feature

For many years as an Agile Coach, I have been a massive fan of the Team Health Check. Popularised by Spotify in 2014 and adapted by many organisations ever since it’s been a great way of collecting some more qualitative data based on the feelings of a team.

When I joined Plandek, I was pleased to see the Team Health Check being valued alongside all the quantitative data collected from Jira, GitHub and the like. With a simple Slack integration, Plandek will ping a quick survey to your teams and then organise the responses into a couple of metrics cards.

Secret Escapes have been using this integration for a while now, so I caught up with Sunny Singh, Agile Delivery Manager, to find out how they have found this feature. He first told me:

Feedback has been very positive from our teams, with the survey automatically being sent via Slack. It’s much easier to fill in the survey from our previous process and we’ve seen increased participation rates”.

The Spotify Team Health Check traffic light system

The Spotify Team Health Check traffic light system

With all the Team Health Check data sat next to the other metrics Sunny uses on a regular basis, he gets a great overview of team trends over time.

“Results are easily shared across teams, with Team Health Checks increasing our visibility and transparency on how our teams are doing. This really helps to identify which teams need more support and highlight any areas of concern”.

It is great to hear about an organisation finding the right balance between what both their data and teams are telling them, and using this to drive continuous improvements in all they do!

 

Stay tuned for more updates!

Visit our blog and LinkedIn page for more content from the Plandek team.

Find out more about our team.

by Russ Wingfield

Objectives and Goals are only as good as your ability to measure them

I’ve heard even more talk than ever recently about frameworks like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and GQM (Goal, Question, Metric). This growing trend is great to see as organisations get better at focusing on what goals or objectives are key to drive their business forward. However, I’ve seen time and time again we all struggle with measuring outcomes to actually determine our success against what we set out to achieve.

A great (I mean bad ????) engineering example from my past was the following OKR:

OBJECTIVE – Improve the frequency and ease of deployments

KEY RESULT – Train 6 engineers in Test Driven Development (TDD)

Remember the Key Result(s) is meant to be a way of quantifying how you know you have achieved your objective. It was great to see the focus on trying to solve this problem much further upstream in the development lifecycle, but was this a measure of success?

No, it wasn’t. It would certainly be a useful activity to drive this OKR forward, but it’s not a Key Result.

Remember the Key Result(s) is meant to be a way of quantifying how you know you have achieved your objective.

So, how do you identify the Key Results? Easy… how do we currently know that we can improve the frequency and ease of deployments? Do we currently measure that, and if so, what incremental improvements could we aim for? So with a focus on metrics and measurements, the following OKR was created:

OBJECTIVE – Improve the frequency and ease of deployments

KEY RESULT – Release Frequency from 1.3 to 2 per week

KEY RESULT – Ease of Deployments health check question score from 3.5 to 4 (out of 5)

KEY RESULT – Release failure rate from 7.8% to 5%

I often argue that you need a base set of metrics to even know where to focus your goals and objectives, and you certainly need to have solid measures once you set those aims.

Plandek users within Delivery and Engineering departments who are setting their next set of objectives are able to leverage our large library of relevant metrics available. Creating tangible measurable goals to drive progress and improvements within their organisation.

If you’re not measuring the outcomes of your goals and objectives how will you ever know if you have succeeded?

 

We will be publishing a new article in the Customer Success blog post series every Friday. Stay tuned for more updates!

Visit our blog and LinkedIn page for more content from the Plandek team.

Find out more about our team.