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Effective Metrics for Engineering Teams

Harsha Shekar

Senior Engineering Manager at Atlassian

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Introduction

In this article, we will explore the topic of effective metrics for engineering teams. We will delve into the different types of metrics that can be used to measure the efficiency, productivity, communication, and collaboration of engineering teams. The insights shared in this article are derived from a conversation among top-tier engineers, discussing their experiences and strategies for utilizing metrics in their teams.

The Importance of Metrics

Metrics play a crucial role in evaluating the performance and progress of engineering teams. As one engineer states, "Metrics are a signal, but they are not the only signal." Metrics provide valuable insights into various aspects of team performance, but they should not be the sole basis for evaluating an engineer's abilities. There are other signals that need to be considered, such as the engineer's technical skills, motivation, and ability to work collaboratively.

Types of Metrics

When it comes to metrics, there are different categories that engineers can focus on. One engineer mentions, "There are different topics that we should be working on, such as efficiency, productivity, communication, and collaboration." These categories encompass a wide range of metrics that can be used to assess the effectiveness of engineering teams.

Efficiency metrics can include measurements of the team's ability to deliver work within a given timeframe, such as sprint reviews and handling of tasks. Productivity metrics may involve tracking metrics related to commit frequency, pull requests, and deployments. Communication and collaboration metrics can assess the effectiveness of team communication channels, the level of collaboration among team members, and the satisfaction of team members with their working relationships.

Challenges with Metrics

While metrics can provide valuable insights, there are challenges associated with their use. One engineer highlights the issue of bias in metrics, stating, "Some managers were biasing the metrics in a different way, even trying to measure lines of code." This bias can lead to unfair evaluations and create a negative environment within the team. It is essential to ensure that metrics are used in a fair and unbiased manner to avoid demotivating team members.

Leveraging Personality Tests

In addition to metrics, engineers can also explore the use of personality tests to better understand their team members' strengths and communication styles. One engineer mentions, "Personality tests can help in bonding and understanding each other better." By identifying individual strengths and communication preferences, teams can leverage this knowledge to improve collaboration and assign tasks that align with each team member's abilities.

Archetypes and Role Definitions

To provide clarity and guidance for senior engineers and staff engineers, it is important to define archetypes and expectations for each role. One engineer suggests, "We need to create more guidelines around staff engineering and define expectations." By establishing clear expectations and role definitions, engineers can have a better understanding of their responsibilities and growth paths within the organization.

Conclusion

In conclusion, metrics are valuable tools for evaluating the efficiency, productivity, communication, and collaboration of engineering teams. However, it is important to use metrics in a fair and unbiased manner to avoid demotivating team members. Additionally, personality tests and role definitions can provide insights into team members' strengths and help foster better collaboration. By leveraging these strategies, engineering teams can enhance their performance and achieve their goals more effectively.


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Harsha Shekar

Senior Engineering Manager at Atlassian


CommunicationEngineering ManagementSprint CadencePerformance MetricsTechnical SkillsCareer GrowthIndividual Contributor RolesStaff EngineerLeadership RolesEngineering Manager

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