Sunday, January 03, 2016

Useful measures for the development manager

After establishing a functional structure for the development department this structure needs to be monitored (re-evaluated) to see if it still fits its purpose. For this monitoring task some measure are needed. Being an engineer I tend to gravitate towards quantitative measures rather than qualitative.

At first my focus was internal to each team, in a typical Scrum-master style, basically tracking the burn-downs within the sprints. We used hours to do the estimation, so the focus was very tight on hours delivered, as opposed to functionality delivered.

This way of estimating has been helpful in improving the planning of individual issues before heading into programming, it creates a communication platform for the team. It also gives the product owner some estimate of ETA for the increments to the product. However, it has not functioned well as a motivator, it has always felt rather artificial. Having an actual deadline where the team commits to someone external has been a much bigger motivator. The teams have been moving from these time-based metrics to use story points, the verdict is not in yet on this new approach.

Recently my focus has moved from internal team-metrics to a broader departmental scope. The metrics I track today are also based on hours, but accumulated per projects, teams and individuals. The goal is to track:

i) Time spent vs budgeted (estimated) per new development. Budgets are approved and if over-run need to get re-approved.

ii) Time spent per activity: product maintenance vs new product development vs custom development vs. dev-ops. These statistic can tell a lot regarding that state of the code-base (too much maintenance?). If new development is being starved. Costs of dev-ops should not be confused with the cost of new development and maintenance. Same thing goes for custom development that should generate the right profit margin.

iii) Time spent per team and per individuals is important to know in order to determine the load on employees and if it is being fairly distributed.

These metrics are calculated monthly.

No comments: