DORA metrics: 4 key metrics to measure your DevOps KPIs

DORA metrics: 4 key metrics to measure your DevOps KPIs

The DORA metrics have become a core element of the Agile DevOps approach. Often displayed to software development teams in the form of a DORA metrics dashboard, most intermediate and advanced Agile DevOps practitioners will be well-versed in the DORA metrics and their various use cases.

If you’re an early-stage practitioner or want to brush up on your rudimentary DORA knowledge, you’ll find an in-depth, expert-led explanation below.

Table of Contents

What is the definition of DORA?

The DORA metrics acronym stands for DevOps Research and Assessment. The DORA Group is a research organisation co-founded by Nicole Forsgren, which aims to improve the understanding of how organisations can deliver software faster, more reliably and to a higher quality. Forsgren published the award-winning Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations on the subject of DORA, as well as other lean Agile practices.

The organisation conducts research studies, surveys, and assessments to gather data on the practices and metrics most closely associated with high-performing IT organisations.


What are the DORA metrics?

The DORA metrics measure the performance of a DevOps organisation by providing essential insights and informing DevOps key performance indicators (KPIs). Here are four DORA metrics: Deployment Frequency, Lead Time for Changes, Mean Time to Restore and Change Failure Rate.

These metrics are considered key indicators of the efficiency and efficacy of an enterprise’s DevOps practices. By monitoring these metrics, organisations can identify areas for improvement and track progress over time.


What are the four DORA metrics used to measure DevOps KPIs?


Deployment Frequency

Plandek - DORA metrics dashboard - Deployment Frequency

Deployment Frequency (DF) measures how often code changes are deployed to a production environment. It’s usually expressed as the number of deployments per unit of time, such as deployments per day, week, or month.

The goal of measuring this DORA metric is to understand how often changes are being made to the production environment and to identify opportunities to increase the speed and frequency of deployments. A higher Deployment Frequency is generally a good thing because it indicates that the organisation can quickly and efficiently deliver new features and bug fixes to customers. This will also accelerate the organisation’s value creation planning.

However, it’s important to note that increasing Deployment Frequency should not come at the expense of stability and reliability. Organisations should strive to find the right balance between deploying code changes quickly and ensuring that those changes do not introduce new bugs or cause service disruptions.


Lead Time for Changes

Plandek - DORA metrics dashboard - Lead Time for Changes

Lead Time for Changes measures the time that it takes from when a code change is committed to when it is deployed to production. It is typically measured from the time a code change is committed to a version control system to the time it is deployed in a production environment. It is usually expressed in hours or days.

The goal of measuring this DORA metric is to understand how long it takes for code changes to go through the entire development and deployment process. The shorter the lead time, the more quickly changes can be delivered to customers. Additionally, a shorter Lead Time for Changes means the organisation can respond faster to its own shifting business needs, thus impressing key stakeholders and the C-suite.

Lead Time for Changes is a key indicator of the efficiency and effectiveness of an organisation’s development and deployment process. By identifying and reducing bottlenecks in the process, organisations can make changes and deliver them to customers faster.


Mean Time to Restore


Plandek - DORA metrics dashboard - Mean Time to Restore

Mean Time to Restore (MTTR) measures the amount of time it takes for a system or service to recover from an incident. It is usually expressed in minutes or hours. MTTR is calculated by averaging the time it takes to recover from incidents over a specified period.

The goal of measuring this DORA metric is to understand how quickly an organisation can restore service. A lower MTTR is generally considered better, as it indicates that the organisation can minimise the impact of incidents on customers.

MTTR is important for organisations that rely on technology to provide their services, as it can impact the availability and reliability of those services. By monitoring and reducing MTTR, organisations can improve their ability to respond to and recover from incidents and increase the availability of their services.


Change Failure Rate

Plandek - DORA metrics dashboard - Change Failure Rate

Change Failure Rate (CFR) measures the percentage of changes that result in an incident that requires a rollback. It is calculated by dividing the number of change-related incidents that require a rollback by the total number of changes deployed.

The goal of measuring this DORA metric is to understand the rate at which changes result in incidents. Then, organisations can identify opportunities to improve the quality of changes being deployed. A lower Change Failure Rate is generally considered better because it indicates that changes are more likely to be successful and not cause disruptions to service. Additionally, a lower Build Failure Rate (as a result of a lower Change Failure Rate) means it’s easier to isolate issues and optimise specific pipelines.

Change Failure Rate can be influenced by many factors, such as lack of proper testing, bad change management processes, or low visibility into the impact of changes on the system. By monitoring and reducing Change Failure Rate, organisations can improve the quality of the changes they deploy. This will then increase the reliability and stability of their systems.


How can you use the DORA metrics to measure DevOps success?

There are several best practices for measuring your DevOps success with the DORA metrics:

  1. Automate data collection: To accurately measure the DORA metrics, you will need to automate the collection of data from various systems. These can include version control, issue tracking, and monitoring systems. This will ensure that you have accurate and up-to-date data to work with.
  2. Set targets and track progress: Set targets for each of the DORA metrics and track your progress over time. This will help you understand where you stand and identify areas for improvement.
  3. Communicate the metrics: Share the DORA metrics with the rest of your organisation. Explain the importance of each metric. This will ensure that everyone understands the impact of their actions on the metrics.
  4. Analyse and act on the data: Analyse the data and use it to identify areas for improvement. Use the insights gained from the metrics to guide decisions and actions that will improve performance.
  5. Continuously improve: Constantly monitor and improve your metrics. Continuously look for ways to optimise and improve your performance.

Keep in mind that the DORA metrics are a measurement of performance, not goals. Use each metric to identify areas of improvement and track progress over time.

When you follow these best practices, you can effectively measure your DevOps success with the DORA metrics. You can then use the insights gained to improve your performance over time.


How does Plandek’s DORA metrics dashboard make DevOps success easier? 

Plandek’s DORA metrics dashboard makes monitoring and visualising the DORA metrics easy. The dashboard lets users see key performance indicators and other relevant data in real-time.

Plandek’s DORA metrics dashboard includes:

  • Deployment frequency: showing how often code is deployed to production.
  • Lead time for changes: showing the amount of time it takes from when a code change is committed to when it’s deployed to production.
  • Time to restore service: showing how quickly the organisation can restore service in the event of an incident.
  • Change failure rate: showing the percentage of deployments that result in an incident that requires a rollback.

Additionally, users can use Plandek’s DORA metrics dashboard to drill down into data, view detailed information and set up intelligent alerts that will fire when certain thresholds are crossed.


Why DORA metrics?

The DORA metrics provide a clear and actionable way to measure key aspects of a DevOps organisation’s performance. These metrics are designed to provide insight into the speed and reliability of the organisation’s software delivery life cycle (SDLC), from development to deployment and all the way to incident recovery. 

Additionally, the DORA metrics have been widely adopted and are recognised as an industry standard. This means organisations can compare their performance to industry benchmarks and identify areas for improvement.

Lastly, the DORA metrics are more than just measurements. The insights they each provide give specific meaning to people in different roles, such as team leads, VPs of engineering, CTOs and the C-suite.


DORA metrics for managers 

The DORA metrics provide managers with a clear and actionable way to measure the organisation’s DevOps practices. By monitoring these metrics, managers can:

  1. Track progress over time: Managers can use the DORA metrics to track the organisation’s DevOps practices and identify areas for improvement.
  2. Identify bottlenecks: By monitoring Lead Time for Changes and Mean Time to Restore, managers can identify bottlenecks in the development and deployment process and take steps to reduce them.
  3. Measure the effectiveness of new practices: Managers can use the DORA metrics to measure the efficacy of new practices and subsequently identify areas for improvement.
  4. Align objectives with business goals: The DORA metrics enable managers to align the objectives of their DevOps practices with the organisation’s overall goals.
  5. Show progress to stakeholders: Managers can use the DORA metrics to show progress to stakeholders and show the value that DevOps practices bring to the organisation.

Overall, managers gain insight into the organisation’s performance when they use the DORA metrics. These insights refer to key areas of the development process. These metrics can also explain how well the process is working and where improvements are needed. By monitoring these metrics, managers can make more informed decisions and guide their teams to deliver better results.


DORA metrics for teams 

The DORA metrics provide engineering teams with a clear and actionable way to measure their performance. Teams can also better understand how their actions impact the overall performance of the organisation’s DevOps practices. By monitoring these metrics, teams can:

  • Track individual and team performance: Teams can use the DORA metrics to track their performance over time and identify areas for improvement.
  • Understand the impact of their actions: By monitoring Lead Time for Changes and Change Failure Rate, teams can understand their impact on the organisation’s overall performance.
  • Improve collaboration and communication: Teams that monitor Mean Time to Restore can improve collaboration and communication. This will ultimately reduce the time it takes to restore service.
  • Align their work with business goals: By monitoring the DORA metrics, teams can align their work with the organisation’s overall business goals.
  • Drive continuous improvement: Teams can monitor performance trends using the DORA metrics. This will drive continuous improvement and highlight areas with opportunities to improve.
  • Be more efficient: Teams can use the DORA metrics to increase delivery efficiency. They can monitor practice efficacy and ultimately make adjustments accordingly.

When using the DORA metrics, teams will make informed decisions, increase their own efficiency, and ultimately improve their organisation’s value stream delivery.


Interested in learning more? Download our FREE whitepaper: Applying the DORA Metrics to Drive DevOps Success

Applying the DORA metrics to drive DevOps success

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