How an engineering organization improved its code review process and proved its value to the business

The Background

Year Founded
2017
Industry
SaaS
Engineers
120
Funding
More than $1 billion in funding

Highlights

  • Improved their code review process
  • Improved communication between Engineering and Leadership
  • Boosted confidence and transparency throughout the organization
  • Delivered more value to customers

About 

The company is an online wholesale marketplace with more than $1 billion in funding. The organization scaled from 20 engineers, with no engineering managers, to 120 engineers in two years. 

The Challenge

The company was scaling rapidly and had to reorganize its engineering org into new teams. With new engineering managers and a growing number of developers, they needed a way of measuring progress to sustain growth and show the engineering organization's value.

Their Head of Engineering was going to leadership's quarterly meeting with empty hands, no data to back up his assumptions or results of how the org was performing.

The team was lacking visibility on their software delivery and the value it was driving to the company. They started looking for a solution that would cover their blindspots and would prove that the org was progressing.

"We didn't know how much time and effort we were spending on a feature, and what was the true value and outcome for our customers." Head of Engineering

One of their main issues was with the code review quality. The Head of Engineering had a hunch that the quality of code reviews was not good, which was harming the quality of the final product and slowing the org down.

Enters Athenian!

The company chose Athenian because the product allows them to better understand the whole product development process: tracking a software idea from concept to launch.

"It was an easy decision to use Athenian because the tool provides us with the knowledge we were lacking to drive necessary changes" Head of Engineering

The Solution

The metrics proved the Head of Engineering right. The quality of the code reviews was slowing the delivery. The reviews were not as good or fast as expected, as new engineers were still adapting to the process and culture. They had to fix this issue to deliver their software continuously.

So he made a bold decision and added a second phase of reviewers. This time with experienced reviewers who could do it faster and train new engineers to do it themselves.

The slight increase in code review time ended up benefiting the whole process, with a minor increase in Cycle Time but a great impact on the quality of the software delivered. 

Because of this decision, the company saw junior engineers gain more confidence and the overall Review Cycle Time and PR Cycle Time ended up decreasing.

"Having a high level of insight allows us to understand the engineering process from a holistic standpoint and make context-specific decisions." Head of Engineering

The Impact

"Athenian provides data to back up blanket statements such as 'Engineering is doing great!' " Head of Engineering

The Head of Engineering could finally go to their leadership quarterly meetings with results based on substantiated data.

The company managed to build the foundations of a successful engineering organization that can scale and adapt to new scenarios by using the right metrics to guide them. They managed to:

  • Improve their code review process
  • Improve the review quality, impacting the final product
  • Improve communication between Engineering and Leadership, proving value.
  • Boost confidence and transparency throughout the organization with a seamless value stream.
  • Delivered more value to the end users with high-quality products.