How Metrics Impact Different Engineering Leaders & Their Teams

by
José Caldeira
December 21, 2022

No matter where they stand on the org chart, Engineering Leaders share a common goal: To see their teams continuously improve, ideally in an autonomous way. 

The key to achieving this is to build high-performing engineering teams. But as a recession looms, how can you make sure your teams are moving at a competitive pace?

Answer: Engineering metrics! ☝️

But what does this mean? 

Ok, better answer: Using engineering metrics the right way. 

Fantastic! What does that mean? 

Using engineering metrics the “right way” is different for every engineering org because context matters, we would need to sit down with you and understand your problems, goals, and dreams to truly answer this question - but we can give you a high-level response. 

Today we’ll explore how engineering metrics help different leaders, from executives to team leads, achieve common goals required by their roles.  

By the end of this blog post, you will understand how engineering metrics can help Engineering Execs, Engineering Managers/Directors, and Team Leads. From communication to decision-making to continuous learning.

Let’s jump in.

How Metrics Help Engineering Executives 

As an engineering Exec (CTO or VP of Engineering), you’re the bridge between the business and the engineering org

Your mission is to foster alignment, understand the investment, and share engineering challenges with other execs. 

Engineering execs make the high-impact “yes” or “no” decisions and strive towards delivery effectiveness and development efficiency.

Engineering Execs can use engineering metrics for: 

👉 Communication: Identifying, prioritizing, tracking, and communicating project progress and issues to all levels of the organization.

👉 Strategic thinking: Using data to understand whether they’re accelerating delivery and compromising the future or decelerating delivery to work on tech debt.

👉 A sense of purpose: Data is used to create north stars and indicators that show where the organization is heading and why it’s heading that way.

👉 Anticipate crisis: Identifying focal points where execs need to spend more time and proactively support their teams.

 

How Metrics Help Engineering Managers/Directors

As an EM/Director (a manager of managers), your mission is to ensure that team leads are committed to delivering while continuously improving their teams and processes. 

You also want to make sure team leads are sharing their experiments and getting as much feedback as possible to improve their chances of success.

EMs and Directors think about alignment and process optimization while focusing on delivery. Translating business into execution.

EMs/Directors can use engineering metrics for: 

👉 Communication: Identifying, prioritizing, tracking, and communicating goals and initiative progress across the organization.

👉 Problem anticipation: Using metrics to anticipate problems, which avoids being forced into a reactive situation. As an EM, data provides visibility at scale for you to understand which teams/initiatives you need to prioritize.

👉 Alignment: Data can be used to ensure a group of teams effectively collaborate, which helps improve developer experience. With data, you can leverage the fact that different teams have different seniority and use that to balance work distribution.

👉 Group learning: Data is a powerful mechanism to ensure that the whole organization learns what different teams in different locations are experimenting with.

How Metrics Help Team Leads

As a team lead (manager of individuals), you must check your team's pulse consistently. 

This is done by collecting a mix of qualitative and quantitative information. And you want to do this to ensure the team is consistently and autonomously optimizing their engineering processes.

EMs/Directors can use engineering metrics for: 

👉 Communication: Identifying, prioritizing, tracking, and communicating goals and initiative progress across teams.

👉 Problem discovery: Discovering and correcting technical and managerial problems that can be more difficult or costly to resolve later. This is done without micro-managing the team, as the overall progress is monitored at the team level.

👉 Measure the impact of decisions: Using metrics as evidence to justify the best alternatives. Team leads must be able to defend their decisions and justify changes with historical and current data.

👉 Guidance and growth: Continuously using data to help steer the team in a direction where they autonomously improve by identifying core strengths and weaknesses

Adapt, Improve, Survive

Organizations follow Darwin’s law: the ones that adapt the best survive (and thrive) the longest. 

Improving your org needs to be as intentional as building your product, and engineering metrics can support decision-making, alignment, and communication + help create a culture of autonomous improvement.

The Engineering Leader’s Process for Continuous Improvement

Yes, data is a great tool to help scale your engineering org but given the current economic environment, engineering metrics will help you make the best choices as you navigate the rocky times ahead. 

If you want to learn more about how data can help tackle your engineering org’s unique challenges, let’s talk!