When It Comes to Data, Oversharing is Good
Measurement & learning isn’t just critical to tracking software engineering projects. It’s a recipe for healthy, committed engineering teams. The right metrics bring transparency and collaboration to the table. They uncover areas of improvement and help motivate employees. They’re even a way to celebrate achievements. If you’re the type of engineering manager that likes to hold your metrics close to the chest, you’re missing out on a way to bring positive growth to everyone on your team.
It’s time to learn to overshare. And I’m not talking about sharing the progress of your 12 year-olds’ orthodontist treatment; nobody needs to hear that in a war room. I’m talking about socializing impact to drive engineering team engagement.
From big picture outcomes of the software you deliver, to every small detection at the feature level, articulating the impact of your metrics is imperative. Let’s discuss how an engineering manager can do this, and why it’s important to the wellbeing of your engineering team.
Socialize Impact to Illuminate the Big Picture
For software engineers working at large enterprises, individual efforts tend to become siloed, and it can feel like working on an island. Don’t let your engineers sit in isolation, and ask, “Why am I doing this?” Illuminate the big picture impact of every little feature they release, so everyone is on the same page. Socialize it weekly over coffee and bagels. Just be sure everyone has access to the metric cards and dashboards on your feature management platform.
Here’s why socializing the impact of key business metrics is so important:
Alignment of Business Goals
Linking business metrics to software feature releases ensures that development efforts are directly tied to overall objectives of your company and your customers. By socializing impact, it helps teams know how their work is affecting the bottom line. It helps them better understand their customers’ needs, and it begins to lay the groundwork for shared goals across departments. When everyone is aligned, there’s less internal friction, which is freeing.
As an engineering manager, let your teams gain clarity on which features or improvements have the most significant impact on the desired business outcomes. This enables effective prioritization of work, ensuring that resources are allocated to the most valuable initiatives. Socializing metrics regularly like conversation rates can provide clarity, direction, and help your engineers better understand their customer’s needs. Hey, they might even be inspired by the prioritization process.
Less Overthinking, Faster Decision-Making
Socializing impact provides teams with valuable insights for making data-driven decisions. By analyzing the impact of previous releases on business metrics, the team can make informed choices about future development plans. With less swirl over what to do next, your engineers won’t hesitate to make the adjustments and the optimizations they need. Empowerment at the individual level is a major win.
Motivation and Accountability
Connecting big picture metrics to the projects your engineers drive creates a sense of accountability within them. As a result, they take ownership of their work and strive to deliver features that matter more often. It also inspires healthy competition, motivating each other to improve based on benchmarks set by their peers. If they delivered 100 features last month, why not go for 120 the next?
Better Communication and Collaboration
By socializing the impact of features on your business, it can encourage new channels of collaboration across teams. Even stakeholders from various departments can join the conversation. Rather than work in silos, you’ll begin to break them down. Engineering managers should get everyone on the same page. Just think: Product teams and engineering teams working in harmony. You can unite them on a feature management platform with easily shared metrics and dashboards.
Identifying Improvement Areas
By sharing metrics, an engineering manager can identify areas that need improvement. Whether it’s code quality, test coverage, or deployment speed, having access to relevant metrics can help teams pinpoint weaknesses and establish actionable plans for improvement. It’ll promote a culture of continuous learning and growth within the team.
Capture Every Small Context to Alleviate Team Stress
The need for hyper-vigilance can be overwhelming for many engineers on your team. They may be thinking: “What if I release bad code?” “Will I be ready to roll back my feature?” “What if I make a mistake that costs me my job?” These fears are real. In fact, according to a recent study, 1 and 10 developers know someone who was fired due to a release gone wrong.
Socializing impact is one way to alleviate engineering team stress. But this goes beyond communicating the big picture. This is about capturing the granular details of your feature rollouts. Better yet: This is about tracking them with feature observability and making sure the metrics are visible to all of your engineers. As a result, they will be three steps ahead of problems that may arise, eliminating their focus on hyper-vigilance.
How do engineering managers make feature-level impact visible to everyone on the team? The best way to do this is with a feature management platform. Split is one example that catches things your APM tool can’t by connecting feature flags with feature-level data. It also has this beautiful capability called “Instant Feature Impact Detection (IFID),” where every metric, of every feature, of every rollout is accounted for automatically. If something goes wrong, it won’t be a surprise to your team. They’ll know about it before it’s affecting a broad swath of customers, and thanks to the easy-nature of feature flags, they can roll back issues with a simple kill switch.
Here’s what this will do:
Take Pressure Off Mistakes
By making feature-level impact visible and actionable, you’re removing the consequence of releasing bad code. You’re giving engineers a quick plan of action to rollback features. And, since feature management platforms also allow you to progressively rollout features, your mistakes will only be felt by a small percentage of user traffic.
Create New Learning Opportunities
Failure is now a part of the learning process. By socializing feature-level metrics, engineering teams can turn features that fail into critical learning opportunities. What was once a stressor is newfound wisdom–not bad.
Refocus Energy In the Right Places
Rather than waiting to react to an issue, engineers can be a bit more proactive in their jobs. The data they need to triage things instantly is now automatic and highly visible, so they can focus on building the features they want to build (or even experiment with feature variants). The right energy and focus will revitalize teams at work.
Turn Metrics Into Milestones of Celebration
Socializing the impact of your software development efforts not only creates big picture clarity and removes little picture stressors, it’s a chance to celebrate your employees. Think of your metrics as a way to track key milestones on the path to continuous improvement.
Start congratulating individuals for the number of feature flags they created in a month. Or, begin toasting entire teams for the business they brought in the door with their application’s improved performance. You can make this happen by socializing your measurements & learnings.
The benefits are major. Recognizing and celebrating achievements boosts team morale, it reinforces positive behaviors, and it encourages everybody to continue delivering high-quality work. After all, people like to see their efforts amount to something; data attribution is making that easier to quantify.
Better yet: As engineering managers, we want our progress to be proof to the rest of the enterprise. While some companies see us as resources, we know that we’re the true profit center. This is our way to put that on paper and sign it with pure data truth.
There, I did it. I just overshared with you 😉
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