How I use GitPrime metrics with my small team

Aug 16, 2017 | Data-Driven Engineering

Visionary engineering leaders are using concrete data and metrics to help their software development teams become even more productive.

But it’s not just enterprise teams that are realizing gains.

We spoke with engineering leaders from several small teams to understand how they have successfully introduced data-driven reporting to their teams, what metrics they find most useful, and some of the changes they’ve experienced.

Here is our panel:

CTO of Lawn Love

Eric Lawler (@eiriksmal) is the CTO at Lawn Love, where he splits his time between tying engineering’s progress to the business’s goals and geeking out over lawn care minutia.

Engineering Lead at BlueVolt

Deepak Kumar (@deepakap6) is the Engineering Lead at BlueVolt, leading the development of BlueVolt’s learning management platform. He is experienced in building effective teams and directing technology decisions.

CTO at Upper Hand, Inc.

Jason Rogers (@jacaetevha) is the CTO at Upper Hand, Inc., a sports management software company. He has extensive experience in building web applications and API development, as well as managing software engineering teams. He is a strong proponent of Agile methodologies and data-driven process.

CTO at TouchSuite

Jeff White (@mylifehacking) is the CTO at TouchSuite where he leads product development and IT infrastructure. He was the founder and CEO of three prior software companies. His latest venture, Pensmore Software, was sold to TouchSuite in 2014.

When did you decide that hard data/metrics could be useful in leading your team?

CTO of Lawn Love

 

Eric Lawler – CTO at Lawn Love

“When comparing ourselves to Lawn Love’s other business units, full of KPIs and dashboards for every imaginable metric, engineering felt left out. Our performance indicators were very fuzzy and it was difficult to use feelings and anecdotal information to guide reviews. We didn’t have a means to devise more effective strategies for shipping more features, faster, when we couldn’t measure our current performance.

We began to research concrete metrics to help provide more substantial reporting on engineering productivity, and saw that our GitHub data is a potential goldmine, ready to be exploited to level up our engineering game.”

We decided our GitHub data is a potential goldmine, ready to be exploited to level up our engineering game.

CTO at Upper Hand, Inc.

 

Jason Rogers – CTO at Upper Hand, Inc.

“Three years ago, I realized that improving the process and my engineers’ skill sets couldn’t be done by gut feeling alone. Since then, I had been trying to find ways to collect hard data to help. For a while I tracked number of points per iteration, hours per story, etc. but besides being quite a lot of work, it felt arbitrary and wasn’t working well enough. Then I found GitPrime and haven’t looked back.”

 

CTO at TouchSuite

 

Jeff White – CTO at TouchSuite

“We wanted to get a complete story of the progress of our engineering team, and to be able to effectively communicate that to the rest of the organization. Specifically, something to reflect the daily detailed planning and work that goes into the development of a great product. We were eager to improve how we were doing things — we needed accurate and relevant data to highlight our team’s strengths and see weak spots to adjust accordingly.

Eager to improve how we were doing things, we needed accurate and relevant data to highlight our team’s strengths and pin point our weaknesses to adjust accordingly.

On an individual level, developers wanted to know how they were doing. They wanted more than just how many lines of codes. They wanted to know if they were efficient and productive. They wanted to compare data to see if there was any improvements.”

 

Engineering Lead at BlueVolt

 

Deepak Kumar – Engineering Lead at BlueVolt

“I decided last year that hard data would be useful in our team. We were using some rudimentary metrics before that, but those were not enough.”

How did you implement (or introduce the idea of) GitPrime?

CTO of Lawn Love

 

Eric Lawler – CTO at Lawn Love

“We dove straight in! The team was skeptical of using quantifiable data to measure programmers’ productivity — rightfully decrying the measurement of raw lines touched as a poor proxy for performance.

We worked through the highlights from the blog posts on “gaming” GitPrime (i.e., regularly shipping quality work!) and how it doesn’t use naive assumptions to generate its reports. We even had the chance to let the team express some of their concerns to Travis (CEO) and the GitPrime team in a video chat.

At first, we would review GitPrime once a month. After a few months, it became obvious that utilizing the tool more frequently could create faster feedback loops and help us all keep our eye on the end goal — delivering more features to improve the business.”

 

CTO at Upper Hand, Inc.

 

Jason Rogers – CTO at Upper Hand, Inc.

“I piloted GitPrime for a little while privately, started looking at the data over time, while talking to GitPrime’s success managers to understand our data. When I felt comfortable with what I was seeing (both good and bad) I slowly introduced it to my engineers. I gave them all access immediately, but would focus on just one report at a time, and encouraged them to read the help articles. I then started looking at GitPrime as a team in our retrospectives, and finally in our 1:1s.”

 

CTO at TouchSuite

 

Jeff White – CTO at TouchSuite

“I just started talking to each developer based on the metrics I got from GitPrime. We would discuss their impact for the week and I provided them with feedback on what they could do to improve. The development team really appreciated that kind of valuable feedback and wondered how I was getting these kinds of metrics. When I explained GitPrime, they were immediately very receptive to it. Our development team was looking for more than just how many lines of code they wrote. This level of feedback is valuable to their growth.”

 

Engineering Lead at BlueVolt

 

Deepak Kumar – Engineering Lead at BlueVolt

“Our team was setup on GitPrime very quickly after having had a demo and the free trial. All of my developers know that I am using GitPrime to track their productivity. I show them the metrics and how they’re calculated so that they can improve over time. For instance, they started checking in code every day, and began working to reduce churn. GitPrime helps my developers think and design before they start coding, which is improving our code’s quality.”

 

Which reports do you use?

Engineering Lead at BlueVolt

 

Deepak Kumar – Engineering Lead at BlueVolt

“I use almost all of the reports. My day starts with looking at the Commit Workflow report: it gives me a good idea of where the team stands over the past 1 or 2 weeks. Then I look at the Daily Update report. I use the Daily Update to prepare questions to ask the team during the standup. I check the Retrospective report after every 2 weeks (our sprint cycle is 2 weeks).

I love the Dev Snapshot report. It’s very powerful to know what each team member is doing well, or could improve upon. I use this to update/guide my developers to identify weaknesses and find opportunities for growth.”

 

CTO of Lawn Love

 

Eric Lawler – CTO at Lawn Love

“We use the Daily Update report every day in our morning engineering standups. We review the leaderboard, project timeline, and snapshot reports once a month, with the whole team.”

 

CTO at Upper Hand, Inc.

 

Jason Rogers – CTO at Upper Hand, Inc.

“We use almost all of GitPrime’s reports. We use Commit Workflow for an overview of what everyone is working on across all repos. The Retrospective report gives a quick way to see how we’re doing sprint-over-sprint. The Pull Request Details report provides a great way to see who is collaborating in reviews.”

 

CTO at TouchSuite

 

Jeff White – CTO at TouchSuite

“We rely on GitPrime for a variety of reports:

  • The Leaderboard gives us an overall view of everyone’s individual contributions.
  • The Daily Snapshot provides a deeper level of understanding and context on a developer’s performance. We look at daily code commits, new work vs. churn, and we really like to see team players. We can see if a developer is stuck.
  • We use the Retrospective to see both overall team and individual productivity within a specified period.
  • The Trends and Project Timeline reports help us recognize trends and plan for efficiency.”

 

What has been the cultural impact?

Engineering Lead at BlueVolt

 

Deepak Kumar – Engineering Lead at BlueVolt

“Our developers have become more focused their individual contributions that make the biggest impact for our team moving faster: committing code daily, balancing new work with legacy refactoring, helping others, and reducing churn.”

 

CTO of Lawn Love

 

Eric Lawler – CTO at Lawn Love

“What’s the saying, only measure what you want to improve? We’re creating a culture where people who are struggling can be identified and coached to success, rather than letting performance problems languish in the dark for months… or years.

We’re creating a culture where people who are struggling can be identified and coached to success, rather than letting performance problems languish in the dark for months… or years.

When everyone is aware of how the team as a whole is moving, there are more opportunities for more people to suggest improvements to our processes. Everyone wins when projects are better spec’d and processes streamlined so engineers can spend more time doing what they love most — writing code.”

 

CTO at Upper Hand, Inc.

 

Jason Rogers – CTO at Upper Hand, Inc.

“I appreciate having objective data to point to when praising or critiquing someone, because it takes a lot of the subjectivity out of the conversation. We are currently working on ways to incorporate the data into regular employee reviews, because our engineers appreciate the ability to understand how they’re doing based on the objectivity of GitPrime’s metrics.”

 

CTO at TouchSuite

 

Jeff White – CTO at TouchSuite

“We were a little concerned that releasing the reports to developers would make them nervous about competition. As it turned out, we were surprised to see that a little friendly competition led to an increase in teamwork. Having the ability to see what everyone else is doing, led to more proactive knowledge sharing and exchange of best practices. The team celebrates when they see that everyone is performing well.”

 

What other improvements have you seen?

CTO of Lawn Love

 

Eric Lawler – CTO at Lawn Love

“In our initial roll out of GitPrime, we shared GitPrime’s observations on commit frequency — that more frequent, smaller commits correlate to a higher overall throughput for our team. As a result of changing our behavior and actually having a way to measure our progress, commits per day increased by 50% and time to 100 lines of productive code decreased by a similar amount, three months after launch.

As a result of changing our behavior and actually having a way to measure our progress, commits per day increased by 50% and time to 100 lines of productive code decreased by a similar amount, three months after launch.

18 months later, we’re still aligning our engineering processes with the hard data provided by GitPrime’s reports. There’s always room for more improvement, and we finally have the tools needed to recognize those areas of opportunity.”

 

CTO at Upper Hand, Inc.

 

Jason Rogers – CTO at Upper Hand, Inc.

“In two of my engineers, I’ve seen an improvement in commit frequency and breaking work into smaller pieces, while their efficiency rates have remained consistent.”

 

Engineering Lead at BlueVolt

 

Deepak Kumar – Engineering Lead at BlueVolt

“With GitPrime, I can now see if a developer is losing interest or becoming disengaged. I can see their throughput trending down or that their churn has gone up. With timely intervention on these types of issues, development has improved a lot. It has also been very helpful for onboarding new employees, so I can track their day-to-day progress on learning the platform.”

 

CTO at TouchSuite

 

Jeff White – CTO at TouchSuite

“The net effect is that we’re able to ship product to market more efficiently. Since using GitPrime, we are able to track daily forward progress, so we can build, measure, learn in a way that’s a data-driven. We experienced an increase in commit frequency, and just as important, an increase in teamwork.

 

 


 

Brook Perry

Brook Perry

Brook Perry is a Marketing Manager at GitPrime.

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