In my role supporting a variety of organisations with the use of Agile delivery & engineering metrics and insights, I often hear the phrase “I don’t have time for metrics”. While I completely empathise with this position, I’m also keen to point out the potential ‘false economy’ of not looking at the very data that can provide tangible benefits (including time!) to them and their teams.
Metrics can’t be an added extra or bonus feature of your day-to-day working life. They need to be fully embedded into your business-as-usual behaviours and become instrumental in your constant strive for continuous improvement.
At Plandek we take away the pain of manual data gathering and refreshing spreadsheets and provide fully automated, highly relevant dashboards to our users. On a daily or weekly basis, our users can very quickly check their key metrics and ensure the team is still heading in the right direction, and take immediate action where things are trending the wrong way.
So why not try putting metrics at the top of your Todo list and see what insights you can gain from just a short visit to your dashboards? To help you the next time you are trying to quickly make sense of the numbers here are a few quick tips to help turn numbers into meaningful insight:
- Trends over actuals – don’t get bogged down in the exact numbers, fully focus on the trends over time (12 weeks is a good place to start). If things are trending up, find out what changed and recognise the achievements. Otherwise, If things are trending down explore why with the team and set a target to improve.
- Drill down to the next level – looking at a top-level aggregation is useful to recognise the overall progress, but to drive improvements or understand where your risks are, you’ll want to break down that metric by a variety of factors to see where to focus. This might simply be by Squad, Component, or even different Ticket Types to understand the different workflows.
- Complementary metrics – learn to include metrics that work well together. They might give you a different perspective in the same area, or be metrics that together tell an overall story about a process. We like to look at Lead/Cycle Time and Flow Efficiency together, which gives a couple of views on how tickets are spending their time in your process.