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Ultimate Guide – 12

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Applying metrics to drive business benefits

12. Use cases for the application of software delivery metrics

Figure 33 summarises the most common use case for the application of software delivery metrics. These use cases have been observed globally at clients of all sizes and stages of Agile DevOps maturity by the Plandek team.
Figure 33: The most common use case for applying software delivery metrics and analytics
Figure 33: The most common use case for applying software delivery metrics and analytics

Track the impact of an Agile/DevOps transformation

Very often, it is the CIO who sponsors the roll-out of improved software delivery metrics and analytics. A common reason for this is the need to better track the impact of an ongoing Agile transformation. Such transformations are very time-consuming and costly with short ‘honeymoon periods’.

As such, stakeholders soon start to ask for quantitative evidence that the transformation is delivering improved performance and software delivery outcomes over time.

This requires a meaningful ‘balanced scorecard’ of delivery metrics for use within the technology delivery capability and for reporting to stakeholders and the C-Suite. Very often, these metrics are simply not available with existing reporting plug-ins. As such, a specialist BI solution like Plandek is required, which enables the surfacing of a set of delivery, Agile, engineering and DevOps metrics for use internally and externally (see the Metrics section 1).

The impact of tracking and embedding a metrics-led continuous improvement process can be dramatic as teams self-improve over time, resulting in material improvements in velocity, throughput, quality and timing accuracy.

Deliver high-quality software more predictably

This is a very common stimulus for implementing a data-led Agile delivery approach.

As mentioned in the Sprint Metrics section, one of Agile’s biggest challenges and criticisms (especially in large organisations) is the inability of Agile teams to predict their output. All organisations will, from time to time, require software to be delivered within a certain timeframe in order to meet the needs of the stakeholder (e.g. due to a seasonal trading period, regulatory requirement or competitive pressure).

In these instances, Agile teams have to provide visibility of the timing of increments of output. And in order to be able to provide this visibility, the dependability of teams is absolutely vital.

Clients applying metrics in this way may expect to reduce unplanned go-live delays by over 50%.

Shorten time to market and increase velocity

Pretty well, all organisations are constantly trying to deliver valuable software more quickly – indeed, that is a core objective of Agile. This can be especially important in companies where speed-to-market is a defining factor of competitive success (or, indeed, survival).

Applying end-to-end delivery metrics is critical in increasing velocity. Indeed, increasing velocity should not require the hiring of additional resources but simply be achieved by the removal of bottlenecks from the end-to-end delivery process in order to reduce Lead Time and increase delivery velocity. Case Study, 1 in the Case Studies section, shows how a global data and publishing company reduced Cycle Time by 25% across over 2,000 engineers within six months by tracking and embedding relevant delivery metrics throughout the delivery organisation.

Reduce delivery risk and increase visibility in Scaled Agile environments

Whilst Agile software delivery has many benefits, it was not originally conceived for application at scale. As such, there is a large and growing industry to help organisations apply Agile at scale, with a great variety of Scaled-Agile frameworks and tools.

All these frameworks try to resolve the paradox at the heart of Agile delivery – that its success is predicated on empowering small teams to be self-determining and in control of their workflow – which is a principle that is very hard to sustain in a large organisation.

Indeed, Agile software delivery is sometimes described as ‘controlled anarchy’, and large organisations may struggle to ensure that it does not become ‘uncontrolled anarchy’! As a result, CIOs often require increased visibility across their Agile delivery teams to manage delivery risk better. These teams may be globally distributed and involve contractors and in-house engineers.

Well-implemented delivery metrics not only enable individual teams to adopt relevant metrics and self-improve over time – but they also provide the visibility that the technology leadership team needs to understand better where delivery risks may lie at the team level across the broader delivery organisation.

See real differences in performance between teams

Technology leaders are constantly faced with investment and resource allocation decisions. Should I build up my in-house capability? Should I move resources offshore or near-shore? Should I increase my reliance on contractors and SIs?

However, the arrival of robust end-to-end software delivery metrics solutions like Plandek enables technology leaders, for the first time, to take these decisions in a much more objective way – based on a balanced scorecard of meaningful delivery metrics tracked over time.

Critics may contend that such comparisons are not possible due to different circumstances between teams (workflows, priorities, engineering challenges). However, metrics solutions are now so complete that these reservations can be conclusively overcome.

Empower teams to self-improve with analytics over time

A core tenet of Agile software delivery is that teams should respond to customer needs and challenge themselves to improve constantly.

However, very few delivery teams find the time and energy to put in place a robust, metrics-led self-improvement process. This is changing as super-easy metrics solutions like Plandek have become available.

Teams can create customised team-level dashboards with a meaningful set of metrics around which they can self-improve their delivery capability. The metrics soon become embedded in the team ‘ritual’, and targets are set and discussed at stand-ups and retros.

Forward-looking technology leadership now recognise the benefits of enabling their teams with such metrics solutions to unleash the power of metrics-led team self-improvement over time.

Remove manual reporting (to C-Suite and within Technology)

Manual reporting, spreadsheets and hand-drafted RAG Reports are a fact of life for many busy delivery teams!

However, the next-generation end-to-end metrics solutions like Plandek remove this manual reporting effort and place real-time analytics at the fingertips of all who need it within the delivery capability – from the Team Leader across Delivery, Programme Management, Engineering and Leadership.